Category Archives: Milestones

The New Jeep

Well it was two and a half years ago I made a post about our 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee and how we didn’t know what we were going to do.  It was dropping oil pressure and the transmission was slipping.  The decision ended up being, keep driving it.  It’s either going to explode, or… it will keep going.  28 months later, it’s still going!

All the while though we’ve been saving up in the event it does explode.  I mean that in the parts of engine blowing through cylinder walls sort of way.  Not the fireball in the sky sort of way.  Every couple of months Andrea and I would casually look around local classifieds for vehicles that were up our alley.  But we never were in dire NEED of a vehicle, so it was easy to look at stuff and say, “nah”.

I was leaning more towards a Tahoe or Yukon, but Andrea has caught this Jeep bug somehow.  So I figured, maybe a Commander.  But the third row seat was really unnecessary.  And Andrea kept coming back to Grand Cherokees.  She found this one for sale in Hutchinson, so one day took off early to go look at it.

It wasn’t perfect, what 10+ year old vehicle is?  Needed some steering work, tires and some other misc things.  Nothing that seemed too daunting though.  So we made an offer, they took it.  We drove the Jeep home.

Been going through that stage of “getting to know” a vehicle now.  Every car seems to have a thought process behind it’s construction.  Reverse engineering that and getting to know your way around is kind of like moving to a new town and finding where everything is.

But the good news is that (for now) this thing is just about as darn close to a new vehicle as I’ll ever get.  And it’s classy!  Andrea and Luke like it, and I have to admit, the body style has been growing on me.  I love the chrome wheels and all shined up, a black car just looks slick!  And the 330HP Hemi is pretty addicting too.  Hehe.

 

10 Years of the Blog

Wow.  This is a bit unbelievable to me.  But the blog just turned 10 years old yesterday.  January 17th, 2005 I made the first post.  That’s a longer length of time than it feels like.  Because for me… it just feels like a short while ago.  But in 2005, ten years before that, I didn’t even have the internet.  THAT feels like a long time ago.

Then I start to think how much my life has changed in these past 10 years.  That’s when the time starts to add up and it starts to make a little more sense.  When this blog started, I was living in my tiny studio apartment in Milford, KS.  That place was certainly nothing to brag about, but it was perfect for me.  It was like a bedroom with a stove, sink and bathroom.  And that’s all I really needed.  I was only a couple steps from the refrigerator, back to the couch, or to the bathroom.  I’d come home from work at about 12:30AM and sit and play Final Fantasy X-2 while drinking Kool-Aid and eating pizza rolls until about 3AM.  In the mornings I’d get up and go for a walk down to the lake and just sit there and watch the boats and birds on the water.

Of course it was also the first place I was truly on my own.  Dad or roommates weren’t helping me with anything.  I had just dropped out of K-State and with that meant I had made the choice to enter the big mean world.  Luckily the Milford apartment was $260/month, all bills paid.  Even though I wasn’t making a lot of money, I was finally getting ahead and felt like I could start building towards something.

I’m not sure if it was the solitude or the little bit of extra money I had, but I started taking on a few little projects.  In that Milford apartment, I built my very first PC.  A Celeron D 2.26 Ghz, 256 MB DDR RAM, 80 GB Hard Drive, NVidia GeForce MX 128 MB, DVD-ROM/CD-RW.  It cost me $500 for everything, with a big old CRT monitor included.  It wasn’t a speed demon even by 2005 standards, but I sure was proud of it.  Even overclocked it to 3GHZ, hehe.  It just feels like I had so much more time to tinker with stuff back then.

And I definitely had some goals.  After hitting a deer, (last straw in a long line of hitting things, or things hitting me) one of the top priorities in my life was getting a new car.

 

I wasn’t quite ready to take that plunge yet though.  So my solution at the time was to rig up a 12v floodlight I bought at Wal-mart for like 6 or 7 bucks so I’d have 2 headlights and I at least wouldn’t get a ticket.  I remember wondering if it would even work.  But I figured, electricity is electricity.  So a few snips of the wire, and some electrical tape, and boom!  I was almost technically street legal again!

Ha ha!  I had forgotten about the Mountain Dew bottle propping up my other headlight.

I drove the car like that for almost a year and a half.  It still ran, the AC worked, I probably could have saved it pretty easily if I knew what I were doing.  But I was mostly just dumb.  The last winter I had it, the heater stopped working (probably because it was leaking coolant…)  But exhaust fumes also would seep into the cabin, so you had to have the windows down when you were driving or you would literally asphyxiate.  By now Andrea and I had moved into an apartment together in Manhattan; I remember driving home from work one night after DJ-ing at a club until 3AM, it was below zero, I had no heater AND had to drive with the windows down.  That’s when the new car hunt started hot and heavy.

Life kept churning in the meantime.  Andrea and I pretty much knew that we were going to be getting married.  But we were going to wait until she graduated from K-State.  We decided to move in together and get an apartment in Manhattan.  Boy was that an adventure.  I quickly realized how good of a deal I had.  We looked at a bunch of places.  Most of them were either way out of our price range, or total crap holes.  We eventually settled on a 2nd floor apartment at Evergreen Apartments in Manhattan.  $600 a month plus utilities.  But I was full time now and had somebody to share the expenses with, so it seemed like it made sense.

It was a nice place, especially at first.  For the first time on my own, I had ROOMS.  And a dishwasher.  We were closer to our friends.  There was a lot good about it.  But it was my first taste of apartment living.  Hearing neighbors arguing through the walls.  People coming and going all the time.  The guy upstairs that moved his furniture every Sunday.  It was a good place, but we both knew we wouldn’t be there forever.

In September 2005, we adopted Nala.  It was just a few days after moving into the new place and Andrea was super anxious to have a pet.  I’m sure she would have preferred a dog at the time, but I don’t think she could convince me.  Plus we didn’t exactly pay for the optional pet deposit at the apartment either, so a cat was easier to conceal.  Haha

This blog itself continued to morph.  I’ve been on WordPress for a long time, but originally the site was hosted on Blogger.com.  For a while in 2005 I actually hosted the blog on a webserver on my own computer from home.  It was really a mess though as Cox was blocking port 80, which is the default HTTP traffic port.  But it was the motivation to buy BGWillers.com, and I ended up doing some crazy port re-direct stuff that was just messy.  Plus if my computer restarted or anything like that, the blog went down.  It was the motivation to eventually move to a WordPress site that’s been so much better.

At the end of 2005 I got a new promotion at work, I went from just night time DJ, to Assistant Program Director, Music Director and Afternoon DJ.  Geesh.  I’ve been wearing multiple hats for way too long.  And I got my first desk at work!

Pretty big milestone that for some reason I never wrote about on the blog…. in the spring of 2006, I asked Andrea to marry me.  I guess I never wrote about it because we actually called and told everybody the old fashion way, so everybody already knew.  It was super cheezy how I did it.  I took her out to lunch at the first place we met (Arby’s).  Then we went out to Annaberg park and while we were sitting by the water, I popped the ring out and asked her.  I remember before she said yes, she said…. “BUT YOU DON’T HAVE A CAR YET!”  We had talked before that we did want to get married, but before I could buy her a ring, I had to get a new car… for my own safety.  So she was definitely surprised when she saw the ring!

Not long after that, I was able to get a car.  April of 2006 I picked up the Toronado.

I never bought the Toronado because of its looks.  I bought it because it fit some very specific criteria.  1. It ran and drove well.  2. I knew I couldn’t afford a mechanic, so it was similar to the Caprice which I had at least done oil changes on.  3.  The interior was in pretty good shape for the age.  4.  It was super cheap.  I paid $625, which I thought was a pretty good deal at the time.  Almost 10 years later, I guess it was.

But I literally had no idea how to work on cars, beyond an oil change and changing a tire.  I knew lefty loosy, righty tighty.  That was about it.  That’s why when I hear people say, “I wish I could work on my own car like you do.” I just think… no you don’t.  You don’t want to work on your car.  Haha!  And there’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s call it what it is.  If you want to learn how to work on a car, any car.  Just buy a cheap old thing, and find the stuff that’s broke.  Then Google how to fix it.  Congrats!  You’re me!

In July 2006, the site officially moved over to WordPress where it’s been ever since.

January 2007, the olde Pontiac 6000 found it’s final resting place at a Salvage yard in Junction City.  For months I’d been trying to sell it for a couple hundred bucks.  Nobody wanted it.  And I don’t blame them.  So I drove it to the junk yard, and they gave me $50 and I signed the title over to them.

Later that year in May, after 2 floods and the police visiting the neighborhood more frequently, Andrea and I started looking for a house to rent.  It was much the same story as when we were apartment hunting.  Everything was super expensive, or super crappy.  Sometimes both.  Houses like we really wanted were renting for $1,500 a month.  Eventually we found a tiny little house in Ogden that we both liked.  It was $700 a month, so it was an increase over what we were paying, but it was halfway between her work and mine.  The landlord seemed like a nice guy so we went for it.

Oh yeah.  Seeing that car under the cover reminds me!  The El Camino!  I almost forgot that fit into the timeline here.  I actually picked it up for $250 with a ton of parts BEFORE we moved to Ogden.  Which meant I didn’t have anywhere to keep it.  So knowing we were moving, I just parked it at the radio station.  It had a ton of parts in the back, which just looked like JUNK to everybody else, so before I started catching greif I threw a car cover over it.

There was a lot of new-ness going on around that time.  Because literally the day we moved into the house in Ogden, Andrea came home with a new dog.  I wasn’t too sure about having a dog.  Every dog we ever had was an idiot.  But Daisy and I hit it off pretty well right out of the gate.  Something about moving to new places that makes Andrea want pets apparently!

In September 2007, Andrea made a big decision that really changed the trajectory of our lives.  She decided to quit K-State.  It was not a decision she made easily.  But she decided it was right, and I was going to support her.  Until this point we’d kind of just been in holding, waiting for her to finish.  The house in Ogden never really felt like the place we were going to be very long.  My workplace at the radio station had been changing and it was looking like there was going to be very little opportunity to advance my career.  The wedding was on hold until she was out of school.  We were just kind of waiting around for the “next” thing.  So when she made that decision, it was like this speed limit sign on life got taken down and we were both free to go full throttle.

To start with, Andrea just needed to get a full time job.  So she took a job at Ray’s Apple Market in Manhattan and began working full time.  We started to really feel like grown ups!  Over the next several months we didn’t really know where life was going, but I felt like we could take it anywhere we wanted to go.

In the meantime, I was working on a little project.  Man I had so much time back then!  Were the days longer?  A panel at a time before and after work… I was painting the Toronado.  It took several weeks but the finished product was worth it, and I’m proud of it to this day!  Even though it’s seen better days.

Winter of 2007 brought an experience I’ll never forget.  On December 10th, we had an incredible ice storm.  We were out of power for 5 days.  Andrea and I were going to work just to be warm!  It also brought about the demise of the El Camino which took a tree limb to the roof when the landlord came to cut it down.

If 2007 is when the speed limit sign came down, 2008 is when we went full throttle.

It began with all the wedding plans.  We had finally pinned down a date of June 14th, 2008.  We were furiously planning away, all the while I was looking for a new job.  I drove all the way out to Gove, KS to interview for a Farm Service job that I didn’t completely understand.  I’m glad I didn’t get it because there would have been even fewer opportunities to grow at that position.

I also interviewed with a few radio stations.  The one that made the most sense was an Afternoon DJ in Great Bend, KS.  It was $100 a month MORE than I was making in Junction City.  And they were a growing company.  It seemed like a good opportunity.

So on the week leading up to our wedding, we got all packed up.  A huge storm came through and pounded hail across the area and brought a tornado that sent us seeking shelter at a friend of ours in Manhattan.  It left the Toronado battered, and all of our stuff soaked in the horse trailer that Dad was pulling to help us out.

So that week, Andrea and I moved to a new town, started a new job, and got married all at once.

The rest of that year we spent getting settled into our new lives.  Andrea started a job at CPI, a financial retirement company in Great Bend.  We we doing pretty well and started knocking out her student loans.

In August we took our honeymoon to Hawaii.  Wow what a place.  The whole time I was there I was just soaking up everything and trying to remember every little moment.  I knew it would be years before I ever got to go back, so I wanted to be able to remember everything.  It was an amazing place.

Things were going pretty good, I was making friends at work.  We were getting settled in to our new lives.  But things started to go south at the radio station.  There were talks of cutting people.  The general manager left.  The exciting growing company that I had interviewed with started to go south fast.

I remember the day the owners came in to talk to each of us one on one.  They talked to me first (big mistake).  They told me they were going to offer all the other programming people sales positions, and they wanted me to run all the stations by myself.  I told them I had to think about that.  I went back and told the whole crew what was happening.  All of us but one quit that day on the spot and I went off to work at Dillon’s stocking produce full time.

It was surreal.  I don’t remember being all that angry about it.  But all of a sudden, where we had this big outlook and plan for life, where we felt like we were really gaining some traction, it was like the rug just got pulled out from underneath me.

Working at Dillons was nice though.  It was super low stress compared to the situation I had just come from.  I had time to think, even while I was working.  All the management kept complimenting me on my work ethic, which was basically just showing up and doing what I was asked.  I didn’t mind going to work, and honestly I wasn’t making a whole lot less money.  I had actually considered riding out Dillion’s and seeing how far it would take me.

But I still had a friend in radio.  Kenny Titus, who I actually worked with in Junction City, now worked at the Eagle Radio station in Great Bend.  While I was with Rocking M, he had asked if I’d come over and interview for a position, I had just started and didn’t want to bail on co-workers that I really liked for the competition.  Well, come a year later, I’m working at Dillon’s and another position opens up.  It was basically a paperwork position.  But it was at a radio station and was a couple bucks more an hour than I was making.  Financially it was a smart move, so I actually gave Dillon’s the opportunity to match the salary, and would really have considered staying if they could.  So I accepted the position.  Worked out two more weeks at Dillon’s and then made the move.

My first day on the job was the last day of a couple that had worked there for a while.  So the whole crew went out for drinks that night.  My second day on the job was a company picnic, where they took a cooler of beers and cooked out at the lake in town.  So my first two days involved drinking paid for by the company.  Haha.  I was liking this!

So it’s 2009 now.  And it’s crazy to think about how much my job has changed since then.  I still do a few things that I did when I started there.  But it’s become a whole lot more than that.  On one hand it’s hard to believe it’s been almost 6 years at the station, and on the other it seems like a long time ago.

A couple months into the new job, and listening to Trading Post everyday, I made a huge mistake.  I bought the Blazer.  Oh man.  This thing was so hacked up it makes my head spin.  I’ve never been so pissed off at a vehicle before.  I think we dropped the gas tank four times and completely re-did the fuel system before it started running right.  At that point I had so little trust in the vehicle that we put it up for sale the next day.  I almost broke even on the thing, but I was glad to see it go.  I saw it driving around for a year or so afterwards, but I haven’t seen it in a long time.  I assume it’s finally been laid to rest.

2010 I think was the year I finally got settled into Great Bend and it started to feel like home.  I enjoyed work.  Our house wasn’t where we wanted to stay, but it was perfect for now.  We’d been making new friends, and I had time to relax and enjoy things.

That year I really got into Guild Wars.  Andrea and I had been playing off and on since we lived in Manhattan, but now I was really growing to love the game.  Guild Wars 2 still seemed like a long ways off and it was fun taking the heroes and doing all their builds then going through and steam-rolling everything.  I’d spend hours farming gold out by Lion’s Arch, and even now I have more gold in that game than there is stuff to spend it on.  It’s one of those few games that really hold a sentimental charm for me.

I also took the time to restore this old radio that I gave to Dad & Carrie later for their anniversary.

In December 2010 we had some new neighbors move into the house behind ours.  We’d been pretty lucky with our neighbors up until then.  We had a college girl that lived by herself.  Then an old lady.  But these two kids were 100% white trash.  They were knocking on our door to borrow stuff all the time.  The cops were over there at least once a week, and people were coming and going at all hours of the night.  I started to become really uncomfortable at my own home.  I knew we needed to start looking for something soon.

About the same time we bought the 1987 Cutlass from some friends of ours to replace Andrea’s Mustang which was becoming more problematic by the day.  So what’s the solution?  Obviously to buy something older!  Although we probably wouldn’t have bought it if we knew what was coming.

Hello!

I remember when Andrea told me she was pregnant.  I honestly at first thought she was just joking.  We’d been trying for a while, and then stopped trying and took more of a, whatever happens approach.  So when she told me, I seriously just thought she was just kidding.  Once I figured it out though, I was happy, scared a bit.  But I knew that there was no turning back, and from that point forward life was going to be different.  I wasn’t really sure how, but I knew it would be.

We still had talked about moving every once in a while.  The ghetto neighbors behind us were always up to something.  Then one day they brought home a little pitbull puppy.  They wrapped some chickenwire around a couple trees in the yard and put the dog in there.  That was the day we really got serious about moving.

A friend I worked with at the other radio station in town lived in Albert and had recently bought a house there.  He told me about a house across the street that was for rent.  We went out to look at it, but I knew it was a pretty big house and I still had memories of house shopping in Manhattan.  I figured there was no way we could afford it.  But we went and looked, and it was only $75 a month more than what we were paying in Great Bend.  I made triple sure Andrea was okay with living in a small town, but she really liked the place.  So we decided to make the move.

I still like this place.  It’s more than I think we deserve a lot of the time.  Then there’s other times when the basement leaks and the carpet starts to mold that I’m ready to start looking for new places.  Haha.  But generally I feel like we’ve got it pretty good!

In June I touched up Andrea’s Mustang one last time before we sold it to her niece.  She’s still driving it, but desperately wants something new.  Hey… that’s a familiar feeling.

The days until we were parents were flying by.  Seemed like every week we were doing something new to prepare.  Baby shower, baby stuff shopping.  It was hard to imagine at the time we were doing all this preparation for a little person we hadn’t met yet.  I tried to imagine what it was going to be like, but it was hard to.  We were installing car seats, and high chairs, and they set empty while we kept getting closer and closer to the due date.

People can describe to you all day long what it feels like when your child is born.  But it’s one of those moments that words simply can not do justice.  From the moment you hear his first cry… it’s suddenly real.  You are just completely overcome by joy, love, responsibility, and fear.  Pretty much in that order.

My life has changed in ways I couldn’t even comprehend since Luke has been born.  I was just talking to somebody to day that with a kid, you think about your life, and how busy you are and how tough it is to get by, that you wonder how you’ll be able to do it.  I wondered where we’d find the money, the time, and the energy to be good parents.  The answer is you make sacrifices.  Andrea and I both have sacrificed a lot since Luke came around.  But the thing is, I don’t know that I could tell you exactly what we’ve given up and I certainly don’t miss most of it.  Those things have been replaced by something so much more rewarding and exciting.  Watching Luke grow up is a joy I can’t imagine trading for anything.

Life kept going, and going faster and faster.  But with a new gravitational pull.  Andrea and I haven’t changed as people.  I still work on the cars, they keep breaking.  We still play games.  But all that feels like an outer layer of who we are and our family is now the core.

It’s so much fun to share the things that we love with Luke and to watch him grow and create his own thoughts around them.

From this point on pretty much everything seems like it happened yesterday, or at most just a few weeks ago.

There’s still bumps in the road.  But they don’t seem to rock the world quite as much as they used to.  Maybe that’s a sign of stability?  Maturity?  Or just the fact that those things don’t matter as much any more?  I’m not really sure.

I’m still finding time for little projects, though they are usually low cost endeavours.  In spring of 2012 I planted my first garden.  I grew potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes.  It was fun, but I sure am not a natural at it.  I still haven’t figured out how to keep all the bermuda grass from choking everything out.

Luke continued to grow, and I was shocked how quickly babies become little kids.

The garden kept growing too.

With everything going on, I was still finding time for one of my truly favorite past-times, gaming.  Guild Wars 2 was coming out and I was super hyped.  I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition so I got early access to the beta test of the game.  It really truly blew me away, how big and detailed the world was.  Andrea was content to keep playing GW1 though.

And Luke kept growing, and we keep sharing experiences with him.  We got to watch a solar eclipse together in May 2012.  It’s hard to believe he wasn’t even a year old at this point!

And as I’ve had less time to play games, collecting them has become more of a thing.  The thing that’s shocked me the most is how into it Andrea has gotten.  I think she gets just as excited if not more so than I, when we are able to add something new to the collection.  But it’s something that I have to keep a mindful grasp on, as things like this have gotten me into trouble before.

Then, in September 2012 we hit a roadblock.  The Toronado broke down, and I couldn’t get parts to fix it.

We were a one car family, so it was time to do something.  We had some pretty good savings, but we didn’t want a car payment.  The thought of that was pretty gross.  So we were looking around for vehicles.  We test drove a few, but the all seemed like crummy little cars.  I would have been happy with another grandpa car, but Andrea really wasn’t for that.  So we looked for a good three weeks or so.  Then I saw this red Jeep sitting on 10th St. in Great Bend.  I took it for a test drive.  Showed it to Andrea and she was on board!

We are getting closer to the present day.  As I look back through the blog at my posts, I really start to realize that I feel like life now has a momentum that’s greater than my own.  I have the ability to shift its course, but in general it’s on a trajectory that’s taking me with it.  Most days I figure that trajectory is up.  But some times it takes a little course correction.

As Luke continues to grow up, I can’t help but think of my own childhood.  How much fun I had.  I try to think about the things I cared about then.  I didn’t care about our car, or the house we lived in.  I cared about my room, seeing grandmas and grandpas.  Playing, and having fun.  And those are the things I try to spend more time actively focusing on, rather than the stuff, and the career.  Those things are important, but man, I think kids really have it figured out.

In May 2013, I got the opportunity to get my first ever car back.  Dad asked if I wanted it, and I sure wasn’t going to say no!  I don’t think too many people can say they still own their first car.  It’s got a whole lot that needs done.  But there’s still plenty of time… I think.

Later that year, after moving Luke out of our bedroom at LONG last, I began to build the Retro Room upstairs.  It’s cool to think about how far that has come in just a short amount of time.  What will it be like in 10 years?  Yikes.

Already, Luke is two years old.  Holy cow!  Time has really flown by.  He’s walking, talking, and really he’s his own person now.

In October 2013 I got to go to my very first Nascar race!  It was super cool.  Nascar is one thing that has kind of gotten away from me in the busyness.  But going to the race is just as exciting as I’d hoped it be.  It’s a completely unique perspective that everybody should do at least once.

One thing is for sure, as Luke keeps growing up, each Holiday is more fun.  It reminds me of how potent the different holidays were for me as a kid.  They were truly magical.  Special days that let you do things you just couldn’t on any normal day.

In the last year, I haven’t spent as much time on the blog as I have wanted to.  But it’s so much fun to go back and look at all these different memories over the past 10 years.  Without the blog, I’d still have the stories to tell, but I wouldn’t have the same kind of perspective on all these different events.  It’s my own sort of scrapbook I guess.

In some ways, life has changed a lot.  And in others not so much.  That’s the same for all of us I suppose.  I wonder whether this will still exist in another 10 years.  I wonder how much the internet will have changed and if these kinds of platforms will still be able to be accessed.  Or will it be like the old dial up BBS servers of the 90’s?

Time will tell I suppose.  I’m sure it will live on in some fashion.  Life for sure will keep going.  I’ll keep posting here as long as I’m able… just hopefully more often!

 

 

 

Back With an Old Friend

It’s been a few weeks since the Toronado has been fixed.  But other than some late night test drives and a spin around the block or two, I haven’t taken it far because it hasn’t been tagged or insured.

Well Tuesday I noticed that the Cutlass was a little hard to start on the first try.  Then it would fire right up.  Wednesday, it wouldn’t start at all.  I tested the battery.  Good.  I tested the starter.  Good.  I replaced the negative battery terminal because it was stripped out.  I guess I’ll replace the positive one too.  If that doesn’t do it, it must be the wiring, which won’t be the most fun in the world to pull out, but oh well.  At least I have the Toro to drive!

Level 80

I finally did it!  It only took about 2 years, but I’ve finally reached the maximum level in Guild Wars 2.  This doesn’t mean I’ve beat the game, just that I’ve maxed out my character’s growth and power.  I spent about 35 gold last night decking him out with all the level 80 gear.  It’s worth it though because I’ll probably be using this stuff for quite a while.

I played a bit while Mom was down over the weekend, then Sunday I made my final push to get from level 78 to 80.  Didn’t take that long really.  You earn so much more XP by doing events and goal oriented things than you do just killing stuff.  But it’s hard for me to pull myself away from just exploring.

So now, I’m ready to move on and finish the rest of my personal story and “beat” the game.  Though there’s a ton more content out there past the main storyline.  I’m even toying with creating a new character afterwards… We’ll be talking about the Summer Olympics by the time they reach Level 80 for sure.

So here’s a few more screens from this beautiful game taken over the last couple days.

A Day For the Toronado

It’s been over a year since the one and only time the Toronado broke down on the side of the road.  I’ve had it back together for a while, but I haven’t really given it any love until today.

Here it sits, like it has for months.

I tried to start it up and move it before Luke’s birthday party back in August, but the battery was dead.  I charged up the battery and the old thing fired right up once the fuel got pumped back up into the carburetor.

I pulled it into the garage for an oil change.  Our 3rd oil change in 24 hours in this garage.  Haha.

This is what dirty and neglected looks like.  Leaves, dirt, bird poo.  Time was starting to pass it by.  Sad to see it like this after all the work I put into painting it.

I washed out the engine bay.  Halfway because it was just nasty.  And the other half was because there were spiderwebs everywhere and I didn’t want any spiders hanging around!

I went for a short cruise and came back home.  I don’t have current tags on it right now, so I didn’t want to drive it too far.  And I need new ball joints before I really feel safe on the highway.  So it was just an Albert tour for today.  But I did make the point to BACK it into the driveway so the neighbors can tell it DOES run!  Haha.

So there we go.  The ball joints should be around $100 all together.  Then I plan on driving this thing!  Part of me wants to fix the hail dents, re-do the vinyl, get new bumper fillers and paint it.  The other part of me want to just drive it as a “beater” during the winter and nasty days so we can keep the Cutlass clean.  I’m really torn which way to go.  I just like this car so darn much!

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!

It’s Not Dead Yet

Toronado Resurrection

Hells yeah.  The Toronado is BACK!  If you missed it, the Toro has been out of service since September 2012.  A bracket that secures the output shaft busted so there was no way to hold the passenger side axle in place.  Thus, the car wouldn’t go.  After spending a few months hunting around for parts, I finally took the broken part to Dad to have him weld back together.  A couple weeks ago I got the part back (a long with a bunch of old work shirts to securely pack it) but I haven’t had time to put it all back together until today.

Toronado Cut My Thumb

In the process of getting  everything lined up, I sliced open my thumb pretty good.  Not enough to need stitches or anything, but I could have helped out the Red Cross with all the blood that came out.  The above is the best I could do bandaging it up with one good hand.  Andrea was able to help me later get a better wrap.  After this I almost considered calling it a day.  But I wasn’t going to let it beat me.  I figured if I gave in, it would see my fear and know it could get away with muscling me around.  I wasn’t going to let that happen.

There’s not much to report as far as the work that went into it.  It’s all been documented here before in more detail than anyone besides me cares about.  The only part that matters is when I got it all put back together, it works!  HUGE thanks to Dad who was able to do what I wasn’t in welding up the old part.

It took quite a while to start up.  The carb was dry from sitting so long so it took a while for the fuel to get all the way up from the tank.  But once it started, it was as smooth as always.  I put the car in gear, just waiting for a gruesome noise and for all my work to be for naught.  But it firmly grabbed.  I lightly gave it some gas, and it moved!  Like a grand ocean liner sliding from its ways.  It was a good feeling!  So quiet, so comfortable, so smooth.  Ever since I got that car, it always had this feeling about it that it could almost drive itself.  Everything about driving it feels so effortless.  I drove it around town for a bit and really wanted to take it out on the hiway, but the thing hasn’t been tagged or insured since its been out of service.  So I reluctantly drove it back and parked it, right where it’s been for the past 8 months.

So now that it’s running, here’s where I’m at with the car….

We don’t need it.  We’ve got two cars and a pleasure car already.  What we really need is an old work truck.  But I can’t really justify getting one of those when we’ve got so many things with an engine already.  If it weren’t around, that might make room for something like that.

It’s not worth anything.  Realistically I figure I might get $500 for it.  It has 260,000 miles, hail damage, rips in the seat, and the vinyl is really starting to show its age.  It’s just an old car.  So considering it’s worth so little, I just as well keep it around.  I DO really like the car.  It’s comfortable, until the axle busted it was remarkably reliable.  So right now the sentimental value outweighs its intrinsic value.  I wasn’t motivated to get rid of it when it WASN’T running.  So I’m even less now.

So… what the Toronado might do, is help preserve the Cutlass.  I figure, especially during the winter, when the weather is nasty, the roads are all salty and idiots are sliding around, I’ll take the Toronado.  It will keep the salt from eating up the Cutlass and if some doofus slides into the Toronado, so be it.

In the mean time.  There’s a few things it really NEEDS done before I can confidently drive it out of town.  1.) Ball joints.  The lowers are SUPER worn out.  Might as well do the uppers at the same time.  They’ve probably been like that for a while, but now that I’m aware of it, it really bothers me.  2) I need some thread lock on some of the fasteners I used.  I have deduced that the reason the bracket broke in the first place is that one or both of the bolts came loose.  Then as the torsion caused the axle to wobble, eventually the bracket broke from the vibration.

Then there’s the long list of little stuff that needed done before all this.

At any rate, it feels supremely good to have it mobile again.  If we want to play basketball in the driveway, all we have to do is move it.  It’s not just a broke down old car any more, it’s an OLD CAR again!  I love old cars!  And I really love that old car.  It’s been the best car I’ve ever had.  And having it going again is like being back home after a long vacation.  It’s… comforting.

It got there under its own power!

It got there under its own power!

Reboot

clv1217c

It was time.  The blog has a fresh coat of paint.  It had been over a month since my last post, and even longer since I’d actually written any content.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to write about.  And it wasn’t even that I was as busy as I’d like to think I was.  Here it is, 40 minutes past my bedtime, and I’m FINALLY making a new post and re-themed the blog!  It’s not because I’m any less busy.  I worked until 8PM tonight.  I just decided to finally make it a priority.

I had tossed around in my head how I want to use this blog.  Before I went off the grid, it seems like traffic was picking up a bit.  As more people started coming by and as I noticed some of the same people coming back I started to think about narrowing the scope of what I’m posting about.  By far the highest traffic posts were my gaming posts.  The stuff about Guild Wars 2 and retro gaming seem to get quite a few hits.  The stuff about my old car and Luke don’t see near as much attention.  I thought about making the blog here gaming exclusive.

However, I come back to my original philosophy with this blog.  It is, and always has been, entirely self serving.  This is my personal blog.  At least as personal as I wish to be on a public forum such as this.  It’s my corner of the internet, and I enjoy posting about whatever eccentric topic I see fit for the day.  I intend to keep it that way, for better or worse.

What I may do is create a new blog that is 100% gaming focused.  Maybe even exclusively retro gaming as that’s where my heart truly lies.  I can cross post stuff here and there, but also get into the real macro of gaming there.  Stuff that would completely bore absolutely everyone I know in the real world, but other obsessed geeks like me could find some value in.  But one thing at a time.  Let me get back in the habit of feeding this beast first.

I am re-committing myself.  From here on out, I intend to make a post every day.  Significant or not.  Gaming related or not.  It won’t last forever, I know.  But it’s a good exercise in giving some love to the blog, and most importantly, capturing some of the more significant (small) moments in life and documenting them before I forget them and those thoughts and experiences are truly lost forever.  For whatever it’s worth, this blog really has helped shape me as a person, as it helps me catalog my thoughts from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs.  It helps keep me grounded, and not get swept away by the torrents of outside influence and all the ideas of who everyone else wants me to be.  Hopefully every next post is more “me” than the last.

Reunited

No one else can possibly see what I see when I look at that car.  That right there is my first car.  Not a car like my first car.  That IS my first car.  It’s a 1979 Caprice Classic.  To most people, you look at it, and you see a pretty cool car.  But to me it represents so many things.  And now it’s mine again, thanks to Dad.

I see history first of all.  My history.  A “flash before your eyes” kind of moment when I stop and really look at that car.  The places I went as a teenager, the stuff we did, the friends I hung out with, my job, school.  All of it comes rushing in too quickly to take it all in at once.  It’s like a focal point where so many chronological paths cross.

I see freedom.  I was never really guarded as a youth.  For the most part I stayed out of trouble… my parents trusted me because of it… and because of that, I got to do what I wanted.  So that car for the first time in my life could take me where I want, whenever I want.  But suddenly my borders were expanded.  I wasn’t bound by the city limits, or having to ride my bike home before the streetlights come on.

I see independence.  No longer did I have to rely on my parents to take me places.  I didn’t have to wait until Mom had to go to the store to see what new games were on the shelf.  I could get a job, I could make money.  And if I wanted to go to a movie, as long as I had gas and the money to do it, I could go.

I see people.  A lot of people that bluntly aren’t a part of my life anymore.  Nothing personal, we’ve just all lost touch over the years, which makes it all the more surreal to see this car again.  After a while you gain a sort of acceptance that relationships aren’t what they used to be and you accept it.  But this is just like an old friend that you haven’t seen for years, but you can instantly strike up a conversation with the moment you are reunited.

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Happy Vectrex Day!

I hereby dub February 7th as Vectrex Day hence forth on B.G. Willers.com!  I wasn’t too sure if it would even show up today, because the the tracking information never updated once the package left Wichita.  So in an effort to not get my hopes up, I just figured it would come in tomorrow.  Then the mailman comes lugging a box up the stairs at the office around 10:00AM today and with “FRAGILE” written all over it, I knew it HAD to be the Vectrex.

Of course each and every passer by had to make the “Frajeelee” joke from A Christmas Story, and plenty of “What’s in the box?” questions.  I had no problem sharing with my co-workers what hopefully sat inside that box, a hopefully functioning Vectrex.  But I wanted to wait until I got home to open it up.  I’ve been dying to make some videos, and this was the perfect opportunity.  So with great restraint I let the box sit on my desk behind the monitors.  It did help that I had a ton of work to do today which served as a useful distraction.

After work I really just wanted to go straight home and tear into the package, but I had to stop off and do some computer work.  The good news was that by the time I got there, their computer was magically working just fine.  Sometimes just threatening computers with my presence is enough to fix them I guess.  So at long last I was heading home.

Got the package in the house, cleared off the poker table and set it down.  I’d feel a little guilty though if I didn’t spend a little time with my family that I hadn’t seen all day first, so we all ate supper first.  Afterwards, the three of us headed down to the basement.  Luke was in a super good mood and all he wanted to do was play.  I didn’t really want to record a video with his squawks and squeals in the background, so I figured I’d just hold off a little bit longer until he went to bed.  So instead we watched Andrea hilariously play some Gran Tourismo 5.  I say hilariously because it took her some time to get used to the controls, so there was a lot of time where all four wheels weren’t on the ground.

I bet you’re tired of looking at a cardboard box… so was I!

At long last, Luke was going to bed, and Andrea was on her PC, so I could fire up the camera.  I have the video uploading now, but thanks to my awful service provider, it’s going to take 15 hours to upload.  So you’ll just have to enjoy some still images for now.

For the most part it still works very well.  If there are any flaws they are minor.  The images are slightly off center, but I believe there are some Horiz & Vert adjustments you can make inside the case.  There is a bit of a hum in the sound, but I think most Vectrexes had that when they were brand new.  And I found some guides that you can use to help reduce the hum.  In the video I shot, I thought there was a bit of a problem with some re-tracing going on in the middle of the screen, but turns out I just had the brightness turned up too high.

The case is a little scuffed but no cracks.  And the controller could use a good reconditioning as the joystick is a bit loose, and some of the buttons take a little extra effort to push.

All in all, I’m very happy with the purchase.  Now I just need to find a permanent place for it.