Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Blog

It seems kinda silly to continue this here, so this is the new spot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We've begun to settle in here at casa de in-laws. CP is enjoying all of the extra attention and the change of pace. We still have two cousins for her to see, but she's sick now and we don't want to pass her cough and fever on if we can help it. Maybe this weekend she'll be cleared up and I know she'll be ready to go. There's a bit of family stuff with a great grandmother coming into town this weekend in addition to the candy coated festivities, so we'll be squeezing things in.

Today was a nice break because the folks I work with decided to cut me loose for a few days so that I can get some things unpacked finally and get a preschool set up. We looked at the local Y today and they have a nice full time program for $660/month. That'll be almost 2 weeks of work going for child care. We'll be looking at other secular alternatives and decide some time in the next two weeks...I hope.

The power glitched the other day during a rain and it screwed up MS Money+ so badly that it took me about 5 hours to figure out how to get it running again. MS isn't supporting it anymore, so a lot of the troubleshooting links are dead - it was fun. Note to self: get a UPS for the computer actually rains here ....often.

It's been a rough adjustment, but seeing CP with all of the family confirmed what we though about this being a good move. We miss the T-town peeps, but it was the right thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Sorry for the lack of updates folks.

Made it to KC.

Planning on having 8 hours of OT by the end of the day tomorrow.

Trying desperately to get settled and find a preschool, but can't do that because of work. (same situation with trying to find a house)

CP's coming down with some sort of malady. Not happy, making everyone unhappy.

The LW and I are on fumes and hoping for a break by some time this weekend...hoping.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Goin' To Kansas City..

We made it to Santa Rosa today. The cats did ok and so did Cady. Almost 12 hours on the road. We had a nice lunch in Alamogordo and I got a call to say that I start work on Monday morning. The drive up through there on 54 is really one of my favorites. I think that if I won a million dollars, I'd buy the entire town of Duran, NM. We'll be out of here early and headed for Pratt, KS or further East.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Off tomorrow morning early for a run to San Juan Capistrano to see the fabulous Martins. It'll be a good trip and I've got my camera and lighting gear all packed in case there's a sunset on the beach. We rented a Dodge pickup from Enterprise so I can bring back a couple of motorcycles - one running for a friend in KC and one in a box for me. I can't wait to see the happy couple and the little ones. Can't believe that it's been 10 years. We'll come back and have two days of packing before we throw it all in the truck and haul it back to Coldville.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Obama Bin Laden?

The other day I was in the electrical isle of our local Ace Hardware talking to a chap there about what I needed to do about a lame "Tyrone" (previous owner of the house - name synonymous with all things done in half-assed) fix. Well, we were talking about the military and he mentioned "Obama Bin Laden" and how the military wouldn't take him after I asked him if he'd been in. I returned with the fact that it was chicken-hawks and an Ivy Leaguer from...wait for Ivory Tower...that helped get us into all of this mess. I don't know if it registered or not though.....

I'm reading Fiasco right now and this sort of chickenhawkishness really chaps my ass. People are doggin' on Obama for this or that.... which I guess is ok - he's the pres - but step back from that and look what it took for him to make it then compare that to the previous 20 years' worth of presidents. A black guy (not enough for some, I know) from a past, that doesn't carry with it previous presidential "ins", made it. Now...look back at what we've had slide us into wars of one sort or another for the past 20 years. Lackeys and deferment junkies from administrations that most would consider failures (Cheney), a connected tobacco governor, one who can't keep it in his pants, or folks from the CIA who then helped their inept kid(s) along. It's just sickening....and when one guy comes along and makes it at a time when the toll of deregulation hits the fan...he's the damned problem? I'll call bullshit on that.

I guess knowing your history isn't needed to get into the military, but it might help this chap from the hardware store. It wasn't required for me when I went in - 18 and dumb. It's only years later that I really looked back and could see the folly in what the US was doing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Parks

Ken Burns has hit another one....out of the park. I don't see how anyone with at least half a brain could see this show's content and execution as anything but great. I guess that it's proof of how low the expectations for TV have become and how doltishness permeates our society when terms like "sluggish" are used to describe documentaries about U.S. history.

Only in the United States of Amnesia......

There are historical bright spots in this show and one living star in the form of a Ranger. Shelton Johnson is great.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In-Laws and the Big Ditch

The LW's parents got here Thursday morning, we packed everything in the rented Tahoe, and stressed...uh...I mean...headed out. It was a pretty easy run up to the Flagstaff KOA and we found our spot after almost getting run over by one of the camp manager's rugrats on a scooter. CP had a grand time there on the playground with her mom and grandma.

We had a nice dinner at the Horseman's Lodge up the road, and were soon back for some sleep. Here's where the trip gets interesting. CP had missed her nap and gets all kinds of wonky when that happens. Well, we tried to let her sleep with grandma in the huge tent and that went well for 20 minutes or so. After all of the crying for mommy that the LW could stand, she went in, rescued CP, and brought her into our small 1.275 person Kelty tent. "Ahh...the tight knit family camping trip!", you say.....well, the weave in this particular knit was a little too tight, so I was soon off to sleep in the rented Tahoe. The seats in the truck wouldn't go all the way flat, so my lower back soon informed me that it was time to find a flat spot and find one I did - right beside the right front tire of the truck that happened to be about 7 feet from the road. Now, this wouldn't have been too bad except the only sleeping bag that was left for me to use was about 1.5 feet shorter than I am tall. It was a rough 3 hours of sleep that night.

The next morning was off the the big yellow M for some breakfast and on to Safeway for some water and stuff. We hit the road and found a gas station to fuel the thirsty beast we were in - only to find out that the card that we had planned to use for the trip was blocked. Well, I guess in all of the trip planning that I had attempted, I had forgotten to schedule the payment for said card. We pulled off of the road and I was able to recite the bank routing number and account number to the nice lady at the card company so we could use the card again. Now we were off.

The drive from Flag to Lee's Ferry is amazing if you've never really been to that part of the country. It's nice from there to the north rim as well. Amazing really...and you just have to see it. Parts of it are beyond description and it would take you close to, if not more than 1000 words just to try. We enjoyed the drive and it was nice to have the roadside geology book with us so we could interpret what we were seeing. At one point along Echo Cliffs, we stopped and CP got out to play in the fine red silt with her grandmother - she had fun. It was beautiful, and a little window into what's to come after the move. The next stop was Navajo Bridge, which was cool to see. Kinda scary though, seeing CP's head stuck through the railing...... (heart...skips)

We stopped in at Jacob Lake for some lunch and were treated to good stuff in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. If you're through there, it's a good place to stop. The bathrooms were pretty funny - as if someone had sandwiched three phone booths together - that's all the space there was. Still, the lunch and time out of the truck were great. Off to the north rim.

The campground was beautiful and getting there was nice. Again, you really just have to see it. Dykinga-like views at every turn. (google that name, you'll see) We set up camp in no time and then it was a scramble to get down to the lodge for dinner. The LW had finagled the best table in the place six weeks earlier, so we watched the sun set over the canyon at dinner through 10' tall windows. It's one of those things you look back on as just being unbelievable. Was I really there? What a day!

Well, after dinner we settled into the big tent this time with plenty of room and CP went to sleep easily after her full day. I settled down to sleep too, but only for a little while. I woke up feeling sick - nauseated and dizzy and scared of both. I stumbled over to the bathroom in the black dark to see if that would make me feel better, but it only got worse. I was panicked pretty badly and the wife helped some, but soon we were off to the EMT station nearby. The EMTs met us down at the lodge after the nice lodge ladies called them. I talked to Shelly the Ranger/EMT and it sounded like classic altitude sickness - she recommended descent and a trip to the Kanab, UT. I've had altitude sickness before at 6500'-9,000' and this was a little different because I was having trouble feeling like I was getting enough air and heart palpitations were regular and intense. Well, I declined a $5000 ambulance ride and the wife said that she'd drive me there.

Off we went through complete darkness on a twisty road littered with hundreds of mule deer. 20 deer/mile for most of the trip. My wife is tough, but she was crying through sections of it. Worried about me and worried about leaving the parents with the bebe. She's tough and it was hard to see. She's the best thing to ever happen to me. We made it into Kanab two hours later and I was feeling a little better since we were down below 5000' - still a little goofy and nauseated though. The staff at Kane County Hospital were all super nice and got me in right away. We were both treated well and soon the doc had looked at my EKG and chest xrays. He told me that it was probably a combination of stress, dehydration, (extreme- 3hrs out of 45) lack of sleep, and the 8000' altitude. He gave me some crazy pills (ativan) to calm down the panic that seems to come when I can't get enough air. I'm sure it'll be an expensive lesson as soon as the bills roll in, but it's good to know I'm not dying.

It was good to get checked out and after about 3 hours, we were off to find a hotel in town. We found what appeared to have been one of the last rooms in town and were down for our 3 hours of sleep before heading back to the rim to get the rest of our party. They were happy to see us and we were soon packed up and headed back toward Flagstaff. We stopped at Lee's Ferry to play around on the way and it was cool. CP got in the water, and as her mother had instructed her not to do, got her butt wet. After a nice view and a whole lot of stress, we piled into the truck and headed up to the Lee's Ferry Lodge for a really nice lunch. It was a pleasant rest with only one spanking needed.

We were headed to the Hotel Monte Vista in Flag, which was to be a surprise for the father-in-law since we were to stay in the John Wayne Suite. Getting there was really not half of the fun though. The LW had forgotten to pack her thyroid meds, so she was crashing because of this, stress, and the fact that she'd had less sleep than me. It would have been easier if I'd actually printed directions to the hotel, but she still was able to get us there and check in. It was a good surprise for her dad and we soon crashed out.....really hard.

Her mom took CP around town and we rested while the LW fought off a pseudo-migraine. It was nice to relinquish command of the little person and just float for a little while. I woke up and the LW was gone - she'd headed to Target for meds, was treated well, and came back happy. She was rested and doing well when I woke up. We didn't really do dinner anywhere since the evening, for us, was kinda wrecked. CP, the LW, and the grandparents just snacked a bit before we all hit the hay for the night. At this point, I'm feeling ok, but by the end of the day, I could tell that I'd slept 8 hours out of the past 60.

Once again after laying down, I found that I couldn't regulate my breathing very well and just decided to give in to the crazy pills and get through the night. The LW and I talked and I worked on breathing...soon the euphoria and fatigue combined with a crazy pill sent me out for the night.

Sunday morning was bright and beautiful. We all went downstairs for coffee and muffins. The streets were relatively quiet and nice. It was a good start to the day and we were fueled up and off for Sedona. Our friends Carie and Brian had been there just the week before and told us that the west fork of Oak Creek would be nice for walking with the little person and they were right. CP had a blast walking in the creek with the walking stick that her grandmother made for her. It was a nice quiet break and I enjoyed it. CP played in the water and entertained us all. She just doesn't get enough instruction though - just not enough people telling her what to do. She soon became moderately crabby, but we were back to the truck and she was sleeping on the way through town and on toward Sky Harbor.

Everyone settled down a bit for a good traveling-food lunch at Jason's Deli in Tempe before putting the folks back on a plane. It was an interesting trip and an uneventful drive back to T-town. I'm glad that we did it because who knows when we'll be able to do it again.

As I told my mother-in-law, "it's not a great vacation unless someone ends up in the ER!".

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

419 or "hence I'll be sending a check good friend"

I've been playing with a Nigerian 419 scammer this week. I figure that if I can waste some of this moron's time, he won't be able to bother at least one person for a while. It's pretty funny. He asked me where to send the check and I told him to send it to my summer home in Washington D.C. and address it to my 'uncle' J.E. Hoover who was tending the place for me. Evidently, he didn't really look up the address or the name. I hope that someone at the FBI gets a kick out of reading that note.

For fun on your own, google for these:

Igbo Insults

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some Interest..

We had a few folks through the house this past weekend, but still no offers. Everyone so far has noted that we have a "cute little house", but I think what they mean is that we have a little house and haven't hit the right price point to trigger an offer yet. We'll switch some things up after the grand canyon trip this weekend and see what happens.

I put my dirt bike up on craigslist this weekend too. I hate to get rid of it, but there's no way to license it in KS since it has an ATV title. The proceeds will pay for the moving truck. My good friend Pat from CA is giving me a KDX220 in a box in a week or two, so that'll be a $500 motorcycle after I get it in shape and it'll get me where I want to go.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mom, you didn't fail me... just didn't fully indoctrinate me...and for that I'm thankful.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Grover Norquist's Bathtub

I think that Ol' Super Grover should have to swim in this kid's bathtub for a bit and consider what it's like to see your kids basically drown in it because the EPA's been dismantled by greed.

If he doesn't get enough here to change his mind, maybe he could then travel to Canon City, CO and see what a leaking tailing pond or two can do to a town.

Costco Car Rental

Yesterday I called the local "we'll pick you up" rental car company and spoke with a nice chap about how much renting a Yukon for our upcoming trip was going to cost. The website tells you to call for availability when you look for large SUVs, so I did. I was told that the rental was going to be $501 and some change. I knew that I remembered finding something cheaper, and was reminded by a voice in the back of the house that I had used the Costco membership stuff to search the last time. In a few clicks, I had the Yukon reserved for a day more than the outlet person had set up (to cover the 1200 miles we'll need) for $381. That's almost three years of membership costs made up on one purchase.

I'm not really a fan of big box things, but this company treats employees pretty well, especially when their competition is considered. We have a neighbor who has worked for Costco for over a decade and has a painful and potentially debilitating disease ....and they've stuck with him.

Mmmm Vancouver.....

Thursday, September 03, 2009


The LW and I caught the latter part of the American Masters show last night on Dalton Trumbo. It was an interesting show and I especially liked the letter to his daughter's school that he penned.

I wonder, as a non-believer in what soon will be a sea of sky-fairy flotsam, how my daughter will fare at school. She came home last week from preschool with the folded hands/god is great/early indoctrination stuff at the lunch table and was advised that she didn't have to do that. We'll see. I sometimes wonder how long religions would prosper if children weren't immersed in pick-and-choose religious stories before their ability to employ reliable critical thought were developed. It takes some a lifetime to shake off the early childhood things that our parents tell us are true.....sadly, most never make it. Victims of comfort.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kids and Tarantulas

This evening, we headed over to "AntKewwie's" to see Teague and Caden. We had dinner and I got to shoot the breeze with AntKewwie's husband Brian. It was a good time and the noisy trio seemed to really enjoy themselves both outside before the sunset and afterward in the play room(s). On the way home, it was quite dark, but I managed to see a furry little critter on the side of the gravel road and skidded to a halt. CP of course, wanted to know what was going on, so I backed up and she could see the spider in the road and wanted out of the car seat to see it. We hopped out ran over in the beams of the headlights to investigate and the spider seemed interested in us too. CP loved it! When we go to the desert museum, the docents only let you get so close, but she had full access to this little guy. We stood there and watched him for as long as I thought safe for a gravel road out near the rez and then hopped back in the car, made sure that he wasn't under the tires, and passed slowly over the top of him. All the way home there was talk of spiders and she couldn't wait to tell the LW all about this exciting end to her great evening.

If you live in texas or have family members that do....'d better hope that you never have any kind of fire....or anything else that requires a lawyer, for that matter.

Read this.

Buffoonery is now spelled with a capital t.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Up for Sale - Round II

Our friend, who is also our realtor, called this afternoon to see if we wanted to list the house again. We discussed how evidently a lot of folks got blown out after the May 1st new rules were implemented and how it seems to not be having the same effect now. Things are beginning to work finally, I guess.

Remember how our house appraisal dropped $33,000 in a few weeks last time? Well, let's hope that we don't have to deal with that again. We've considered renting it out, but getting the house sold will help us with our next home in KC and take some of the stress off of the LW and I.

Here we go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Small Child Challenge

Bouts of loud laughter came from the back of the house and I was told to do this:
1. Lay on a flat surface on your back
2. Close your eyes
3. Have small child move around until you are head to head
4. Have small child put his/her forehead close to yours
5. Open your eyes

If you don't laugh out loud at the single-eyed monster whose hair is tickling your nose, you probably should have your pulse checked.

Good Read for Dads

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wheelchairs at the Tucson Tea Party?

The LW and I were passing Giffords' office recently during one of the Tea Party gatherings here in T-town and I was struck by the numbers of what appeared to be pretty healthy, fully ambulatory, white folks roughly the same age as my parents - you know, the last of the folks with pensions. What I noticed as missing were folks in wheelchairs, people with long term disabilities, etc. Where are they? It seems that the people with the closest contact with and dependence on the messed up aspects of the health care system that we have now, don't appear to be at these gatherings.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ALH TDI Injection Quantity Seals

Well, the B99 summer to D2 winter switch wasn't so nice to the seals on the injection pump on the TDI. Considering that it's a 2003 model with 118k on it, they did their job well. The last leak was the pump's head seal and that one was an interesting fix. I got the stuff from Dieselgeek and made sure that I ordered extra viton seals since I figured I'd pinch at least one. I found out that cleaning the seal land with a piece of safety wire made sure that all of the old seal was removed...learned that the hard way. For this leak, I ordered the funky tool from Metalnerd and the seal kit from Peter over at

I wasn't real sure about messing with the IQ block since it has the possibility of causing a runaway engine, but I had to dig in because it was leaking pretty badly. (insert memories of V8 Cat at almost full throttle) I checked the IQ with the VAG-COM after I got home from dropping off the little one at school the other day and it was at 2.8-3.0. Reading around on the TDIClub forums is beneficial, but there are enough red herrings in the forum threads to fill an ocean. If you enjoy that kind of thing, go for it, but I've worked flat-rate, and a bunch of "oh nooo, you can't do that!" style stuff just pisses me off.

So, here we go with the flat-rate get'er done fix.

I was working on a car that had been sitting a while. It doesn't appear to make that much difference other than you're going to burn your hands if you're doing this on a waiter...and if you're reading this and working flat rate - you shouldn't be working on this car.

Get brake cleaner, a 3/8 drive ratchet, 17mm wrench, adjustable wrench, hammer and small chisel, special funky socket, T20, and T30. Clean all of the leaky diesel crap off of the pump with the brake cleaner. Now, if you've read the stuff on TDIClub, it'll tell you to take off the wiring harness at the pump. That's BS for this pump and the funky special tool won't work on the screw that they put on the corner of this harness screw it.

Next up, get a scribe or a box cutter and make a mark around the edges of the IQ block where it hits the pump body. There's a ledge there that you'll see. Outline the IQ block with the scribe. Mark around the upper curve and the lower curves that you see in the photos below.

Next up - make two marks with the hammer and chisel. Now, don't go bangin' the crap out of this stuff because it's pretty soft. I made my marks where I could easily look down on them to line them up. I made them deep enough that I could easily see them.

Now take a 17mm and an adjustable wrench and remove the fuel line/banjo bolt and washer. Not much fuel will come out, but get your rags stuffed under the pump because the next steps will get your feet wet.

Pull the top three bolts and the funky special bolt and remove the top - if you need to replace the upper seal, and really, if you're going to spew D2 on the floor, why not just replace the upper seal? It's probably best to replace the upper seal and then put the bolts back on hand tight.

Now you can take the lower cover bolts off and rotate the piece enough to get the new seal in. Make sure that you get the pin (you'll see it) back into its spot back down in the pump. It won't fit back together unless it is put back into its spot.

You can now move things back to where the scribe marks say that they should be and put the bolts back in. Check the scribe marks against the chisel marks just to make sure that everything is in place. Being a bit off on this part could cost you an engine. Tighten the lower bolts, upper bolts and reinstall the banjo bolt. Brake clean off the diesel that spilled and you're done.

I did this and the IQ was bouncing from 2.8-3.0 before and was 2.8 when I was done. I may try the hammer mod just to get it up to 3.0 or a little higher, but it'll do for now. Total time messing with this was under 15 minutes from start to finish. Do this at your own risk - ymmv.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just a Grill Away

I put some chicken out on the grill this afternoon after a trip to the pool. We were all starving, but CP was good and snacked a bit on trail mix before her salad was ready. My plan was to use up the last bit of the Gates sauce that I had, and it worked out fine. On the last trip out to check on things, I opened the lid and was met by a big cloud of sauce smoke. As the cloud passed, I breathed in a little bit and could almost see and hear the big flat steel lid on my grandfather's grill. I was right there in the summer house looking through the screen door to see what was cooking.

It smelled just like my childhood holiday weekends in Mississippi. My grandfather has an outside grilling room that he calls the "summer house". It's screened in to keep most of the bugs out and has plenty of fans as well as a double drying bay cast iron/ceramic sink. When I was growing up, just about every holiday trip to the delta meant that something was going to be cooking in the summer house.....and it was going to be good. It's funny sometimes how smells can trigger memory. That one made lunch better than I thought possible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gotta Be Quick

It looks like I've had the second TDI in as many months sold out from under me on Craigslist. There's an 03 Jetta Wagon that's the same color as ours with a different interior and transmission up in Albuquerque for $3000 with a toasted engine. The LW and I went to the bank yesterday afternoon to make sure that the money was there to get it and fix it, only to get home and find an email about how some guy from Santa Cruz is basically on his way to get it. Now the guy won't answer any of my emails or pick up the phone. What a deal.

On bigger ticket items on CL, I usually give the first person a chance at getting things in order. Since most folks don't have $3k laying around on the counter, it takes a day or so to get things going. The people who contact me about the item are then responded to with what's happening and are put in line for it. Seems pretty fair, but it seems that most folks treat the people as if they're responding to an $10 old box fan they're sellling and there's little to no order or courtesy involved.

The last car that I looked at on CL was a '92 VW Cabriolet. It was in pretty bad shape, but the autocheck wasn't too bad and the car didn't look like it was going anywhere. On the fist call, I asked about the title. The owner was selling it for his brother and didn't have it. Ok, well get it. He got the title and got it notarized, so I went to look at it. I drove all the way across town (an hour in T-town) with the toddler, only to find that this dumbass didn't even have the keys to the car. The steering wheel is cranked to the left, so how is one even going to get this thing cleanly up on a tow truck? I told him to call me when he had the keys.....still waiting on that one. =0) The car was selling at a price where I could fix the top, clean it up, and maybe make a few hundred dollars on it, but having to get keys or locks would have eaten most of that tiny margin.

Folks get these cars and don't put the Panzer skid plates on them to keep the oil pans from getting tapped by those concrete parking barriers that have rebar sticking up out of them. The concrete or the rebar knocks a little dent in the aluminum cast oil pan and the oil slowly drains out. Then, as the person is driving the car, (in this case on a trip to Santa Fe) the engine and turbo run out of oil, lock up, and bad things like metal parts coming through the block happen. There you are...on the side of the road...with a big, German- crafted boat anchor.

Ours has been saved twice by the plate because the city of T-town loves what they call, "speed humps". I don't really mind them and think they are a great way of traffic mitigation in quiet neighborhoods, but the city doesn't keep paint on them. If you're traveling through town on a dark street at the speed limit (25mph) and hit a speed hump, your car will almost certainly leave the ground. On the TDIs, it's not the takeoff, but the landing that gets you. See the deutschlanders that designed and built the car didn't see fit to add a higher weight front springs to account for the engine heft, so the front sits lower on the TDIs after the springs sag a bit. There are aftermarket 10mm spacers for the front struts, but that's down on the list from stopping the adjuster block leak that's dripping diesel down the front of the engine. Scheisse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pennies in Change

I took the Subaru in for an alignment yesterday and sat down in the sparse waiting room. There was an old hot rodder guy seated to my left and woman in her late 40s or so to my right. When I walked in, I must have interrupted an interesting conversation, because soon the topic rolled (back) to an exchange of jokes about a 20 ton lump of coal that was bound for Mt. Rushmore and various things involving black people swinging from trees. The woman talked about her Harleys, Harley envy, and various ridiculous stuff after this; she apparently likes the sound of her own voice. When I looked over to see what she actually looked like, I was surprised to see that she sat there in a mechanic's shirt with her name on it; this moron was out in town spewing her stupidity while basically representing someone's business.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tucson Tea Party

It looks like the big money is playing both sides against the middle and that might just ruin tonight's movie night. Isn't it plainly visible that this is happening? The idea of some...any competition for big pharma and big insurance just won't fly. Some K St players make a few remarks in the right ears and all of the sudden the lowest common denominator on both sides cloud the issue so much that we're all stuck with that status quo for ten years or more. Who does that benefit? Big pharma and big insurance. Who loses? We all do.

What if we cut all of that soshulized medicine crap (aka Medicare/Medicaid) and let a shit-load of old white republicans like my parents take care of their aged parents with nothing - no government assistance programs? My southern white republican parents would shit a brick, for starters, but in the end, we'd all end up getting screwed....some more.

These insurance companies and drug companies need a kick in the ass and standing around yelling at house reps isn't going to do much, but it sure takes the heat off of them for a while - maybe long enough to ensure the status quo.

I want to know where the tea party was when the previous guy spent bajillions on this war profiteering crap (yeah, I got to go see some camels when his dad ran the show, thanks) and then doled out the prescription drug program. Where was the outrage?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

1 & 3

Well, it appears that the place where we are and the place where we'll go back are at the 1st and 3rd spot on the America's Abandoned Cities list. Anyone need a house to rent in Tucson? The bay area's got culture and water....we've got cactus.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Folly Beach Credit Cards

It'll be interesting to find out whether or not any of our Folly Beach purchases came from the same place as the LW's sister. This morning she reported credit card fraud that is similar to what we endured shortly after arriving home from our summer trip. Ours was on a card that hadn't been used until the trip, so we know that's where it came from. I figure that the sister's information will show similar purchases from one of three shops at Folly. Shortly after buying t-shirts, our credit cards were being used for other purchases at big boxes on the east coast. We'll see.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Got a note this morning from Local First Arizona that said that the Basha's chain of stores could use a little help. They filed for Ch11 recently and the news of this came as a bit of a shock to the LW and I. Basha's stores were a respite from the disorganized and somewhat rundown stores that we found when we first moved to Tucson. Walking into their store at Camp Lowell and Swan was like finding another Whole Foods store like we had used in Overland Park, KS (back when we both had good paying jobs).

I found this article as I was reading the LFA note. I think that we'll be shopping there again soon, even though it is a few minutes further down the road than where we currently shop.

Monday, July 27, 2009


It seems as though my heart has begun skipping beats recently, so I might have to go see the doc. I'll be just going along, and then I start getting the flutter/palp thing. I didn't think much of it until I checked my carotid pulse while it was fluttering.....I miss a beat or so, then things start back up. Something tells me that this isn't going to be cheap.

Not too long ago, my LW and I began cutting down our daily calorie intake, but I don't know how much of this could be contributing to the missed beats. I wonder about the effect of a couple of things that happened not too long ago. One was laughing myself silly to the point where I was inadvertently starving oxygen and adding a lot of valsalva type pressure. The second was sneezing really hard when my allergies flared up. Well, everyone laughs and sneezes, but these were in the extreme. I sneezed so hard that it put a lot of pressure on my neck (valsalva again) and actually hurt the right side of my esophagus for a while when swallowing.

I wonder if there might be a little vagus nerve stuff going on. I'm pretty bummed, but feel that I need to go to the doc to make sure that nothing else is going on. The last time I had an ECG was in '90 when I was in the Navy going for the 2nd class swim qual.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Burnin' Gas

Yesterday I finished up with installing the used JDM EJ25 engine in the Subaru. The machine shop folks just aren't very fast (or well organized), so I picked up an engine from EnginesUS on eBay. The engine arrived in 3 days and it wasn't too much trouble to get the stuff swapped over on it. It did require a couple of trips to the local Subaru stealership for a throwout bearing ($45) and oil separator plate ($55). This engine had the old black plastic separator that leaked. I threw in some "coolant conditioner" for grins since this engine eats head gaskets. (Bad design since the head gasket sits in coolant/oil all the time on the open deck block)

I read a good bit of garbage on the web about swapping in a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) into the 99 Legacy and there's a lot of crap out there. "You'll need a JDM ECU"..."You'll have to tap a hole for the EGR return"...blahblahblah....whatever. Do a google search for it if you'd like to see what I'm talking about. I swapped over the intake from the old engine and everything except the bottom starter bolt was good. I tapped the housing for a 12mm 1.5 and that'll fix it for as long as this engine is in the car. I don't know who thought that on the 99 model that you'd just have to tap the EGR on the JDM intake, but they've been smokin' crack. There's a good bit of difference on the driver's side rear of that intake and I don't see it as being that simple. I had to put my flywheel onto the engine since the JDM was an automatic and then it was all over except for the shoving it onto the trans.

It went for a test drive yesterday and held the tach up past 5k, so it's passed the blow-or-go test. The previous owner had a dog or two, so there's still some interior cleaning to do after the 2 hours I already spent cleaning the interior. If your kid yacks on the seats, you clean it up...if your dog does it, then you leave it to soak into the upholstery? I don't understand. Maybe it's a dogs instead of kids thing and is beyond me.

Tomorrow, I'll be off for Donna's title to get the plates set up and make it street legal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If it were my daughter, they'd be pulling my foot off of these boys' asses and those of their parents. Blame your 8 year old daughter? What a set of peaches these two must be.

4 boys arrested in sex assault of Phoenix girl, 8
By Terry Tang
The Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.22.2009

PHOENIX — Four boys ages 9 to 14 are in custody after Phoenix police say they lured an 8-year-old girl to an empty storage shed, held her down and sexually assaulted her.
Sgt. Andy Hill said Wednesday the boys face kidnapping and sexual assault charges.
“This is probably one of the worst crimes we’ve come across for many, many years in the city of Phoenix,” Hill said.

Police allege the boys — ages 9, 10, 13 and 14 — lured the girl to the shed July 16 under the pretense of offering her chewing gum. They then restrained and sexually assaulted her, police said.

Officers responding to an emergency call found the girl partially clothed and the suspects running from the scene.

Police say the girl and all but one of the boys live in the same Phoenix apartment complex.
The boys are being held in a juvenile corrections, but the 14-year-old, Steven Tuopeh, will be charged as an adult. Investigators said he appears to have been the ring leader.
It was unknown Wednesday whether Tuopeh had an attorney.

Authorities said the boys were interviewed by investigators with consent from family and admitted involvement in the crime.

Child Protective Services has taken custody of the girl after police said her parents blamed her for the assault.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Job Postings

I really wish sometimes that folks who hire people didn't have to post job openings on the open market if they're just looking to fill the spots from inside anyway. It's pretty frustrating normally, but now with things the way they are, it's infuriating and a huge waste of time and energy.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Well, it was official this morning using MyWeighTracker - I lost the little "Biggest Loser" challenge that my wife and I had going. The LW lost 10.6lbs to my 8.1lbs over 41 days. I thought that I had her yesterday at 199, but I had unintentionally dehydrated myself. After hydrating and a few pieces of her homemade pizza (light), I finally went down in flames this morning. Since she won, we'll be heading to Govinda's, a local vegetarian restaurant that I've been avoiding for years. Now the LW will taunt me with Baba Ghanoush forever...... I'm more of a southern fried type person and I'm not exactly looking forward to eggplant and tahini sauce.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The LW asked this morning if all of CP's bouts with little ailments would result in sleep. She was running a low-grade fever this morning and it has continued for most of the day. She hasn't been out of bed all day. I continually ask CP to keep her thumb/fingers out of her mouth, but it doesn't do much good. We'll see how this works out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


...degrees expected for at least 2 or three of the coming weekdays and the new windows are working their magic. We run the swamp cooler at night and turn it off in the morning which usually leaves the house comfortable until about 1pm.

CP continues to impress with pool skills and will now swim underwater on her own for about 6 feet before running out of air and panicking. She can't quite make the transition from swimming to either coming above water to breathe or back floating. Soon enough she'll make it and be cruising. Some of the behavior issues from the other kids have been coming home with her. Lots of "NO!" and associated hardheadedness, but nothing serious. This past Tuesday was the last of the Track Night series and we were sad to see it end. CP ran the full 200 with me at her side - really, she only walked about 15' of it. Her long jump was about 2' and her softball throw was a little over 5'. She's quite a little stinker.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tiny Smooches

Time slowed down a bit this afternoon when CP awakened from her beauty rest. The LW beat me in the room and was already snuggling when I got there. I nuzzled CP's sweaty little head and she put her free arm, since the other was holding her thumb in her mouth, around my head and pulled me in close to her nose. Nuzzling face to face is a funny little thing that she does when she's sleepy, but it's one of the best things ever. Today, it was just what I needed and it made me happy beyond words to be in this place and time with her and the LW.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Kenmore 70 Series Washer Buzzing

Sorry for the goofy title, but I'd like the search engines to pick up this post so other folks out there with old 70 Series Kenmore washing machines can read this. There's a lot of crap to wade through when you search for fixes for this washer.

Lately the old washer, it's a beast really, has been hanging up between the rinse/spin cycle. We'll put the clothes in, go out expecting them to be done, and find the cycle stopped with a load of water in the tub. Well, this morning, it started happening with a slight buzz from behind the washer. I thought at first it might be the timer, which hasn't buzzed a bit since we bought it. This wasn't it, so with a full tub of water, I shifted it away from the wall where I could hear what was happening. It was the capacitor (engine start capacitor) sitting aside the motor. It was buzzing, not as loud as the timer buzzer, and the motor was getting hot. I turned off the power and wiggle checked the wiring on the wish/wash which is where I've had problems in the past, but nothing happened. I turned the power off again and reached back under the motor and jiggled the connectors there....turned it back on and bingo! It worked.

I've had the rear plate off for a while and I think that one of my cats got back there and was playing with the wires or chasing lizards. It makes sense now - when the motor jogged a bit as it switched gears, the connector would get loose and the whole thing would stop.

UPDATE: Same thing happened again today, so I drove all over town trying to find some Deoxit. Found some and put it on the connections, but the silly machine still did the same thing. It makes it all the way through the first fill/agitate/drain/spin cycle, but stops after it refills and won't agitate. When it stops, there's a buzzing sound coming from the back/bottom. I found the buzzing today with my stethescope - it's the agitate/spin solenoids. Just for grins, I grabbed the knob on the timer and wrenched it up and down and wouldn't you know, the thing fired right up. The good news is, I think that it's a timer...the bad news is that the timer is $120.

2nd UPDATE: I ordered a timer from balcum on eBAY and it wasn't the timer. Strange. I investigated the wiring more around the wig-wag and found one corroded connection. Put things together and it worked.....for one cycle. When I put clothes in, it got to the 2nd cycle or the "rinse/spin" mark on the dial and just started humming again. I loosened the belt after I tried to pull on it and found that it was stuck/stopped/binding somewhere. As soon as I loosened the belt some, everything would spin. Tried another cycle and it did the same thing. I figure that the motor is binding internally/won't start itself or there are problems in the clutch. $30 for a new start capacitor or $150 for a motor or even a clutch rebuild....either way, it wasn't worth it, so the washer went on craigslist for free to someone who would come and get it. It was gone in two hours and we picked up a two-year old GE from a lady who was moving out of state.

Just a little keyword whoring:
Kenmore 70 Series Washer buzz buzzing shuts off rinse spin hot

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Not Listening

Today CP got in trouble at preschool for not coming out of her hiding place, thus scaring the crap out of the preschool instructors. We knew something like this would be coming since she's been on the "I'm exercising my will" kick, but it's still a bit unnerving. I know what it feels like when there's one in the house and I bet that it was really scary with 15 or so little ones in a big building. She got a good working over from the LW and I about listening, so we'll see if there's still a need for the retriever-style shock collar. (no, not really...)

The window on the superdeezle was repaired for free since every Jetta since 2000 has windows that fall into the doors. The maxima is almost ready for craigslist. I washed and waxed it today, but still need to tighten a bolt or two. The subie engine finally came apart today and the pistons and cylinders are scored, so we'll see what the machine shop gang says. I figure it'll need some honing and new pistons. The rods might be a little blued because it was run so long with a blown head gasket, but who knows. I hope to make the engine as bulletproof as possible so that I can depend on it to get me out in the sticks and back.

Still don't know much about the house and the possibility of moving, but contract work is sketchier by the minute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where'd My Window Go?

Yesterday, while scrambling in the blazing 105 degree sun to get the toddler into the car, the LW lowered the RF window on the superdeezle only to have something malfunction. She pressed the button and evidently the regulator went all the way down, but the window didn't, well, not at that time anyway. After a few seconds then window just fell into the door. SWEET! 105 degrees with 20% chance of rain all week and the (hopefully downsized) engineer at VW who decided to put tabs on the bottoms of the windows without adhesive has let us, and our window, down. I could go into the door and retrieve said damned window, but it's covered under a recall since a whole lot of other VW owners have had this happen to them. It still chaps my arse a bit.

Monday, June 22, 2009


While waiting for various Miata owners to get their heads out of the clouds, I found a used 1995 Nissan Maxima for $600. It needs a head gasket or a new engine and I'll know more by tomorrow afternoon. It had a bad coil and an injector that was dumping fuel into the cylinder and on down into the oil pan. There's no telling how long it ran like this, so there may even be a rounded off cam lobe or two. Anyway, I'll pop the top on it tomorrow and see where I need to go. It's a $2000-2200 car with a stick shift and 176k when I'm done with it. It'll probably go down the road and leave us with some hot water heater/swamp cooler money for the house.

Next up is a '99 Subaru wagon with engine trouble. It shouldn't take me long to fix this one since it's just like the wagon that Auntie M had. The engine came out of that one in a little over an hour and it was an automatic. The engine rebuild price has tripled since then though, so I'll have to get it cheap or rebuild the engine myself. Probably just another head gasket, but an entire rebuild kit, that includes new pistons, sells for $900. It'll be a tough call whether or not to sell this one. Perfect for hauling people and photo gear in snowy weather or back roads or combinations thereof, heated seats, sport package and I can have the engine completely out of the car and replaced in less than a day if needed. Winnerrrrr. The best time to buy a Miata is in the winter it seems anyway.

Having CP in preschool could really pay off this month. I was able to get all of my photos (290/460) processed and up for sale this afternoon, but I got slowed down by a mouse failure. The LW came home from errands this afternoon with a long-lusted-after track ball mouse..YAAAYYYY!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2nd Car

I've been looking lately at getting a Miata for a 2nd car, but craigslist hasn't led me to much. I even considered an old 944 from San Diego since I was a Porsche mechanic for a while. It's really tough to get anyone to respond to an ad. I don't know if it's the "don't respond to someone from out of town" fear or what, but I can't even get folks from Phoenix to respond. It's just silly. If you post an ad for a car on craigslist, respond to the inquiries....and put the damned VIN in the ad so folks can run their own carfax reports. Putting "clean car fax" in the ad just doesn't cut it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


My wife and I were shocked to hear of the Tiller murder in Kansas, but not really surprised, given the level of general ignorance and stupidity that's pervasive there. I assume that most of the readers here know my wife and also know that she has little time for small-minded, sign-your-kids-up-early jeezusness, especially when it comes to lawmaking. This post won't change any of the minds of the pro-life (yet pro-war?) crowd, but it speaks to what happens in situations where folks like Dr. Tiller were, and continue to be needed.

First Day

Today was CP's first day of preschool at our local YMCA. She'll be going from 8am to noon, five days a week. She was excited and nervous about going, but since we're there all of the time anyway, she's accustomed to the place. About two minutes after walking through the door, she walked away from me and didn't look back. It's been a fun three years, but now I'm wandering the house aimlessly.....without a toddler to worry about.

Update: CP came home happy, ate some lunch, took herself to the potty, then walked to her room for a nap. Year 3 is looking good so far.

Trip Recap Part II

Day 10 - Charlotte, NC (Wednesday)

Pool Pool Pool...everybody to the pool. The girls wanted water and nothing was going to stop them. We were in Charlotte for a day of unwinding, so the LW sent me off to tour Speed TV world HQ with her sister Cyndi, who works there. It was cool and if there were grandparents and more cousins there, I'd probably end up working there just to sweep floors or something. I managed to stay out of the way for the most part while watching things happen and I even got to sit at Dave Despain's "Wind Tunnel" desk. Good stuff. My sister-in-law works with some fun people.

Day 11 - Charlotte to Folly Beach, SC (Thursday)

The Lard's got home and we loaded up, headed for the beach. It was a crazy drive through S. Carolina (passed while doing 80mph), but we made it and immediately had to get the kids over the dune and out to the water. The house was across the street from an empty lot, which provided us with a clear view of the waves from the balcony. It was perfect. If you haven't seen the photos, let me know and I'll send the links.

Day 12 - Folly Beach (Friday)

Morning Beach/Afternoon Clouds. Perfection repeated.

Day 13 - Folly Beach (Saturday)

Beach all day. Once again, perfection.

Day 14 - Morris Island and back to Charlotte, NC (Sunday)

Time to go? Already? We visited the Morris Island lighthouse after a rather warm walk and headed out. We got to pass by the suspension bridge. It's really somethin' to see. We made it back to Charlotte and had a great dinner with Aunt Cyndi and SuperDave.

Day 15 - Charlotte to Eddyville, KY (Monday)

Up and out early, so we could get some time on the road. The kids slept through the treed hills and into Tennessee. We stopped to have breakfast and it was on with the day. On the way home, we stopped at Cracker Barrel twice for breakfast, and while expensive, it provided a little bit of slowdown for the kids. We pulled into Nashville to meet someone and drop off some prickly, well-traveled succulents and were back on the road out of town. I didn't listen clearly enough to the LW, (no really?) so we ended up on the wrong highway out of town and had to double back....sheesh. Finally we got that fight out of the way and were cruisin' into Kentucky. The LW was on the laptop when things settled and found a nice place in the "Land Between the Lakes" region. I'd never heard of it, but the LW learned later from her mom that they had stayed in the area when she was a kid. We pulled into the Palisades Resort just in time to let the kids spin out for a bit. The first thing they saw was the pool. Hmm.... We let the kids run around the room for a bit and figured that there was nothing else to keep them busy until lunch. The LW and I were totally wiped out by this time, but I dragged my butt into the bathroom with my suit and got ready. They all came off of the floor and started bouncing up and down when I stepped out of the bathroom ready for swimming and asked, "Who wants to go to the pool?!". "MEEEEEEEE!" from the trio and we were off for about an hour. Later we went into town for lunch and ice cream, then off to the park. More pool time rounded out the day.

Day 16 - Eddyville to Lone Jack & Gardner (Tuesday)

The kids slept through until sunrise and we were well on our way into Illinois. We took a break in Mt. Vernon for breakfast, then headed on. Mid-morning found us in St. Louis and a discussion came up about the arch. The girls said that they knew people who had gone up in it, but had never been there. Well, that just was not going to work. The LW found directions, got us to a primo parking spot, and we were off. It's sad to see the TSA style searches at national parks, but after what recently happened, I see why and appreciate it more. The girls had a great time in the pod that takes you to and from the top, but I was nervous. 630' in the air provides a really good view and we all soaked it up before heading back down to the really nice museum. The girls wanted something from the store..the candy store in the museum, so the LW took care of that. Soon thereafter the baby breakdown happened and we all huffed to the car aggrevated. It was pretty smooth sailing all the way into Lone Jack save for some heavy rain on the way that ran me down to 40mph, even with rain-x.

Day 17 - Gardner (Wednesday)

Visited with Grandparents. More fun with cousins and Annabelle.

Day 18 - Gardner (Thursday)

Visited with my Bro while Cady was under the weather.

Day 19 - Gardner to Tucumcari, NM (Friday)

Took 54 from Wichita after riding the interstate. Everyone should run 54 if they have the chance. Beautiful scenery. I found that the worry about "where's the next stop" wasn't there like it is on the interstates. There was a town with at least a gas station every 10-30 miles and it didn't really slow us down. We did stop in Greensburg, KS to see the place. It was a fun diversion and they have some really cool playground equipment there next to the Big Well. We pulled into Tucumcari after a beautiful day's driving and stayed at a Route 66 motel. Yes, just like in the movie 'Cars'. CP loved it.

Day 20 - Tucumcari to Tucson, AZ (Saturday)

The last day was a fairly easy run through some beautiful NM scenery. I don't think that I'll jump on I-25 again. The run from Las Cruces to Tucumcari is nice. We stopped in Carrizozo, NM for breakfast and loved looking around the little town. We even bumped into some locals who shared a bit of town history with us. I figure in 20 years, you won't be able to afford a place there. Word will get out about it. After Las Cruces, we were back on a fast road and the little diesel was happily back up to 75-80mph all the way to T-town. It was a good trip and I'd do most of it over in a second.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Trip Recap

Day 1 - Tucson to Midland, TX (Monday)

This leg of the trip is pretty plain Jane and we're accustomed to the route. Usually we overnight in Van Horn, but on this trip, we figured that we'd push it a bit to get a short day into Dallas. Pushing it worked out and we managed to find the Midtown Hotel on the web. Their website is really nice and the photography makes it look great, but the place seemed like a worked over Super 8 that they forgot to finish remodeling. It wasn't anything glaring, just little detail stuff around the edges. The beds were really nice and that was the saving grace of the place. The piles of tile here and there combined with the taped off lobby parts and a weak breakfast made this a stop that we won't be making again.

Day 2 - Midland to Euless, TX (Tuesday)

Out relatively early and on the road to Gramma's. We made a stop in Big Spring and were into Euless by early afternoon. CP got to play on the playground and in the pool to burn off some energy. We took Gramma to Chili's as is custom, and I was a bit shocked to see how much of her long term memory has begun to fade. Strange things popped up too, like a supposed allergy to lettuce. It all comes with being on this earth for more than 80 years, but it's hard to see. We had a good time and CP enjoyed visiting with her great grandmother nonetheless.

Day 3 - Euless to Gardner, KS (Wednesday)

By now, the time zone jumping combined with DST was catching up with us. We still had a good day that started off with a breakfast stop in Paul's Valley, OK. It's the LW's father's name, so it's always goofy when we stop there. They have a really nice little park in town by the tracks that has a couple of rail cars that the kids can check out. We ate at a place that was a Denny's at one time, but is now a 50's themed diner called Happy Days. The staff was really nice to CP and we enjoyed our non-motorized time there. We made it into Gardner and all of the usual suspects soon started arriving with the little ones. Mayhem ensued....and it was good.

Day 4 - Gardner, KS (Thursday)

We decided to take a day off of driving to let CP visit with Grandpa. The usual suspects came over again, and, just like the day before, had a blast. In the evening we started rounding all of the stuff up and preparing for the early morning run to Lone Jack to get the nieces.

Day 5 - Gardner - Cary, MS (Friday)

The nieces were groggy and waiting when we arrived at 5am to pick them up. After the requisite craziness, we were off and running. Well, we were driving and the kids went back to sleep. This was our longest day and we knew it. We bet on a few games and toys, but hoped that the newness of the three of them being together in the car would see us through. With a little help from the brilliant LW, it did. We found a great little cafe in Morrilton, AR for lunch and I introduced the kids to fried dill pickles. Yayyy! After a long ride, we decided to stop to let the kids run at the new visitor center in Lake Village, AR. It's as nice as the old one was when it was new, and I look forward to them fixing up the old one as a fishing/picnic place. We made it into Rolling Fork, MS and at at Chuck's Dairy Bar. The kid at the counter asked me if I knew what I was getting when I ordered a was pretty funny. I told him on the way out that the burger was just as good as they were 35+ years ago. This place has dished out great food to four generations of my family and you shouldn't miss it if you're in the area. A dash of fried food and a slaw burger later, everyone was ready to roll. The great grandparents were happy to see all of us and we enjoyed catching up. It was good to be out of the car after almost 15 hours.

Day 6 - Cary to Learned, MS (Saturday)

Today was the day of the reunion and despite the rain and the prickly MS state trooper that hangs out on Hwy61 between Vicksburg and Cary, we made it on time. The church where my great grandmother is buried was the place that was chosen for the reunion. It had a nice adjoining gym and there was plenty of space for tables and for the kids to run around inside since it was raining. My mother's cousin made sugar cookies using my great grandmother's recipe and it was the best food of the day, and that's sayin' something in this crowd. Everyone had a great time and I set up my umbrellas and took photos of everyone who dared step in front of the camera. Afterwards it was off to Bolton to stay with my grandparents.

Day 7 - Bolton to Cary, MS (Sunday)

We missed "Queen Victoria's" birthday party, but plans had been already made to get my dad's side of the family together for lunch to see the three visiting kids. The girls haven't been down to MS much since my bro's divorce and everyone wanted to see them. For some of the folks, the reunion on Saturday was their first time to see my youngest niece. We had a wonderful catfish lunch that came complete with my aunt's hush puppy recipe and plenty of dessert. Both of my cousins were there and it was the first time that I've seen them at the same time in years.

Day 8 - Cary to Atlanta, GA (Monday)

We stopped by Bolton to pick up some stuff that we'd left behind and motored on to points east. My itinerary was shot for this leg of the trip, but it couldn't be helped. We needed to put the restless trio nearer to the beach, or it was going to get ugly. We stopped in Vicksburg at the most disorganized big box store that I've ever encountered just to get some fresh back seat distractions for the trio. Of course, it was a damned Wal-Mart. I can't stand going into their clean and organized stores, so this was a distasteful bit of roadside history for me. When in Rome.....I guess.

We made it out of MS unscathed and into Alabama with only rain. It cleared up when we passed the Mercedes Factory and Talladega Raceway, which incited quotes from the movie. It was a crackup to hear the little one talking about spider monkeys and mountain dew. The back seat crowd was getting hungry near Birmingham, and the call from the back seat went out for Chinese food for dinner. The LW quickly searched for directions to a nice place in the heart of town and we found it. PCS cards and google maps work pretty well...when you're near town. The kids ate a little dinner and we packed their contented butts back in the car for the run into Atlanta.

Aunt B called the LW as we were buzzing down the highway and informed us that the hemisphere's largest aquarium was in Atlanta and that we should see it if we get a chance. Well, we made a chance since the oldest niece is into all things oceanography.....especially whale sharks. We pulled into the Georgian Terrace Hotel around 10pm eastern and were in the pool on the roof shortly afterward...shivering. It was a great view from the roof though! The hotel was good for traveling with little ones since it had a kitchen and laundry equipment in the room. It was a bit rough around the edges, but still a grand space. (note: If you have little ones, don't let them get near the railing near the elevators/atrium. This hotel has slipped by the codes for the 3" rail spacing updates.)

Day 9 - Atlanta to Charlotte, NC (Tuesday)

We all slept well and were off and screaming about watery mammals and sharks the next morning. We found the Aquarium by signs since google maps calls North Ave in Atlanta "N" Avenue. The kids were ecstatic, even though we left the LW back at the hotel to telecommute. Yup, it was me and the three in the Aquarium. We all had fun. The kids got to touch sharks and rays and really enjoyed the new environment. I got introduced to a 4-D movie experience, which was interesting, but involved spraying water on $1100 worth of equipment for entertainment's sake. The oldest niece was the happiest at the big tank. It held hundreds of fish and three whale sharks. It's worth making a trip to Atlanta to see this place. CP gave me the greatest amount of static, but she was wayyy off of her eating and sleeping schedule by this point. After a $35 lunch and $150 in the gift shop (which you have to pass through in order to exit the facility), we were...well....lost. The sun wasn't shining and I got turned 180 degrees around. We ended up stopping to call the LW who found a 7' tall map of Atlanta in the lobby of the hotel and guided us expertly back to pick her up. CP managed to leave her favorite pillow at the hotel.

More days soon....

Sunday, June 07, 2009


....are the totals for being on the road and having a blast for 20 days:

Dining/Groceries - $899.19
Fuel - $269.53 (+ $75 for start and end fuel)
Hotels - $333.38 + $350+ for priceless Beach House weekend
Stuff/Tickets - $553.76

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Well. We've arrived in Charlotte and had a nice night in a quiet, well relatively, place. We made a stop in Dallas and got to see Gramma and then it was off to the races. After a painless drive through Texas and Oklahoma, we arrived in Gardner and were happy to see everyone there. The day that we spent there was enjoyed as much as it was needed. CP had a blast with the relatives, and her lovely friend Annabelle.

We pressed on from there to Lone Jack to pick up the cousins and it was time to point the car south. This was our longest day so far - 14 hours in the car with all three of them. Only toward the end of the day (Lake Village, AR) did the newness of this particular brand of family fun wear thin. A visit to Chuck's Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, MS soothed the savages with some good fried food.....and a chilli/slaw burger for the driver! Man, that was good stuff.

More good stuff followed with a visit to both sets of the kids' great grandparents. We had fun with all of them and I think that I managed to get a good picture....or two, during the festivities. We spent a few days in MS and decided that it was our time to go. The kids need to be closer to the beach, so that's the way we headed.

I didn't know about it, but thanks to the Betsy, we figured out that our overnight stop in Atlanta at the Georgian Terrace would allow for a trip to the largest aquarium in the world. What a bonus that was. I grabbed the kids, stuffed them in the car, and took them to the Georgia Aquarium. What a day. We started off with the movie, moved on to the petting area, and then hit the exhibits and the cafe. The cousins, CP, and I had a great time and I'm grateful beyond words for their mother and father agreeing to let the LW and I bring them along.

It was another late start for the travelling, but we headed out after the aquarium (I got lost on the way back to the hotel). We picked up the LW at the hotel and smoked the tires on the way out of Atlanta. After a short while, we were into South Carolina and getting rained on so much that the sunroof started leaking....into the LW's lap. It was clear near Gaffney and we did get to see the big peach water tower that looked like a butt. =0)

3 beautiful happy kids in the back seat is a good thing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Das Auto

It seems that before every big trip we make with the superdeeezle, I have to go under the hood and do a little cleanup. When we first purchased the car, I convinced the LW that we should get a VAG-COM setup for it to interface with all of the computers on this car and I'm glad that I did. The price we paid for that laptop and the Ross Tech software has earned its keep. This time around, the CEL came on and it was throwing the P0128 code for the coolant temp sensor. After some reading, I decided to go down to the local VW stealership and get the factory sensor. It was relatively simple, or would have been if the o-ring from the old sensor been stuck in the hole. That cost me about 1.5 liters of Pentosin coolant at $18/liter and made a really nice pet-toxic mess.

I cleaned that up and then cleared the code only to find that in the last few days, one of the glow plugs took a crap. Of course, it throws the CEL on for the glow plug so that it won't pass emissions. If I didn't have to update the plates or travel through a few "you aint farummdeez pourtz, izzzyu boway?" type states in a week, I'd probably let it slide. So, off to BAP this time for a $27 Bosch glow plug. I changed it in the lot and was off to the emission station for the pre-renewal test. The standard for my car is 30 and it came in at 000 running mostly biodiesel. I think that last year on D2, it showed 10. It's set for an alignment on Monday at 8am and we'll hit the road after that on our way to Van Horn or Midland, TX.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Road Trip V3.0

Well, we've come a little further along with the plans for the road trip with CP and her cousins. It seems as though we've angered the geriatric redneck gawds and will have to make an 8 hour detour to pick up CP's cousins. Evidently there was a visit with the paternal grandparents planned for the time after the family reunion in Mississippi that we were not made aware of. It seems that when asking to take my nieces on a trip, I have to not only consult with their parents, but I must also beg the benevolence of their grandparents....pfffffft. I'll not be kissing that ring any time soon, so we'll make the detour and pick up the nieces. What's another 500 miles and a $100 hotel stay among (somewhat dysfunctional) family?

I had hoped to make it to Clarksdale, MS for a night at the Shack Up Inn, but we won't make it. The nieces get out of school on Thursday the 21st and we'll pick them up some time on Friday. We have to be passing through Bolton, MS on Saturday morning in order to make the reunion, so there's just no time for it.

1. Tuesday Depart Tucson, AZ – Van Horn, TX 433 mi – 6 hours 10 mins
Stop Van Horn, TX (or some dump east of there) – Overnight ($55)

2. Wednesday Depart Van Horn, TX - Euless, TX 501 mi – 7 hours 10 mins
Visit with Gramma and Grandma - Overnight ($00)

3. Thursday Depart Euless, TX – Alma, AR 314 mi – 5 hours 9 mins
Overnight somewhere and get the girls

4. Friday Depart Alma, AR – Cary, MS 333 mi – 6 hours
(or add some mileage and head on into Bolton)

REUNION Saturday 10am-2pm

Spend days 5,6, and 7 in MS

8. Tuesday Depart Bolton, MS – Atlanta, GA 423 mi – 7 hours 15 mins

Stop Montgomery, AL – (4:44/263mi)
-Hank Williams Museum
-Rosa Parks Museum

9. Wednesday Depart Atlanta, GA – Charlotte, NC
Stop Gaffney, SC
-Peach Water Tower

Visit Charlotte, NC - Beach House ($300)

Spend days 10(Th), 11(Fri), 12(Sat), and 13(Sun) and possibly day #14 in Charlotte, NC

Depart Charlotte, NC - Nashville TN 415 mi – 6 hours 50 mins ($75)
Depart Nashville, TN - Lone Jack, MO 543 mi – 8 hours 26 mins
Depart Gardner, KS – Euless, TX 518 mi – 7 hours 50 mins ($00)
Depart Euless, TX – Van Horn, TX 501 mi – 7 hours 11 mins ($55)
Depart Van Horn TX – Tucson, AZ 436 mi – 6 hours 8 mins

2413 miles

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Note to Congress

Dear Representative Giffords,

My wife and I recently decided that it would be best for us to leave Tucson and sell our home here. We have a toddler who doesn't see her grandparents back in the Midwest nearly enough, so despite the poor market, we put our house up for sale.

Within a few weeks, we had it under contract at a price that would let us leave town with about $6000 in hand after everything with the sale was handled. This isn't a lot, but it's our equity from the house (some of it). It seems that while our house was under contract, Andrew Cuomo, made a deal with Fannie and Freddie called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct without really thinking through all of the unintended consequences. Now, you'd think that a lawyer would have a clear understanding of unintended consequences, but I don't think that was the case here.

Our first pre-HVCC appraisal came in at the sale price. We expected a little more, but were pleased that it was at the sale price ($118k) in this market. After the HVCC deal became the new rule, the review appraisal came in at $85k. Now, I know that my house didn't lose $33,000 in value in two weeks. Under the new rules, the review appraiser was pulled from a pool of appraisers as per mandates, but get this, he was from Phoenix. I'd expect him to know the difference between Scottsdale and Peoria, but he obviously had no clue about Tucson.

The new HVCC rules that do not allow appraisers to exclude fire-sale foreclosures from comps, or require that the appraisers live in the area where they appraise means that our house got lumped in with foreclosures that may or may not even still have fixtures and plumbing in them. The appraisal was adjusted based on sale prices and photos from the MLS listing and supposedly adjusted for "condition".

I understand that the new rules are meant to keep collusion between lenders and appraisers from creating another bubble, but they're essentially clamping the home sale market off at the neck. If an appraiser can't separate my home from a beaten down foreclosure, or doesn't even live near my town, then something's wrong with the HVCC.



Saturday, May 09, 2009

Landlording Anyone?

Well, the house deal went down the drain and with a crappy appraisal, and a boatload of foreclosures on the market right now, we had our realtor come and get the sign out of the yard. Soon, we'll begin looking into property management companies and see what's out there that we can afford. It looks as though most operate at 10% of gross rent and that figure would put us somewhere around $50 in the hole every month depending upon taxes and insurance. I think that it's a small price to pay to have my daughter close to her extended family though. I do think that after tax season, we could break even due to our ability as landlords to write off of prop. mgmt. fees, depreciation, property taxes, and ...get to the rental for inspection/checkout. I harbor no illusions of this thing being anywhere near a cash flow situation at any time in the future. This will merely get us by until the market comes back up to our original sale price and increase our equity in the house at the same time.

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's Valued at WHAT?

Well, not only did we get jerked the hell around on the review appraisal process, good 'ol Neil Jablon, from Phoenix no less, decided that based on his intimate knowledge of the Colonia del Valle neighborhood, the prices on foreclosure fire sales with tiny lots in other parts of our neighborhood, and similar houses south of 22nd street (wrong side of the tracks), that our house is worth $30k below what we currently base our tax bill on and $40k below the appraisal that was done two weeks ago. Thanks for that ......jacka$$. I had a dim view of appraisers before we started, and this just cemented it.

Thursday, May 07, 2009'll be done TOMORROW!

Got a call from our realtor this morning and asked him to lay the heat on as needed to find out what's going on. The folks that are doing the review appraisal are out to 11 days when they said it would be 3-5 days. It appears that right in the middle of our deal, the rules regarding appraisers and lenders have changed for FHA stuff. Lenders and appraisers have to use a 3rd party middleman to assess what's going on. I understand the reasoning behind it, but dammit folks, this deal's going on 40+ days. Closing can take 45 days, but we're still in the negotiation/lending appraisal phase and this is getting to be ridiculous.

We're off to see Oma and George for lunch tomorrow and it should be a fun day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


We've a bit of a road trip coming up whether we move or not. It'll start out in Bolton Mississippi after a family reunion on my maternal grandfather's side and end in Charlotte North Carolina. Now, I've started an itinerary for what I hope will be the five of us (CP and two of her cousins). We're big fans of Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, so I'm using their site and the Roadside America site sources for interesting things (and oddities) that we should see. If anyone knows of anything along this route that's worth stopping and gawking at, please let me know.

Depart Bolton, MS

Stop Selma, AL
-smiley face water tower
Stop: Overnight - Montgomery, AL
-Hank Williams Museum
-Rosa Parks Museum

Depart Montgomery, AL

Stop Tuskeegee, AL
-Moton Field
Stop Gaffney, SC
-Peach Water Tower

Arrive Charlotte, NC

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tomorrow, Tomorrow,.....

we should know tomorrow. At least we hope so. It's the deadline for the review appraisal. We're hoping that it comes in at value or close to it so that we can get on with things.

The flipper Olympics is slowing down next door since the house is listed, but the flipper put up a fence and blocked off the utility easement - today he had his lackeys taking it down. I asked him to put up a gate before he started so that I, and the utility folks, could still use it, but he did what he wanted to do and it cost him - silly flipper. I didn't even have to get involved since one of the neighbors works for the utilities folks.

We took CP to see her first movie last night. We were planning on Monsters vs. Aliens, but got there and saw that Earth was showing, so we went for that. It wasn't crowded, so we had our choice of seats and few people to annoy. Speaking of annoying, I don't know how many of you have seen Laura Schlessinger's mug on a big screen, but let me tell ya, that's quite annoying. CP did pretty well, but was tired at the end of the show and was ready to move on to bigger the escalator.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Can I Get A......

3. Hard to believe that three years ago we were sweating the labor and delivery (the wife more so than I) all seems like chump change now. The LW told CP the story of how she arrived this morning and she actually listened to it for a few minutes before becoming enamored with the video camera.

Just for grins:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Well, we got word that the buyer's banking folks will get back to us....the day before closing. What a bunch of wizards we're dealing with here. I figure that the closing will get pushed...again and we'll be out of here by mid-may...if this deal works out.

The LW is off to get the birthday cake for the toddler. She wanted monsters, and monsters she shall have. We'll go to Aunt Carie's house and double up with Caden. Toddlers and lots of sugar, now that's a good time.

The house in Olathe has cracked walls - the outside walls. I guess that's not something Ms. Hubbard wants to put into the listing anywhere. Time-wasting realtors really chap me. My bro went by and looked at it and found cracks that he could stick his hand in. The outer wall at one corner has separated from the window sill and upper sill plate. All this could be yours if you pay GMAC $114, arse. If I owned an excavating company, I'd give them $5k for the lot, remove everything except the utility ties, and recycle it. Then I'd sit on the lot until someone wanted to give me $20k for it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Is Today....

...the day that we find out what's going to happen around here? Could be, but there's not a magic 8-ball laying around. We're hoping to hear back from the buyer's people today about the review appraisal results and where we go from here.

There's a house in Olathe that we're sending the troops out to check out today. It's a big REO in a good 'hood. 2085sf single level ranch - full basement - pool. I think that the pool could be putting people off, but the house needs work too. Our main concern is a cracked basement because that's a deal-breaker. The house appraised at $186k in '08 and dropped to $130k in '09, probably becuase of the foreclosure. The bank is asking $114k for it. It's just been sitting a while. We're thinkin' that if it's solid, it would make a good rental later and be pretty easy to get rid of if we didn't want it anymore. It doesn't hurt that it's close to the grands, the LW's brother, and my bro.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daddy's Takin' Us to the Zoo

We decided on the Tucson Zoo today for our escape from all of the craziness of home. CP was happy to be out and about. It started out a little ugly since there was some sort of car show going on in that end of the park and the zoo had some special event going on. Parking was a bit crazy, but we did manage to get lucky and someone was leaving just as we snaked our way up toward the front in the conga line. CP was off and running as soon as we entered the gate and knew where she was going - straight to the water play area.

She had a blast, but started taking her clothes off. The toddler nekkidness was stopped and the screaming began, so we took her into the grassy area and took her shirt off to dry. We had some fun playing because it was full of kids, but soon she wanted to take the rest of her clothes off. Funny thing is, she started doing it while she was inside the plastic tortoise shell that they have. Once we saw the other moms and kids around the shell with the "what the ...?" look on their faces, we knew something was up. Sure enough, she came half tumbling out of the shell with her pants down at her knees.

After that it was downhill, so we headed off to lunch at jesuschicken where she could have a bit of bird and play in the playroom.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Out for Review

Got the news today that we're in for another $250 for a review appraisal. It'll be a drive by/office combo just to see whether or not the house will go for the agreed price. It should be done in 7-10 days and then we'll see if we need to move the closing date. If it comes back at 10 days, that would give us 4 days to get packed and get going. If it doesn't come back as we hope, we could be in for more $$ shuffling just to get us out of here. We've found a little duplex that we like in Overland Park, but are hesitant to get too interested because things could still fall apart here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

leadbelly vs lomax

We decided on no TV tonight and are listening to podcasts that the LW seems to always find. There's a really good poetry show called 'From the Fishouse' that's on now and being a delta blues fan, I was amazed to hear this poem and a discussion of it. It's a great piece and I enjoyed listening to it from each side and then together. Hearing it work all three ways was really something.

There was another one too that was written by a guy whose truck had been set on fire. Really good stuff.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


...and the winner is.....not me, although I think that I'm right about what's going to happen on this house deal and it does not involve a moving truck, a green grassy lawn or a birthday party for my daughter in Kansas City any time soon.

The buyer's lender asked for a review appraisal and our peeps decided it would be better for the buyer to look for another lender, so we're in for a 10-20(+) day setback while we wait on them to get their $hit together....again. The idea behind the new lender plan is that the foreclosure house next door with 500 more sf, another bedroom/bathroom, and an air conditioned office out back just went for a bargain basement (our original asking) price and could be thrown in as a comp on the review.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Windows XP Won't Recognize Firewire SP3

Not long ago I installed SP3 on our box. It was an upgrade, or in this case an U-P-G-R-A-Y-E-D-D since microsoft seems a bit like Idiocracy at times, and it seemingly went well until today when I needed to dump some DV off of the TRV480 handycam. I searched a bit and found this bit of advice on how to modify the Sidspeed parameter that got dumped in the aforementioned change. The string below will take you to the spot in the registry where the work needs to be done. The linked article doesn't give the full string.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\PCI\1394_hc_hw_id\1394_instance_id\Device Parameters

I had to add a DWORD entry and set the parameter, but the link above walks you through step by step and if I can do it, anyone can. I restarted the box after this and it immediately picked up the camcorder and it's humming along now.

Almost Done

The Flipper Olympics is going on next door, but we got word today that as far as the contract goes, we're pretty much done. The remaining hurdle is the loan underwriters for the buyer, but they didn't throw up any flags when it got to them, so we think we're past that. We'll know by Wednesday or so. I'm tired of waiting and right now I'm just tired of this neighborhood. Looking back, we never should have bought this house. The looks of the area and the fact that there's a 3-studio apartment thing next door should have beaten us over the head with red flags.

The flipper that owned the house next door before the previous gomer who let it go back to the bank has purchased it again. He's talking now about taking in the utility easement and using that as part of the front yard. We discussed a gate, but now he's wanting to get cheap and put in chain link panels or something. Well, the city will have it down a few weeks after he puts it up, so I won't worry too much about it, but it still irks me that this clown does whatever he wants to do. Why don't I just move my fence over to his property line and take it in for me after he gets the rock done? Flippers like this give flippers a bad name.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Limbo and Bro

The buyer came back with $500 worth of roof repairs, bull$hit really, but we offered to split it just to be done. Well, it looks like the appraisal may be a sticking point. The appraiser from Old Pueblo Appraisals didn't really know that he was in Colonia Del Valle, so he took some comps from houses down south of 22nd street in Crackville (you know, the homes that have no dust on top of them because the police helicopter hovers over them regularly) and used those for the appraisal for this sale. He must have just stepped off of the bus from Iowa last week or something. It's funny the turnaround in appraisers - they were feeding the frenzy a few years ago, now they're adding to the ugly by spitting out low numbers. Anyway, the deal may require a review appraisal, and of course, we'll have to pay another $200 for that. I'm beginning to think that we may have to sell furniture just to get out of town at the rate this deal is going along. I figure that the buyer will ok the roof stuff, we'll get going along, the underwriters will balk, we'll have the review, they'll still balk, and then the deal will fall through. If it goes, I'll be shocked. If it doesn't, we're camping in Tucson until the market gets better in a couple of years. Just when we think we're done, something snags us.

We had a good weekend with J in town for a few days. We hit Sabino Canyon, El Charro, B-Line, Mt. Lemmon and spent some time just playing around with CP. Yesterday was a beautiful day and he got to call his workmates and rub it in a bit. When he left this morning the temp in KC was 19.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Home Stretch...

Today was buyer inspection/appraisal day. Even though CP and I have been sick for two days now, we were up and off to the mall while the house was being looked at. We'll know some time soon whether or not the buyer wants to play more $$ games or would just like to get the keys.