2017-08-29 04:48 pm
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Car shopping done!

Went car shopping. Started out looking at a Subaru CrossTrek, only to find that it was virtually impossible for me to get into without considerable contortion. Very little headroom when I did get into it. So, took a look at a 2017 Subaru Outback and a 2017 Forester. The Outback just felt better than the Forester, and the price difference between them wasn't significant enough to go with the Forester. I'm into my second week with the Outback, and it's getting a little better mileage than they claim on the sales sheet. Nice, quiet ride, and my wife has said we're taking it to Reno for the family get together, rather than taking her Nissan Versa. The Versa is a cute little car, but, being in it for 3 hours at a stretch can be a bit wearing. Huge cargo space in the Outback, so our biggest suitcases will fit back there without playing luggage Tetris.
2017-08-07 12:33 pm

Going car shopping

During the past two weekends, I've determined (with much coaxing by my wife) that my 2007 Toyota Matrix has to be replaced. I initially thought the noises from under the hood were just caused by low oil affecting the valve lifters. Digging deeper tells me something far worse is going on. Compression test shows good numbers on cylinders 1 and 4, in the 120 to 150 psi range, 2 and 3 are showing around 40 psi, and I've been persuaded by my wife to be disinclined to tear the engine down far enough to determine exactly what is going on. From the noises, I'm thinking that the pistons or connecting rods on 2 and 3 are damaged in some way, and the only way to tell for sure is to pull the head and drop the oil pan. Thanks, but...no. 10 year old car, 160,000 miles, burns oil in a way that Toyota claims is normal for the engine at that mileage of a quart every 1,000 miles, it's time for it to be wending it's way through donation to a charity to the Great Junkyard. It would be different if just about every dealer out there didn't have great financing deals available, and most of them offer a maintenance contract for a small additional charge. As I'm getting older, there is a certain appeal to having someone else get under the car to take care of things like oil changes and the like. The weekend will probably be spent in Fremont at Automall Parkway, and we'll probably stop by Outback Steakhouse for dinner.
2017-05-30 01:20 pm

Yard maintenance and other joys? of home ownership.

The good, the bad, and the painful. The good has been all the rainfall we've had this season. The bad has been all the growth of the plants around the yard. The painful has been the dealing with all of the growth. Still in the process of digging out bamboo from my back yard. There's a part of me that wants to take a big spade type drill bit, and put a hole about 1 1/2 inches in diameter down about a foot into the dense mass of the bamboo body, and mix up a small batch of ANFO and wait until July 4th, when the sound will be masked by all of my exuberantly scofflaw neighbors and their fireworks. It's too darned much work to be trying to break that mass up using a mattock. Then again, that may just be my body telling me that driving a desk for the past 17 years has me in less than optimal shape for doing strenuous yard work like that. Finally getting rid of stuff in the garage that I have no use for that is of no historical significance. I may get around to putting up some proper shelving for storage in the back end of the garage, and getting my dust collection system put back together for my woodworking tools. Going to have to get a proper gun safe, and a lockable carry case, just because of the gun laws here in the people's republic of Californistan. So many projects in mind, and just have to view them as being akin to eating an elephant. One bite at a time. A proper welding table is on the list of things to make. Sturdy welded frame, firebrick top, suitable for gas, arc, or wire feed welding.
2016-11-23 11:55 am
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2016 was an 'interesting' year

2016 is almost gone. Were it not for the constraints of time, it would be so fired. The good that happened this year was that we got most of the overgrowth in the back yard removed. We got a new roof on the house in March. The bad that happened was that both Joanne and I lost our moms this year. Her's passed in March from complications from Alzheimer's and other ailments that come with being older. My Mom passed from metastasized breast cancer in late June. In February, Mom appeared to be responding to chemo and radiation treatment after surgery. The doctors were optimistic. In May, Mom was having trouble with her balance and no appetite. She was scheduled for a chemo treatment and went in for that. She was admitted because of low blood sugar, and chemo was delayed while they got her stabilized and ran some other tests. They found that the cancer had moved to the brain, and there were tumors pressing on the pituitary and on the balance center in the brain. The radiation oncologist scheduled her for immediate treatment, but didn't hold out a lot of hope. Joanne and I visited with her at the hospital on a Sunday, and neither of us realized when we left that it would be a final goodbye. Mom was gone the following Wednesday.

I celebrated my birthday with a week in Las Vegas. Part vacation, part just plain goofing off. I visited a place called The Gun Garage to fire a handgun I'd seen on YouTube. hickok45 looked to be having way too much fun firing a Coonan Classic .357 magnum. I understand now why. It's a fun handgun to shoot. Looks a lot like a Colt 1911, but the grip is larger to accommodate the .357 magnum cartridge. This isn't a .357 SIG that it fires, but a regular .357 magnum revolver round. Some kick to it, but, very little muzzle rise. Easy to aim and to regain the sight picture after firing. First handgun I've ever fired, but, buying one in California may prove difficult, as Coonan isn't even on the list of manufacturers on the approved handgun list for the state.

The annoyance for the week of Thanksgiving was that our refrigerator died after 15 years. The only thing I'm thankful for at the moment was that Sears was having a sale, had the one we wanted in stock, and delivered on Tuesday.