Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Collect All Three!!!

So, Scruffy is getting a bit long in the tooth. Over 190,000 miles now she has. She still runs good... kind of. In the last couple weeks she had a low idle issue on and off, happened once while I was driving her, and then started again about a week back, more on than off. What's more, the transmission has been acting up a bit. Not a whole lot, but for the last few months losing a bit of fluid, and when that happens, she starts not upshifting. All it takes is a bit more transmission fluid, and she's good to go again. I was able to give the filter almost a quarter turn a bit ago, and it really hasn't had that problem since. Of all the Saturns we've had, this is the only one I've had this issue with, and several times!!! More troubling is sometimes shifting into reverse, it'll not go, then finally do a slam into gear. I've seen this symptom before, and I suspect a bad solenoid, which is fairly easy to do, but at the same time rather involved. Oh yeah, the tires are at the end of their lives, too.

So for quite a while I've been keeping an eye out. Mostly the criteria was automatic, power windows and door locks, and low miles at a decent price. A couple months back I'd seen an ad for a fairly low mile wagon that looked good in the pictures. Ended up not looking nearly as good in person, and I messaged that back to the seller and left without even taking it for a spin. Not long after I saw another wagon with similar low miles. Ad didn't specify if it had power windows and locks, so I'd messaged them and asked, to which they replied yes, come and have a look. I moved money around until I had it in hand, then went out to take a look, planning on jumping on it if it ran and looked as good as the pictures. Got there, and what do you know, no power windows and door locks!!! What, do you think I'm not going to notice that??? Don't waste my time.

Kept an eye out, and one I kept seeing recently was priced on the high end of my range, $2,500, with 90,000 miles. Looked fairly clean in the pictures, and had the bonus of a sunroof. The distinction I'd never heard of was that he had it listed as a "Glenview Edition". Last Friday my curiosity got the best of me, and we went out and looked at it. The mechanical and interior were fairly flawless, and the body wasn't especially bad, but had all the bumpers scraped, a tweak in the lower part of the driver's door down to the metal frame, and a wrinkle on the front of the hood. While we test drove it, he told us of one time he'd come out and found footprints over the top, and on the sunroof!!! After the test drive, I noticed a small dent on the back of the roof that fit the tale. Indeed, it had "Glenview Edition" pinstriped on the side, and was fairly loaded, even having ABS and traction control, but with steel wheels instead of the alloys I would have expected. There was one more about an hour's drive away I wanted to look at with 100,000 miles but only asking $1,750. We headed out, but Friday traffic was too much, and we went home instead, and I replaced the idle control valve that seems to have been causing the low idle problem on Scruffy.

When I'd gotten in touch with the second one on Friday letting them know I wouldn't make it that day, I asked if I could come by Saturday after work. They weren't going to be there, so I'd been planning on going Sunday. As is my custom, I kept looking, and Saturday night I saw an ad down in the farther away section. The price of $1,800 caught my eye, and the miles of 75,000 sweetened the deal. A scan through the pictures showed something that put it into the extraordinary category, white faced gauges!!! The only other ad I'd seen these in was a Red Hot edition coupe that I was never able to get in touch with the seller of. A closer look at the picture showed the Homecoming Commemorative Edition script on the tachometer.

These came with most of the options, and as the Red and White Hot coupes feature, blacked out badges. The interior has leather on the outer edges of the seats and cloth on the center portion, which given the propensity of G.M. leather to crack out, seems like a distinct advantage!!!

Also featured on the Homecoming Commemorative Edition was a pearl Mint Green paint. The paint has seen better days, having quite a bit of clear coat delamination on the hood, trunk, rear wing (also included in the package), and door surrounds. The seller hadn't done the current smog check on it, but I was reasonably confident that it would pass with no issue. It did, with almost undetectable amounts of NOX. I offered $1,600 on account of the lack smog check, and they agreed. Less than a minute later, they said they'd take an additional $100 off for the smog!!! Told my wife, "See, I can't spend more on your car than I did on mine!!!"

I'm seriously considering looking into getting a repaint on her, and there's a myriad of little things that could use fixed. Hadn't realized she has a salvage title, but with those low miles and niceish condition not a big deal. Being 18 years old, I don't think we'd ever get that much as a payout from anyone's insurance anyway, and hope to never find out. I'd like to get the back windows tinted, and a 512 Labs exhaust made up for it, but my wife kind of is enjoying the quietness of it right now. I'm thinking maybe just hack off the last muffler and straight pipe it out the back and see how that goes, or maybe put another resonator out back.

In the meantime, now I've got a wagon to play with!!! I've of course had the idea to sedan delivery her since we got her, and now I've also got the outlandish idea of doing gull wing doors!!! Before I get going on that, new tires are in order, and I've been kind of looking around for some 16" steelies I could wrap in low profile rubber, and I'd probably do a refresh on all the struts and tie rod ends as well as getting those lowering springs. Now all I need is a lot of time to do so.

Once again, The younger boy is pretty excited about it, showing off all the special features to his friends. My wife is thrilled with her new ride, and once again I was able to tell her "Merry Christmas!!!"

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What I Got on My Vacation

Here's something of a throwback post, a few of the shirts I picked up on the last couple of vacations!!!

First up is a couple of shirts I got from last year, while we were in Tennessee. Pigeon Forge, in addition to all the arcades and mini golf and go carts, has several gift shops competing for your business. One we stopped into had 3 for $10 tee shirts advertised. Not all of them were, the better ones went for more.

I'd done an inventory of my shirts not long before we'd gone, and discovered I didn't have any red shirts. Found this one with the Smokies memorialized on it.

The rest of these are all from this year's trip to Texas. First up is also the highest price tag on this whole post from the Johnson Space Center.

The next three all came from our final stop in Galveston. One of the things we kind of look for while vacationing is restaurant chains we like that you just don't find here. One of these is Cici's Pizza buffet. Looking on the map, discovered one of those there, and just a bit over from it was a Goodwill. My wife had taken a little joke of a purse that kept spilling stuff out, so she wanted to go in to see if she could find anything. Shockingly, she did!!! I had the thought of looking for another shirt while we were there, but I ended up with three!!! First up has nothing to do with Texas, except for the fact that it is Sheldon's state of origin. It's a little small on me, but I couldn't resist!!!

The next couple are quite retro, but both in excellent condition. The one from 2009 is about as quintessential Texas as you can get, and also a color of shirt I don't have much of in my wardrobe!!!

The last one has two sides to it, and is also pretty Texas, with the longhorn skull on the front.

The back has what is now my only Harley Davidson branded shirt, along with Walker, Texas Lawyer, whatever that is!!!

In other news, I really have far too many tee shirts...

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Obligatory Halloween Post

I've got another post to instant blog at some point, but in interest of keeping things timely, I'll do this first, the Halloween post!!!

Since I had nothing in mind in particular this year, I was going to reprise my Karkat costume again for this year... if I could find my candy corns headband!!! It's been several years since I had them out, and figured once again I'd have many new people at work to admire it. Don't think I ever posted a picture of it here, but after the first two years I ran that one, I found a white headband and a white glove and went as High Five Ghost from The Regular Show. That costume, while well received by my co-workers, was very top heavy and wanted to fall forward or backward all day. Anyway, the Friday before we were at the 99 Cent store and they had these eyeball antennas, and I was sold!!! As you can see, I also had one of my favorite shirts, the eyeball surfing through a ring of fire to go with it. One of my co-workers said, "Great costume, I almost didn't recognize you!!!"

The younger had the plan to go as Kevin from Welcome to Night Vale, a fairly easy costume in the clothing area, a lot trickier in the make-up department. I didn't get a day or even a half day off this year, so I had none of that, but lady friend stepped up and did an AMAZING job!!! I figured the older and her would go out to WeHo or somewhere like that for Halloween, (which sounds like a nightmare to me, but like something they'd do) but they didn't do anything. A few weeks before they'd gone to the Universal Studios event and taken the R.I.P. tour, so they got in on some anyway.

Of course, it was late by the time I got home, so the younger already had gone around the block behind us, and had a decent bag going.

I'd noticed that the street at the base of our hill is relatively flat and has a lot of houses on the way home, so we went down there to try our luck there. It wasn't that good, a lot of houses with no lights on, but we did get to go by one house we knew had a couple dogs that bark at everyone. We walk by, and the smaller one comes out barking, and he turns his scary face towards it, and it backs way off, that was hilarious. On the way back we took a video of it, but it's kind of dark.

One of the houses we went to told of a street I'd never heard of they'd taken their kid to that was hopping and pretty flat. We drove over, and it was pretty late by then, but we still did better there!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Back towards the beginning of this month, we heard from the firstborn. He's coming out from where he's been in upstate New York, driving out. Wow, we haven't seen him in a while!!! A little more than a year.

So, he shows up, with his old lady friend from school following along. She's moved out to Ontario, and she followed from there. Surprise, he's done with his Navy career!!! Apparently, he took the test for the position he signed up for twice, and didn't quite pass, so they offered him to either go forward with a lower paying position, or he can bail. He opted for the latter. General discharge, and he thinks he can get it changed to honorable after six months.

My parents wanted to visit with him, so they came up and took us all out to lunch at Slaters 50/50. That's where the top picture is from.

He doesn't seem like he's got much plan for doing anything right off, but he's got some skill set and education now, so hopefully that translates into something good for him. He's finally moved into the basement. Actually, that's not true, around a week back his girl and him both headed off to Frisco, and he hasn't been back since.

Back on Friday the 13th, a local tattoo shop was doing a special where you could get a tattoo for $13. Low cost of ink, indeed!!! Well, a tattoo the size of a quarter for $13, so a scaled larger for a scaled up amount. They went down and were waiting all night for their ink. I forget how much it was, but it seemed like a very reasonable amount. Ironic that the boy got a naval looking one after he's out.

His lady got the eclipse one on her wrist.

Friday, October 20, 2017


As usual, I've got a bunch I could go on about. This takes precedence.

At the end of last month, I came home from my Saturday shift to a message from a friend I'd grown up with to give him a call. I hadn't heard from him in a while, and returned the call. He tells me that our friend Sean had recently died, and there's a celebration of life the next day. It's a couple hours drive north of me, in the high desert. It was a pleasant drive, but I was stuck with my thoughts. It had been years since I'd seen him.

I arrived a few minutes in, and there was a large crowd. A good portion are in wheelchairs. His second wife has a daughter with spina bifida, and he had taken his fabrication skills in the direction of making custom wheelchairs.

Back when we were kids, we were always making things with Lego bricks, then we transitioned to modifying our bikes, then our cars. He'd bought a sidehack for his bike, which someone welded on. I liked the way it looked, as well as the change in the handling dynamics of the bike. I got a little torch set for my birthday that year, which was supposed to be able to do light duty welding. It sucked it's little oxygen cylinder dry before I was able to complete half the braze of the head tube on my own sidehack. My father was able to borrow an arc welder. If the first was undersize, the second was way oversize!!! I burned many a hole through thin tubing, but got good at filling them back in and making giant booger welds that almost always held. My parents have a couple of pictures in photo collages in their house of these creations. One year Sean and Steve (the guy who'd told me of his passing) found an IRS letterhead envelope and paper and dropped it in our mailbox on April 1st, addressed to the fictitious company Crazy Bikes Inc. that I had mailed out to companies with. They put the message "April Fools!!! Look for your sidehack!!!", with the intention of playing the funny trick on me off taking the wheels and leaving it up on blocks. Joke was on them, though, it didn't have any wheels on it at that time!!! Well, with that plan foiled, they improvised and set it up on the diving board on a chair with a life preserver around the handlebars and a foam ring around the seat, and that's one of the pictures. Another shot is a 16" kids bike I'd modified into a chopper... by cutting the front forks and welding in six foot long fence posts!!! It was terribly unstable, and required training wheels to ride at all. That's another picture on the wall, me attempting to ride it while Sean looks on from beside.

When we started in with cars, his dad bought him a '61 Ranchero. I had the old family car '76 Maverick. We lowered 'em. We shaved the door handles. We converted them from column shift to floor shift. He chopped about 6" out of the top of his, and added in an offset snorkel hood scoop, to line up with the intake of the 144 cubic inch six. I cut a targa top in mine. He never did find someone to cut down the windshield glass, so it never really got roadworthy again. Of course, sound system upgrades were made. That's where Sean really got his start, doing stereo and alarm installations for people. It helped both of us that my mom was working for Pioneer Electronics. Of course, this was around the time when mini trucks were getting big, and he started a groundbreaking and ground scraping suspension shop. I had stopped by one of these and he was showing me a truck he was putting an air suspension on, one of the first to do that. Come to find out, he was inducted into the Mini Truck Hall of Fame. I would link to it, but it appears they've let their domain lapse. Anyway, he was quite the fabricator, and it was pretty amazing how his stuff would come out. I would also fabricate things, but our approaches were different. I would meticulously plan things out in detail ahead of time, then start in, and usually the results would be not be to my satisfaction, and I'd end up coming back weeks or months later and dialing it in better. He took more of a banzai approach, diving right in, and more often than not coming up with a nice finished product in short order.

He was a daredevil. I remember the time he broke his collarbone doing a bunny hop on his bike over a planter at the college where we were always riding our bikes, and jamming over to the nearby fire station to get him help. At another visit to one of his shops, he shows me a picture of a flying Subaru, which he told me he'd recently bought and taken it out to see what it could do. The guy who'd taken the picture was at the celebration, and related the story.

Just a couple weeks prior to finding out, my younger son was saying he's probably the most sensitive person to spicy food. I told him no, I knew someone more so. Sean used to order pizzas with no tomato sauce because he couldn't handle it. Another guy spoke at the celebration with the same story.

Here's a shot of his daughter in her custom chair. There were so many cool chairs there, I kinda wanted to take shots of them all, but didn't feel comfortable asking all these people to get pictures. Fortunately, there's a lot of images at the website of his company. Come to find out, he'd done the one 2 Chainz used when he broke his leg. I was able to see and talk to his parents, and meet his widow. I overheard her telling someone she wants to keep the company going, I hope she's able to find a fabricator that's up to the task.

Funny how there's a few parallels in our lives. We both have versions of our first cars, we both sport mustache and goatees (although his went quite a bit more wild than mine has) and we both have red haired wives.

His death keeps hitting me in different ways. To exacerbate the situation, I've had a couple more deaths since then, and that Vegas business went down on the night of the celebration.

So, a couple weeks before, I was looking at the hardtop versions of the Saturn SCs, and was thinking that without the sunroof, it would be an interesting candidate to make into a true gullwing door car, none of this lame attaching the hinge to the top of the door frame, but cutting to the center of the roof and hinging it in the middle. Hmmm.... might work out good, with some reinforcement along the spine and those lightweight plastic door skins. Meanwhile... I've been keeping an eye out for a replacement for Scruffy. She keeps on ticking, but is now pushing 190K miles, and if you let it go, that ticking will be the engine running low on oil!!! I've got the replacement body panels for her, but kind of want to sand down the roof where the clear coat is in terrible condition, and shoot it with white spray paint. I've got the idea to 3-tone her, with a white roof, gloss black on the window rails and A pillar, and similar to the factory green from the greenhouse down. I think it'd look nice. Ran the idea past my dad, who has more car painting experience than most, and he comes up with, "Nahhh... primer black!!!" Now, I know my wife wouldn't care much for it, BUT!!! My younger boy is closing in on 16 and showing more interest in getting his license than the older had at his age. Find a suitable replacement for my wife (all the power doodads, and maybe find her something with a sunroof this time, too!!! Oh, and looks pretty) and yank the engine out of Scruffy and do the build I've been dreaming of in it (.040" overbore to 2.0, early crank with later rods, some work on the exhaust ports, and a stud kit is probably all, but that should be enough for improvements and longevity). That primer black sounds like the scheme it could use, but I'm picturing a few other tweaks... Steelies painted red (or orange) with moon hub caps, probably get some lowering springs, maybe some matching red or orange pin stripes, and of course, the realization of making her into a sedan delivery as I envisioned when we first got her!!! Probably seal in the back doors, so some coupe seats that flip forward would be in order. Now, while I'm going crazy with the mods, why not gullwing doors on a phantom sedan delivery??? Don't think I haven't been thinking about it, even to the point of having preliminary ideas on how to reinforce the body and roof and engineer the roof hinges. Of course, by the time I do any or all of these tweaks, I think it'll be mine and the boy would have to settle for 3.

Told one of the car guys at work about it, how I'd thought of it before I'd heard, and now I kinad have to.

You know, as a tribute.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Going Back... INSIDE!!!

After my last post, I remembered something... No, not that I had a day before the month started off, or that I got a day off during that first week back (considered doing another post entitled "Bookends")

No, I remembered that I had Jury duty that week!!! I had done the online registration, and had in my head that they're going to send me a notification... Nope. I was at work, and remembered they'd sent me the summons, I gotta check when that is... so I did when I got home... Aw crap!!! That was this week!!!

This was on Wednesday, and I supposed to be calling in all that week!!! Called in that night, and they tell me I'm up for the next day. Well, I'm always up for Jury duty!!! It was at my favorite court, so that's good. I had thought I'd done a post on the Disney Concert Hall before, but guess I'd never gotten past thinking of doing it. So finally here it is, only this time I was mostly getting pictures of the interior. See that first inside shot??? If you can't tell, it's at the end also, from another angle.

I always love the way it looks from the outside, but the inside is equally impressive, if not more so!!!

They follow the wild shapes from the outside, but with nice materials!!!

As far as jury duty went, it was a bust again, all day without even being put on a panel. Kind of good, I take Fridays as my swap day at work (because I've been on the weekend shift since the beginning of 2016) so if I'd gotten on a jury, I probably would have had to go to in on my day off. My luck, they would have had us in selection or pre-trial all day, then settled at the end or something. Seems like every year I get summoned, but a look through shows the last time I went was 2013, and that was at the wrong courthouse. Also another time I didn't get called up.

The jury pool room was better than the last times I've been there. They've got chargers built into the seats, and tables in the back and a lot of vending machines. I got a lot more pictures, I may do another post...

That first interior shot??? It's a reception desk, made out of sheets of cut glass!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Month of Not Working Very Much

Happy September!!! Thought I'd do a recap of my last month...

I had the first week of the month off... starting on the Monday on the end of July (actually the Sunday, but that's a normal day off for me anyway) through to the Saturday shift I normally work. That is the week that we had normally gone to family camp, but that has been in flux the last couple of years. Last year we'd ended up going to the San Diego area with the extended family, and this year, it was moved up a week earlier. The youngest got to go, but since I'd scheduled the wrong week at the beginning of the year, I didn't.

Anyway, since I had the time off, thought I'd get some stuff done around the house, as well as try and get some leisure stuff in. Something that's been a burr under my saddle since it was done was the half-assed tiling job that was done a few years back by the most incompetent and crooked contractors shysters I've ever done business with, YYB Construction.

As you can see, they'd done a lame transition from the original yellow tile on 45° angles to white 90°.

Not only that, but the switch for the overhead light on that end of the kitchen, they moved from by the door entering the room where God intended it to be, to over by the sink!!! I opened up the old junction box, and put it back where it belongs.

Next thing, clean up that door jamb and get some fresh paint on it...

Oh, and since I'd moved that light, I was able to put a super bright LED strip over the sink, where they'd taken out a light that used to be up there (and not even bothered to fix the hole it left!!!) I'm quite pleased with the results.

Prior to this week, my wife had been seeing a specialist about some pains she's been having, and he said he was going to do a disc replacement surgery on her. An outpatient deal, in by 10, out by 2, no muss, no fuss. I had a feeling they'd want someone to take her home and such, so I told her to see if she could get in the week I was off. Ended up being a couple of pre-op appointments on Wednesday and Thursday, with the procedure on Friday. Cool!!!

Show up on Friday, and the doctor says he's going to do a fusion between a few of the vertebrae on the inside to keep the discs from collapsing. Huh. OK. He also says, "Later on, we're going to do another surgery and add some reinforcement to the outside, too." Well, that sounds like more!!!

So they wheel her off to surgery, wait over here, we'll call and let you know what's what... hours go by, well past the out by 2 I was told. Finally, they give me the room they're going to bring her to post-op, and I head up there. She arrives a bit later, and after a while it becomes apparent she's not going home that day. That day... which was the last day of my vacation, and I'm supposed to be back at work on Saturday early on. It's a bit late to call in, so I clear with the crew at the hospital that she can be there until I'm off, and I head there straight after. I don't know what they gave her for pain medicine, but it tweaked her melon!!! She had it in her head that they had moved her somewhere else, and she didn't have any of her clothes or effects there. I'd left her phone with her, and she'd sent a few not very coherent texts, and she called my parents and told them of the move, and the mean nurse at night. After getting up early that morning (barely on time to make it with no shave or shower) and working all day, I was burnt. I went straight to the hospital until late and then headed home that night again, as they weren't letting her go home just yet. When I get there the next day, she told me how the mean nurse had come back again, and wanted to put her hand in some fluid or something, then cut it into a shape... They had a sitter with her from that point on. The doctor came and saw her, and asked why she was still there!!! I told him I think she's still quite out of it, and he tells them nothing but Tylenol. BUT!!! They'd just given her something, and she ended up sleeping several hours more, until late that afternoon

So far, we're up to almost the first week in August!!! The doctor wanted to see her on Monday for a follow up appointment, see how she's doing. First thing on Monday, I call into work and tell them I'm going to need to drive her to an appointment, and help her with food and cleaning and getting around for a few days, probably. No problem, they say, keep us posted. We go to the follow up, and everything is good, and hey, you know that other procedure for the outside??? We're doing that on Wednesday!!! Outpatient surgery, in by 10, out by 2. Cool. Plays out just about like the last time they said that!!! I don't believe that doctor when he says that kinda thing anymore!!! She was in the hospital until Saturday morning. At least I was prepared this time. They had the pain medication dialed in a lot better, and must have gotten Nurse Ratchet back down to the Psych ward. This time, I'm able to call out before my Saturday shift.

One day they had a therapy dog come make a visit. He was so chill!!!

All the rest of the weekend I kept asking her how she was doing, are you going to be OK if I go back to work on Monday??? Yea, I'll be OK. That, and the younger is still out of school, so he can help out. Before I go in, I let her know if she needs me there, just call in and I'll be there. At work they tell me pretty much the same thing, just let us know if you need to go home. They're good about that kind of thing.

So, I go in that week, but this is my Birthday week. Another of the vacation days I'd signed up for was my Birthday, so there's a day off in the midst of that week.

I had heard about on the Woody Show Jack in the Box has some new items, the Munchie Mash Ups, hash browns with white cheese sauce... Jack'd Jalapeno Hash with jalapenos and bacon, Wakey Bakey Hash with fried egg and bacon, or my favorite Hangry Hash with chicken nuggets and buffalo sauce. That was breakfast for my birthday, and then we went to see The Dark Tower movie. Remember how that first week I'd wanted to do some sort of leisure activity??? Mostly the only thing in that vein I got some in of was breaking out the last book of the Dark Tower series and starting in on it again. The last 3 (and book 4.5, if you will) I've only read through once, and for a while I've been meaning to hit 'em again, but when I attempted to do so, I could only find book 7. I'm most of the way through, and have located the other three. ANyway, the movie was pretty good, but when they say "Based on the book series", I think they should have been required to make it "Based LOOSELY on the book series". The younger was going into it completely cold, and my wife apparently hadn't retained much of it, and they both enjoyed it quite a bit. I went in expecting as much, and kind of went in with the mindset that it was on another, heretofore unvisited, level of the Tower, so to speak.

The week after that, my wife had another follow up appointment, so I took the day off to take her to that, too. So, if you're counting, that's one day of the first couple of weeks I worked, and 4 of 5 for the next couple.

I picked up a couple of phone holders for the cars that came up on one of the merchants that E-mails me daily. It looked like they would be able to mount in the blank area of the dash above the vents to the right of the instrument cluster. There was almost no explanation on the site, and it turns out it was supposed to be a vent-mount unit. I find those, and the CD slot mount phone holders to be about the stupidest things!!! I really don't want to sacrifice the functionality of either of those for a phone holder, or pretty much anything else!!!

With only a little modification, however, I was able to modify them to mount right in the area I was thinking of!!! Ran a couple of 6-32 screws through the legs, with rubber bumpers on the ends, and hooked the vent clip on the top of the dash plastic just under the dash cap!!! I'm pleased with how they came out.

The last weekday of the month that I would have worked, I checked the available days, and was able to take it. Took the boy down to Go-Cart World for good times!!! It was the least crowded I've ever seen there, we mostly had the place to ourselves!!!

23 days is how many I would have worked if I had not taken any time. 12 is what I ended up doing.