Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jay: Random Morning Post Gone Crazy

There are no birthdays today, but I need to write a post to get some better flow going.  Putting a repost over at Bizosphere doesn’t really qualify as writing and collecting thoughts, interesting as it was to read a few of my old posts.  I have two good ones, already located and selected to be reposted on other days.  All of which is not entirely superfluous, even if it isn’t immediately remunerative.  I need a “best of” portfolio of sorts ready to show for the possibility of writing work, or even related work like blog managing or editing.

None of which takes working on a more technically oriented resume off my today list.  Associated with that is updating my LinkedIn profile, which helps me review the details and causes my info to show as recently updated, attracting views.

That also matters because it’s a marketing tool even for side or part time work through the business.  After all, I am marketing the business as me.  Suppose I were to send solicitations out to local small businesses.  It would be reasonable to make a resume part of that package, along with a cover letter/flier.  I know someone who had remarkable results with that approach in a similar service business.

This weekend I also need to complete an e-mail to a former client.

Along with the pitch and personal update e-mail I sent to the employees of my former big client yesterday, which resulted in an immediate bit of work Monday, there are others like that I will want to remind I exist and point to what I am offering.  Word of mouth and all.  The fact that I will be going to the former client’s place Monday should underscore the e-mail.

Speaking of which, I am also waiting on a tiny bit of work from said former client.  I believe it’s a go, but now I have to wait for them to give me the information I need.

Stopped and lost my mojo on what I was writing.  Where was I?

I’d been thinking of roasting a small chicken today, but come to think of it, that’s still in the freezer.  Perhaps I should put it in the fridge, cook it tomorrow, then we have residual food enough from the exercise for at least Monday.  Days of little or no cooking are useful.  We’re falling into more of a system of turns cooking, strategic use of leftovers/large batches for no or light cooking days, and some meals that are inherently quicker to make.  If the chicken is tomorrow, and there are no leftovers for tonight, that just leaves the question of what to make for supper today.  Last night was fried leftover mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs with ham and cheese.  Mashed potatoes will feature heavily in the next couple days or so as well, I think, since we have a second 5 lb bag eager to repopulate the earth with potato plants.  Silly potatoes.

Then again, the chicken would thaw partway in a couple hours, and could be cooked from frozen far more easily than I’ve done with turkeys.  Hmmm…

Let’s see.  Resume, LinkedIn, resume info at other job/hire me types of sites, clean out cars, make sure they still run, gather info like mileage so I know what to say about them so I can list them for sale, more work on the web site, yada yada.

There was another break most of the way through that paragraph.  Lunch was burgers, popcorn with parm & romano, and cheesecake flavored pudding (which is excellent).  Well, except Henry had apricot baby food and oatmeal.  Tried giving the girls their burger (they each get half) on bread for a change.  Sadie ate the whole thing, but didn’t even want popcorn on her plate.  Valerie ate 1/4 of the bread, no burger, and a pile of popcorn.  They both ate the pudding, of course.

I’ve discovered that I really like the horseradish mustard I bought a while back, and a dab of that, a tiny bit of relish (which I’d call optional), and a dollop of mayo swirled together make a great “secret sauce” sort of thing.

We decided supper will be my attempt at homemade pilaf/Rice-a-Roni, plus veggies, probably butternut and grean beans.  The chicken will be tomorrow, followed by leftovers and/or soup, then Tuesday can be a day for cooking a pot of beans.  Those go in burritos and/or chili (or can be turned into other things), and will cover Tuesday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday if we skip a day between.  Perhaps some homemade tortillas, if we have burritos in mind.  Not to mention those are cheap and can make many other things.

Since I’m looking forward at what we’ll eat for the week, I think it’s safe to say that the first open day will probably be filled by pasta, which takes us to Saturday before we have to consider what to have for anchor meals.

I should make more bread somewhere in there, get practiced at it.

Anyway, kind of silly I am still working on my obligatory morning “get my bearings” post.  I think it’s time to get to work, soon as I pour a mug of coffee to keep me company.

07:21 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsFood & CookingGeekeryJob HuntingMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, February 04, 2008

Jay: Whatever Shall I Do

I got about four hours of sleep before facing the chilly morning.  More would have been nice.

There are no birthdays today.  In fact, there are none until Friday, then Sunday, unless you count a dead President on Wednesday.  If any of them count, Reagan does.

My typos long ago made me develop a holistic theory about how we remember words, at least in terms of muscle memory to type them.  Which I bring up because in the previous paragraph I typed “could” where I meant “count.” What word is the more common of the two for me to type, starting with the same letter combination?  So my fingers went with what was expected, no matter that my brain had another script.  Those are the spell checker defying “misspellings” because they are usually legitimate words.  Not that I generally use a spell checker.  Except in Firefox now I do, either by typing into it, or paying attention to the red underlines when I paste.  Which I don’t always, since what I paste may contain HTML codes that have a wolf crying effect.

In lieu of a birthday post, this is one of my “what to do today” posts that’s more for my own benefit than for y’all to enjoy reading.  Notwithstanding that paragraph digressing into brain/finger wiring.

Deb made two sales since I went to the post office Saturday, so there are two packages waiting for me to mail them.  That’ll be first thing after a shower and more coffee, so they get into the mail stream.  As always, be sure to visit the Neatly Tangled shop regularly.  It’s even better than donating, since you get something besides our charming posts for your money.  If you were thinking of donating, there has never been a better time.  Seriously.  See the button at the upper right.

Now that I am approved by OnForce, it will behoove me to monitor that regularly.  Kind of an ongoing to do, with a direct financial reason for being.

I’ve been fixing up Welcome to Help, which continues to need some work.  I added specials and experience, besides having modified the other pages.  Neither of them are necessarily complete, but they are there and have potential.  The specials are what I need for getting work ASAP, and I may never be able to package the specific things for more than that.  The trouble is, the first one will never be less than an hour, though it shouldn’t go over two, so it’s a discount of $41 to $131.  The second one is usually not less than two hours if there’s anything amounting to anything there.  It should never be less than an hour.  So it’s the same thing, only more so, and more likely to run into the need for extended time.  Which will still have to be dramatically discounted.

I’d also like to create a package for general support/assistance/coaching from wherever, so for instance you could e-mail a question and get an answer.  The trick is figuring out how that averages out, and where to draw the line.  I’ll probably offer up something prepaid really cheap because the money, yeah, imperative.  Enough so for me to mention the donate button, even if it’s not quite “someone needs a transplant.”

Anyway, more working on the site.

More importantly, pimping it now that it is adequate.  I need to compose e-mail to a few dozen prospects.

I also need to compose e-mail to a former client.  Depending on the response, that may mean additional activity.

I need to look at listing the van for sale on Craigslist, which also means emptying the van, which could be interesting.  One of the things in it is the nice Brother laser fax/copier from the old office, which I love, but is redundant.  It was a smidge below $300 new It mainly got used for copying tax returns and faxing resumes for my partner.  How’s that for a morale boost?  The partner comes to the office and hangs out for the day working on his job hunting and faxing resumes.  Or to work on personal side work, paid or free, bouncing things off me or outright getting my help.  Anyway, it’s time to sell that off, I think.  After bringing it in and testing to make sure it still works, apart from being low on toner.  The rest is mainly art and car seats.  There actually are places the art can be stored in here.

Let’s see, what else?

Check the domain auction and be annoyed again that I’ll be lucky to sell it within the 90 day period, even for the lowest amount I can reasonably expect.  But I have to watch it, just in case there’s an offer.

I want to rejigger my LinkedIn profile again.  Perhaps work on some of the other networking and job sites.

I’ve been mentally recomposing what my tech oriented resume might look like and today would be as good as any to work on it, especially with the WTH experience page and reviewing LinkedIn freshening things in my mind.

Oh right.  I am the host of this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists at Bizosphere.  Fortunately, I have a good host for the next edition.  Beyond that, well, I hope I can attract more.  I’ve given most of the submissions a preliminary look and have been accumulating links of my own, as well as blogs to revisit looking for more if needed.

In there somewhere may be blog ad related activity, though I may want to give it a day if I don’t hear from people.

Guess I’d better get to it, since it’s already late.

01:52 PM | BirthdaysBloggingBusinessCarsGeekeryJob HuntingMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jay: What a Gas

So now I remember…

In my travels yesterday, I stopped to fill the tank on the truck.  For which I also bought wiper blades, as one is shredding.  Mounting them is another thing to be done today.

Middleboro has an incredibly stupid regulation, as I’ve mentioned before, whereby all cars must pull through the gas pumps in the same direction.  At least at self-serve stations.  That means 90% of the gas gets sold on one side of the pump, and there can be a line, while the other side stands vacant.

I’d been thinking that the hoses are pretty long, and all the more likely to be so to counteract the regulatory nonsense.  I’d been thinking the truck isn’t that wide, and the bed is lower than the roof of a typical car.  So I’d been thinking that I ought to be able to pump wrong-sided.

I tried it.  Their hoses are amazingly short.  It was all I could do to reach.  Then the funny angle apparently disabled the automatic shutoff, so I ended up with gas splurting out all over my hand and onto my shoe.  Doh!  Of the $41.79 to fill it, probably it should have stopped not later than $41.  Yay.

Lesson learned.  I use the other side every time, even if it means waiting in line.

05:42 PM | CarsMoneyNewsStupidity • (1) CommentsPermalink

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jay: Back

The visit to the doctor was weird.  Appointment was for 9:45 and we were the only ones in the waiting room when we arrived exactly on time.  We were called in within a few minutes and did the preliminaries.  I promptly forgot Sadie’s height and weight.  Well, her weight was 34 lbs I believe, and the doctor was thrilled with both when he finally saw her and commented on it.

Sadie was fine for being weighed and measured.  She was fine for blood pressure, which was something like 101/75 if I remember right.  The nurse said “she’s nervous” with a chuckle when she announced it, so I take it it should have bee lower.  She was fine for getting her finger pricked and having two little samples tested; in fact, that fascinates her.  I was tempted to say “no, it’s science” when the nurse showed Sadie the test chip thing wicking up blood and said “it’s magic.” She was fine for getting undressed and putting on a ridiculous adult sized johnny, which she shed eventually after sitting on the chair for like an hour while I was grilled.

When the doctor opened the door to introduce the latest student and say that guy would come in to check my blood pressure, then he’d come in to see Sadie, Sadie freaked at the sight of him.  Apparently there’s something about his big hair and big beard that bothers her on a primal level.  She liked the fourth year Tufts student, who was a cleancut young Chinese guy.

After a while, the student doc came in and we talked at length.  It seemed like the doctor thought it might be better to have someone not already known to me do a psych evaluation, in addition to his doing a thorough exam.  All while Sadie sat and waited her turn forever.

My blood pressure was up a bit.  Can’t imagine why.  Therefore I have to go back in four weeks and eight weeks.  Yay.  Got a prescription for the hand, even as I had figured out the root cause myself.

The bad spots on the hands are where my hands make contact with the steering wheel.  And I hardly do any driving!  The funny thing is, I remember making the same connection in the past.  I also never had this problem when I drove a car with a (might have been leather but not sure) steering wheel cover.  I also noticed I kept gripping the wheel excessively tight.  Not that it ought to make the hand do that, but at least there’s a clear correlation.

I need to get an eye exam as soon as I can afford to do so.  It was the tracking test that reminded me to mention the blurring problem, but I also glitched a little while tracking.

The student doctor fished for stuff like skin cancer, as he was fascinated by my pigmentation problem, which stands out prominently since my hair is freshly cut.  It’s a symptom of, as Deb said, “things he’s only seen in a textbook” that I mysteriously don’t have.  He was even interested in the pigmentation of my arms, where you can see freckles went wild, and where my summer tans eventually stopped fading away over the winter.

The gout drew little interest, even though I said the hydrochlorothiazide seemed to make it flare up and I’d reduced that to every other day.  I didn’t tell either of them that I forget to take any of the pills an average of a couple times a week.  It was apparently enough that it’s not active currently.  By the time we were done, I didn’t want to push it.  I almost wished I hadn’t pointed out the hand, since I know it goes away itself.  And gee, why would my blood pressure be elevated after you’ve grilled me for an hour during which my bladder’s been full because I took the hydrochlorothiazide this morning?  Could it be because I’m fretting about the delay in giving my kid her checkup when I forgot to bring the diaper bag in with me and because I’m worried she might stop being patient?  Naw.

They tell me I need more structure, which is part of the impetus for seeking a job rather than attempting to be self-employed full time.

The doctor is worried about one of Sadie’s feet turning in when she walks, so we have a prescription for cookies to insert in her shoes.  So… how does that help when she wears shoes about once a week?

I was so tapped out by the time we were done - it was 11:56 when we got in the truck to leave - I didn’t want to risk seeing another person and having to be friendly or whatever today.  Instead of going to Burger King, which is Sadie’s big thing, and to the old office, we just hit the post office for the business mail and hit BK on the way home, getting enough for everyone.  So here I am, structured into the office to work on CotC, just as soon as I finish this post and relieve my hydrochlorothiazide before it bursts.  I wanted to have a resume to point to from CotC, but unless I can toss something together from what I already have and promise updates, I’ll have to structure my way into that following CotC.

04:37 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsKidsMedical • (1) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jay: Submit the word you see below

Hey comment spammers, fuck off.

The rest of you, disregard this post.  I am attempting to mess with the results the manual comment spammers from Ukraine, Russia, or wherever they may lurk, get by searching Google the title of this post in quotes for this domain only.  That is why I am marking this post as being in every available category, because then every category should come up as a link in Google that is not a distinct individual post page with comment entry available.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Jay: The Saga Continues…

Valerie continues to be intent on potty training, which is mostly okay.  What’s bad is when she pulls an anti-Sadie.  That is, sit for literally a couple seconds, then get down, put the ring away and wash her hands.  That’s just going through the motions.  And even that’s fine, except when she gets herself stuck in a goto loop.

10 Go in bathroom
20 Lift seat
30 Place ring on toilet
40 Place stool in front of toilet if needed
50 Attempt to climb up, coming dangerously close to putting your legs into the toilet
60 Get set in place by a parent
70 Sit for random length of time
80 Get down
90 Put ring away
100 Close cover
110 Flush
120 Optionally put stool away
130 Wash hands
140 Goto 20
150 Dry hands
160 Leave bathroom
170 Get help putting on dry pullups
180 Begin screamfest as Sadie tomrents you

Line 140 is not supposed to be there, but often is, usually when the random duration is absurdly low.  She hates it when I insert a break in the code and manually skip to 150.

Meanwhile, Sadie had to participate this morning and sat there for something like an hour.  We had to remove her.  It wouldn’t be so bad were it her own potty, or if we had multiple bathrooms.  If she’s willing, it’s likely to be sitting there for extended lengths that will get her used to going without something against her skin, and get her enough success to be encouraged.

Besides the whole transportation thing, it doesn’t seem like disrupting Val’s potty training juggernaut would be a good idea, so we’re passing on going to my brother’s cookout today.  The question is, will my mother show up here of her own accord in the next half hour, simply assuming we need and want a ride.  I didn’t really give her a hard time last Sunday when she did it, but I did tell her rather pointedly that the last thing I expected was to see her pull up out front as we were loading Sadie in the truck for me to drive her there.  Perhaps by the time she’s 80 she will have caught on to the whole “making advance arrangements” thing that people so often do and expect.

02:06 PM | CarsGeekeryKids • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Jay: Look Ma, No Posts

It’s been kind of a busy day.  The Jedi Mom is well on her way back to California, having left the ground late this afternoon.  I got her to Logan Airport not that long after 2:00, with a goal of being there by 2:40.  On the way, the truck’s “service engine soon” light helpfully reignited, meaning presumably that the shop will indeed need to replace the third oxygen sensor.  Or something… ka-ching!  If it’s just the sensor, that’s presumably $200.  If I were sure the sensor was all, I’d consider driving despite the light, but I can’t afford to learn it’s something worse, even though it’s obviously insignificant enough to show no symptoms and to allow me to drive at least halfway to Logan, then back with a detour.  And once again this happened promptly after filling the tank.  What; I can’t fill it with gas anymore?  I should stick to putting $10 at a time and staying no higher than three-quarters?  Doh.

The detour on the way home was to stop by the old office, where I had a compulsion to stop, above and beyond wanting to grab the mail and a few other things.  Turned out the compulsion was because one of the employees of the former big client had left me a big bag of mostly cold weather clothes for Sadie and, in some cases or when Sadie outgrows them, Valerie.  Awesome stuff!  Right on the heels of a giant box of also awesome clothes mailed for Henry from friends in Texas.  That sort of compulsion leads Deb to note how freaky or weird I am, and who am I to visit Egypt for a swim?

The Jedi Parents got us a multifunction printer/scanner/copier/fax, which needs a surface.  I brought home a rolling printer (or microwave or whatever) stand from the office.  It held my old color printer, and I took them both to the office years ago.  More recently, I kept small inventory on it; keyboards, mice, speakers, and power supplies, mostly.  I also had a huge box of pictures at the office, a combination of storing it without taking up space in the apartment, and wanting to scan a bunch of them, with the office being the home of the since broken scanner.  They have to come home this month anyway, and home is where the scanner is.  Once I set it up.  Which I expect will happen tomorrow.  Along with putting up curtains Deb got for my office, so I can see the computer in the morning.

I also grabbed some software, packed some rubbish to the dumpster, and wielded the vacuum on the open areas, in a preliminary, overdue sort of way.  I was torn about doing more, but it was 5:00 by then.

While I was there, I handed out business cards to a few people and did some catching up.

Once home, I really missed Deb’s mother.  Supper was late and hectic.  We decided to have leftovers for us and the kids were eager for hot dogs.  I’d served them hot dogs, cheese, tomatoes, ketchup, and relish before I even started ours.  I dropped the leftovers on the floor in front of the microwave.  At Jedi Mom’s request, Monday night we had a repeat of chicken burrito fixings, only this time with homemade refried beans that were exceptional.  If you like garlic, anyway.  A cup of dry beans got 5 cloves of garlic, most of a pepper worth of mainly yellow and some green pepper, and perhaps a small onion worth of sweet onion.  Plus some spices from the jars, but not a lot.  I did up some more modestly flavored chicken.  There was just enough for two of us to eke out very beany and cheesy burritos.  The stubborn door catch on the microwave tossed the container out of my hand.  Argh.

We ended up with ground beef burritos using canned beans.  It was unusually good, so that worked out.

Meanwhile, without Deb’s mother hanging out with them, Valerie went back to her old routine of tipping her plate over and strewing the contents around to announce she’s done.  The two of them went in the bath, though, and were happy and quiet, except for some singing, for an extended time.  Too quiet.

Every one of the three bath mats are sitting in the bottom of the tub right now, waiting to be wrung out, hung, and then washed tomorrow.  A towel had to be deployed for all the water they got on the floor (which flooding is usually the result of much louder behavior than tonight’s).  Because I was turning raw hamburger into 24 patties to freeze, they didn’t get a proper dose of my ire over that, which they should know by now is absolutely unacceptable.  Which is probably why Valerie got such a grim reaction to her turning off the overhead light and fan in the living room for the third time in a row.  Made worse because Sadie had just refused to allow a diaper to be put on her - well, attempted to refuse, requiring a team effort - as she sometimes does when she gets the notion at entirely the wrong time that perhaps she ought to be wearing something other than diapers now.  Or whatever comes over her.

I finally finished getting the meat into the overstuffed freezer after they were in bed, which required me for a crib lift.  Deb can’t pick Valerie up without hurting herself.  It’s definitely worse this time than the other two times.

Which brings us to now, and finally a post other than one of the morning birthdays.  I keep waiting for the dishes to clean themselves automatically, but Jedi Mom is gone.  Heh.  Seriously, I started prepping them to get some in the dishwasher and others handwashed.  After I wandered in here, the baby left her alone for a few minutes and Deb continued the effort.  I’ll click “submit” and probably go do some more, or the pans will be washed in the morning because we’re both ready to collapse.

12:04 AM | BloggingBusinessCarsFood & CookingGeekeryKidsTotally Random • (1) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jay: Still Poor

I provoked Mega Millions into being a particularly strange sequence of numbers, by saying that it theoretically could be, but wasn’t normally.  Of course, my example was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, but still.  If I can invoke Rachel Lucas into returning to blogging, and invoke the girl next door, known to us as Baton Girl, into returning to playing loud music and practicing baton and doing dance choreography in the yard, I can ruin the lotter number sequence.

Incidentally, I just noticed that still poor is a spoonerism for pill store.  Perhaps watching Rocky and Bullwinkle yesterday inspired that realization.  When we saw one of the $1 cartoon DVDs at Wal-Mart with some episodes of that, I couldn’t get it into the cart fast enough.  Jay Ward was a genius.

At least we are slightly less poor.  We received a gift certificate for the baby from some awesome blog friends.  On the same day, I was going through things and discovered a card that had $5 for each of the girls, plus gift checks for me and Deb in it.  Doh!  I can’t believe that got lost in the shuffle for months.  Sadie is now up to $15.55 in her stash, and Valerie only had 25 cents, so now she has $7.25, including $2 I added gratuitously.  My goal is to keep track and make sure they actually get all their gift money - and know that much of it is gone when they’ve spent it, as keeping no track out is as bad as keeping no track as it accumulates - preferably as long from now and to spend, or save, as sensibly as possible.  In my family we were never taught about making or managing money as kids, with repercussions decades in the echoing.  “Poor” isn’t merely a state of available funds; it’s a state of mind, hard to escape once ingrained.

Oh well.  In my travels I’ll have to buy a ticket for the $325 million jackpot Friday.  This morning I need to return my grandmother’s car we borrowed to go to the appointments yesterday.  Next week Deb should be able to drive, and tomorrow I’ll take Valerie to her checkup.  She only just got turned forward before the van died again, and was a much happier rider.  She hated facing backward, especially on hills.  She should just love riding in the truck!  Sadie did.  There’s so much more visibility, and it’s so much like being a big person.  I also need to write some checks and mail stuff.  Ugh.

12:00 PM | BusinessCarsKidsMedicalTotally RandomTV • (2) CommentsPermalink

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jay: Cah Saga Continued

My brother brought Deb and his kids in the other van, so he hadn’t looked at the other van yet, but it turns out he never filles it.  He adds $20 and it lasts him two weeks.  I bet it has an overfilling related problem.

As far as we can tell, his theory about the van is probably correct.

It started right up and ran as okay as it has lately.  You could see the antifreeze in the oil, but it would have separated out and settled under the oil in the pan.  It took idling quite a whikle before coolant became evident in the exhaust, which was perfectly normal at first.

The radiator developed intense pressure, yet remained stone cold.  The fluid in the radiator appeared to have a little oil in it.

He advised me to price a head gasket kit and find out if one is in stock or a special order.  The lattter being less likely to be returnable.  He has a compression tester, so on an upcoming weekend we could take it apart, test it, see more certainly where the problem lies, and use the kit as needed.  I could also see if a low mileage motor from a rear end total is available for not much more than the parts, but that sounds like an awful lot of trouble.

I could also take it to the shop.  Part of what stopped me was the idea I’d have to have them tow it.  It runs well enough to drive there.  The difference, besides labor, would be in how thoroughly they would take it apart and have it inspected to be sure of no cracks.  That would add a couple hundred bucks.  The other difference would be that I’d take it there, they’d do it, and it would be done, just like that.  If I dropped it there today, it would probably be done we’d even begin to work on it ourselves.  Do I take the slow boat, and not worry about the possibility of minor damage microscopic inspection would find, and spend, say, $200, or do I take the fast boat and be overjoyed if it’s under $1000, but possibly have it back to drive home the baby?

05:23 PM | Cars • (1) CommentsPermalink

Jay: ‘I can kill you with my brain.”

Deb just called.  She’s leaving the hospital, having done the pre-op, arranged the time we are to be there Monday (6:00 AM), and given a check to the billing people for the $500 copay.  Actually, it looks like she called while I was in the shower.  With Valerie, who heard the water and had to be in it.  Sadie then noticed Valerie in the water after I was out, shaving, and had to join her, so they are there for safekeeping but that won’t last long.  Even Underdog didn’t keep Sadie occupied fully for the duration of all the primary episodes on a DVD (she’s cute, periodically declaring “that’s funny!” at something that is, indeed, meant to be funny), though it worked better than it did on Valerie, who initially wouldn’t allow herself to be changed unless I did it in the living room so she could keep watching.

Anyway, she’s driving my brother’s van, the one I mentioned filling in the previous post.  As I was pumping it full of gas, I couldn’t help thinking of times when people have told me “but don’t fill it all the way” because their car had a top of the tank leak or such.

She smelled gas the whole way to the hospital, especially when stopped, to the point of it being nauseating.  When she parked, the extra maneuvering involved resulted in a clear trail of gasoline, which seems to be leaking right under the driver seat.

She’s going to drive it the couple miles from the hospital to my brother’s house, at which point we’ll find out if this is new, because she can break cars with her mind, or if it’s something already there that I triggered by filling the tank.  Or both.

If it’s new, then apparently Deb has a new super power.  Sort of like Murphy, only focused on cars.  Sometimes I wonder if I have that same power.

02:31 PM | CarsKidsMedicalTV • (3) CommentsPermalink

Jay: More Nothing to Say

Wow.  I have nothing to say, and there are no birthdays.  That I know of.  If you are a blogger I might have heard of, or know one, who has a birthday today, by all means I will happily add it to my calendar.

Deb is off to the pre-op appointment at the hospital.  The kids keep trying to push me out of this chair, which when they managed it allowed Sadie to spin Valerie around, while Valerie giggled maniacally.  Sadie wants candy for breakfast; preferably a lollipop.

Deb will stop afterward at my brother’s house, and he’ll come back with her by way of getting back the van we borrowed.  We got it half full.  Apparently it gets mileage much like our van, since we used a good quarter tank while hardly driving it.  Heck, we drove from East Bridgewater, down back roads to 24 and then to Michael’s in Taunton so Deb could get supplies needed for this custom order from her shop and other stuff, from there home, and then I used the van to drive to the bank in Easton, BJ’s in Taunton, and home.  That’s a quarter tank or so, and it would have been at least as much in our van.  In keeping with my custom when I borrow a car, I filled it last night in preparation for returning it.  With the 10% change left from what I advanced for the gas, I bought four, unusually numerous for me, Mega Millions tickets.  The clerk thought I was so pleasant I just had to win, at least something.  Yeah, it’d be a good time for it.

My brother will look at the car while he is here, perhaps even work on it.  He has a theory that the head gasket has been slightly blown all along, leaking compression gases back into the coolant, raising pressure in the radiator, causing it to blow as designed, making it “overheat” without the temp gauge showing it.  When we did notice a smell, it was sweet antifreeze smell, rather than foul, which would fit.  As I put it, the blown head gasket caused the overheating that caused the head gasket to blow (the rest of the way).

This is an awful lot of “nothing,” eh?

I also want to note this and this, which is also my way of saving the links for potential inclusion on the tech blog, for which I already have a backlog.  This sort of modular concept, while prettier and not precisely my vision, comes right out of what has been in my brain for many years.  I always pictured sort of a laptop sized computer made of modular “black box” units snapped together like so many inerlocking name brand plastic building blocks.  To fix it would mean snapping in a replacement.  To expand or modify it would mean snapping in a different module.

It’s kind of like the stupid Sprint commercial, which looks like it’s going to be a Microsoft commercial when it starts, about imagining a screen you’d carry with you that could do this, that and the other thing when you were a kid.  Yes.  yes I did.  And no, Sprint is not making what I imagined.  Mine would be more like an oversized Etch-a-Sketch, and they more or less have them now (brain fart; I can’t think of the name of the type of notepad/laptop device in question offhand, how sad is that).  Except I envisioned those longer ago than I envisioned the modular thing.

Oh well.  I still wish I had the sketches I drew in 8th grade (which was 1974/1975) of what was recognizably a multimedia computer workstation.  It didn’t look exactly like what we have now, but it was on as close to the right track as would have been possible for a kid at the time.

Time to go.  I need to see what the brats are up to and so forth.

I should try writing about nothing all the time.  It seems to be productive.

12:51 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsGeekeryKidsTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jay: But Wait, There’s More!

My brother seems to think he could do the van head gasket repair easily enough and it’s cheap for parts, with the caveat being what made it go in the first place.

When he gets his van back from us tomorrow, he can get a preliminary look at it.  Then it would be a matter of getting it to him, if indeed he can work on it.

04:25 PM | Cars • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: It’s Always Weird

When I don’t have any birthdays to give me a guaranteed post in the morning, and I can’t think of anything else to write.

Well, except maybe I can.  For instance, we did that cah update yesterday, but since then we’ve come to a near definite conclusion that we will ditch the van, register the Sentra, try to get by for a while with the Sentra and the truck and take both if all five of us must be somewhere together, and try to find someone who can and will do the engine work and so forth and will love having the solid van, ideally selling it for the infrastructure for near what we paid, as opposed to the $200 it would get for scrap.  We’re close enough to wanting to fix and keep it ourselves that it seems a shame to see it melted down.  Assuming it would be, considering what it is and its condition apart from the motor.

I made possibly the best beef stew ever, at least as far as Deb is concerned.  How good is it?  We had it for supper.  We had it for lunch.  We took pity and gave the kids tuna sandwiches, carrot sticks and almonds, but we had it for supper a second time.  There are about three bowls left, which probably ought to be frozen.

Since I have a DVD burner, I realized I can also put videos of the kids on a DVD, and I believe Vista has built-in video editing, which is even better.  For all I know it sucks, but hey, then I’ll know.

Rearranging the office is harder than it sounded.  First, clearing all books off the antique bookcase, which will move to our bedroom and be used probably more for storage than books.  In the process of boxing books, some came from other bookcases, with the idea being to clear tops of bookcases and even top shelves, giving us explicit storage space up out of reach.  They don’t tell you that you will need every bit of space you can possibly get at five feet or higher in the air where there’s a chance the kids might not reach.

Then there’s all the stuff already stored on top of the antique bookcase.  Or, on top of the milk crates that add a shelf to the bookcase, that is.  The router for the internet and home network lives there.  It’s taped down so it can’s move, because if it moves, the ethernet cable from outside budges slightly in the port, and that knocks the internet out until I move it slightly again, because the D-Link router they provided sucks.  I mean, this one does; the brand is, in my experience, prefectly reputable.  The WAN port seems to have issues.

That means the router has to move.  That is the hard part!

The best option seems to be to move it to the top of the bookcase against the wall, next to where the cable comes in from outside.  Then it will be necessary to hang ethernet cables from the ceiling to the computers, rather than the single on to the router.  So maybe I should move it to the upper shelf on the desk, until that moves.  Hmmm…

Clearing the top of the bookcase by the wall is especially challenging.  On it live all the Wheel of Time paperbacks, bookended by a tall stack of most of the Greg Bear we have on one end, and most of the Ayn Rand we have on the other end.  There are also two unused copper horse bookends and several collectables or knick knacks, and a screwdriver.  All that has to move, except not so much the knick knacks if I don’t move the router there.

All of this aside from bringing furniture home from the office and rearranging desks and such.

Okay, I need to let Deb use the computer.  It has Paint Shop Pro, which is the easiest thing to use for working with pictures of her merchandise.  She did an awesome custom order and needs to list it via the shop.  One of the ways in which my brother’s loan of a car saved us was ensuring we could get the material for that and get it out before next week.

12:13 PM | BusinessCarsGeekeryMedicalTotally Random • (2) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jay: Cah Update

I got the truck back.  They replaced two of the three oxygen sensors, and he is certain the other isn’t needed, but if the light returns, bring it back for that.

The sensors cost $210 with tax.  Labor was $100 and the computer diagnostic was $60.  Grand total: $370, versus I had hoped maybe $200, but I guess we’re not in 1980 anymore, Toto.

They were busy.  I was harried.  I was sticker-shocked.  And I am trying to decide what to pursue how aggressively.  So I didn’t ask Nick at the garage (and why are they all named Nick?) (Heck, why are they all ethnic; Lebanese, Italian or whatever?) about looking at the van just yet.

I thought I was having a serendipity moment.  In my travels, almost across from what used to be Anne’s Place in Norton, I saw a nice looking van for sale.  The sign proclaimed it a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan, runs great, 103,000 miles, and supplied a number to call.  It looked to be in excellent condition, but I see mileage that high and I am still programmed to believe that means “not worth much,” much as I find it weird that candy bars can cost over a quarter each, or that it takes in excess of $20 an hour full time income just to get by.

I thought it quite telling that they had a newer, blue rather than green copy of the same van in their driveway; clearly a big fan.

After chagrin at how valuable my Blackberry is to me when it has phone numbers stored that were obsolete two years ago, and an accompanying lack of call to my father to ask what he thinks I can expect a van of that vintage to be, I cut to the chase and called the number.  As I told the guy, I wanted to know what they were asking so I’d know if it was even in my league.  $4500.  Since I thought I might have been mistaken and heard $2500, which was what I expected to hear, I had him repeat it.  $4500.  K thx buh-bye now.

After I got home from springing the truck, which just about killed me, walking there after bringing up several loads of BJ’s merchandise from the borrowed van first, Deb suggest, a URL most unfamiliar to me, and yet so useful.

Sure enough, for the condition and all, the private sale value of the van I saw is around $4800, maybe a little less depending on exact specs.  Aha!  We are not the only ones with mad intertube skillz.  Darn!

Which led me to look up our ill-fated van.  If it were still running, it would be worth almost $2000 in a private sale, despite the mileage.  Weird.  Speaking of which, we put less than 1200 miles on with the replacement transmission.  That’s probably not unrepresentative of the rate at which we racked up miles, which would mean 5000-odd the whole time we’ve had it.  If we have it fixed, we will have gone over a buck a mile for repairs and will need it to go some time without failing again.  Which all seems to have centered around seemingly unsolvable chronic overheating.  There’s no way it would be worth fixing the engine if the overheating can’t be solved for certain and for good.  Well, assuming is was still overheating and that wasn’t simply cumulative.

The thing is probably worth what we paid for it even in its current state.

Driving my brother’s van, it feels and sounds like it’s ready to be found dead on the side of the road any second.  It runs, but man, the rattles and creaks and clunks.  Foibles are fine.  For instance, you can’t open the driver’s door from outside the car.  It reminds me of the Sentra, except the Sentra runs better and sounds no worse, even if it does need undercarriage metalwork.

Our van feels more solid, sounds less clunky, rides luxuriously, and hasn’t sprouted so much personality yet.  The elecric everything works; no sounding like the windows are going to break as they slide down.  The silly little bells and whistles, like the interior lights going on for 30 seconds when you lift the locked door handle, still work.

All of that makes me lean toward fixing it, if it’s not going to be insane, but I assume it’ll cost a couple hundred bucks or so just to find out what is needed, at which point the taking apart work is part of the way toward what it would take to do the whole repair.

Meanwhile, I wonder how long we can have four cars here without a fuss, notwithstanding one parking out along the street.  Along the stree is too heavily used these days for it not to feel like overkill for us to be there too.

Deb got me going, point out  The Sentra is worth $500 at absolute most, based on age, condition, and having been salvaged from a total 103,000 miles ago.  The truck is officially worth about $7000.

Of course, in my experience, the Blue Book value is simply a number that tells you wnat to avoid going over, and tells you how well you did negotiating a price that someone would actually be willing to pay.

Oh well.  We come down to when and if to have the shop examine the van, and how hard to resist if they’re intent on fixing it even if I was mainly curious.  If there is to be any substantive delay, we come to whether or not to reregister the Sentra and fudge it or attempt to pass inspection or what.  And depending, we come down to whether or not to seek out another car to buy, and if so, how hard to look.

08:10 PM | Cars • (2) CommentsPermalink

Deb: Thank you.

To everyone who’s been sweet to me while I’ve worked through what might just qualify as my Worst. Mood. Ever.

I love you all.

07:37 PM | CarsMedicalTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink
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