Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Year

We enjoyed the Garrison Keillor's New Year's Eve Special on PBS from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. It was a tame, enjoyable introduction  to the new year.

I was busy all evening installing all the software that's been collected recently. The Adobe Bundle was a heck of a lot to install and get updated. Of course, installing it is only a small part compared to learning how to use it.

New Year’s Eve Day

We enjoyed the Sunday morning political shows after which we got ready to go out.

We had lunch at the IKEA store in East Palo Alto. We then looked around. One thing we're looking for is reading lites for our bedroom. We didn't find what we wanted. We also looked over Home Depot as well. For some reason, many stores were closing early today. Don't know why?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Nasty Tree!

Killer Tree Flying Field
Above left, a killer tree, right our flying field.

We went over to Gunn High School this morning to, guess what, fly our planes. It was a bit breezy and Lou got her plane up nice and high and flew it into a nice big oak tree. The plane was nicely stuck in the branches about 60 feet up. Rocks and twigs thrown at it didn't help much. The tree just grabbed them too. We tried with some weak twine and a sock in a rock but the twine just kept breaking. Some nice survey twine did the trick. By that time I was pretty good at getting the twine over a branch to shake it and the survey twine didn't break and eventually the plane, and a lot of the twigs and other stuff that the tree had grabbed came down. Success, and it only took a couple of hours. There does come a time when retrieving a $30 plane doesn't seem worth it. That point should have been reached after only about 10 minutes, for "normal" folks, but time didn't deter us. We do fly these planes for exercise, don't we, and we got plenty of that today. I'll probably have a sore (or is that a soar) arm tomorrow though.

Friday, December 29, 2006

“There’s No Place Like Home”

San Jose's California Theater
This evening we went down to San Jose to the California Theater to see the Wizard Of Oz. This is associated with the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto in that Packard Humanities Institute funded 1/3 the cost of renovation and evidently has some use of the facility. I hadn't heard of the classic movies being shown here before and this showing was free. The theater is the former Fox theater downtown and is home to both the opera and symphony as well. It was renovated a couple of years ago and is a very beautiful theater. There is much more decoration than at the Stanford. Like the Stanford, there is a nice Wurlitzer organ and the same organist Bill Taylor, was at the keyboard. The music was mostly from the movie or about it. It's nice to have another good theater for a good (old) movie.

I last went to this theater not too long before it closed. The theater was a bit worn then but still showed it's character. I'm glad that San Jose was able to save it. It shows a change in the Redevelopment Agency there. They have very nearly demolished the entire downtown and rebuilt a junky city. The character was removed. They have made many blunders and spent far too much money on many projects that have failed. Even with that, the downtown is slowly improving now that there is more housing being built there. I do hope they eventually succeed in creating a vibrant downtown.

More Information:
Nice Pictures and Information.
The City of San Jose's Information Page.
More information.

Received a design award.
The Organ Restoration Company

Remote Controls

Wilton Arbor Trimmed
I started my day out by pruning back more of the wisteria from the arbor. It's mostly gone now so I'll be able to start rebuilding the arbor soon.

It seems like we've gone overboard. Today we went over to Gunn High School again to fly the planes. While they were recharging, we then fly Dawn's flying saucer and then drove our new radio controlled cars. The overboard statement may actually come true in that Lou mentioned we need to get a radio controlled boat to complete the menagerie.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Christmas Story

Lou and Dawn went to the play "A Christmas Story" at the San Jose Repertory Theater. They enjoyed the play. Since I wasn't too interested in that play, but had to drive them down, I lounged around Dawn's apartment enjoying some TV like CSI. Dawn's big LCD TV is sure nice. Some of our old screens may be in trouble.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Quiet Christmas

We enjoyed a quite Christmas at home. We don't make a big deal of it and definitely try to avoid the crowds. We did take it easy and unconventional. We went to the Crazy Buffet, a Chinese Buffet  in Sunnyvale for dinner.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It’s A Wonderful Life!

Stanford Theater

It really is, but the Title is really the name of the movie we went to tonight.

Tonight, we went to see "It's A Wonderful Life", Frank Capra's movie form 1946 with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. We watched it on TV a couple of days ago, but seeing it on the big screen at a real theater is wonderful. This is the 19th year that the Stanford Theater, in downtown Palo Alto has shown the film on Christmas eve. David Packard (an heir of a Hewlett Packard computer family) bought the theater in 1987, reconditioned it and it's still a wonderful place to see movies, especially the old movies that it shows.

There are usually good crowds to the regular shows. We especially like the weekend shows when they have the mighty Wurlitzer organist during intermission. A double feature and live music from a pipe organ. Really nice! Anyway, tonight there was a real crowd. Tickets had to be bought in advance. We arrived about 7:45 for the 9:00 pm showing. The line was already half way around the block when we arrived. Before the doors opened it was working on a full circle around the block. Prices for the shows are reasonable, $7 and the snack bar is very reasonable, not the ripoff of the typical theaters. Tonight was special though, popcorn and drinks were free.

Old black and white moves are really nice. The textures and the details in the background are so much nicer on the big screen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Movie Night

We've had quite a bit of rain the past few days. We were fortunate to have a couple of good mornings so we went over to Gunn High School for more flight training. Due to a dog convention, or so it seemed, we had to move from the soccer fields into the football field/track area one day. While the soccer fields are much larger, the goal posts are fun to maneuver around in the football field.

Today, it was clear all day. I managed to get out and pour some sand in the ruts that have developed in the front yard where I backfilled for the drain pipe a few months ago. I also reloaded the toad. Whenever it goes to the shop, all the stuff like bikes, chairs, ice chests, etc get pulled out.

We went down to Milpitas to the Great Mall, a former Ford car factory to see a movie. We arrived early, bought our tickets and took a little walk around the mall waiting for our show time. We saw Night At The Museum. It was fun. We then had dinner at the food court. No great food to be found there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Cold Night

Frozen Pond
We had a very cool night. Our fountain pump is off right now due to a leaky barrel and we had a very cold night, coldest this year. The big barrel froze. That doesn't happen here all too often.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I've been adding more categories to this blog. Each state has a category to allow easier review of geographic areas. Now if you click on Arizona, you'll see all the posts for our time in Arizona. In addition, I've added some other categories. Computers, Web for things related to this site, and RV modifications and repairs. I'm updating older posts as I have time. Currently,  the posts for the past year have been updated.

Oak Tree Trimming

My camera is still awaiting parts for repair so I had to break out the backup camera, my D-snap. Not the best pictures, but then that may be just my lack of photographic abilities. I've added a few pictures on the last few posts.

Our morning was more flight training at Gunn HS. We ran the batteries down and then took a walk over to the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital next door for tea while the batteries charged. Tea is only 50 cents there, a bargain. When we returned to fly some more they were spraying the weeds around the field so we decided to leave instead of breathing the stuff.

Oak Tree Wilton Oak Tree After Trim
The oak tree got a trim this afternoon. Pre trim above left, post trim picture above right. The new neighbor and I got a litle carried away aand did a good trim over his garage. It actually looks good so I'll probably trim more on my side later.

Today, the prize from Adobe arrived. The "Web Bundle" package is only about 3x7x10 inches but contains software worht more than $2000. I'm intending to dive into it soon.

Dawn and Lou have been busy organizing Dawn's Video and Audio library. Now that's a real task!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A New Sound Machine

Breakfast was bread pudding, sliced and cooked as French Toast. Very good idea Lou.

There was no breeze this morning so we over to Gunn High School to fly our planes. Schools out and the field is fairly large without too many obstacles. It does have some occasional hazards. The chain link fences seem to jump up and catch the planes when least expected. And then there are the dogs. They seem to think the planes are big bugs or Frisbees. The planes are fairly durable so a crash into a fence isn't too bad. The dogs would be a disaster though, so we have to keep our eyes open and stop occasionally. After we ran our batteries down, we took a walk down toward Los Altos on the bike path. When we returned, the batteries were charged so we went back for more flight time. My battery died very soon. I figured out that the batteries in my controller, which charges the plane, were low. It's the oldest plane of the three and this is the original set of batteries.

After our flight training, we stopped by Trader Joe's on the way home. To us, Trader Joe's is a goodies store. At least they are healthier goodies. We stocked up and headed home.

Volvo Dash New Radio
My afternoon was spent wrestling with the car. I removed the center dash panel to expose the radio amplifier module. I needed to remove the connector on it to get to the speaker wires for the new radio installation. I wanted to make a clean swap so I removed the module as well. This weird radio seems to have been designed only to make the theft of the radio worthless. If you steal the radio in the dash, it won't work because it's only half of the radio, just the tuner and cassette player. Mission complete. The radio works great and provides a CD player as well. All the lights are a bit annoying but that's the modern way, I guess.

I was finishing buttoning up the dash as the sun went behind the house. The temperature dropped at least 20 degrees. I had to get the car back together because it was going in for it's regular service on Monday morning. In addition, the front end will get aligned. I managed to drag the toad over a curb in Monterey just before we got home. It's been a while since the alignment has been looked at and dragging the car behind the RV for so many miles can't really help it. We just got new tires which we don't want them ruined because an alignment problem.

When I went inside, I checked the temperature and the outside thermometer. It was 42 degrees at 6pm. A bit chilly for shirt sleeve weather.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Met Our New Neighbors

Leaning Arbor
I've been attacking the wisteria in the arbor in our back yard. The plant is much bigger than the arbor needs (like twenty times too big). The arbor is wedge shaped, about 6 feet on three sides and 4 feet on one side. We have a couple of bench swings hanging from it and a water fountain on one side. It's really quite nice. But, Lou wont sit in it any more. She seems to be concerned about the leaning posts. Basically, the wisteria plant is really what holds it up. So I've been trimming. I'm about half way complete having filled four 80 gallon compost containers. When I get it pruned all the way back, I'll rebuild it. I haven't decided yet if I'll rebuild it in wood our use metal. At this rate I've got a month to decide.

We were out front and the new neighbors next door appeared so we introduced ourselves. We toured their house. It's basically identical to ours. They toured ours to see what theirs might look like. While their house just cost them $870K for this as is fixer upper, it isn't livable. We're happy to hear they intend to live in it and not knock it down. It's going to take a lot of work. They're a young couple (isn't everyone, any more) from India. They have been looking for two years and finally found the house of their dreams. One reason they liked it is because it is "perfectly aligned". Ours is aligned the same. No wonder we're happy here.

One thing we learned was they were concerned about our oak tree hanging down to their garage roof. They were going to hire a tree service to trim it. We mentioned, possibly mistakenly, that we occasionally trimmed it up off the roof for the previous owner. So That's now of the todo list.


Friday, December 15, 2006

The Radio Project

I started a project that's been around for several years. I bought a new radio for the toad many years ago. I never got around to installing it. I knew it would cause a headache. I've even carried it with us as we travel with the thought I'd jump on it sometime in our travels. Never happened.

Anyway, I started it and got a headache right away. The main problem is getting the old radio out. Access isn't easy. Everything is buttoned up behind difficult to remove panels. They use star screws of many sizes. Getting those tools was interesting. Then figuring out where all the fasteners were hiding was fun. But the most fun was the radio itself. When I removed the radio, the wiring was odd. The wires were many and didn't match the wires to the speakers or any common color code. I tried to trace them out and couldn't make sense of it. So I fell back and regrouped. Unfortunately, Lou reminded me that the car was going in for service Monday, so I had to get it back together by then. Oh well.

In the evening, I used the magic Internet and searched for information on replacing the radio in a 92 240 Volvo wagon. I had no problems in doing the same thing on our '87 Volvo which looks identical. Interestingly, I found lots. Evidently the radio changed for 89-95 Volvo's. They used a two part radio with the amplifier separate from the radio. There were sources available that provided information on where the components were and provided cable harnesses to make the change. I just needed to know where stuff was so I didn't demolish the whole car learning. I used that information and intended to just eliminate the connectors and wire up the new connector without the adapter harnesses. We'll see how it goes.

Lou and Dawn have been busy cleaning up, especially Dawn's room. Lots of work to do there. of course, I should be critical since my study is almost inaccessible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Graduate

The old timer, our 1987 Volvo, passed it's smog test today. Last year I had a lot of trouble getting it to pass. They replaced the catalytic converter and then did a lot of tweaking to barely get it to pass. Obviously the place I took it wasn't adequately experienced at correcting the problem. A1 Foreign Auto Repair in Mountain View obviously is. They're a California State Gold Shield smog test and repair station. That means they're allowed to do the retest after repair so everything was completed in this second visit. The original test had to be done, and fail at a test only station. Could they make it anymore complex?

Anyway, the NO reading was 2406ppm to start. They replaced some odd parts, the air box thermostat and the air mass meter after which it passed with only 138ppm. 785 is the maximum allowed. So much better than last time. Maybe we'll get off the 10 most wanted list now.

I enjoyed the walk home, about 4 miles. I stopped along the way for breakfast at Whole Foods Market. This is the first time I've had breakfast there. I enjoyed a mushroom omelette and home fries, with bacon. It was very good, and quick.

I then dropped by the construction project I've been watching next to Fry's Electronics in Palo Alto near our house. Monday they seemed to finish up the rebar and forms to pour the concrete for the second half of the ground level floor of the parking garage. I was afraid they might pour it Tuesday when Lou and I were busy in Santa Clara. Fortunately, it rained Tuesday so I still had hopes that they wouldn't pour it. They did and I missed it. Darn! I do like watching other people work. Kind of a sickness.

I then worked on the laptop setting up automatic backups to a web server and external hard drives. I am trying a product called MEMEO Autobackup. It seems to be very versatile and hopefully does the job.

Lou's been studying for her real estate license continuing ed test. Dawn had one of her final exams at San Jose State today.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pancake Breakfast

We all were out the door early this morning. My former workplace had a pancake breakfast this morning. Pancakes, sausage and scrambled eggs. Always good food. Always nice to visit with former coworkers.

Dawn had a class so we dropped her off at school. Lou and I had lunch and then went to an interesting get rich quick seminar on stock investment. It was mostly a sales pitch for a paid course which we didn't go for. We always have to wonder why, if the investment method worked so well, the lecturer isn't using it instead of working on the lecture circuit? Still food for thought.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Just Like “New”

92 Volvo After Body Work
We picked up the '92 Volvo, our "toad", from the body shop. The broken tail light and dent are all fixed up. We also received the needed paperwork from the state to get the '87 Volvo smogged so it goes in next Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Ernie’s Vacation


Ernie is here on vacation. It's a vacation because he's here in his jeep rather than his big truck. He will be getting a new truck in a couple of weeks and he's trying to avoid driving the old one too much so it won't require any repairs before he turns it in.

He and I installed a new radio in his Jeep this morning. It required four hands to complete due to the terrible design of the dashboard. Very hard to get access and remove things.

Ernie fixed a very good Shepard's Pie for dinner. I think we'll enjoy his vacation.


Beef Stroganoff for dinner :)


A visit to Fry's and then computer tinkering was the rule of the day except later in the afternoon when Ernie barbecued a pile of meats. Dinner was barbecued meat of choice and potato salad and homemade pomegranate ice cream. The rest of the meat went home with Ernie or in the freezer.

Ernie fixed biscuits and Gravy for breakfast. We all enjoyed them very much, especially the doggies.

He packed up and departed with the doggies just before 11 am.

It's always a pleasure to have Ernie drop by. Now for a diet.

Lou and Dawn went to the rummage sale at Stanford with the neighbor after Ernie departed.

We enjoyed nice weather all during Ernie's visit but now a storm is moving in so we'll get some rain.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A little of this, …


I spent most of the morning tweaking websites.

I didn't get really moving until mid afternoon.

Our RV has a loose wall panel in the bedroom. It's been working loose from the top. Turns out there were several reasons for the failure. The panel was only stapled, not glued to the framing. It's an interior wall at the back of the shower. That might not have been too bad, except some of the staples, most of the ones where the separation started were 1/4 inch instead of 3/4 inch long. The staples were driven deep into the 1/8 inch panel and the holes filled. The remaining wood in the panel wasn't thick enough to hold. In addition, a mirror hung on the wall. The added weight couldn't have helped. and finally, the panel was cut too large. I removed the panel and prepared it for re-installation. I trimmed the panel to fit. Then it was time for a trip to the hardware store for "stuff" to complete the repair. Some 7/8" brass screws and brass curled washers were screwed horizontally in several rows across the panel. I wouldn't trust staples for the repair and I think it wasn't glued for a reason, possible too much flexing?

Tomorrow I'll attack the broken valve pedal on the commode. Oh boy!

Lou and Dawn went to a Christmas cookie party. It's an annual event that one of her former teachers has.

Lou and Dawn finished the Christmas tree decoration. It looks nice with its new LED lights and all her motorized decorations on it. The moving stuffed animals hanging on the tree are a bit creepy at times though.


Memory is failing. I'm not sure what de did of significance today.

Lou fixed a nice tortilla soup for dinner.


I turned in the '92 Volvo to the body shop. It is supposed to be there about 4 days to get the left rear light lens replaced an body damage repaired.

I tried to locate the replacement commode for the RV. I drove up to Ideal RV Parts in Redwood City. They have the replacement I needed, a little higher cost than at Camping world but I saved the 90 mile roundtrip drive to San Martin. If time is money, then i saved a little. The replacement, an Aqua Majic V slipped right in but the water hose connection was difficult to get tight. Now, we'll just have to learn how to operate this improved version. Our Aqua majic VI that was replaced had two pedals (Fill and flush), the Model V has one pedal (part way down to fill, all the way to flush). I think we can adapt?

We had Early Bird dinners at the Crown Plaza Hotel just down the street. There are only three choices, but the food and service are excellent and the price is right $11.50. This week has seen an unusual number of visits to restaurants. Hopefully we'll improve our domestic efforts soon.

Brother Ernie and his doggies arrived about 7pm.