Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free is Free, Cheap is Cheap

A typical weekend.

Lou and Dawn were off early to the garage and estate sales. Lou came back with a treasure of doll clothes patterns. She also found a rotisserie like ours that had the extra skewers she needed. It actually has many of the same parts as ours but they're stainless rather than painted like ours. The skewers would have cost $30, she paid $10 for the whole thing. Seems like all she has to do is think about what she needs and it shows up.

Dawn's doing her homework. She and Lou pop up regularly and take walks around the neighborhood as well.

I actually got out and about earlier than usual for a weekend. I then cooked some cracked wheat and sausages for breakfast, not in the same dish. Quite good.

I was then outside preparing to start work on my current fence replacement project when the neighbor dropped by and mentioned it was free compost day at the dump. Free changes everything! I went over and picked up 4ea 30gal garbage cans of compost. I just recently got rid of the last of the previous load. I have a bunch of dirt removed from the flower beds in San Jose that could use some compost mixed in with it before it's used in the flower beds.

Then, after lunch, I was back to my original effort, the fence. I needed to blast out some holes in the existing concrete fence base in which to install the post anchors. It's an neat 6' x 10" base, with a 1" pipe in the middle as re-bar. I guess the installer wasted nothing. I got three holes chipped out with my breaker bar. Good exercise! The fourth will have to wait for the next attack. Hopefully I can talk the neighbor in to allowing me to remove a limb on a tree in his yard. It's right in the way of my swing with the bar and I'll probably injure myself if I can't clear the way. The neighbor really won't be too happy though since the tree hides our RV. While the limb is 3" in diameter it's already cut off as it would enter our side of the fence at about the 5 foot level horizontally and it only has a few tiny sprouts on it that don't really hide much. Here's hoping.

Lou fixed some nice steaks for dinner. I'm not a big beef steak eater. My jaw doesn't like the chewing. I tend toward pork, chicken and chicken fried steaks. These steaks were the best I've had in a very long time. My jaw held out to the end.

I think tomorrow will be a day of rest. I have to head down to San Jose with the RV so I get a good parking place for Monday. The house gets tented Monday. I'll be residing there for a couple of nights while they're doing the fumigation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

R e t i r e d

I had a busy day planned for today. I started with a visit to WalMart's to get tea. Their house tea is very good and very cheap. Very good means it's a top notch regular tea according to this fussy tea drinker. Very cheap means $1.86 per 100, about 1/3 the cost of the best, Redrose tea. I picked up a few other sundry items while there.

Next stop, breakfast at the Honk Kong bakery in Mountain View. Not your normal breakfast but excellent for a change.

Then on to Santa Clara Convention Center for the real reason for todays expedition, the Northern California Facilities Expo. Its a trade show for facilities maintenance types. I haven't been to one of these for a while and wanted to see what's happening. I also really wanted to see what was happenng with Maintenance Management Software (MMS). I'm working on an update to my software and wanted to see what was happening. Nothing. No MMS vendors there. Still lots to see. The primary new thing was about eight solar power vendors in attendance. I guess more businesses are taking advantage of the rebates and energy use offsets that are available? What was really interesting though was a lithium energy storage device. They're about 1/4 the size of equivalent AGM batteries but have an estimated 10 year life or about 1500 cycles instead of 300 cycles. They also reportedly can be fully discharged without damage so capacity is great! They are fully sealed devices, each with their own internal control electronics so there is no balancing problem as with other batteries. it will be interesting to see how these things develop. Will they meet their promises and will the cost go down with increased use? it looks like the time to go solar at home may still be a couple of years out when solar costs go down due to increased refined silicon production and then when these new batteries become cheaper. It's all looking good.

One interesting thing was that everyone there kept smiling and pointing as I passed. Some of the vendors even went out of their way to give me trinkets. I finally caught on to the reason. My badge had small print for my name and my company name was in large print, "R e t i r e d". I guess some people don't admit retirement. I don't mind. Envy?

Lou called and asked that I stop at Clay Planet to get some supplies for her doll making efforts. It was then time for lunch at the House Of Egg Rolls in Santa Clara.

Next stop was the Micro Center in Santa Clara. I hadn't visited there for a while. I picked up an external DVD RW drive. The drive in my laptop is intermittent at best recently and the computer is now out of warranty (one of the last things replaced was the DVD drive last year. That didn't last, if they actually replaced it. The new drive does more, like double layers etc so at least it is an upgrade. I hope the laptop continues to work well. It's getting a bit old now.

Next stop Lowe's to get some estimates on window and garage door replacements. Now it may seem a little odd, but the final stop was Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). I needed to pick up another load of concrete. OSH loads it for you and I'm lazy. The car carries 10-12 bags without much complaint. I've been collecting a bunch for another fence replacement at home and some more sidewalk. I might as well get it all done before I give out or the mixer does.

A busy day. Now I relax.

Today was Dawn's first day at her internship at the Green Library at Stanford. She found it very interesting. She's reviewing and cataloging a collection of papers from an old mathematician. There was a worry about getting an internship, now she has two. She wil be doing one with the City of San Jose as well. When it rains....

Lou worked on her dolls.

Everyone's having fun, in their own way!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Old Timer Returns

The old car (87 Volvo) went in for more repairs. It's been unused for the past month waiting for this appointment. Lou got stranded while out shopping shortly after getting it back from the mechanics. They had replaced the "air mass meter" whatever that is. it still didn't run and seemed to eventually start if you wiggled the wires under the hood. It least it worked for the tow truck driver and our mechanic. In any case, they intended to replace the whole wiring harness to eliminate the problem. this would have been the third fix and I wasn't entirely convinced it wasn't time to say goodbye rather than spend the $1000 to replace the wiring harness.

Anyway, it went in the shop Tuesday and they called to say it was ready Wednesday afternoon. I was more than pleasantly surprised when the bill came to $0.00. They didn't do the rewiring. they replaced the bad, new air mass meter. It's now running was it should. Fingers now crossed though. it's nice to have it back in good health!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Goodby Subtereanean Friends, Hello Dolly

Our Camp In Front Of 12th St A Hole In Pavement
Yesterday afternoon we moved the motorhome down to San Jose and camped in front of Dawn's place. That was made both easier and more difficult by the City workers supposedly repairing the pavement in front of our house. About a year ago, the City required the replacement of about 30 of curb and walkway due to supposed tree damage. I opted to have them do the work since it appeared I wouldn't easily be able to satisfy the inspector. They did the concrete work quickly, though not as good as I would have done. However, the repair of the asphalt that they removed, about 6" at the edge of the curb apron, has not been replaced, in the past year.

Last week the City crew tried. They brought out a backhoe, scrapped off the top of the pavement and ripped out the street light conduit that was buried in concrete just a couple of inches down right along the curb apron. So they threw a quick patch on the asphalt they ripped out and left a big hole open in front of the house (about 3' x 1' by 1' deep). The City electricians did get the street light repaired but the hole remains and the permanent pavement repair awaits. They didn't even leave any cones or barricades on the hole. They even left a block of concrete in the parking area abut 1x1x1', again unprotected?

Now, they were nice enough to leave the dated "No Parking" signs up. The dates aren't current but the signs kept people who don't read, which is most everybody now days, from parking there so the space was open for us to park right in front of the house, with judicious avoidance of the pot-hole.

Treating Termites A Good Picture Of The New Fence
I watched as they drilled holes every 18" along the edge of the house. Much of the concrete was just installed. They pumped their juice into the holes and along the flowerbed trenches. Hopefully it kills every critter down there and nothing up here.

I finally took a good picture of the new fence. The previous pictures were using my phone which doesn't yield good results, just results.

Dawn had her class yesterday evening and worked on homework in the RV today. Lou went down town and started a class on porcelain doll making at a shop there. I worked on my computer programming after a little yard work here. Lou willl remain the night and go to class again tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Tree Bites The Dust

Next Tuesday, they will start the termite work at Dawn's place in San Jose. They will treat the ground for subterranean buggers, then the Monday following, will tent the house for the dry wood termites. Not fun for the other tenants and Dawn but necessary. In preparation i removed an over grown (<12" diameter trunk) orange tree. It was pushing on the gas meter, pushing the house and would provide a path for the termites, though not currently. It also made a big mess by the back fence gate that Dawn uses. It pruned down fairly easily but I didn't have enough battery power to completely cut up the trunk pieces. The garbage company got the small stuff, three piles about 3x3x3 left at the curb. The removal sure made it a lot more sunny at the kitchen nook.

Of course, this was the day that the City came out to repair the pavement that was removed when they replaced the curb last year. They wasted no time billing me for the work but took a year to start to complete the work. I was about ready to raise my voice when the "No Parking" signs appeared indicating they would be doing the work. Of course then they were in my way to dump the tree debris. As it is, it will take a little longer. They managed to rip out the conduit for the street light when they were removing the rest of the pavement so now it's wait for the electrician and then try to complete the removal with a grinder rather than a backhoe. It sort of reminds me of the Keystone Cops. Oh well, they are working on it!

I almost feel like apologizing for the lack of interesting things to report on but being here at home is always less interesting than being on the road. I've been concentrating on some computer work and Lou on her doll making. Dawn's been busy trying to arrange for her internship. We'll be around here for a while, but I do hope to get out for a week or so soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Annual Garage Sale

Saturday and Sunday we held our annual garage sale. Our front yard is loaded with our junk, the neighboors jung and the junk of some friends. We don't make all that much because it is all junk. The nicest thing is that none of the junk remains after the sale, The remainder goes to local thrift shops. The weather was quite nice all weekend.

Now to start collecting for next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Clean Water

I picked up a new water filter for the kitchen sink. Not counting the current spigot mounted filter, this is the fourth filter. When we moved in 17 years ago I installed a reverse osmosis filter. It worked well for 13 years. When we got the RV and started extended travel in it, we started having problems with he filter. I replaced the filter when it started tasting green. It couldn't be sanitized. The filter I got from Orchard Supply Hardware didn't work for more than a month so I replaced it with another from them. After our next three month trip, it was bad too. No flow. I tried one more time with one from Costco. Same short life, one trip and no flow again. In each case I couldn't find anything wrong with the filter.I have to assume the RO filter got plugged with no use? We gave up and installed the faucet mounted Culligan filter which has worked well for a while now. But, the replacement cartridges aren't cheap and don't last all too long, especially when their left in the filtered position for washing dishes, etc. Thus, the reason for the new filter. It's a big brother to the sink mounted filter, also from Culligan. It is mostly a carbon filter but removes everything but metals as well. It hooked up to the faucet and provides full flow filtered water. Now there's no waiting to fill a cup or pot for tea. An added bonus is all the room under the sink we got back since this filter is smaller and doesn't have a tank. It shouldn't clog like the RO filters have been doing. The replacement cartridge is just slightly more than the faucet mounted filter cartridge but about 10 times the size. Hopefully, problem solved.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Begin Routine

Dawn has school tomorrow so we headed home about 5pm. Lou headed toward Fresno. She's picking up a pallet of ceramic doll molds there and visiting her sister.

Dawn and I stopped at the rest stop just north of Camp Roberts on Hwy 101 for a little dinner of left overs from the big event. We made it home about 1130.

The Big Event

Kern River Trail Near River Run RV Park BNSF RR Bridge Over Kern River
We started the day with a walk down the path by the river. It led to the BNSF railroad bridge across the river.

Oil Well Coral By Kern River Oil Well Pump Jack

Oil Well Being Serviced Oil Well Being Serviced
There was an oil well corral there and one well had a service crew working on the well. We enjoyed watching them a while. I grew up with an oil well like this a hundred feet from our house. We even had two wooden oil derricks within 200 feet. Our place was quite near our place here at the River RUn RV park. In fact, the RV park was part of the open oil fields that we played in. There was a wonderful cottonwood forest by the railroad bridge and being reckless kids, we played on the bridge. It was really a great time. We could leave the house via the back fence and travel miles in the oil fields. We even had a dirt canal a short distance from the rear of our house to swim in. There was rarely any water in the river at that time. All these activities today stike terror in the hearts of todays parents, but oddly, most kids survived. It was nice to travel down memory lane for a while. So much has changed!

Brother Ernie came in to town. While Lou and Dawn hit the thrift stores, we went to breakfast while his motel room was readied. Everybody does what's important to them.

Wolfie Ernie Walter Dawn Brandon Kathleen Kerry
Then it was off to Uncle Doug's for the family get together. It was mostly Don's cousins and their husbands and wives most of whom we haven't seen for too many years. There was too much to eat and lots of conversation and catching up.

Left above: Wolfie, Ernie, and Walter
Right above: Daughter Dawn, her cousins Brandon, Kathleen, and Kerry. (Sugar, the dog)

Don Doug Ernie Doug Judy Ernie Maryjane Denny Francis Tommy Pam Don Delynn
Left: Don, Uncle Doug, and Brother Ernie.
Right: Uncle Doug, Cousin Judy, Brother Ernie, Cousin Maryjane, cousin Denny,Aunt Francis, cousin Tommy,Cousin Pam, Don, and cousin Delynn.

Kathleen Kerry Marcos Mike Mike Kerry Marcos Kathleen Doug Maryjane
Left: Nieces Kathleen and Kerry, Kerry friend Marcos, and the girls father, Mike.
Right: Cousin-in-law Mike, niece Kerry and friend Marcos, niece Kathleen, Uncle Doug, cousin Maryjane.

Lou Don Dawn Don Lou Helen
Here we are The Smiling Wood Family (left). Actually we can smile. At least Lou and Don were amused. Didn't Helen get the joke?

Friday, September 7, 2007

In Search Of Muskrats

Kern River Parkway By Panerama Drive
We took a walk this morning on the Kern River Parkway trail below Panorama Drive. We were in search of the muskrats swimming in the canal there that we saw last year. We didn't see any, just lots of ducks and geese.

After showers in the very nice facilities at the RViver Run RV Park, we went by the Ranch Market for breakfast. We shared a couple of Torta Cubana's. Very good.

Mike Lou Dawn Kathleen Maryjane Mary Helen Doug
Then we stopped by Uncle Dougs again for more visiting with all the family there and the odd visitors that dropped by.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gray Skies In Bakersfield

Dawn had a doctors appointment in San Jose this morning so Lou took her down in the Toad. Before she left, she helped me back the RV out of the driveway. Normally, I back it in and leaving is real easy. I pulled it in head first to work on the batteries last week so this time was different.

When I did the walk around, I noticed that one of the valve stem extender brackets was broken. I removed it and tried to braze it together. No good, it's stainless so I brazed a brack for the bracket. It's solid now. I headed down to Gilroy, our meeting place. I stopped at Camoing world to see if they had a replacement bracket. They don't. The brackets they have don't look as sturdy as my previously broken bracket? I'll try to make a replacement later.

After Lou and Dawn arrived we were off over Hwy 152 toward I5. We passed the California Division Of Forestry temporary helecopter port at Casa De Fruita. There were more than 10 copters on the ground there. They've been fighting the Lick Fire East of Gilroy and North of Hwy 152. The skies were quite smoky in Gilroy and here along Hwy 152. Not that you smell but the skies are dark gray. When we got into the central valley, it was smoky all the way down.

We stopped at Harris Ranch for a walk and snack. The smell of their feed lot make us forget about the smoke. We had some treats from their bakery, very good.

In Bakersfield, we stopped at the new River Run RV Park. The RV spots are finished and the resrooms as well but much of the landscaping and the pool are not. No one was at the office and they didn't answer the phone number on the door so we picked a spot and left a not. We then went over to uncle Dougs to visit.

Maryjane, Mary, Delynn, Judy, Her husband Don, Doug and Helen were all there or stopped by. Nice visit. More to come. My brother Ernie will be here Saturday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hanging Around Home

This past week I've been hanging around home but it's been more like a week at the office. I was preparing for a business presentation and I knew little about what i was presenting so I had to try to "think" again. It's all too much like work! Yesterday was presentation day and it all went well.

Dawn's been very busy with the first week of school, as has Lou helping with the book enlargement. Each book has to be copied on 11x17 paper for easier reading. They also have enjoyed a few diversions to the thrift stores. Dawn found a nice, old spinning wheel. The wheel is quite warped and the "shuttle" (the sling shot looking thing) is broken. I'll probably be turning a new wheel and making a new slingshot for it in the near future. It looks real good otherwise. Dawn's been collecting things woolen recently with the combs, looms, etc.

We're off to Bakersfield for a family gathering on Thursday. It's a gathering in memory of my late uncle Emery. A chance to see relatives rarely or never seen before. Should be nice.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

De Anza Flea Market

De Anza Flea Market De Anza Flea Market
We got out early to the De Anza Flea Market. It's been hot so an early visit was needed. This flea market is at De Anza College in Cupertino. It's a huge monthly market to support the Associated Student Body of the school. Back in the late 70's it was "the" place to get all your computer junk to build your own computer. I picked up all the parts for my apple II imitation there. Now days, it's nothing like that but is much bigger. It's mostly imported junk but some is good stuff. No high tech stuff any more. Too bad!

We enjoyed the look. It's been several years since we've been there. Dawn picked up a couple of books. Lou picked up some reading glasses, to loose.

On our way home we stopped at Holders Country Inn on De Anza Blvd for breakfast. They have great Omelette Souffles. We shared two omelettes and left with lots of left overs. They come with pancakes as an option. Their pancakes are famous. Holder was one of the owners of the "Original Pancake House' restaurants many years ago. They also make great cheese cakes. Another time.

It then got hotter, time for the shade of the backyard. Good things can't last.

The old-ish RV batteries couldn't be revived. I ordered replacement batteries for the RV Thursday morning. They were from The Inverter Store in Reno. Their price was 25% less than anywhere else and there was no tax and no shipping cost. For such heavy objects, that's a real savings. Friday morning when I checked the UPS site, it said they had been in Menlo Park and were out for delivery. They arrived at 1 PM. That's fast, for 6 each 68 pound objects. I installed them this afternoon. One had some damage that still needs to be cleared up with UPS so only 4 were installed.