Monday, June 30, 2008

Cool, Ashy And A Smog Test

Monday: (06/30) The weather is weird! Here it is summer and it's 61 degrees right now (0930). Probably a high of possibly 70 is expected today. Considering the heat spell a month or so ago in spring when it was in the 100's and I begin to think we need to readjust the calendar.

With all the fires here in California we have some smoke and ash in the air. Not very bad here on the San Francisco Peninsula but really bad up North and in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys to the East though it has cleared up quite a bit from last week everywhere. The ash still has to be cleaned off the windshield every day.

I'm sitting at A1 Foreign Auto Repair in Mountain View getting our "toad" car smogged this morning. They are a "Gold Shield test and repair" station. I'm tired of the run around taking it to the "test only" station, then flunking and getting it repaired somewhere then retested so I now just come here to the one-stop "test and repair" station. Actually this car usually passes easily, but so did our other car until it flunked the last couple of tests.

I brought along my trusty little laptop and the shop has a nice wifi connection as well as the free city "Google" wifi. What a nice town, free wifi.

Well history seems to be repeating. The car barely passed. The NO maximum is 791. 2 years ago the test result was 141, 1/2 the average. This year it was 753. I may see a conspiracy in too many things but I would feel better if this test weren't done by a machine connected to the computer in Sacramento. This car only has 158k miles and it now is ready to flunk next time. Our other car, a very similar Volvo 240 wagon just 4 years older, barely passed 4 years ago and flunked the last test. The test prior to that was way below average as this car was for the last test. That car has 360k miles on it. I don't think either vehicle flunked due to poor engine performance as much as the fact they are 20 year old vehicles. This barely pass test today is to prepare us for a flunk next time. The real intent would appear to be for us to get tired and get a new car, or two. We probably will, eventually, but why replace perfectly good vehicles just because they are 20 years old? It's just too coincidental that they began to label the older car a "gross polluter" on the registration renewal form before the first bad test result with the previous test result being less than 1/2 the average test result, as in an outstanding vehicle. It's obviously a conspiracy picking on our poor babies all for the sales tax and higher registration fees. If there is money involved, think conspiracy. Oh well, not to worry, for two more years anyway.

The flowers by the fountain..JPG Some of the flower planters that were moved..JPG
Tuesday: (07/01) More shop cleanup. I moved the planters that were around the outside of the shop including one that must have weighed about 800 pounds (The wooden trough in the center back of the right picture). Thank goodness for a little red wagon. The flowers on the left just look pretty. They are by the water fountain.

That was enough for the day so I spent the evening tinkering on the computer.

Lou and Dawn were down to San Jose Lou's doll making class.

Wednesday: (07/02) I finished stacking the keeper wood from the shop on the rack I built and disposed of the least needed material. The old shop is almost empty now. First time since we moved in.

Lou and Dawn did a little shopping including groceries.

Thursday: (07/03) We started the day with a trip to the dump. I loaded the car with all the junk wood scraps gleaned out of the shot. Neatly stacked, it filled the rear of the wagon from floor to roof everywhere but the front seat. Nice to be rid of it. Mostly pieces too small to be useful but probably just what I'll need tomorrow.

After lunch, Lou mentioned some problems she was having using a database she keeps an inventory of her molds on. She added all her doll molds and wants to classify the molds now. The app she was using I whipped up quickly several years ago and really wasn't too versatile. So, I spent the day building a new application that's more versatile, easier for her to use and provides the additional features of classification, notes and pictures. It was a fun exercise.

Lou and Dawn processed all the apricots they picked yesterday.

Friday: (07/04) The 4th of July. Enjoy your holiday!

Enjoying the holiday. We all walked up to California Ave for breakfast. Breakfast wasn't what we expected since most everythng was closed. I had a Subway sandwich while Lou and Dawn had some interesting things from Izzy's Bagel Shop.

Lou baked a couple of apricot pies.

After noon we walked over to the Mitchel Park Chilli Cookoff. We looked around but as usual the lines to sample the chilli were hours long so we left. Some folks must enjoy standing in queues.

For dinner, Lou smoked some chicken and prepared rice noodles while I fixed some creamed spinach thanks to a recipe from Marie Langer's blog. Shortly after dinner, our neighbor brought over some banana brownies. We gave them one of the apricot pies Lou baked.

The house across the street with a new color coat..JPG
Saturday: (07/05) Busy watching the house across the street get it's color and texture coat. We toured the inside with the owner and it is looking good. They should be moving in in August.

Shop with siding removed..JPG
I tinkered at removing the shop walls and other clean up. Dawn and Lou made a nice chicken soup for dinner.

Sunday: (07/06)  We walked up to California Ave to look at the Farmers Market and have breakfast at Joanie's Cafe. After some relaxing i tinkered cleaning up the last of the junk from the shop. Today was much warmer than recently. Tomorrow is supposed to get hot. O boy!

A Big Anniversary!

Well, four years ago today, I retired. The smartest thing I ever did! I really can't figure out how I ever had time to work at a job all those years. There's barely enough time to do nothing today.

One reason for my retiring, almost as soon as I could, was to have some time in retirement before it becomes obsolete. Recent trends seem to indicate that may occur. If we have to return to work some day in the future it will be after we've enjoyed some time off. With the stock market falling and house prices dropping, retirements are being affected for many but fortunately no effect for us, yet.

Now gas prices are another matter. We're hanging around home this summer to get some work done on the house but it's also a great time not to be on the road, as well, with gas prices approaching $5.

I was recently tempted to do some contract work after a job offer from a company I wouldn't mind working for. I decided not to because the reason I retired was to not work, even for short periods. Working might become a bad habit again and I don't want to pick up any more bad habits.

We've enjoyed  our rambling road trips and hope to continue them as long as we can.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Decisions, Decisions!

It's been a few days since I last made a post, as seems usual when we're at home.

Monday: (06/23) Dawn started helping at a summer school class at Gunn HS. It's a special education class.
I worked on cleaning out the shop. Only one major accident as I dropped a rolling tool chest on myself. Fortunately just a skinned knee. Lou's been relaxing and working on her sewing todo list.

Tuesday: (06/24) Lou and Dawn went over to Pleasanton for a job interview for Dawn. After that they stopped by the Alameda County Fair there for a look around. It would be a nice job in a museum there but the transportation needs may be an interesting challenge.

I took off to look at some more houses that the contractor we're considering has completed. these two houses actually did very similar work to our proposed work. Unfortunately they are both fairly long distances form home in opposite directions. One was in Pacifica the other in South San Jose. Both looked very good.

Since I was in the area of Almaden Expressway and Blossom Hill Road in San Jose I tried the King's Buffet, a Chinese buffet. I've been looking for a good Chinese buffet like we enjoy in Bakersfield. So many are OK to so-so. This one is VERY good. I'll definitely put it on the list to visit whenever I'm near by for lunch.

The afternoon was spent moving stuff from the shop to the tent.

Wednesday: (06/25) Decision day. I contacted the folks who were nice enough to give us estimates on the work on the house. We decided on American Home Renewal for our siding and windows. Should make a considerable difference in the looks of the house though it will make it more difficult to direct people to our house. We won't be able to send them to the worst looking house on the street any longer. Our house is already one of the coolest indoors but with the added insulation and the double pane windows even our little cooler won't have to work so hard now.

Dawn helped at her class again today.

We went to lunch at the New Tung Kee Noodle House then did our grocery shopping. We all made the usual rounds of Trader Joe's (specialty items), The Milk Pail (Vegetables), and Safeway (everything else). All this accomplished from one parking spot. If only they were within walking distance of the house.

I cooked up a big pot of my spaghetti for dinner.

Thursday: (06/26) Off to the dentist for me to get my crown installed. Dr Hong had to numb me up again to make some final adjustments but it seems to fit well. My mouth is just now getting back to normal. It's always most numb long after I departed the dentist's office? Lou had a doctor's appointment about her pain in the ass, I mean hip. She got a shot that should help. Its' kind of a good thing we're hanging around home this summer with all these doctor and dentist visits. Lou's still trying to get her breath back. Our visit to the desert earlier this spring might have been the cause of that problem. All the dust and pollen didn't help, though fortunately it hasn't bothered Dawn and I.

For lunch we walked the two blocks down to our local Jack In The Box. Jack offered us two tacos in exchange for a gas receipt. With gas prices kind of high, getting a couple of $1 tacos for free dropped the cost of that tank of gas by about 16 cents per gallon, about as much as not buying it here in town (currently $4.66). They were even nice enough to accept two receipts so we both got a couple of their not exceptionally great but quite adequate tacos and supplemented those with a drink each so, in actuality it didn't cost Jack much at all.

For dinner I fixed some grilled cheese sandwiches with red peppers. Very good. Nothing like eating healthy.

Friday: (06/27) I built a rack to hold all the plywood and lumber in the shop. It's been piled here and there leaning against the wall in the shop and needs to be free standing now, hence the rack.

Lou had another doctors appointment and so she and Dawn turned it into a shopping trip since they were on the road anyway.
Wilton Before Facelift.JPG
Saturday: (06/28) We met with our contractor and signed up for the facelift work to the house. Do you think it needs a lift? In 6-8 weeks it will look quite different.

I spent most of the day disposing of junk paint and chemicals and cleaning up in the shop.

Lou and Dawn started the day with a list of garage sales to visit. Of course they found something to bring home on the visits.

Dawn fixed some nice corn ice cream for an afternoon treat.

Sunday: (06/29) History repeats. Several years ago, I made a rhubarb pie using an apple pie recipe. I bake pretty nice pies, if I must say so, but that pie left a lot to be desired on the sweetness scale. A couple of days ago we got some nice rhubarb at the vegetable stand for $.99/lb. I baked the pies and tarts this morning and I forgot to put any sugar in the pies. The pie will now be served with individual user sugar bowls. We my even experiment by trying honey? It's a got thing I can't be fired.

Note: This post is being made using a tool I loaded quite a while back but haven't used yet. ScribeFire works with the FoxFire browser allowing one to make posts to blogs more easily from within the browser as well as blogging items seen on the web. I'm hoping it works well and makes my job as poster easier, as all tools should.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

In Case You’re Not Interested

This blog not only reflects information about our travels but also about our time at home. I realize our time at home may not be very interesting to those visitors interested in our travel. You can limit you view to only our travel posts by selecting the "Travel" category on the right sidebar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It’s Not Travel, But We’re Still Enjoying It

Bol Park Path.JPG
Monday: (06/16) We all took a nice long walk this morning. We walked over to Bol park then over to Gunn High School. While there we met one of the teachers Lou worked with there and got all the recent news. We then headed toward Los Altos along the Hech Hechy right of way trail. Then Lou and Dawn went by the bowling alley where there is a nice Thia restaurant where they shared a big bowl of coconut soup. I walked over to Sears and a couple of hardware stores trying to find a replacement water filter cartridge. I didn't find it but did have nice walk back home.

Later in the evening we all went down to the New Tung Kee noodle palace for dinner. Dawn enjoyed a visit to Rasputin's book store while Lou and I visited Orchard Supply Hardware and I got my water filter cartridge as well as some hardware cloth (wire) for some dirt screening racks i need to make.

Tuesday: (06/17) Lou had an doctor's appointment this morning. Her "cold" has been lingering far too long. I drove her down and brought my trusty little laptop and sat across the street by city hall using the free wifi that Mountain View enjoys thanks to Google. After i had caught up with the computer, I took a walk around town until Lou was finished. Then we stopped by the Hong Kong bakery for breakfast. Great baked pork buns.

In the afternoon I met with the Sears folks. They wanted to stop by and reduce the cost of their proposal for our siding and windows. I'll have to make a decision this week and I have two good proposals?

Wednesday: (06/18) I drove around looking at examples of the contractors work.

Thursday: (06/19) Free transit day. All bay area transit is free today except for Caltrain and Bart which are only free until noon. It's a good day to get out and look around. Dawn and I rode lightrail down to a big shopping center in South San Jose, Oakridge Mall. It takes a long time to get there. We rode the bus back home. All free, as it should always be if government had any real interest in cutting down the use of single occupant cars.

Friday: (06/20) I went on a little shopping trip trying to find a temporary garage tent. I need someplace to move all the stuff in my shop to while we remove the shop structure and then replace it, after the siding is installed, with a better structure.

I also did a little grocery shopping and stopped by the Elephant Pharmacy, another project of the founder of Whole Foods, to get some herb Lou needs to fight her allergy attack/cold??

Saturday: (06/21) When I was at the mall a couple of days ago I arranged to have another window replacement contractor come by an make a bid. They came by thins morning.

Temp Shop.JPG Temp Shop.JPG
While I was waiting for them, I started erecting the temporary garage before it gets too hot. It's 100 in the shade here.

Lou's Mercedes.JPG
Lou and Dawn went to the Stanford rummage sale and Lou bought a very nice Mercedes car, for $2. Of course she won't be able to drive it but the neighbor kids can peddle it.

Sunday: (06/22) Busy moving stuff out of the shop into the temp garage (tent). It's obvious that the shop hasn't been tidy in years. There's a lot of dirty junk most of which ison the way to a garage sale or the dump. It'll take a few days to finish.

We went to a theater in Redwood City to see Indiana Jones. Not bad. but, it must have been hard for the old man to act like a kid again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back To The Heat

Monday: (06/09) More corned beef hash today. Lou made a BIG batch of hash yesterday.

I worked on that list some more. I removed the automatic step from the RV. It was damaged long ago when it deployed was re were on the road and caught on the ground on a dirt road and bent. It then wouldn't full retract. After getting it mostly up we've left it off for a couple of years. Why carry the heavy thing, so I removed it. If I'm able to straighten it and fix the door switch that let it pop out on the road, I'll reinstall it. I don't think we really need it though?

I tinkered at the computer setting up some new software on my web server.

Tuesday: (06/10) French toast for breakfast this morning.

Another appointment with a contractor for the siding, windows and such. This contractor was here about 3 hours and left us an estimate before leaving. Big project but her price is the best so far.

Dawn baked some really nice cookies this evening. Lou's working on her dolls and I'm tinkering at the computer some more.

Wednesday: (06/11) More corned beef hash for breakfast today. Today was an excursion day. Lou and Dawn had a list of things to do in San Jose so i tagged along. Dawn had a couple of appointments and Lou had her doll making class.

While Dawn was at one of her appointments, Lou and I explored Home Depot and Lowe's in Sunnyvale. We checked their doors windows, siding etc. The windows a Lowe's look good but their display models were only single hung. We like double hung windows. More looking and checking.

We stopped for egg rolls and shrimp along the way to San Jose for Lou's class. Dawn explored the library at San Jose State University while I replaced a fence picket at her place and tinkered with her PC updating software.

Then we were off to Dawn's second appointment after which we explored the nearby Westfield shopping Center and Santanna Row Shopping Center stopping for dinner at the New York Cheesecake Factory. We started with a shared slice of cheesecake followed by a shared shepherds pie. More than enough for three. We then headed toward home. Busy day.

I tinkered a little online this evening finally figuring out how to remotely access a Windows PC (server) using my Linux laptop (eeePC). it's easy once you enter the right information at the right time.

Pretty hot today.

I noticed that I appear to have broken a tooth in half. No pain fortunately except for a minor occasional temperature sensitivity. Looks like a visit to the dentist is in order.

Thursday: (06/12) This morning I called my dentist to have him look at my damaged tooth. I got an appointment for 3:30 today.

I tinkered on the computer and websites most of the day until it was time to head over to the dentist. He prepared a temporary crown and I was off with an appointment in a couple of weeks to install the permanent crown. i guess I didn't need that $1k anyway?

Friday: (06/13) Lou and Dawn went out on an excursion to California Avenue to the bookstore and a walk there. I tinkered as usual this morning and also reviewed some of the material on doors, windows garage doors and siding that we've collected.

About 2pm Lou and I left stopping at Madco Welding Supply to pick up my repaired regulator. We then headed down to Sunnyvale's Lowe's store and ordered our replacement garage door and set up an appointment to have our windows measured for replacement. Lowe's windows seem to be better made that the others we've seen. We also toured a new home improvement store HD Remodel and Restore, a Home Depot store for contractors, even more warehouse like than their regular stores. Interesting place and no crowd.

My turn to fix dinner. I fixed spaghetti tonight. After dinner I baked a couple of rhubarb pies and made some tarts as well. They had some nice cheap rhubarb at the vegetable stand when we went shopping a couple of days ago. The pies turned out delicious, in my opinion.

Saturday: (06/14) I put the repaired regulator on Lou's little tanks and hooked up my new Cobra welding torch that I got in Quartzsite. The regulator worked well as did the torch. But, I got a nice DVD with video's on how to use the new torch, quite different from my existing torch. I went in to start to watch them and got waylayed by my computer and ending up doing other things on the computer and didn't get to the videos.

Garden.JPG Garden.JPG
Sunday: (06/15) Oh boy, the "real" Father's Day. We all went over to Hidden Villa in the Los Altos hills. It's a land trust with a farm, garden and hiking trails. It's also home to the oldest youth hostel in America.

Lou Hiking.JPG
We enjoyed a nice short hike on one of the trails.

Goats.JPG Pigs.JPG
We enjoyed visiting the chickens, pigs, sheep, goats etc. We had packed a nice picnic lunch which we enjoyed in the shade of a nice tree watching all the activity at the farm.

Garden Flowers.JPG Garden Flowers.JPG
And, of course, I took pictures of flowers at the farm.

Garden Flowers.JPG Garden Flowers.JPG
Several pictures.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Starting The Projects

Monday: (06/02) I started scheduling estimates for some work on the house. Vinyl siding, insulation, new windows, and a new garage door. This will be no small project. I'll have to find a temporary home for my shop and remove the green house as well. With gas prices as they are it looks like a very good time to be hanging close to home.

Tuesday: (06/03) The toad (my car) went into the shop for service. A routine 170,000 mile checkup, eliminate a squeak in the steering wheel and repair the air conditioner. It's another election day so we dropped by the polling place to deliver our ballots. I worked on copying DVD video recordings of Dawn's graduation ceremonies. While waiting for those I worked on a software project.

Wednesday: (06/04) Today the first contractor dropped by to take measurements of the house.

New RV Sink Faucet.JPG
I worked on the list of tasks. Today, I replaced the RV's bathroom sink valve and re-caulked all the seams around the sink and tub. Now if I can just stop the leak on the supply line to the sink valve.

Thursday: (06/05) A little weeding of the front lawn, just a little. Then I checked the new bathroom sink faucet for leaks. There were none so I cleaned everything that came out of the bath cabinet and that was on the top of the vanity.

Next project was to replace the connector on the front of the toad that connects the lights and brakes to the RV. The cover broke some time back and I bought the connector but with my usual expert procrastination it hasn't been installed yet. I also needed to fix an intermittent for the right brake light/blinker on the toad when hooked to the RV. I thought I had a bad wire but it rang out as good. Humm?

I installed the new connector on the car and on the cable and everything now works. Must have been a high resistance connection in the connector? As long as everything works, who cares why?

Lou and Dawn spent the Day out shopping.

Friday: (06/06) Lou and Dawn took me out to lunch in Sunnyvale to the Crazy Buffet, a Chinese buffet. We hate crowds so this is my Fathers Day lunch.

They headed toward home via all the thrift shops while I caught the bus toward San Jose.

This afternoon they are having a ten year anniversary open house for the traffic operations center I worked at. They've updated a few things and have some neat things going on. Faster communications to the traffic controllers, new software, new monitors, and more. A rich uncle must have died? Nice to see it working so well!

It was nice to see all the people I worked with both there and from the other agencies. One problem was talking to one of the vendors and getting a job offer. I'll have to see if I can resist. Shouldn't be too hard. The main thing I learned when I retired was that I don't like work.

Work is a little over 20 miles from home and a day pass for the bus is $5. I would have used 2-3 gallons if I drove and that would have been about $14 at our gas prices today of $4.67 a gallon. Save a buck here and a buck there and pretty soon you can buy a hamburger.

Saturday: (06/07) Nothing significant happened today , as far as I can remember?
Sunday: (06/08) Fathers Day, or so we thought. I took all the advantage of the day I could doing almost nothing all day. We did walk over to Fry;s Electronics for our evening walk. Just walking and looking. (Lou learned later that she had the wrong day and I didn't know either. One of the problems of not being time and date aware)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Never Satisfied

Monday: (05/26) It's been cool for a while now. Why not some normal weather?

I tinkered with the computer all day. My feet need to recover from yesterdays fun. Lou and Dawn did their own tinkering.

Tuesday: (05/27) I prepared a list of things to do and am trying to cross out a couple of items each day. At least that will be some progress.

Another trip on the train to San Francisco this evening for a BAADAUG Adobe User Group meeting. We learned something about software design patterns for Flex.

Wednesday: (05/28) We met Dawn(2) and Courtney for breakfast at the Cozy Cafe on the Alameda in San Jose. It's a very nice restaurant near the airport. After breakfast we dropped them off at the terminal for their flight back to Amherst, MA.

We then stopped by the Valley Faire (Westfield) Mall in San Jose for a look around then Santana Row shops across the street. When Lou was worn out we headed home. I noticed that Best Buy had the printer I want for only $99. I need to replace the printer in the RV so the style is rather set due to placement. I didn't get it because I'd prefer to leave the taxes closer to home.

Thursday: (05/29) I went over to our local Best Buy to get the printer. The one I went to in Mountain View didn't have any. They checked inventory and conformed that the East Palo Alto store had some, 21. i only need one so I went over. This printer, the Brother mfc465cn has been on sale as low as $130 recently but the $99 price cinched the deal. As I said, the type of printer is fixed due to placement. While it's close to the correct size, it is a bit bigger than the old mfc420cn that it replaces. So, I had to rebuild the "cabinetry" that I whipped together when i install the old printer 3 years ago. I never made a permanent cabinet for it. The temporary cabinet worked so well. It just had to have a little extra width and height for the new printer. The old printer just would always wake up when we needed it and hopefully the new one will work better.

A visit to Costco for blue towels and a few other things.

Friday: (05/30) Dawn went over to the library at Stanford today.

Saturday: (05/31) Lou's getting better. The frog is almost gone.

Dawn went over to the library at Stanford again today. Her library card expires tomorrow.

I moved the TV out of the RV back to the study. A pain but moving it up to 4 times a year seems more practical than getting another. With the soon to be change to DTV I even debated whether to bother changing to DTV or abandoning watching TV. When I broke the RV TV, we even went on a couple of trips without the front TV with no harm to our health. I also made another trip to Costco for more zip-lock bags. We forgot to get them day before yesterday when we were there. We use a lot of them. There isn't too much we buy there because the quantities are to large. Primarily we get blue towels and zip-lock bags. but manage to find a few other things on each visit.

Sunday: (06/01) A farmers market visit is on the calendar today.

Note: I may abbreviate posting while we're home. It's hard to find anything interesting to blog about but then this is sort of a diary as well so who knows?