Monday, September 29, 2008

A Short Trip

Monday: (09/29) Even though there is much still to be done, we're going to hit the road for a week or so on Thursday or Friday. Lou and Dawn left this morning for their classes and work in San Jose. They'll return on Thursday then we'll finish packing and be on our way. Meanwhile, I can clean out the interior of the RV which also has gotten quite dusty with al the construction nearby ours and the neighbors.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Meaningless Title

Monday: (09/22) This week started off as seems to be common on this stay at home with a visit to the doctor. My doctor wanted a CT scan which required fasting so the appointment was fortunately at 8am today.

After the scan Lou and I stopped by the Country Inn restaurant in Cupertino for breakfast. They make the best omlette souffle and pancakes. It's part of the remains of the old Uncle John's pancake chain that was pretty big 35 years ago here in the west. This small local chain of Country Inn's is owned by one of the former partners of that chain and fortunately the recipes survived.

And now, back to the brick laying. Dawn was off to San Jose about noon. She has a History club meeting.

Tuesday: (09/23) Lou was off to San Jose before I got up. She has her doll classes today and tomorrow. Dawn is working an internship for the City of San Jose archiving a bunch of records.

Breakfast of some of Lou's leftover Sunday potatoes. I then started on the bricks. Unfortunately I didn't get the grade correct so I removed half of what I laid yesterday and regraded then finished laying the rest. I'll do the special pieces on the edge tomorrow.

Dinner was some nachos from our local taqueria.

Wednesday: (09/24) Breakfast was more leftover Lou potatoes from Sunday's breakfast which I changed into corned beef hash for today's breakfast. Fortunately, that stretched it to make breakfast for tomorrow as well. As I'm trying to decide what I'll be doing today, I discovered that I was already late. I intended to attend the Northern California Facilities Expo in Santa Clara today. This is a show for facility (building) maintenance folks. I enjoy seeing whats going on even if I'm no longer involved it such work. I was for 20 years. I wanted to take a tor of the convention center facility but it was already underway. oops. My next item was a session on solar systems. It wasn't too interesting. Since I was out in Santa Clara I stopped by the Micro Center store, a nice technology store, to see what's new. I managed to leave empty handed.

On the way home I picked up lunch at the Hong Kong bakery in Mountain View. I then returned home to work.

Brick Paving.JPG Brick Paving.JPG
I finished the bricks by cutting and filling the odd shaped bricks along the edges then grouted the gaps. I ran out of grout before finishing, darn.The bricks were laid against each other without grout. They were originally connected with 3/4 inch grout lines. They are also now set to a better grade but note all the different levels they needed to meet. That was fun. Enough fun for now.
I then had a over pressure drain pipe to install on the water heater but my torch was bad so off to the hardware store. I stopped for dinner at Chipolte's Mexican grill for a carnitas bowl.

When I returned just as it was getting dark, I finished the pipe and then finished the grouting. Done. The yard is now pretty much back to normal. Now to rebuild the green house and build a shop all before winter comes.

Normally Lou and Dawn would have returned this evening but Dawn has an appointment for Thursday and another on Friday so their both staying there.

Thursday: (09/25) I don't want to make this a habit, really, I don't, but I got up early via the alarm so I could be on the road by 7:30, in the morning! I wanted to go on the tour of the Santa Clara Convention Center facility offered as one of the sessions at the Northern California Plant Engineering show. I missed it yesterday. Breakfast today was the rest of the corned beef hash i made yesterday and therefore the last of Lou's potatoes from Sunday's breakfast. Sort of like Mulligan stew? Today, I made it to the tour. It was very informative. Running a event center like this looks like a lot of work.

I also attended another session on solar systems and then headed on down to San Jose. Dawn's network was having problems so I went down and fixed it then Lou Dawn and I went to lunch at Super Taqueria.  I then returned home, for a nap. Getting up early, like before 8:30, is a strain for me. I retired for a reason. I used to get up about 5:30 to get to work by 6:30 then leave work, if it was an easy day, by 6pm. No more!

Lou and Dawn attended a writers lecture at SJSU and then returned home late.

Friday: (09/26) Today was a play day. We enjoyed tea in the back yard, cleaned up and walked down to the bus stop. We bought day passes and headed on down the road to Mountain View for two reasons. We can catch the light rail there and we enjoy breakfast at the Hong Kong bakery on occasion. We rode the trolley down to the Great Mall in Milpitas, a former Ford Motor Company assembly plant. It's a big discount mall, probably the biggest. They also had one of the traveling RV dealer shows there. Lou and I strolled through many of the RV's seeing nothing of interest, mostly junk. We did talk a lot with one of the salesmen there and got a good glimpse of a full timers life. He and his wife do these kind of RV sales gigs and then see the area nearby on long weekends. It sounds like this is a common source of the sales people at these kind of shows, almost retired full timers.

We then met Dawn for tea at the food court. It's always interesting people watching. We then did our examination of the mall stores. When we tired of the Great Mall we hopped on the trolley again and head down into San Jose to the end of the line on our excursion. We then stopped a a strip mall for dinner and shopping. As it turns out i was the big spender of the day making the only purchase of the day. I found two pairs of shorts of the style I like. The total cost, $3 for the two. This wasn't a thrift store purchase of used items, they were new.

Near 8pm we headed toward home. It takes about 1.5 hours to get back. While we were waiting for a bus at the trolley station we had a nice conversation with a student from SJSU that lives at home up here in Los Altos, about a 1 hour trolley trip. He only has to go down three times a week. Interestingly, he's a member of a fraternity near Dawn's apartment there.

It was a long day but fun.

Saturday: (09/27) Lou and Dawn and our neighbor Malie were off to the garage and rummage sales of the week as there first effort. When they returned, breakfast was leftovers. I started by baking an apple pie and some tarts. The rest of the day we all did our own things tinkering and crafting.

Lou fixed stuffed bell peppers for dinner.

Sunday: (09/28) My project for the day was to clean up. I started with a trip to the dump getting rid of another load of dirt and debris.

Next project was to clean Lou's car up, which I've been using for the dump runs. it's the older car so gets the tough jobs. I vacuumed then washed her car, then my car. My final project, and quite a big one was to wash the RV. Wow did it get dirty sitting around these past few months. I did end up doing a little pruning of the tree that's been attacking the RV. Some of the spouts were three feet long and would have gone through the RV's walls if they could. All this cleaning is needed because we plan on actually leaving in the RV for a few days later in the week. Still don't know if it's going North or South?

Lou and Dawn tinkered on crafts, cleaned house, did laundry and cooked.

Dinner was steak and Lou's bleu cheese and bacon potato salad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Here

Monday: (09/15) We had leftovers for breakfast. Lou made a grocery run. I dug the trench for the drain pipe through the patio and then made a dump run to get rid of the debris. I don't back fill with the lousy clay soil. I then made a screening tray to filter the rock that will be reused for the trench. It's just a 2x4 frame with some small grid hardware cloth (wire).

Tuesday: (09/16) Lou left early for San Jose before I even awoke. She's the morning person, I'm not. When I did get up I still didn't get moving too soon. No need to strain ones self! I tinkered on the computer all morning.

Trench Progress.JPG Missing Gravel.JPG
After my dose of Perry Mason at noon, I finally went outside and started some work. I started by recovering some rock from the driveway. The rock was placed between our two driveways in front to widen then to allow three cars. It looks rather bare after removal, above right. It was left over from a project years ago putting in the French drain around the house. This drain is actually the final part of that system. I've been replacing that rock with concrete recently. I screened the rock to get rid of the dirt and placed it into the trench I dug yesterday inside some geo-textile fabric. The perforated drain pipe goes inside as well and is wearing a sock of similar fabric. The sock keeps the roots out. The fabric in the trench keeps the dirt out of the rock so it remains effective in providing a path for the water.

On top of that I back fill with sand. I then started installing the bricks as the top patch for the trench. Sometime in the future I'll probably replace the concrete to correct the level. It has become broken and un-level over the years but I don't want to fix everything at once.

I did make two trips to the hardware store to get some pipe pieces to complete the installation and to get more sand. The car can only carry 12 bags at a time.

I wanted to get the trench somewhat covered since they will be working on the window by it tomorrow, above left. I don't want to loose one of the workers in the trench.

I fixed some steak hash for dinner and then made brownies for desert.

Front Door Complete.JPG Garage Window Complete.JPG
(09/17) Up early to get ready to meet the contractor who is "supposed" to be here at 9am to install the last window and replace the front door. I enjoyed breakfast out front watching the neighborhood get going. It's very cool, almost cold this morning, a little overcast.

The contractor arrived about 11am having called at 10am to say he would be late. The front door was replaced (above left) and almost complete by 2pm. The door handle for the inside was wrong and they had to go off to find the correct lever type for the lock set. They finished with the garage window (above right) and departed about 5:30. Everything looks good but i was surprised that the front door arrived primed only, not painted but that's what the order says. Missed that so now I get to paint the front door. I'll wait to do that until I get the security screen door is installed.
Remodel All Done.JPG
The contractor is all done now. Now I can work without interruption. When they're here, I do nothing but watch.

Lou met the ATT tech in San Jose to have Dawn's Internet fixed. She replaced the modem and messed up the rest of the network but left with Dawn's PC connected to a working Internet connection. I have to fix the network later.
Thursday: (09/18) I had my usual slow start to the day and then laid the rest of the bricks on the trench and dry grouted them then prepared the ends for some concrete caps. Lou and Dawn returned late after attending a dinner show put on by the preservation society in San Jose.
Friday: (09/19) Poured a little concrete for the trench cap. I received a call from San Jose that their phnes and DSL no longer worked since ATT was out yesterday to fix Dawn's. I had to go down anyway to restore Dawn's network back to working order as well So I gathered some stuff and caught the bus down to San Jose. The ATT tech replaced Dawn's DSL modem and said they fixed a problem with the wiring. There wasn't any problem with the wiring before they arrived, just the bad modem. When they left, Dawn's desktop PC was connnected directly to the DSL modem but there was no network so no printer and no wireless. The tecj couldn't get the router to work and wanted to sell us another, at an inflated price. No thanks.

I looked in to the problem with the tenants phone and internet. Phone either OK to begin with or by the time I tested it. Their DSL wasn't. Evidently another bad modem. Odd. Must have had a timed life or been hit by some electrical spike? I then rstored Dawn's network. Nothing needed replacement, just needed to be properly or improperly connected as it had been.

A nice trip on the bus down and back. i kind of like the bus.

Saturday: (09/20) Lou and Dawn had a busy morning going to all the rummage and garage sales. They do pretty well at finding bargains, some of which we actually need.I started the day by starting dinner, pork, sauerkraut and potatoes in the slow cooker.
I tinkered around the yard mostly laying some of the brick paving that I previously removed to level and install the drain pipe. About hald done, just the easier half.

Sunday: (09/21) Play day. Lou fixed a nice breakfast of leftover sauerkraut potatoes and bacon for breakfast. No eggs because we were out.

We then went out to Shoreline park in Mountain View for a walk. There are several parks along the Southern San Francisco Bay and this is one of the best. We stopped by a cafe at the lake in the park for tea and shared a slice of apple pie. I haven't been here in a long time and it's really been inproved from visits several years ago. We're going to have to bring our canoe over for a little paddle sometime.

After the walk we did a little shopping getting essentials like eggs and orange juice at Trader Joes. That's about it for the day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Of The Same

Sunday: (09/07) Started the day like a usual Sunday with the Sunday morning political shows. I enjoyed listening to Joe Biden on Meet The Press. An excellent man.

Lou fixed French toast and smoked sausage for breakfast. After the usual tea in the yard and bird and critter watching I finally got to work.

Trench For Drain.JPG
I haven't felt all that well these past few days but did today so back to work for me. I started digging the trench for the drain inlets and putting in the pipe. Actually I only dug out the old drain pipe to the point I could attach to it which is made more difficult by the fact the pipe is encased in drain rock and geo-textile fabric. I got it attached and started and called it a day.

Don's Kidney Stone.JPG
VICTORY! About noon, that pesky pebble made an appearance. Pardon the specifics but I passed my kidney stone which now means I can cancel the surgery that was scheduled for later this month. WONDERFUL! It certainly took its time (52 days) but fortunately didn't cause much pain after the initial couple of days. It wasn't all that big, but big enough. About the size of the edge of a dime to the nose as the doctor had described it. If it only hadn't have been barbed it might have traveled faster. And then there is the fact it's twice that long.
Lou fixed some nice gazpacho soup for lunch and dinner was leftover Dawn's pizza.

Monday: (09/08) Not a productive day, unless relaxing is productive. We did a little shopping and a lot of tinkering at home all of no significance.

Dawn left in the afternoon for San Jose to attend a History Club meeting at SJSU.

Tuesday: (09/09) Lou's off early to San Jose. to her Doll class and to meet Dawn.

I walked down for a nutritious donut breakfast again at Happy Donut. This time they had plenty of good (simple black) tea. I read the two local papers and checked the email and posted the start of this blog entry. Maybe a start at productivity. When I get home intend to start digging the trenches some more. Time will tell how the day goes.

Wednesday: (09/10) Today was garbage day, almost the highlight of my day? I did work at digging the trench and installing one of the drain pipes. It's fun chipping through the adobe clay soil! It's almost as hard as the concrete.

Lou and Dawn had their classes this morning and moseyed toward home late in the afternoon. Dinner was leftover gazpacho soup.

Thursday: (09/11) Today started with a visit to the doctor for me. I've had a sore finger for months and finally had it looked at. I was surprised when I was referred to a plastic surgeon to have a cyst removed. I see them tomorrow and I hope it makes me more handsome?

I then browsed at Lowe's and Home Depot in Sunnyvale on my way home. The doctor, and Lowe's are both 12 miles from home so I took advantage of the trip to look around. I then spent some time reading about my cyst. I had thought it was a splinter or something that never worked itself out. Wrong.

Lou and Dawn worked at home on their crafts and writing respectively.

Friday: (09/12) A little yard lurking started the day. Fun to watch the critters on a beautiful morning. Dawn laid some worm traps, wet cardboard on the ground, to get some started worms for her worm farm. No luck finding any this morning. Where is a worm when you want one?

More doctors appointments scheduled for me today. I was up early again, not my usual. The early bird avoids the rush at the laboratory and I needed to leave a few samples. i wanted to do it early as well because i had to fast and not eating is not my norm. I was in and out in 5 minutes.

Next stop, breakfast. i went to their hospital cafe and got an excellent breakfast burrito. This is a brand new hospital and everything is well laid out and nice looking. A nice place for breakfast.

Then off to imaging for a pre appointment xray. The wait in line to check in was about 5 minutes but I didn't even have time to fire up my laptop to use their free WiFi before I was called. Total time in imaging 10 minutes. Wow, my doctors appointment isn't until 11am. If they aren't going to cooperate and be slow and inefficient here a Kaiser, what am I going to do for the next 1 1/2 hours. How about browsing the Internet. Thanks for the WiFi Kaiser.

Saturday: (09/13) We went up to Redwood City (RWC) to a rummage sale, or at least Lou and Dawn did. I came along for the ride and took a walk around town while they visited all the other thrift stores in RWC. With that hard work done it was time for lunch, we all visited the Talk of Broadway cafe for a bite. Lou and I shared an omlette while Dawn had an egg salad sandwich. All very good as expected because when I passed it earlier it was a crowded restaurant and I got a look and some of the food. It's nice to get a preview on an unfamiliar restaurant.

By the time we got back home it was time for Lou and Dawn to go to the theater. They had tickets for a play in San Jose. I stayed home and played the rest of the evening.

Watsonville Fair Crafts.JPG
Sunday: (09/14) Today was another fair day. We enjoyed a nice left over from the fridge breakfast and then headed over toward Watsonville to the Santa Cruz County Fair. The Watsonville fair is the closest good fair. As you might have noticed form previous posts, we like good fairs.

Art At The Watsonville Fair.JPG Watsonville Fair Canning.JPG
Lots of painting and pictures on display as well as the other crafts canned goods and quilts.
Lou's Friend Billy.JPG The Old tractors.JPG
Lou loves to visit the animals. Above left is her friend billy. I like to look at the equipment. This visit on the last day of the fair was still a nice day at the fair. The weather was nice though slightly cool all day.

When we had enough of the fair, we came back up to downtown Santa Cruz. Dawn needed to visit a couple of the book stores. Then we headed back over the hill to home. For some reason there were a bunch of drunks on the road or at least really bad drivers that couldn't stay in their own lanes. It was only a little after 9 pm. I thought the bars closed at 2 am?

So, the entire week tended to be unproductive on my part. Hopefully, the work ethic returns next week. I still have that trench to work on.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Palo Alto Electric Vehicle Rally

Saturday: (09/06) I continued the easy life and didn't do much that could be called work.

Lou and I took all our hazardous waste to the city's hazardous waste disposal event that they have each month. When I cleaned up the shop I got rid of most of the old used paint, varnish and etc. What I couldn't solidify and place in the trash is what went.

We then went shopping. I needed some compactor bags that I use to carry the debris, that I generate with my digging, to the dump. That's as close as I got to working. Of course, with the lousy hardware stores that exist today finding stuff is work. We also stopped by Big Lots, a discount store and bought more than we planned, but it was all cheap. I've become a user of energy drinks. I get drowsy in the afternoon and that work best to snap me to consciousness again. Redbull and the others at the usual places cost too much, about $2+ each. Big Lots sells stuff that is the same and costs $.60. They work as well so why not save. of course I'm looking for a fruit or vegetable that does the same but haven't found it yet.

Electric vehicle Show.JPG Electric vehicle Show.JPG
I also went to the Electric Vehicle Rally at Palo Alto High School sponsored by the Electric Auto Association. There were all sorts on display. They even gave free rides on the bikes and some little cars.

Old Home Built Electric Carriage.JPG My Fvorite, A bike conversion.JPG
The carriage above left is a 20 year old homemade electric vehicle. The bicycle on the right has been converted to electric with a range of 20-30 miles. I was especially interested in bicycle conversions. I got enough information to add another project to my list.
Commuter Electric Car.JPG Commuter Electric Car.JPG
There were lots of factory built commuter vehicles as well.
Electric Trike.JPG Commuter Electric Car.JPG
And some on an even smaller scale, a trike and a single person coupe with some solar.
Bike Bus.JPG Home Built Segway.JPG
The bicycle trailer above left I see quite often cruising down a street in our neighborhood. The balanced platform vehicle is a home built version of a Segway including his own processor and controls. From this builder i learned about the TechShop, a membership workshop that has every conceivable tool. It sounds like something I might utilize in the future.
Solar Powered Electric Car.JPG
The vehicle above is solar powered but it would take three days to charge up after a normal commute. Not really practical yet.

Dawn was home doing creative cooking. She made some pickles. and then pizza for dinner. The pizza had a corn meal crust and used an alfredo sauce.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summers Over

Monday: (09/01) A holiday for many but what is a holiday for a retired person? For us, it's usually a day to avoid the crowds.I tend to really think of today as the end of summer and the beginning of fall no matter what the calendar thinks it is.

Lou and Dawn went to the 4th day of as rummage sale. Everything is 1/2 off and even free later today so of course, they had to go, again. I really can't complain. They are really attacking the piles in the house so it looks like I'll have to start eliminating more myself, soon.

We went to downtown Los Altos to go to one of Lou's favorite breakfast haunts the Los Altos Coffee Shop. Unfortunately, she hasn't haunted enough. It was gone. Fortunately, there was a couple sitting on a bench in front that advised us they had moved to the Rancho Shopping Center just a mile or two away and are now called Brian's Restaurant. The new location is much better. It has lots of outside dining and a great view of the mountains. The food is the same, excellent. Lou and I shared a chicken fried steak and eggs with home fries. The home fries are real potatoes not those frozen potato cubes that many use. The steak was home made with an excellent meat gravy. Dawn had the eggs Benedict. They were equally good though the English muffin they were on was rather tough. When Lou and I share a single breakfast it is much better sized to our needs.

The rest of the day was a holiday for me. i tinkered with the computer all day. Lou and Dawn were more productive with a continuing effort at organization of the piles.

Lou fixed a nice artichoke salad and some tuna stuffed mushrooms for dinner.

Tuesday: (09/02) Leftover omlette for breakfast. Lou and Dawn were then off to San Jose for a couple of days. I'm hanging around both to do some more work on the yard, if I'm energetic, and waiting for the contractor to come by to finish the decorative shingle siding on the front of the house. They ran out of siding on the first visit and the shingles have arrived. Of course now they are busy on other projects so they'll come by sometime today or tomorrow. I don't really have to be here since it's the front of the house but I would like to. It will only take 1-2 hours for them to finish.

Final Siding Pieces.JPG Trying To Clean Up Stuborn Black Spots.JPG
The siding crew stopped by just before 2pm. The installation of the final pieces of shilgle siding took less than one hour. Unfortunately, there were some very stuborn black spots on the areas that wer installed and where the ladder ws leaning. They couldn't be removed though they tried for about 1/2 hour. They had to head over to Home Depot to get son "Goof Off" which they usually have with them. That worked well and they were offr just before 4pm, siding done. The problem was rally a spray product that was supposed to be matching and was actually a spray paint. The installer wiped the siding after spraying it aand that added dirt into the paint and that caused the black spots. When just sprayed it matched well.
Trying To Clean Up Stuborn Black Spots.JPG The Finished Siding.JPG
The final cleanup with Goof Off. The finished siding looks very nice.

I checked today and learned the remaining garage window has been received but the front door has not. It should arrive on the 12th and be installed the following week. That will get rid of the final blue part of the house.

Dinner was Chinese from the Lucky restaurant. I also stopped by Trader Joe's for some groceries on the way back.

Wednesday: (09/03) I didn't have a good night so didn't get too much sleep. I did have an appointment to help our neighbor into the car for a doctor's appointment. I then walked down to our local Happy Donut shop for some donuts and tea for breakfast. I've wanted to stop by to try the free Internet and do some browsing as I ate my donuts. It's been on the list of todos for several years. The donuts were good but they didn't have any good teas as in simple black teas. I managed to update this blog and enjoy some browsing as well.

I never felt too good so I just relaxed all day and played at the computer as required. I also helped the neighbor into or out of the car several more times for doctors appointments.

Lou had her doll classes in San Jose and Dawn went to see the City of San Jose about an internship and got it so she'll be busy helping them for a while.

When they came home Lou fixed spaghetti for dinner.

Thursday: (09/04) In the do nothing mode.

Friday: (09/05) Still in the do nothing mode.