Chuck's  2002 Ramblings...

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12-25-2002

H A P P Y   C H R I S T M A S ! ! !

A N D   A

M E R R Y   N E W   Y E A R ! ! !


12/24/02

On Friday the 13th we bought a Smithfield country ham for my sister Rhonda and her family as a Christmas present,  Rhonda always sends us with enough cheese to bind up an Army for Christmas.  We brought the ham  home and set it on the counter that afternoon.  I mentioned to Karen that she should put the ham somewhere where Hoover-Dog could not get to it. Hoover-Dog is really our mutt dog, the only dog left in our house. She has a habit of getting her elderly fat ass up on the counters and eating whatever is there. Whole loafs of bread with wrappers - later picked up in the back yard not quite as clean as they were - entire birthday cakes, plates of cookies, lunch bags, McDonald's bags. You name it, she will get it and eat it. And she is quick too. She ate half a pizza in the time it takes to walk into the dining room and back... we usually hide things in the cupboard or the microwave as she has not figured out how to get inside them yet.  Well...  Karen put the ham in the oven.  A few days later I was home wondering what I was going to consume for dinner as Karen was working until late and I would be fending for myself.  A quick look into the fridge and I found chicken pot pies, mmmmm goood!  I zip over and poke the buttons on the oven to preheat it to 400 degrees and go sit down to delete junk email and read the one or two real emails.  After about ten minutes I smell something.  Smells like paper burning...  Hmmm... I start wandering around looking.  When I get into the kitchen I can see a very light smoke emanating from the back burner of the stove.  I quickly deduce this is the vent for the oven.  As I peer into the oven I can see the ham, with a nice red glow on top of it.  I quickly shut the oven off, get hot pads and a fire extinguisher, just in case, and open the oven.  I yank the flaming ham out and set it on the sink and put the very very small fire out with a damp washcloth.  Investigation shows that just the brown paper wrapper is burned.  I trimmed the burned section away and found a new hiding place for the ham.  So, Rhonda, now you know how come the wrapper was trimmed away!  The ham is precooked, I believe, so I just warmed it up a little bit.  Karen very dutifully refrained from uncontrollable laughter when I told her about the ham.  The following Monday Karen shipped the ham to my sister...

Last Friday Karen and I had the day off together so we could finish the last little bit of shopping before Christmas.  While shopping the vet called and said my amplifier was in and asked if I could bring the car in to have it installed.  We zipped out of the mall and took the car to the dealer at about three in the afternoon.  They had it fixed and ready to go in about an hour.  While it was being fixed we wandered over to the Lynnhaven mall and finished our shopping there.  The mechanic, excuse me - automotive technician, found out that the weather seal around the trunk area where the amplifier is, was damaged.  He repaired it with what looks like roofing tar and said it would take a couple days to cure.  The stuff is up out of site and should seal the leak as it would have dripped right onto the amplifier.  I refrained from washing the car over the weekend and the rain stayed away until today so the goo should be cured.  The stereo is really nice, when I put in a CD from the Georgia Satellites (good old southern rock) and crank up the volume I can feel my rib cage move with the drum, Karen does not seem to too impressed with my musical test...

Christmas is tomorrow, the tree is shedding needles right and left despite the constant watering.  However the needle loss is not as bad as the year I mixed a bunch of Miracle-Grow plant food in the water for the tree stand.  The next morning, literally, every needle had fallen off of the tree and was on the floor.  We took the tree and the swept up needles back to where we bought it, and told them we had purchased a bad tree and we wanted our money back or another tree.  The tree folks looked very dumbfounded as to how a tree could loose all of it's needles in one night.  They cut a 4" piece off of the bottom of the tree and we could see that the tree rings were all blue around the outer edges and normal on the very center.  Blue happens to be the color of Miracle-Grow.  We got the new tree home and did not put Miracle-Grow in the water.  Seems like Miracle-Grow is actually Miracle-Death to evergreens...

I drove the Volkswagen to work yesterday so Karen could drive the Jaguar around during her day off.  That little bug has a bunch of leg room in the front and is a real  kick to drive.  The windshield is huge and lets a whole bunch of light in!  Karen has some fabric roses in the built in flower vase, I got some strange looks from some truck drivers...  It gets really good gas mileage and I like driving it more than the previous Honda Accord EX that Karen had.  I will look forward to driving it to work when Karen has her day off during the week, I may have to pluck the flowers out and put them in the glove box though...


12/8/02

Well it is about time, a nice quiet week.  It is always a bonus when no one was arrested, let out of jail or attacked around here!

The good news is that the Dork and Cameron may be living with us come sometime in January.  The Dork's lease expires then.  Hopefully the Shithead won't make an ass of himself and cause more troubles by hounding the Dork every day.  

Karen will be so happy I won't know what to do with her, she will be able to dote on Cameron nearly 100% of the time she is home.

Still no word from the Jaguar dealer about my amplifier for my cat.   The good thing about not having the stereo working is that I am becoming very aware of how the car sounds while everything is working.  Hopefully my little gourd will retain this so I can hear something amiss in the future.  In the meantime the CD changer I ordered for the bug came in so I dutifully installed it Friday morning so that my wife can listen to CDs in her car. 

We have started the process of acquiring quotes for work around the house to fix it it up a little bit.  I have one quote already for a new roof which was lower than I had anticipated and one quote for a new air conditioning and heating system which was nearly three grand more than I anticipated...  Had another fellow come in and start a quote for fixing our leaky bay window, replacing some plumbing fixtures and some other things that need fixing.  We also want to replace the garage door and the sliding glass door going to the patio.  We also need to replace all of the vinyl flooring in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Then the old carpet in the bedrooms must go.  We want to paint the bedrooms next month before we put down new carpet.  Now there will be a good story, me and gallons of paint...


12/8/02

Had to go on a quick trip to San Diego to fix a cable problem on the NIMITZ CVN68.  I flew out on Sunday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving...  Took me 13 hours to get from our house to the hotel...  The work onboard went well and I flew home on Wednesday, which also took forever because of the big ice storm that hit the East coast that day.  Before leaving for California, we dropped the cat off at the Vet again, it was in there all week.  They believe the amplifier is bad and they have to wait on a new part that they ordered from the UK.   Hope they get the stereo fixed this week I don't really like driving a loaner car, even if it is another Jaguar...

We finally got through our second mortgage ordeal and received our checks.  We refinanced via Ditech, yes the Ditech advertised on TV.  It went fairly effortlessly except for the fact that they forgot a couple pieces of paper we were supposed to sign on the closing and then we had to do the closing all over again, including the three day wait.  Then FedEx screwed up on the delivery of the package.  I won't even go there...  Suffice it to say there are some pretty stupid people working for FedEx who do not even attempt to claim a mastery of the written English language, and believe me I pointed it out to them and their supervisor in person down at the FedEx main office in Norfolk...  Now we get to get a new roof, a new A/C system, a new garage door, a new patio door, new carpet in the bedrooms, new floors in the kitchen and bathrooms.  I am sure these will all be adventures in their own right, as nothing goes smoothly for us...

Karen is back in the swing of things at work and is dealing with all of the holiday mall shoppers.  On the weekends the parking is so bad in her mall this time of year that I drove her to work yesterday and then picked her up when the mall closed.  There are shoppers everywhere.  We live near the Greenbrier Mall, not where Karen's store is, and I avoid that area like the plague.  I will usually drive several miles out of my way to avoid the congestion.  I will have to brave it soon, as I will have to go Christmas shopping sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Dork and the little rat   are doing well, no colds or sniffles yet.  Cameron really loves to steal the cordless phone and then run from you as fast as those little legs will go.  When it is cold, the Dork has him in so much warm clothing he looks like Kenny on Southpark and can hardly move.

Bought a tree yesterday that may end up being bigger than we expected.  The fellow we have always bought our xmas trees from was a bit steep this year, he said that due to the drought on the East coast this last year the trees are at a premium and he would not budge on the price.  In years past I could wheedle the price down five bucks here and there but not this year.  Oh well, such is life.  In the past it has always been kind of a pain in the arse getting the tree straight in the tree stand, last year we had the leaning tree of pizza, until our friends the Chaney's set us straight!  HAHAHA!  Anyway, this year I had an idea.  In our garage there is a very sturdy eye-bolt attached to a heavy duty rafter, the former owners must have used it to lift something heavy.  I drug the tree into the garage and tied a rope around the top of the tree and then threaded the rope through the eyelet and hoisted the tree up so the bottom was just off of the ground.  This made the tree very straight!  Then I pulled the rope so that the bottom was about 18 inches off of the garage floor and had Karen hold the rope.  I crawled under with a hammer and the tree stand and pounded it up onto the tree.  We then lowered the tree until the stand was on the floor and I tightened the screws on the stand around the tree.  Then we took the rope off and the tree was straight in the stand!  Karen said we should have thought of this years ago, I agreed.  So now, we must decorate the tree, depending upon how badly the lights are tangled up will dictate if I buy new lights this year.


11/30/02

When we left the Jaguar dealer in DC it was raining really hard and the traffic from Tyson's Corner to Fredericksburg was bumper to bumper.  Karen was driving so I could fiddle with the navigation unit and we had the stereo off.  Once past Fredericksburg the traffic had thinned out so we turned on the stereo to listen to a CD.  Nothing, no sound at all.  I spent the next 30 minutes trying everything, reading the manual and fiddling.  Still no sound.  I figured that perhaps a fuse had blown, and I would investigate it when we returned home.  When we arrived, I found my trusty multi-meter and started checking the fuses.  This car has three fuse boxes, one under the hood, one under the glove box and one in the trunk and not one fuse was blown.  Not a good thing.  We drove it to the local dealer to have them take a quick look just to make sure we were not experiencing OE (operator error) and they too came to the conclusion that something was wrong with the stereo system.  An appointment was made for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to look at it.  I took leave on Wednesday and sat in the dealer's lounge for several hours.  The fellow came out and told me that they had performed some extensive wiring checks looking for shorts and found none.  They were pretty sure the problem was an amplifier or the stereo.  They checked the maintenance records and found out that the dealer in North Carolina had already replaced an amplifier in this car.  So they wanted to schedule a period of at least one or two days so they could dismantle the trim and swap out the stereo control units.  Since I was scheduled to fly to San Diego (again...) on Sunday I told him it would be there first thing Monday AM.  I really hope they get it squared away by the time I come back on Wednesday as I really want to enjoy the stereo system!

At this point in time we have the Jaguar and our trusty old Expedition as vehicles.  Karen and I had discussed briefly the possibility of getting another new vehicle for her and trading or selling the Expedition.  It was kind of a let's wait and see what happens kind of talk.  Well, as things usually happen for us, the "wait & see" never matures...  About the middle of the week we decided to just stop by a local Volkswagen dealer and take a look.  Karen test drive a Jetta which was an unbelievable dog.  No acceleration at all compared to other 2.0 liter engine equipped cars we had driven.  


Then she drove one of the New Beetles.

I truly believe it was love at first drive for Karen.  She talked about how she liked it for a couple of days afterwards.  Since doing all of the research for the Jaguar I told her let's get offers from the three local dealers and play them all against each other.  So I made up some new spreadsheets with the information concerning the Beetle and I started checking the Internet and found that only two of the dealers had the colors she wanted with an automatic transmission.  The automatic was her number one option she wanted with bright red as her primary color choice.  We drove down to the dealer in Virginia Beach and looked at what they had on the lot and nothing caught her eye.  The next day was Saturday and we went down to the Chesapeake dealer and looked around.  She found one she liked with the options she wanted and it was a blue one.  Now comes the dealings with the salesmen, note the plural ness of that word...

The first salesman came out to yak with us and I was very curious with him about a couple things they had listed on their dealer sticker.  One was a dealer prep charge of $499.00 and another one listed as market adjustment for nearly a thousand dollars.  He explained that the dealer prep was their charge for "detailing" the vehicle prior to delivery.  I told him that he had a lot of gall to charge five hundred bucks to wash and vacuum a car, something the dealer should do as common courtesy.  The market adjustment amount ends up being a figure they tack on hoping that people will just pay it and shut up, it is PURE PROFIT for them.  I was rather blunt and said that there was no way in hell I was going to pay either of those two amounts.  I then stated that I can order the car on the Internet and go pick it up at Casey Volkswagen in Newport News in about two weeks for a couple hundred over invoice.  That salesman excused himself and walked away.  At this point I told Karen that I bet he is going for "backup" as he seemed like he was fairly new to the "game".  Sure enough, he introduces us to a boy who is in training to become a salesman.  I chuckled a little and remarked that was not a good move.  Once again, I explained to him that I was not about to pay the extra $1,500.00 they had listed on their sticker and that I would probably only be willing to deal somewhere between the published invoice price and the MSRP.

Once inside and sitting at the salesman's office/cubicle, I laid out on paper what I wanted from the deal.  I wanted to pay five hundred dollars over invoice, and that I would finance it through them so they could turn a buck or two from that kickback.  Now comes salesman number three, the "Big Gun", he tried to re-arrange the figures so that it looked like it was a couple of hundred dollars close to what I had written down, except it did not include tax/title and tags.  I caught that and pointed out that if we took that offer we would end up paying $1,500 more than I said we would.  Back to their sales manager they went.  After a few more times back and forth we finalized the deal at $800.00 over invoice.  Then we started the dickering on what the Expedition was worth.  I told them flat out what the NADA and Kelly Blue book said, I had copies of both with us.  I told them I wanted $9,500 firm.  The truck is worth about $12,500.00 retail and about $10,000.00 wholesale and that I would make a $500.00 adjustment since the front bumper was creased from that damn minivan a few years ago.  I guess they were tired of me and they agreed to our amount.  That was actually the most painless part of the negotiation.  In all, we left with a bright blue Bug and Karen very much a happy camper.  


Oh yeah, her stereo works...

Thanksgiving... Karen's brother Brian ordered a fresh 25 lb. turkey from Central Meats.  Brian and his family went to Disney World the weekend prior to Thanksgiving and were due back in town late Wednesday so Karen picked the bird up on Tuesday.  Also that night we had to resign our second mortgage papers again, as the lender had made a mistake on the forms which caused the whole she-bang to have to be resigned.  They provided a fellow to come to the house at 9:00 PM to do the closing since Karen was now back to work and we had no other time available.  Later that night Cheryl called with a long story about how the Shithead was going to go see his dad up in Manassas and that he wanted to take Cameron up for them to see.  Cheryl said no way unless she went also.  This caused a lot of grief and hurt feelings on our part as Cheryl had missed last Thanksgiving dinner because she was showing off Cameron to the Shithead's mother's family.  So it was looking like Turkey day would just be Karen and I with Brian and his family.  Thursday morning early, Brian called one of his kids was sick and squirting from both ends and that they would not be able to make dinner.  Needless to say, that was kind of the last straw and Karen became very emotional and started crying.  Here it is Thanksgiving, Karen's 46th Birthday  this year and Cheryl has cancelled out, Brian and family has cancelled out, Michael is in jail and his girlfriend and baby are heading to somewhere out in Smithfield for dinner leaving just us two and a 25 lb. bird...  We started the bird early about 9:00 AM and figured to have it cooked and ready by 4:00 PM.  At 9:30 Katrina and Raegan stopped by to say happy Turkey Day! Then a little later after Katrina and Raegan had left, Cheryl and Cameron came over.  The trip to see Shithead's father was a bust, at least for that day, so she came over to spend Thanksgiving with us.  That was good as we needed the boost.  Later when the bird was done, Brian's wife Barbara came over and picked up a bunch of turkey and all the fixings to take home.  That was good as we only have so much room in our fridge.  We then proceeded to have a Thanksgiving dinner that could not be beat.  Cameron really enjoyed it, playing with it that is!  I am happy as I get turkey leftovers for a couple of days!  Last year I had to fly to Poland the day after Thanksgiving...

 


11/19/02

Michael's court date came and went with his lawyer asking for a continuance while he is being evaluated for some kind of "program", the judge agreed and off Michael went, back to the clink.  We spoke briefly with his lawyer and he told us that the maximum actual jail time Michael would receive is one year eleven months and the least would be nine months.  The lawyer went on to say that the judge usually goes down the middle between the minimum and maximum sentence.  With that in mind, Michael is probably looking at one year and four months, plus he would be on supervised probation.  At least he won't be spending his life in jail for this stupid mistake...

Karen is doing better and should go back to work this Sunday, she is looking forward to going back with mixed emotions.  On one hand she is dreading the holiday hustle - bustle, but on the other hand she misses her friends at work.

Cheryl and Cameron are all OK, no colds or runny noses at this time.  Cameron is starting to put two words together like moma and baba, for telling mom he wants his bottle.  Katrina and Raegan are OK, Raegan is still very fussy and seems to have colic or something most of the time.  Hmmmm, I remember another baby, that was a little boy about twenty three years ago with the same temperament...

Karen and I drove to DC this last Saturday in the heavy rain not to look at a museum or the zoo, but to buy a new car!  We (I) have been scheming to buy a new Jaguar.  I had my heart set on a Red or Blue one but let me tell you, those babies are scarce!  The dealer we ultimately bought from had searched the entire part of the country East of the Mississippi river and found the only car with our option list and color choice was in a small place in North Carolina. The dealer had the car transferred to them and Karen and I went to see it.

 
2003 Jaguar S-Type V8.

I started our Jaguar buying experience by looking at all of our old buyer's orders from the cars we had purchased in the past, and made up an Excel spreadsheet with all of the pricing, taxes and fees in a columnar format.  The first column was the MSRP or the suggested retail price for the car and options, the next column was the published invoice price for the car and all the options.  The third column was left blank.  I sent this spreadsheet electronically to three dealers.  All responded with the sheet filled out except one who said they would just match whatever any other dealer offered.  Well, I scratched that guy of my list so I was left with two good quotes.  The best deal was from Rosenthal Jaguar in Vienna Virginia which is on the western edge of the "beltway" (the beltway is a "belt" of freeways around DC) who quoted a thousand bucks over invoice for the car and at invoice for all of the options.  This offer was very attractive because it ended up almost ten percent below the MSRP.  The dealer in Richmond was not so generous and just knocked a thousand off of the MSRP.  With these two quotes in hand, I contacted the local dealer, Checkered Flag Jaguar who said to come on in and they would match the same offer as Rosenthal up in DC.

 
Quartz exterior and Charcoal interior.

So we went down to the local dealer the weekend before last.  First they sat with us and started filling out the printed out spreadsheet.  Their base price was magically three or four hundred dollars more than the invoice amount used by the other two dealers, but they could not produce the written invoice to show it.  They matched the option prices with the DC dealer just fine.  Everything looked OK, and then I told them I wanted a specific model in one of three possible colors.  Whoa! Stop the train was the look on their faces, they started back tracking about these figures were only good if it we were going to buy one of their "on the lot" cars!  Then they started spewing new charges for finding a car and other charges to negotiate a trade with another dealer if they found one and finally more charges to pay for delivering the car.  Man-o-man, I was thinking these are some crafty little rascals.  the only caveat was that they said they had a RED jag with all the options we wanted and it was just up in Philadelphia.  I eventually negotiated them down nearly half of all their "extra" charges for acquiring the vehicle.  They wanted us to give them a thousand dollar deposit on the car, non-refundable if we changed our minds, so they could send a driver to go pick the car up.  Much to their surprise, Karen and I went home to mull it over a little.  We finally thought that since we liked the salesman and that it would be a good thing to buy the car from the only Jaguar dealer within a hundred mile radius in terms of future service work.  Did I mention that Jaguar pays for ALL routine maintenance for four years!  On Monday Karen went back down to Checkered Flag to give them a thousand dollars.  She gave them a check and headed out the door.  She called me and said that the folks she gave the check to were acting very strange and spoke in whispers when they thought she was out of ear range.  I suggested she call them back and find out exactly when our RED car would be delivered so we could come look at it.  They told her that since we had waited until Monday, someone had already bought the car.  I told Karen to go back and get our check, as that was the ONLY condition we could get our check back with this deal.

While she was acquiring the check, I called the salesman at Rosenthal Jaguar in DC and asked him about the availability of cars with our choice of options.  He said he would check on it and get back with us.  During the course of last week, through him, we found out that there were no RED ones available, there WERE no RED ones available when the local dealer was telling us there really was.  Nearly every evening I searching the Internet sites looking at car inventories up and down the East coast and I did not find one RED car with our option list.  In fact, I only found four cars that had what we wanted.  And all but one, were in colors that we did not want.  So I contacted the Rosenthal Jaguar salesman, Craig, and told him about the one car I did find.  He called and made arrangements for the car to be transferred to his dealership.  He did not want a deposit or anything!  So Karen and I made the trek up there in the rain, a 4 1/2 drive (traffic congestion eats about an hour).  We arrived late Saturday evening and found Craig and he showed us the dealership and said that the car we were interested in was on the way and they expected it there sometime that night.  I thought, here comes the sob stories and screw-job.  We stayed overnight at the Sheraton Inn in Tyson's corner.  The nicest hotel I have ever stayed at.  Got a really good rate, less than a third the normal rate due to my membership level in their award program (I always stay at a Sheraton in San Diego).

We had told Craig that we wanted to trade in our '99 Honda Accord EX toward the Jaguar.  He told us that if we take our car to this joint called CarMax up in Rockville Maryland, they would probably give us a better offer than the dealership would.  So on Sunday morning after breakfast, Karen and I drove our Honda to CarMax only getting lost once.  Now, where we got lost and asked for directions is wild!  We stopped at the exact gas station where one of the sniper victims was shot!  As we drove down the street to CarMax we passed the Home Depot where the lady was shot in the parking lot and one other spot Karen recognized from the news reports.  Kind of freaky...  Anyway... Our car is three years old and in pretty good shape with a small parking lot scrape on the driver, side rear quarter panel.  The Jaguar dealer back down in Virginia Beach had offered $9,000 as trade.  We had previously looked up at the library in the real NADA used car books that our Honda was probably worth between $9,000 and $10,000 for trade.  CarMax offered $12,000!  And the offer was good for a week and they printed it up on their letterhead!  We drove back down to Rosenthal Jaguar trying to figure out how we were going to go get the Title and get it back up to CarMax so we would have the extra couple thousand dollars as down payment as I was sure there was no way the Jaguar dealer would match the CarMax offer.

To make this long story short, Rosenthal matched the CarMax offer and because we had to drive all the way up there in the rain they modified the original offer and sold us the car, which had arrived while we were at carMax, for less than he quoted on the spreadsheet!  And then they gave Karen a dozen LONG STEM ROSES as a gift when we left!  I will tell you this, and I thought I would never say this, but buying the car at Rosenthal was the best car-buying experience I have ever had.  Overall, we figure that with them matching the CarMax offer and the low price of the car, we saved somewhere between six and seven thousand dollars!

The drive back in our new car was like fire and ice.  We were enjoying the car, but it was raining even harder than the drive up.  It ended up taking nearly five hours!  And we (I) left Karen's prescription sunglasses in the Honda!


11/6/02

Been fairly quiet, no new brawls in the house.  Michael our son is still in jail awaiting his sentencing on Thursday the 14th.  Katrina and Raegan found a place to stay about four miles away with another woman who has a trailer in a trailer park.  Not to bad a place, I have not been inside but drove over to drop off Raegan after Karen watched her for Katrina.  Katrina has found a job and is working hard to try and get settled.  Michael has called here a couple of times ranting and raving about how horrible we are as parents and what not.  He still does not have any concept of personal responsibility for his actions or his words.  Such is life, he may never learn.  He is sore because no one, including Katrina, is willing to put up bail, again, just so he can be out making an ass out of himself.

Karen is doing better but still having enough problems to still be out from work.  She can not go back until the doctor issues a written release, and her doctor wants to wait another week or so.  I just hope everything gets sorted out and Karen can get back to her self again.  There is just so much Oprah and Montel a person can stand in a lifetime...

Halloween was a fun night.  Cameron was dressed up as a big green dinosaur and we pulled him around the neighborhood in a wooden wagon.  The same wagon Karen used to take Mike and Cheryl for rides around the lake.  Here are some pictures.

 
Dork eating Cameron's candy!

  
Cameron as the Dinosaur!

 
Cammie goes for a wagon ride!

  
Cameron Trick or Treating!

 
Raegan was Disney's Tiger!

A good time was had by all.  Cheryl took most of Cameron's candy haul to work for her and her officemates to eat.  That was a relief as myself and my bride don't need anymore candy after all these years of trick or treating...


10/20/02

Back from San Diego.  Performed an upgrade on LHA5 the USS PELELIU.  My actual work only took a few days, however due to other things happening on the ship and some bad tapes containing software, I was out there longer than I had expected.

Not long after I left, Michael and Katrina along with our grand daughter Raegan were kicked out of Cheryl's apartment.  Not wanting to leave as adults, they trashed the place while Cheryl was at work.  Then later on Michael was picked up by the bail bondsman and put back in jail to await his sentencing on November 14th.  That left Katrina and Raegan pretty much homeless.  So Karen and I decided that as long as her brother installed a high security lock on our bedroom door we would let Katrina and Raegan stay with us TEMPORARILY.  That was on Friday the 11th.  Now remember that when Katrina and Mike left Cheryl's place they made a big mess of her apartment.  While the Dork, Cheryl, was cleaning up after them, she ran across some clothing items left behind by Michael so the Dork disposed of them.  On Wednesday evening the 16th the Dork and Cameron came over to visit with Karen.  Katrina and the Dork became engaged in an argument over the disposition of Michael's clothes he had left at the Dork's apartment.  In the middle of the argument Katrina attacked the Dork.  The Dork pushed Katrina down on the floor and attempted to hold her down.

Katrina managed to get a couple of really good scratches in on the Dork's chest and face.  Eventually the Dork let Katrina up and called the police who took Katrina into custody and away she went to the police station.

Afterwards, Karen came to the Norfolk airport to pick me up from  my San Diego trip.  Karen explained what happened and I was really in disbelief of the audacity of Katrina.  Later that night Katrina called and asked if we could come pick her up from the police station.  Karen and I went down there with Raegan in the car seat.  I was pretty blunt with her.  I told her that I did not trust her and why.  I told her she was no longer welcome in my our house and why.  The next morning she gathered up a few things and ducked out of the house before Karen even got out of bed.  We understand she is staying at some trailer park with a friend.  Between the two of them, Mike and Katrina, they have been offered "good deals" at her father's out in Washington state, her mother's in Iowa,  Karen's brother's and Cheryl's here they have managed to wear their welcome out every where they go.  Katrina had a pretty good deal here too, and she screwed that up...  So once again our son is in jail and is spewing all kinds of hate and discontent toward us for kicking Katrina out...

On a better note, the Dork is starting to distance herself from the Shithead and actually went out with another fellow the other night who is going through college and has his own Internet business.  Quite a turn around from the Shithead.

Cameron is doing well even though he has a cold with a sore throat.  I know, as I caught his cold and sore throat as soon as I got back!  Cameron has finally found something that really interests him...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

The little fellow is walking around now and we have to start moving things up out of his reach.  We now have two "baby-gates" up to keep him in the family room and out of mischief.  He learning quite well, he is starting to talk just a little, and I do mean a little.  Only one or two words here and there.  It is sporadic enough to not be sure if he is just saying them or understands what they mean.

Raegan is doing OK as well.  Karen babysat her the other day while Katrina visited Mike in jail.  She is growing and getting cute.  When she is here and I am here, I will take some more pictures of her with the digital camera.

Karen is still out from work with "girlie-stuff" non-life threatening complications from her surgery back in August.  We hope she can go back to work the week after next.


10/1/02 - 10/16/02

On travel to San Diego...

 


9/28/02

Karen and I went to Washington DC last week.  I took three days off from work and we left Wednesday morning.  I have been accumulating "points" with the Sheraton hotels for sometime now while staying on my many excursions to San Diego.  I had enough points saved up that we were able to stay at a very ritzy Sheraton in DC and not pay a dime for the room for a couple of nights.

The traffic up to DC was not bad at all except for a delay in our local Hampton bridge-tunnel, which we back-tracked and went around, this added about 30 minutes to our driving time.  The Sheraton we stayed in up there was actually located about 20 miles North in Beltsville Maryland.  We got to the hotel about 2:10 PM and found out that we could not check in until 3:00 PM.  So we wasted some time by having a Wendy's lunch and buying Karen an umbrella as she left hers at home, the weather reports called for drizzle for the next couple of days in the DC area.

After we checked in and got settled Karen and I inquired as to the location of the nearest Metro station.  It was about a 10 minute drive from the hotel and the desk clerk told me it would take about 50 - 60 minutes to get to the Mall from the hotel on the Metro overall.  Seeing how it was now a little after 3:30 PM, it would be about 4:30 PM when we arrived at the Smithsonian museums and the museums close at 5:00 - 5:30 PM, Karen and I decided to skip trying to get to the museums that day.  Lesson learned, leave much earlier from home next time.

We had dinner at the hotel that night, Karen had Maryland crab cakes and I had a steak.  My steak was tough and chewy, not what you would expect in good hotel.  Karen liked her crab cakes, but she was not overly thrilled with them. Next lesson learned - Don't eat dinner at the hotel.  After dinner we went to a theater that was about a quarter of a mile away from the hotel and watched the movie "Four Feathers".  It was kind of long and somewhat boring.  The story plot was good and I thought it was OK, Karen was falling asleep several times and the popcorn was stale beyond human consumption.

Thursday morning found us having a buffet breakfast at the hotel, it was surprisingly good!  Real thick slices of bacon and scrambled eggs with hash browns and tons of fruit to choose from.  We left the hotel about 9:30 AM and found the Metro station with a huge parking lot.  And every spot was filled!  We had to wait until a train came and let off some passengers and them follow them to their car.  We finally acquired a parking spot and walked through the light rain about five hundred yards to the train station.  Our arrival at the Mall in downtown DC was a little after ten o'clock.  We spent the next five and a half hours in the museum of American History where we spent $18.75 on two hamburgers, an onion ring, a bag of chips and two sodas.  What a rip, that is worse than buying airport food!  We left that museum and spent the next two hours in the museum of Natural history - I just love those bones!  The first time we were in DC about a year ago we spent almost a whole day in this museum.  So when the museum closed at 5:30 PM we found our way through the rain back to the Metro station and the 40 minute ride back to where our car was parked.  The ten minute ride to the hotel turned into thirty five because of the rain and the rush hour traffic.  We ate dinner at a local restaurant named TJ's and then back to the hotel so Karen could watch Survivor.

Friday morning brought more rain but also about 10 or 20 thousand protesters to the downtown area of DC, they were protesting something to do with the world banking system.  The DC police were out in full riot gear and had already made over four hundred arrests.  We decided NOT to spend the last half day of our visit in that arena.  So we made our way to Manassas Virginia and I took Karen to the "Battles of Bull Run" battlefield.  We spent all nearly four hours looking at the visitor's center, watching a movie about the two battles at Bull-Run (the confederates kicked the union's ass twice there) and walking around the battlefield.  Then it was the long drive home.

Karen is doing well, she goes back to work on Monday the 7th and I have to fly to San Diego for about 10 days on Tuesday the 1st.


9/20/02

I  returned from my cruise on board the USS NIMITZ last Thursday and found out that Cheryl is continuing in her endeavor to rid herself of the Shithead.  She has even gone far enough to initiate court proceedings for increased child support and to have Shithead pay for half of the daycare costs.  She has even filed for primary custody of Cameron and sole physical custody, meaning that the Shithead still has the right to visit the baby.

On another legal note, the mother and father of our second grandchild Raegan, our son Mike and his girlfriend Katrina, went to court today for felony forgery and cashing fake checks that they forged the names and signatures on.  Katrina plea-bargained and came away with a 5 year suspended sentence. This was very fortunate as she was looking at a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.  Michael also plead guilty, however he has six felony charges that carry a maximum of 70 years in prison.  For some reason, the judge did not pass sentence today and deferred it until the middle of November.  My guess is he will get a 13-20 year sentence with all but 3-5 suspended, so he may have to spend 3-5 in prison.  I guess the old adage that "don't do the crime if you don't want the time" is what rings around in my head.  Maybe this will be the "wake-up" that he needs.  Perhaps if he can keep his nose clean until middle November and can land a steady job, that coupled with him being a new father might gain him some leniency by the judge.

Karen is doing better, still has some pain while standing for any length of time and is still generally sore.  She seems to be getting better, if ever so slowly.  Abdominal surgery is supposed to be the most painful because of all the layers of muscles that are cut and disturbed.  She has been getting allot of practice at Solitaire on the computer.

We bought a new table and chairs set from Sam's club.  It is sure a bear to put together.  Each chair has eleven quarter inch fasteners and several screws to complete the assembly times six chairs and my arms were getting sore...  We gave the Dork our old table and chair set, I will give her things to help out now that Shithead is no longer in the picture.  As I have told her before, I will give her nothing that could directly or indirectly be of any benefit, no matter how minuscule, for the Shithead.

I have one more trip to San Diego scheduled on the first of October to perform an upgrade on LHA-5.  This should only last a week to ten days, then it is home for a while with no scheduled trips for a year! 


9/3/02

Karen's parents left last Wednesday and flew home to Las Vegas.  They are making plans to come back out to Virginia for good.  Katrina and the newborn are both well and doing fine, Michael celebrated his 23rd birthday on the 31st.  Karen is getting along better each day, but she is still very sore.

Cheryl and Cameron lost over two hundred pounds of dead weight this weekend. Cheryl kicked the Shithead out, perhaps for good this time.  Mike and I helped her haul all of his remaining belongings to his mother's house.

I am leaving to go ride the USS NIMITZ CVN-68 for a couple of days while they do a missile exercise.  Karen is doing well enough to be left alone and can get around OK.  I will be back around the 14th, if not sooner...


8/24/02

Karen came home from the hospital on Monday the 12th.  She was still sore and could have probably used another two days in there for convalescing, but you know how tight HMOs are.  She has been doing very well since.  She is starting to get her appetite back a little. now she can eat almost half a meal at a time.  She is up and walking well, but still hurts a great deal when she coughs, laughs or gets jarred suddenly.  Her parents are here until Wednesday the 28th, then Karen is all on her own.

The second Tuesday after Karen came home, August 20th, our son Michael's girlfriend made us grandparents, again.  


Raegan Joanna Jagow.


Daddy Michael with Raegan

 
Raegan with her mommy Katrina


Mommy and Daughter


Katrina, Raegan and Michael


Karen with Raegan


Michael, Raegan and Katrina


8/10/02

Karen entered the hospital on Monday for her "girlie-parts" extraction surgery, i.e. hysterectomy.  The operation was supposed to be 1 - 2 hours long.  They put her under with the preliminary goodies and wheeled her into the OR about 9:45 AM.  I went and read a book while waiting, yes Dickie, I read books.  At 1:00 PM, after 3 hours in, I inquired as to her status with the hospital staff.  They came back and said she was still under the knife.  Again I inquired at 2:00 PM with the same answer.  Then about ten of fifteen minutes before 3:00 PM her doctor came out and motioned for me to come into the little counseling room.  Now I have been sitting here in the surgery waiting area for nearly 5 hours and have watched several other doctors come out and tell the expectant families everything was OK out in the open.  Now Dr. Bragg is moving me into the counseling room, must not be very good news.

She told me that everything was OK and the operation was successful, but while they were cleaning the scar tissue from her previous surgeries, that Karen's small intestines had been punctured and had to be repaired by removing a 3" section.  And that a general surgeon had to be called in to do that.  She went on to say that Karen had a lot of fibroid masses inside the uterus and a fist sized cyst on her remaining ovary.  All that stuff was removed and cleaned up.  She also said that it was a wonder Karen was not having a lot of difficulties with her intestinal tract, as the small intestines were not very neatly organized and nearly kinked up in a couple of places but now they were all OK.  The doctor left and I went and found out which room she was going to.

Later that day another doctor making the rounds came into Karen's room to check up on her, I explained everything that Dr. Bragg had said including the bit about puncturing the small intestines.  He quickly started to "spin" that Dr. Bragg must have meant that the intestines tore or broke open.  I am thinking to myself, why is he so adamant about this.  I am also thinking that in my experience with most doctors, those that command the English language anyway, are rather eloquent and specific in their dialog.  I was sure she said puncture and if she had meant tore or broke she would have said such.  With Karen in pain and poking the morphine button every 20 minutes or so I chose not to argue with this fellow about it.  A few days later the surgeon who was called in to fix the little boo-boo with the intestines also iterated prolifically that the intestines had torn.  How would he have known?  He was not present when the trauma occurred, he was called in after the fact.  Makes you wonder about our medical profession...  Anyways...  Karen is doing much better and is up and walking around and starting to consume food after four days on nothing but IVs and no food.  She should be coming home sometime later this week on Wednesday or Thursday is my suspicion, she has to drop a turd to let the doctors know her intestines are working again.  I don't "have" any pictures of the goat in the hospital to post as she would kick the shit out of me if I posted a picture with her NG tube installed, while she was sleeping...

Karen's parents flew in on Tuesday and have been staying with Brian, Karen's brother, at their house until the old goat comes home from the hospital.  it was nice for them to come out and help Karen after she comes home.

Poor old Bart had to be put to sleep today.  It was pretty hard to do.  He was down to 77 lbs. as he had been unable to keep any food down for about five days straight.  He just appeared to be starving to death, so I made the choice to have him put down.  Damn vet charged $58 for it and then if I wanted to hold him while they did it they wanted another $44.  Makes you wonder, they said the difference is that if the owners want to be present then they put a catheter in them to keep the animal from defecating or urinating on the owner as they died and lose control of those little sphincters.  I chose the cheap way out, I have seen enough death up close and don't really want to see any more, unless of course a "shithead" would be involved.  Here are a couple of pictures of my old pal Bart.

                            


7/28/02

This last week has been trying for us as we thought we were going to have to have our old dog Bart put to sleep, he had been throwing up everything he ate and was so weak he could hardly stand.  To make a long story short, we took him to the vet and he gave us some anti-biotic pills and a pill to calm his stomach.  It was touch and go for a while, the about the middle of last week he started doing well.  He has gone several days keeping his regular food down, he will occasionally hurl if he drinks too much water.  We just hope he puts some more weight back on as he is down to 87 lbs.  His all time high was 129 lbs about four years ago.


Bart when he was sick

Karen has been better these last two weeks which is good as she is a week away from having her surgery, she needs to have all of her girly stuff yanked due to compounding problems.  I don't look forward to her having another operation.  Since we have been married, she has undergone major abdominal surgery four times, I sincerely hope this is the last one.  Her mother and father are coming out to spend three weeks to be with her and help her.  I have to get the shed cleaned out so they will have a place to live...  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 

We bought a cable modem vice renting one this week and also installed a router to protect our systems from hackers.  It seems to work OK, but once in a while it stops talking to the Internet.  It has only done it a couple of times, so I have not had much time to troubleshoot it and find the actual cause and the reliable fix.  It starts working kind of on it's own without any intervention.  I don't like things that get fixed that way.

I had to spend a few days the week before last in San Diego working on the USS NIMITZ CVN68.  I traveled 5600+ miles by air, spent 3 nights in a hundred dollar a night room, spent $140 on a rental car and four days labor just to tighten a BNC style connector inside a cabinet.  Knee-jerk problem solutions at it's best, the ship has a problem, the ship DOES NOT TROUBLESHOOT IT themselves, they cry for help, they ask for someone to come fix their equipment even though several of their sailors have been to maintenance school for the equipment.  What sucks is that my command's management team for this ship does not have the  stones to tell the ship to, at the very least,  try   to fix the problem themselves or perhaps they have no faith in the technical expertise of the crew.  Either way it is a sad state of affairs...  When I was a squidly-didly on my submarine and if I had a problem on my system, I would rather have died than have to call for someone to come fix my equipment for me.  It just seems like a big old "I am useless flag" to the rest of the world, especially if it is for something as mediocre as a loose connector.


7/13/02

Karen was sick to the point of being stuck in bed from Sunday - Thursday, she finally went back to work on Friday.  My guess is she caught Cameron's crud from before the 4th of July and it incubated until Saturday evening.  She was OK on Saturday as we went for a ride up to Hoss' Deli in Newport News with our friends the Chaneys.  We left there and stopped at the Newport News HD dealer and she was starting to feel yucky.  She ate nearly nothing for four days and was plagued by headaches and upset stomach and 'Girlie-pains".  She went back to work on Friday and seems better now.  her surgery to yank the "Girlie-Guts" is a go for August 5th.  Her parents are coming out to help her for a few weeks, as I can't promise to be around all the time.  Who knows,  Egypt may call for another trip...

I received a phone call from my Mother on Sunday night, it seems that the wife of one of my cousins, Marsha Bouchard, is throwing my grandmother, Helen, a birthday party today as yesterday she turned 98. 


My Mom Mary with Michael and Cheryl and Grandma Helen,  Halloween 1983

They wanted us to send photos or memories that they could put in a scrap book for her.  I obliged and took a bunch of family photos I had and scanned them in and made a collection about six pages long and then printed it out on Kodak photo paper on our color printer.  I sent them to this cousin by next day air at a cost of $19, I sure hope she includes them in the book.  I have my doubts though.  it was kind of "odd" that my mom found out about the party less than a week before it was to occur.  It would have been nice to know about a month or so ago as I may have been able to buy a couple super-saver airline tickets and come out for the party, as it is it would have cost $1343 for a round trip for ONE on such short notice.  Also last year for my grandmothers birthday I sent a very expensive bouquet of flowers.  I never found out if Grandma Helen ever received them.   F.T.D. reported that someone with the first name of Mary, Marcy or Marsha (they could not really read the signature) signed for them.  Well  my Mom's name is Mary and she said she did not sign for them, I have a cousin named Marcy and my mom asked her if she signed for them and she did not, I asked the staff at the nursing home if one of the employees there might have signed for them, and they had no one by any of those names working there last July.  The nurse who looks after my grandmother does not remember any big flower arrangements coming for Grandma Helen on her Birthday.  So I am led to believe, by the circumstantial information, that perhaps whomever signed for the flowers just took them home and grandma Helen did not get to enjoy them and I am out over a hundred dollars.  Grandma Helen has vowed to live to be over a hundred, so I will try to visit her next year on her 99th and for sure on her 100th.  I will have to write to Hershey's in Pennsylvania and find out what the BIGGEST Hershey bar is that they make... 

I will be on travel come Monday until the end of the week, sunny Southern California and the USS NIMITZ, again...  Seems they are having a bit of a "fit" with their PES cabinet.  I will go out and fix it and then come home.  So see you when I get back!


7/7/02

I must answer for all those who are wondering about the toilette picture in my Egyptian trip, yes that was a standard "public" toilette and NO it was not stains on the floor or dirt.  It would be human crap...  I did not even want to pee in there!  I stayed long enough to take the picture and leave.  It smelled worse than the rodeo ground's outhouses in July after a year long shortage of lye.

Karen has been feeling kind off poor in the girlie guts area, we went on about an 80 mile motorcycle ride yesterday and she was a hurting unit down in the pelvic area and was down for the count all night.  I hope she is better today as she wanted to watch Cameron today.  Karen is supposed to have surgery to yank the girlie stuff out sometime in early August now.  I hope she feels better when all of this is over. 

Both Michael and Katrina are out of the klink and supposedly Michael starts some kind of "Office Manager" job Monday, my money says it is a high pressured sales type of job, time will tell.  Cheryl and Cameron are doing well even though Cameron was a little sick last week during Karen's brother Brian's 4th of July party.  The party was very nice, he and several of his neighbors did up a nice shindig which as soon as it became dark we started in on letting off fireworks.  Many other sites were expressing their patriotism as well.  I did not use up all of the fireworks I brought over, so I gave them to Cheryl for her and Michael to light off over in her apartment complex.

Karen and I did an impulse purchase last week, we bought a new TV without having the old one burn up or die out!  We were walking through Costco and we spied a 36" flat screen High Definition TV set. We both kind of stood there and gawked at it.  Now it may not really qualify as an impulse buy as we did go home and  think about it a day or two.  We went back on Tuesday evening and bought it after going out to other local places where TVs are sold and compared pictures and prices.  We also had to purchase a new stand for it to sit upon which we picked up at Circuit City.  We went and had Mexican dinner and then drove our new toy home.

We had to take the garage door off of it's hinges to get the box inside the house.  The TV weighed 190 pounds with out the box, we kind of "rolled" it into the house as we found no signs on the box that it had to remain in one position.  Once into the house and the door reattached, it was 88 degrees outside with about 85% humidity, Karen and I assembled the new TV stand.  Then we unboxed the new TV.  It was physically bigger than we had anticipated.  It took some doing, but we managed to lift one side of the TV and then cram packing materials under it and then lift the other side and cram packing materials under that side until we had it up high enough to scoot over onto the new stand.  Karen was impressed that neither of us threw our backs out getting it up on the stand.  And so started my wiring ordeal.  About seven years ago we acquired an early home theater system complete with the sub-woofer and surround sound speakers.  We also have a VCR and a DVD player to connect up.  I studied the manual that came with the new TV, but it just did not have enough advice about hooking up cable TV, satellite TV, the VCR, the DVD and the home theater system.  Arggggghhhhh!  Let's just say that by Thursday afternoon I was getting a little frustrated!  Finally I found the err of my ways, not to mention a couple of faulty video cables, and the system was working.  Now I have to figure out how to program the remote control so we don't have to have five remote controls laying around, and then I have to teach little Miss Karen how the system works, she is by no means a techno-junkie.

Then if we hadn't spent enough money the telephone/answering machine decides to stop working.  It had been a little on the fritz for a couple of weeks with buttons not working sometimes and hard to hear.  So while Karen was off to work I did the least favorite thing I can imagine on a day off, go comparison shopping.  Finally found one at Costco and brought it home.  Sure wish the TV would have been as easy to hook up...


6/29/02

Just returned from Egypt.  My Egyptian trip deserves it's own page...

I came back very late on Monday evening.  The flight from Chicago to Norfolk was delayed nearly two hours because of severe thunderstorms along the route.  The flight to Egypt was a mess.  It started out with no seat assignments, not a good thing.  I was unable to get a seat assignment for the 8+ hour leg from Atlanta to London until I checked into the gate in Atlanta.  I ended up getting a center seat in a row of five, and to add insult to injury that row was the last one on the plane and as such did not recline.  I had a very uncomfortable flight to say the least.  I was able to stay Friday in London and meet up with the rest of the technicians at London's Heathrow airport about noon Saturday.  Friday afternoon I ventured out on the subway system and found the local Harley dealer for some T-shirts and a cap.  That was about the extent of my London visit.  The English Pound is very strong and as a result everything was very expensive.  Gas was over $5.00 a gallon, it was only about 80 a gallon in Egypt!

I returned home to find out that Michael and Katrina, yes the one who is pregnant, were both in jail on various things.  Seems like a never ending door for them that always leads to trouble and woe one way or the other.  I understand that Katrina's mother came and took custody of her son Ethan.  Karen has volunteered to take custody of the newborn baby if Katrina has to go to jail.  I believe Karen has offered to raise the child until Katrina can get her shit together.  I told Karen the only way I would agree is if legal guardianship/custody is granted to Karen and I.  That way I can add the child to my health coverage plan at work.  Time will tell...  Once again there may be the pitter patter of little feet in the Jagow house and it will be bi-pedal. 

It seems that the Chesapeake Justice System has worked it's magic to keep the citizens safe from criminals again.  The city has dropped the pending charges against the Shithead and he is again out loose amongst the population.  Lock your doors and windows as he is sure now that he is a master thief and that the Justice System won't ever make him pay...


6/13/02

I am on travel to Egypt for about two weeks, hope to be back the week of the 24th of June.  Not real thrilled with this trip.  I told my management team that I did not want to go.  Then I am maneuvered into a situation where it was nearly impossible to say no by the commands foreign sales project manager.  Sometimes it does not pay to get out of bed.  I just hope the area can remain stable long enough for me to fix their equipment and then I can bail.

Cheryl and Cameron are OK, Michael and pregnant girlfriend Katrina are OK, she is due the first part of August and Karen is OK despite that she is to have all her girl parts yanked out, the big "H" surgery, also during the first of August.  August is shaping up to be a busy one...


5/26/02

We left for the Myrtle Beach Bike Rally Wednesday the 15th and returned on Sunday the 19th.  The ride down was nice, however the ride back was wet and cold.  For more on our first bike-vacation click here!  Cheryl and Cameron watched the house while we were gone and managed to keep all of the animals safe and sound.

The week since the Myrtle Beach Bike Rally brought us proof "that what goes around comes around".  It seems that the Shithead is back in jail with no bail set.  It seems that sometime after his activities at our house he and some cohorts decided to rob an insurance agency and steal their safe.  The Shithead got cut pretty bad while doing the robbery and left a bunch of blood (read that DNA) at the crime scene.  After he was convicted of the felony for robbing our house he had to give blood to be added to the state of Virginia's felony DNA data pool.  While we don't know any of the specifics of his insurance caper we can surmise that perhaps the DNA matched up and he was nabbed.  The result is that he will probably be going to   P R I S O N   very soon.  His sentencing is supposed to be June 7th if he can't figure a way to continue it.  Perhaps Karen and I will have the good news we have waited so long for...

Michael and Katrina are still hanging around after being kicked out of Karen's brother's house and then again out of Cheryl's friend's house.  Now he has lighted at Cheryl's house.  I hope he minds himself there as has no where else to go.


5/12/02

H A P P Y   M O T H E R ' S   D A Y !

I spent most of Wednesday afternoon out looking for a nice Mother's Day gift for Karen.  I passed up the electric skillets, toasters and hand towel type of gifts that she has received in the past and ended up buying her jewelry.  I bought Karen a nice card and an Italian gold oval shaped locket in which I place a picture of the kids  when they were about 10 years old.  The chain for the locket is very sturdy and I hope Karen likes it.

This last week was one of the slowest work weeks I have had since I went to work with the government in 1999.  Karen has to work on Mother's Day as she is using her days off for the upcoming Myrtle Beach journey.  Cheryl has promised to take Karen out to a nice dinner.  Haven't seen much of Michael and Katrina since they were ousted from Karen's brother's house sometime last week.

We made it to the Virginia Beach Bike Classic Sunday Morning.  It was held at a Campground which was very muddy after all the rain that had fallen since Friday.  We had a nice time with our friends, the Chaney's, who we went down there with.  I purchased a new lightweight helmet that is almost the same color gray as the base color of my new paintjob and I also bought a rain slicker.  Karen bought some new jewelry, she was thinking about buying some chaps but we decided to wait until Myrtle Beach. Once we has spent enough money there, we headed to a favorite watering hole, On The Rocks, and had a couple frosty beverages and then we headed home.  All in all we had a very nice day.

On Wednesday we travel to Myrtle Beach South Carolina for the motorcycle rally there.  It is a pretty big event and we are staying several nights in a local hotel and then returning on Sunday.  This is my first actual vacation since Karen, Cheryl and I packed up the Expedition and went West back in 1997 so I am looking forward to it a great deal.  I have been grooming the bikes hoping for a trouble free trip.


5/5/02

I Had to make a quick trip to San Diego to visit the USS NIMITZ, which has now knocked the USS TARAWA out of the top spot on my list of the most "loved" ships in the Navy.  It seems that there was problem with using the RD358 magnetic tape emulator which is part of our PES (Peripheral Emulation System) unit that is on board.  We called the ship last Tuesday and inquired about the status of the PES.  They indicated that they had a bad DAT drive and one bad removable hard drive assembly and that they were in the process of getting the spare parts.  Meanwhile I was back down on the USS KEARSARGE assisting with the Operational Program software delivery.  I received a call late in the afternoon that I would be on my way to San Diego on Wednesday morning...  Arghhhhh!  That meant I would probably miss the VBBC (Virginia Beach Bike Classic) that happens that coming weekend.  I travel to Dam Neck to get all of my travel things done and get some parts and tools for working on the NIMITZ.  After that I drove to the painters to pick up my paint job.

I could probably author an entire book on how badly they bunged up the paint job.  The first noticeable item is the small dent on the top front of the right hand gas tank.  Then I see how uneven all of the pin striping around the flames are.  Then I see where the pin striping has actually "run" under the clear coat in a couple of places.  Then I notice that the inside of tanks were not treated with the treatment chemicals I bought.  Arghhhh!  Shit, damn, piss, F@#k!  Boy was I mad to say the least.  Here they have had my tanks and fenders for almost two whole months and now I get them back three days before the VBBC and they are as screwed up as Hogans goat!  The guy did promise to redo everything this winter and he so graciously knocked $400 off of the price of the work so I gave him a check for $1,000 and took the tanks home.

I then traveled to San Diego and began fixing the PES on the NIMITZ.  It was in a pretty sorry state of affairs.  But to make a long and boring story short, I fixed the problems and found a possible software problem in the RD358 magnetic tape emulator's software which is probably why the Raytheon software folks were having such a fit with it.  I devised a work-around that would have minimal impact on the system.  While I was there I asked Karen to take the tanks back to the painters to have then treat the tanks with the chemicals.  I figured to let them screw up the paint job (worse than it is now) instead of me if the chemicals were spilled.  So Karen took the tanks back down to the painters.  I understand that while she was there, she gave them a piece of her mind about the paint job, let's just say that they found out that the Portuguese Man-Of-War does not hold a candle to the "flame" job they received from an irate Portuguese woman!  So much so that when it was time to come pick up the tanks, the painters did not want any more of her and asked that I come pick them up.

I flew back from San Diego on the late flight and arrived at Norfolk about 1:30 AM Friday.  At ten o'clock I went to the painters to pick up my tanks.  They must have just put the sealant chemicals in a few minutes before I arrived as they were still wet on the inside.  I waited for a few minutes while they finished up and then I took the tanks and headed home.  I set the tanks up so a fan would blow on the openings and help them to dry while I put the other items on the bike.  By evening I had the new fenders on and the new removable sissy bar installed.  I decided to let the tanks dry overnight.  On Sunday morning I got up early and replaced all of the 15 amp circuit breakers under the dash and then mounted the new tanks.  From a couple of yards away the paint job looks OK, but get closer and you start seeing the flaws...


This is the bike with the sissy bar installed.


This is the bike without the sissy bar installed.


The "on-bike" view, like the gas caps?  Karen doesn't.

So much for this week, it is still raining a little but we are headed down to the VBBC anyways.  At least I don't have to cut the damn lawn until next weekend!


4/28/02

After the Dork bailed the Shithead out of jail, and lied to us about it, she was very quiet and we did not see hide nor hair of her or Cameron for about a week.  I made the decision that if she was lying to me about  helping the Shithead, then she may be lying to us about not letting the him drive the car.  Karen and I have been paying her automobile insurance for her with the understanding that the Shithead does not drive the car. So we had another big ballyhoo with her about the insurance.  She said she can not afford to pay the down payment on the insurance right now.  So after much negotiating we have agreed to help her with the insurance for several months until she can save up for the down payment.  She was real quick to spend $750 on Shithead's bail though...

The Kearsarge equipment light-off finally started on the 16th of April.  We found lots of little cable problems and had most of them worked out by the close of business Saturday.  On the following Monday Dick and I started the training of Ship's force on the operation of the new equipment, except Dick had to go to meet with some folks he has been trying to get together with for quite some time.  So I started the training on my own on Monday, and then on Tuesday Dick taught them.  Now we thought we had all week to train the sailors, however we found out that we actually only had Monday and Tuesday as the ship was going to move from Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth to the Naval base in Norfolk on Thursday and Friday.  The ship requested that a rider accompany them in case they had trouble with the new equipment.  Guess who broke their lucky streak of not riding ships?  Yeah, I was fortunate to accompany the ship for those two days.  We had no significant problems with the equipment.  I read a book and red-lined a technical manual and watched the sailors behave like sailors, they are still just as creative with duct tape when someone falls asleep as ever.  Not a whole lot has changed except there are female sailors now on the ships.

I called the painters from the flight deck of the ship Friday and found out that my tanks and fenders are still  not ready yet.  I stopped by on Saturday afternoon on the outside chance that there was someone working there so I could see how they looked.  They look pretty good, the painter was there and explained there was a problem with one of the flames on each of the tanks and had to be done over again.  He said they would be ready on Monday afternoon.  I am thinking that something does not sound right, it takes about two days between sets of clear coat.  They are supposed to be putting six coats of clear on, that would equate to six full days just for the clear coat.  So a day to fix the flames and six days for the clear and I was talking to him on Saturday afternoon, that would mean no way it is going to be done on Monday.  I will have to have a talk with the main dude tomorrow AM.  The Virginia Beach Bike Classic starts Friday.  It will take me at least one full day to put the tanks and fenders back on.  So I have to have them by close of business Wednesday to be able to ride the bike Friday night. Karen has only Friday night off from work so we really want to ride down to the shindig then.


4/14/02

Been coughing and generally sick for the last week or so, feeling better now.  Thankfully Karen has not caught my sickness crap.  I have been on/off with a bug since I went to Poland after last Thanksgiving.  I felt good enough to get the front lawn mowed yesterday before it started raining cats & dogs.

Karen and I finished our Motorcycle Training with flying colors.  Karen now has her motorcycle endorsement on her drivers license and we are planning on making the trek to Myrtle Beach Bike week later in May.  I am STILL waiting for my tanks and fenders to be finished by the painter, two weeks has turned into six...  They have promised them this week.  I had hoped they would have been done the week of the 8th, it would have been a nice birthday present.  Oh well, 44 years old, still big, bald and riding a sixteen year old bike that has a crappy paint job... (anybody have some cheese?)

We were supposed to start an installation and checkout job on the USS Kearsarge LHD3 the first of April, has been postponed several times due to other activities on the ship being delayed.  We are supposed to start this Tuesday again, if it does not get delayed.  I was hoping to take a couple days of leave as soon as my paint job for the bike is done to put it all back together, but with the Kearsarge being delayed so much I guess it will end up being an evening project.  I want to get the bike ready as there is a big motorcycle shindig here the first weekend in May.  I am tired of driving around the old screwed up paint job.

Our son Michael and his main squeeze, Katrina, have moved back to Virginia yesterday.  I guess he feels the "grass is greener" out here.  I believe they have had a rough winter out in Nebraska and wanted a change.  He is either going to be staying with Cheryl or with Karen's brother until he can get an apartment of their own.  Katrina is about 6 months pregnant and she already has a small child from a previous marriage.  Hope everything works out for them.

The Dork is back on our shit list.  She had a big fall out with the Shithead and she was hollering into the phone for Karen to call the cops.  The cops came and hauled his ass off to jail for a few days.  Cheryl was telling us that this was the last straw and that she hoped he stayed in jail.  Well as soon there was a bail hearing and the bail was set, little miss Dork runs right down and bails his ass out of jail.  She lied to both Karen and I about who bailed him out.  Karen called the Shithead's mother and asked who bailed him out and she told us that Cheryl bailed him out.  The Dork can squander $750.00 to bail his sorry ass out of jail but can't spend $2 on a birthday card for her dad...


3-22-2002

I just returned from a rather quick trip to San Diego to visit my favorite ship the USS TARAWA.  Seems their schedule is changing as quickly as a woman picking out lipstick...  Mr. Celley and I had to fly out last Sunday and perform a software installation for the equipment we support and perform a couple of fixes for them.  When I was on board in October of last year they needed a new keyboard tray assembly, I had the last one we had in our lab sent out upon a promise of the TARAWA ordering us a new one to replace it.  They usually give us a valid ship's supply requisition number for the new part and then we give it to our supply folks back at Dam Neck and it gets redirected to us.  The requisition number they gave us in October was cancelled before I even made it back to the East coast.  So when I visited TARAWA in January of this year, they said they made a mistake and would get me a new valid requisition number and everything would be OK.  Gullible me.  The new requisition number ended up to be invalid also.  So this time when I returned to the TARAWA I was a little concerned.  I spoke with the leading Chief petty officer, who in words told me that they had no intention of paying us back and tough luck.  Well, we have supplied quite a few freebees to this ship, including about 3/4 of the work we were doing this time.  Kind of infuriates you when this kind of thing happens.  We finished our software work, fixed a few things that were not ours to fix, and then bid the ship fair winds and happy sailing.  Hopefully they will be out of our hair for about a year.  I don't have another scheduled trip to San Diego until the Fall.

Cheryl and Cameron are doing well, the shithead STILL does not have a job, I sure wish he could get paid for smoking dope.  Cheryl and Cameron would never have to worry about anything...  

Karen and I are going to celebrate Easter just a little differently this year, by riding motorcycles all weekend long!  I signed us up for a motorcycle safety class last summer, that's how long the waiting list is, so that she can learn more stuff than what I can tell her.  The class is sponsored by the state of Virginia and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.  When she finishes the course we will gat a 10% break on motorcycle insurance and she does not have to take the Virginia motorcycle driving test for her license.  She has been riding her Harley for about 8 months now, I even got her out on a couple of cool days during the winter for practice and she is planning on riding in a charity ride tomorrow.

I purchased new gas tanks for my motorcycle along with new fenders to be painted.  I dropped them off at the painters about a week and a half ago.  They have been prepped and are primed.  The painter is going to lay out the flames around the Harley-Davidson decals I bought for the tanks.  He may have the pearl-silver base coat shot by the weeks end.  I bought 7 gallon tanks vice the stock 5 gallon ones.  They are massive, they stick out about three inches wider than the stock ones!  The fenders are stock fenders, I wanted a special fender from West Coast Choppers, but the raw unpainted fender alone was $200.  So I stuck with the stock one for $35.  I did buy a new tail light assembly and new turn signals which are kind of trick.  I can't wait for everything to be done.  I will take a couple of days of leave probably to take all of the old stuff off and install all of the new items.  I will take before and after pictures so we can all see the transformation!  Once Karen acquires her license, we are going to sell her Honda Rebel and then use the proceeds to paint her Harley, she wants pink and purple...  We will see, if it gets painted purple and pink, I don't think I could bring my self to ride it...


3-1-2002

Wow!  It has been a really long time since I updated this page!  I have been busy getting another set of equipment ready at work for the LHD3 ship here in Norfolk.  Since the last update I have been to San Diego once during the middle of January to work on the Tarawa.  The Dork and Grand-Dork are in their new apartment, along with the Shithead who is still latched firmly onto Cheryl for support and still does not have a steady job, a drivers license or a GED and he is still a felon.  I guess you could say he is on Cher-Fare instead of Welfare...

We have all been sick with the flu/cold/virus something for a long time now.  I came back from Poland, right after Thanksgiving with the beginnings of a sore throat and a little cough.  Here it is March, and I still am coughing and congested.  Karen, the Dork and grand Dork have been sick on and off also.  We have been in/out with the doctors trying to fight it.  I guess that is what I get for letting the Doc give me a Flu shot in October...

The grand Dork is getting bigger and can now ride in a shopping basket kid seat by himself without the cumbersome baby seat.  We sometimes take him grocery shopping on Sundays to give the Dork a break.  Actually any time Karen can talk the Dork into it, she watches the baby!  The house has a walker, a crib, a changing table and Karen bought a damn highchair last week also. You would think we had a new rugrat of our own!  HAHAHA!  No chance there, the old goat is spayed.

I have been working on my motorcycle a little bit.  I have wanted to really customize it this winter including a complete tear down so I could have the frame painted.  I was unable to accomplish that, but I have had the front end raked out to about 45 degrees and extended the front forks a bit.  The top picture is how the bike was and the bottom picture is how it is now.

  It increased rake makes the handling at speeds under 10 mph pretty brutal, but at higher speeds it is smooth as pudding. Next on the agenda is painting the tanks and fenders.  I have ordered new tanks and fenders this week, when they come in they will go directly to a highly recommended painter in Norfolk.  I have been really flip-flopping over what I wanted as far as a paint scheme goes.  My bike has been black for her entire sixteen years.  I began scouring the Internet looking at paint jobs from probably a couple hundred  painter's sites.  I finally found one that caught my eye.

I really like these red flames on a pearl gray base.  This photo shows a custom dash also painted, I won't have that done, just the tanks and the front and rear fenders.  I will put up some photos when the project is complete.  Everything I have done to my bike over the course of the last two years is still less than a fourth of what a new bike would cost!

Karen and I take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's riders course at the end of March, sure hope it warms up some more!  This should help her quite a bit and reinforce the riding instructions myself and everyone else has been giving her.  Karen wants to paint her Sportster purple, but she has to wait until we sell the Honda Rebel (you know, it just ain't right for your wife to have two motorcycles to your one).


1-4-2002

Not a whole lot going on this week, just a quiet week of relaxation, then bam!  A rain storm turned into one of biggest snow storms we have had since we moved here in 1987.  It started snowing about 11:00 PM on Wednesday night and by midnight thirty, there was an inch and a half of wet snow on our picnic table in the back yard.  By 7:00 AM Thursday we had a little over 6 inches and it was still snowing.  By noon it had turned to sleet and freezing rain for a while.  This added a nice frozen crust to the new snow.  Then it began snowing again later Thursday evening and we accumulated another few inches of snow.  Friday morning's measurement yielded 8 3/4 inches.  If you figure in that the first snow settled a bit with the freezing rain and sleet I would bet it would actually have measured out to over ten inches.  For here that is as significant as seven and a half feet was in Buffalo!

The Dork and Karen drug Cameron and I to a picture place in the mall.  After waiting for what seemed like   h o u r s , a cute picture was finally acquired.


The Christmas Grand-Dork, 2001

That little critter gets cuter every time someone points a camera at him.  He nearly will hold the bottle by himself and is getting pretty good at holding himself upright.  He likes to stand as long as you can stand to hold his arms for him.  He is five months old now.

I was helping Karen load the baby's stroller into the back of Karen's Honda last night and re-injured my right ankle with another good twisting.  It is pretty sore this morning but seems like it will not be as bad as the Polish twist a month ago.  And I have not told any Polish jokes in months!

I get to travel to San Diego on Thursday and expect to return before the 21st which is mine and Karen's 24th wedding anniversary.  When I return i am going to take my bike in for the frame work I have been anticipating to rake the front end out about six more inches.  Then it will be painting time.  I dread having to make a color decision that I will have to live with for many years to come... 



Jagow's Rest Stop