Colo Vacation 11 Colo Adventure 04/05 Our Cruise 03 Myrtle Beach 02 Egypt 02
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It is nearly Christmas and I need to update the Ramblings pretty badly as quite a bit has happened since my last posting. Michael and Katrina have found a nice one bedroom apartment in the South Norfolk area. It is upstairs and quite cozy (that usually equates to tiny) with just enough room for themselves and Raegan. The kitchen area does not have enough room for a table! But all of the appliances are new! The carpet and vinyl floors are all new also as well as the heating and AC system. The apartment is upstairs in an older house. We were able to move all of their stuff that was in mini-storage into the apartment as well as the stuff from the house. They have been in their for about three weeks now and it is actually a nice place. They have our two old recliner to sit in, an older TV from Katrina's Boss. We gave them a small micro-wave so they are good to go. Mike and Katrina are both working hard at their jobs and things seem to be running smoothly.
Cheryl and Cameron are just plodding along, he misses Raegan to play with, but she comes and visits often. They play together much better now that they are not always competing for time and attention. Hmmm, sound like two other little rascals I knew twenty something years ago. Cheryl has applied for an opening as an evidence technician with the city. I don't know when she will find out about it. Cameron continues to get bigger and say more things.
Karen is working her tail off during this Christmas time rush as the mall has graciously extended the shopping hours until eleven PM. She is getting tired of the shopper already...
I have been busy at work preparing for our last equipment build of our emulators, a set for the school house to train the sailors on. After that there probably will be no more of our emulators built as there is a new system coming down the pike and it uses distributed processing vice a central computer system. Guess I should get off my duff and learn this new system...
With Mike and Katrina moving into their own place they will need a computer so that Mike can start on his book he has been formulating for several years. So I graciously offered to provide my old computer so he would have a writing tool. Now that left me without a computer! Not for long though, I ordered the requisite parts from the Internet about $580 later I have a new screamer about six or seven times faster than my old computer. Karen not one hundred percent pleased, as she and Cheryl are stuck with their old 450 MHz Pentium system. I explained to her that when the Dork moves out, she will get a new computer.
Our Christmas tree is not as big as last year's, it leans worse than last year's, but... It was much cheaper than last years! And by the time all of the decorations are on it and I turn it so the lean is toward the corner - hey it is not so bad! And once again, the underneath area is loaded with goodies for the kids, again. the good thing is that nothing is on credit cards this year! HOOEEE! That makes me happy.
I only have to work one day Christmas week and then I start my end of year to-do list, such as cleaning the garage, doing the budget spreadsheet for the next year, clean the floor (maybe), and get some cold weather bike riding in. I am sure we will have many pictures to share after Christmas...
Oh, I almost forgot... Katrina is pregnant, again... I guess they found something to do in their "cozy" apartment after all...
Happy Birthday to Karen, she is 47 years old today! She is doing pretty good for someone nearly a half century old. Karen is also the proud new owner of a Honda Odyssey minivan. It is OK, I have even driven it a couple of times. It will be nice having a vehicle we can actually carry something in again. The Volkswagen was a little lacking in the cargo area, the Jaguar can't growl very loud in that department either.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of them all. Turkey, ham, spuds, dressing, gravy and all of the other fixings! Didn't have to buy a single present, everyone ate until they were full, what could be better? Here are some holiday pictures I took yesterday.
The Naked Bird
Karen and Cheryl Cooking, both still in night clothes
Karen's Parents, Francis and Carol
Karen and Chuck Goofing Off
Michael and Cheryl Goofing Off
Raegan, Mike and Katrina
Raegan, Mike, Cheryl and Cameron
Chris, A.K.A. "Weenie Queen"
Carol, Karen Cheryl, Katrina and Raegan
Now that Turkey Day is over, it is back to work for Karen, Katrina and Chris. Hope they have a great "Black Friday" the busiest shopping day of the year... I won't even dare get near a mall or anything like a mall today as their will be too many folks shopping. I will choose to wait until December 23rd to do my Christmas shopping just like all the rest of us Real-Men.
Finally finished the work on the USS WASP this last week. Life is starting to get a little back to normal. The grandkids enjoyed Halloween, they dressed up as black and yellow bumble bees complete with antennae and stingers. Not as many kids this year going around for candy but enough to enjoy the costumes.
Mike was released from his incarceration on Halloween. He had been in the "system" over a year. He seems to have become more focused on his life and the lives of his daughter Raegan and his girlfriend Katrina. He spent a few days looking for jobs before he was able to get a job at a commercial air conditioning & heating company, the same one that employs Katrina. He is enjoying the work and the chance to earn some money. Katrina and Mike are hoping to be in their own apartment by the end of next week. That will be good for them and good for us as seven people living in our little house is a strain at times. When we replaced the water heater last time we did not get as big of one as we had before because at the time it was just Karen and I here, so hot water is at a premium in the mornings.
Now a story about the little guys (us) winning "one" against a big corporation.
In November of last year we bought Karen a new Volkswagen Beetle. The one in the pictures on our web site. In July the airbag light on the dash came on and Karen took the car to the dealer for repair. It came on again about two weeks later, again the dealer performed the repairs. Then it came back on around the middle of August. We expressed some concern to the dealership that this seems to be a serious problem with the car and seemed to be a safety problem. Again they repaired whatever was wrong and then we went on our Cruise. At the end of September the light came on for the fourth time. I was concerned about this becoming a chronic safety problem with the car. I started to look into the Virginia Lemon Law on the Internet. The more I read the more it seemed to apply to us. I printed the entire law out, along with all references and definitions and read them all again several times. The law states in part, that after the seller has attempted to repair a fault three times and the problem has not been corrected, the buyer may avail themselves of the Lemon Law. The Lemon Law entitles the buyer to either a full refund for the vehicle or a replacement vehicle at the choice of the buyer. I figured it would be an uphill battle to say the least. I penned my first letter to Volkswagen America on the 27th of September. They responded that before I could avail myself of the Lemon Law that I had to give the manufacturer, Volkswagen America, written notification and a final attempt to repair the problem. I re-read the law and found the clause they were referring to, I then analyzed the hell out of it and forged my reply to Volkswagen. I stated that in notifying the local dealer of the problem three times, that constituted informing Volkswagen America three times, I also stated that I had contacted the dealer and asked the General manager if they were an agent of Volkswagen America to which he replied that they were. I stated nothing but facts, backed up by the copies of the service paperwork and copies of the Lemon Law highlighted. Volkswagen's second letter again lamented that I, a lay person, was misinterpreting the letter of the law and demanded that we bring the car back to the dealer for one more attempt for them to fix the problem. I responded by telephoning the individual at Volkswagen America directly and informed them that they were misinterpreting the law. I asked him directly if the dealer was an authorized agent of Volkswagen America to which he agreed to, Karen was on another line so she could witness whatever was said. Up until this point I had not presented the problem as a safety problem, I told him that the concept of notification would in actuality become a mute point, because we are required to have the car safety inspected for the state of Virginia on the first of November. The state patrol had told us that it would definitely fail the safety inspection because of the airbag fault. The notification requirements for safety faults are less stringent. The fellow at Volkswagen indicated that he would get back with me later that day or the next. The next day he left a message on our answering machine that Volkswagen America would indeed extend a buy back offer to us for the Beetle. Now we have been going back and forth haggling over the total amount that the Lemon Law allows for a "full-refund". Good news though, we are to turn in our Beetle to a local dealer Monday afternoon and receive our refund. So Tuesday we will once again be car shopping for Karen, probably a Honda, again.
It is nearly Halloween and I have not updated my Ramblings. Quite a bit has transpired and we have all been very busy. Cameron and Sissy brought us all home a cold from daycare a while back and I am still fighting it. Karen is starting to get it now.
The equipment Chip and I had been working on nearly all summer is finally onboard the WASP LHD1. We have a minor cable routing issue so that a system called BFIT can acquire data via a passive tap. Chip and I have ridden the ship twice to help the sailors. The first ride ended up being only just a day as they had to pull back into Norfolk due to some engineering issues. The second ride was five days long and the ship was loaded to the gills with Marines and their equipment. Chip and I had to sleep in Troop Berthing instead of a stateroom. My sleeping accommodations were akin to sleeping in a coffin. I could not even roll over, my shoulder rammed into the rack above me. So i had to sleep on my gut or my back. We had to share two showers with 69 of our closest acquaintances. And to make matters worse the food on board was the WORST Navy chow I have ever had. We were transported off the ship three days or so before it was to pull back into Norfolk. The Marines graciously provided us a Hover-craft ride. The only problem was that they dumped us on a beach in North Carolina. We had to hump our stuff a couple hundred yards to a fishing pier where we were able to call a cab to come get us. I am betting the Marines had a good laugh dumping us on the beach. Chip and i rented a car and drove back to Norfolk.
Michael is scheduled to be released from the Klink (AKA The Virginia Department of Corrections) next Friday. I am sure he is anticipating it greatly. Hopefully he, Katrina and Raegan can get moved into an apartment soon. He will also need to find a decent job so he can start living like a normal person. I think Katrina has found an apartment in South Norfolk that they can start out in. I keep hearing comments that they will soon be married, whatever happens happens...
The pictures from the cruise are ready and have been uploaded to the Internet. Click on the following link to start the journey through our pictures with some narrative comments along the way.
Our 25th Wedding Anniversary Cruise
I need to cut the lawns and apply weed killer to them pretty heavy. i want to get rid of some pretty husky broadleaf weeds that have nearly taken over the back lawn. They are much more difficult to mow than regular grass.
I came back from San Diego the Tuesday night just before the storm. Wednesday morning I drug out my seven year old generator, which has only been used once before, and filled it with gas. I was expecting it to be a little rough to start since it had been a while since it last ran. I began yanking on the rope starter and the 10 hp engine roared to life on the second pull, I was amazed. That meant that I must have emptied all of the old gas out of the tank and the carburetor was empty too. Now began the search for my special cable. I had built a cable that took the 220 volt output of the generator to a plug that would fit right into the wall outlet for the clothes dryer. Damn if I could find it anywhere. So I began my search for parts to build a new cable. At the local hardware stores. The day before a hurricane is due. To make a long story short, let's just say I went all over the Tidewater area scrounging parts. The NEMA 20 Amp plug I needed for the generator end of the cable was my main problem. I eventually found one on display, it was the only one left in the store or any of the six stores I had visited previously. I went to the tool section and found a screwdriver and went back and unscrewed the plug from its display mount and then put the screwdriver back. The other problem was finding an extension cord rated at 20 Amps. I had to settle for a 15 Amp one. After I came back home, it took me about an hour to construct the new cable.
Now there are some dangers in connecting your generator to your house like not disconnecting your house from the power grid and then having the generator running and the power come back on. The power company has a few more Amps behind their power than your little generator. And the power from the generator will meet with the power company power instantly in your power panel and usually cause a fire starting there and possibly damaging all of your home's internal wiring. So you have to disconnect from the grid. The other major pitfall is plugging a relatively low kilowatt generator (mine is a 5 KW) in and then trying to run your house as normal. Turning on stoves, water heaters, A/C units and the like. It won't take long before your circuits will over load and possibly catch fire. And the third bonehead thing most folks do with a connected generator is similar to the first one I spoke of. Not disconnecting from the grid and they become the power source for other houses and worse yet putting power back out onto a grid which utility company workers believe is without power resulting in possible injury to them. So it is just a "little" important to disconnect from the power grid when you use a generator.
Next I went and filled all available gasoline containers, a sum total of 22 gallons including the 5 gallon tank on the generator with gas. Then I went for a short motorcycle ride and came home and showered. I was going to cut the lawn but I thought I would wait until after the storm passed as I would probably be picking up branches, leaves and things that might blow into our yard anyways.
Thursday morning came at about 5:30 AM for me. The wind was blowing moderately and it had been raining lightly and I was sitting at my computer starting to sort out all of the pictures on the CDs from our cruise when Karen's mother called around 6:20, they were concerned about the storm and wanted to come over before it became worse. The wind was starting to blow a little and it was drizzling a little bit so they were concerned. I woke Karen up so she could talk to her mother and then about 30 minutes later Frank and Carol are here. I suggested we all get ready and go have breakfast somewhere before the storm came in. Karen called IHOP to see if they were open and the girls started to get ready. Cheryl, Katrina, Raegan and Cameron went in Cheryl's car while Karen and I rode with her parents down to IHOP. Her father was questioning our sanity for going out in such weather. I reminded him that we lived five years in Washington state, where if you were afraid of getting a little wet you would never leave your house, he still thought I was insane. Once inside we had breakfast while watching the power go off and then back on every so often, when toward the end of our meal a group of about a dozen or so Virginia Beach firefighters came in and sat down. While the waitress was taking their order the power went out again, this time for good. I had to pay cash for the breakfast - good thing I still had money left from my recent San Diego trip. It was funny watching the teenage cashier trying to figure out the change back on a calculator that had no power. She must have tried three or four times before the manager told her to just grab a piece of paper and pen and figure it out by hand. Change back from my $60 on a $54.18 bill. Took her a bit but she came up with $6.82. I reminded her about subtracting technique of “borrowing” and handed her a dollar back. The poor fireman didn’t even get a hot cup of coffee! We drove home while I explained to Karen’s parents that the wind and rain thus far were not even of Tropical Storm strength and that stronger wind and heavier rain was on the way.
This is Izzy from space when it was a Category 5 hurricane.
We did not lose power until 3:08 PM. By 3:15 PM I had the generator running and powering the fridges and of course the TV so we could watch the storm pound North Carolina. The worst part of the storm for us was around 6:15 PM or so. I was outside walking the dog in my motorcycle rain suit. The wind was sure blowing hard, trees were dropping limbs all over the place. The two evergreen bushes outside of our house were leaning at 40 degree angles. Our cherry tree was blowing all over the place but holding firm. We kept an eye on two large pines in our neighbor’s back yard that were continuously in motion, usually with the tops circling round and round. I was pretty sure they would come down.
This is Izzy about 30 minutes before landfall in North Carolina.
The red dot is where Chesapeake/Norfolk/Virginia Beach lies, the storm passed to West of us about the width of the red dot. By 8:00 PM the winds had died down tremendously and Karen and I ventured out in her Bug to look around. There were lots of trees down which were blocking many major roads. We gathered up Karen’s parents and drove over to see how their apartment faired. Other than having no power, their place was just fine. We spent the night without power, I turned the generator off to conserve fuel.
The next morning brought first light and a good look at what the storm had done. My two evergreens were uprooted and one was all the way on its side. There were branches everywhere. I went to start the generator and the rope pull just spun freely not engaging the motor. Good thing I used to have a Tote-Goat (think big mini-bike with balloon tires) with a big Briggs & Stratton engine in it that the rope start assembly broke every other time I used it, so I knew how to dismantle the rope starter and fix it in a jiffy. Only took about 15 minutes to get the generator going so we could start breakfast. After breakfast Karen’s parents went back to their apartment and Karen had to go to work, imagine that, a bookstore might not turn a profit if it stayed closed the day after a hurricane.
I went out and purchased two more 5 gallon gas jugs at the post hurricane price of $9.99 each (they were about $5 before) and then proceeded to buy 15 more gallons of gas as the news reports were indicating that our area may be without power for over a week. As I drove into the driveway the house next door’s porch light was on, figures, power is back after I just spent nearly $40 on gas jugs and gas. Sure enough, power was back so I disconnected the generator from the house, turned every breaker off and then turned on my main breaker. I then slowly turned every breaker in the panel on and viola! We were only without power for about 23 hours total. Now I could use my electric chainsaw to finish what Mother Nature started on my evergreens. It only took me about a half an hour to remove what was left of my evergreens and drag them and all of the other debris blown into our yard to the curb. Then the next day I finished my yard activities by mowing the lawns and bagging up all of the grass and more loose debris.
Karen’s brother did not even lose power at all, they had a nice “Hurricane Party”. All in all even though there are still folks without power and I am thinking that the area again dodged another direct hurricane hit. The weather folks say we only had gusting winds near 75 mph and not constant winds in the 75-85 mph range. A lot more damage would have occurred if the storm would have came ashore in the Chesapeake Bay area vice the coastal areas of North Carolina.
Sunday Karen, Raegan and I visited Michael up in the klink. He is doing well and anticipating his reintroduction to society sometime in the latter part of October. It sure is a long boring drive up there. I am glad I will not have to make again.
The cruise Karen and I took was very nice and I am in the process of putting together all of the pictures in a narrated document that I can upload on the Internet so folks can see some of the 540+ pictures we took. Luckily I have had the film developed and had the photos placed on CD also. I suppose I will have it somewhat together in a week or so.
Back from the cruise late Monday night. I am off to San Diego to work do my part of a Ship-Alt on an LHA ship. I should return next week late sometime. An eerie day to travel no doubt...
I will work on getting some photos from the cruise online then. I took about 540 pictures, 20 rolls of film...
Been a little while since the page was updated so I had better get busy. It is hard to type without using your index finger on your dominant hand. I managed to smash my right index finger in my cat's door nearly two weeks ago. I won't go into the details of how a grown man can smash his own finger in his own car door, suffice it to say, it happened two weeks before we leave on our Cruise. And the week before that, Karen stepped off of the edge of our welcome mat, which was about 2 1/2" thick, and twisted both of her ankles real bad. She had to take a few days off from work because of it. She is still a little sore here and there.
Cameron and Raegan celebrated their respective two year and one year Birthday parties yesterday as a combined effort. A bunch of kids, parents, grand parents, great-grand parents all in our little house. Cheryl and Katrina had decorated with birthday things like balloons and streamers and such. Raegan received a new crib out of the deal from us and Cameron (and Raegan too) will score a swing set when we get back from the cruise and all of my traveling is done. Other fine presents were acquired and significant quantities of cake and ice cream were devoured by all. Here are some pictures from the festivities.
Raegan after sampling her cake.
Cameron after tasting his cake.
The "Oldsters" enjoying cake also.
Karen and I have been getting ready for our Cruise with nearly daily shopping excursions. I have about 30 rolls of film and 3 sets of batteries for my camera. I figure film and batteries will be cheaper on this side of the pond. We are trying to not have to buy anything other than small "tourist" items while we are on the Cruise as we will be limited for room on the return. Karen is very worried about making the connection between Heathrow airport in London and where the cruise ships are berthed in Southampton, I am more worried about running into the head security man at Heathrow that I pissed off so bad on my return flight from Egypt a year ago. I argued with him for nearly fifteen minutes that my little pair of BLUNT nosed 2" electrical wire cutters were not a tool of death and destruction on an airplane. It ended by me either giving him the cutters, worth about $40, or going back through the hour and a half security checkpoint and checking them as baggage. I hope he liked the cutters.
The day after we return from our Cruise I have to fly to San Diego to assist in an installation on the USS BELLEAU WOOD LHA-3 for about a week. While we are working on LHA-3 in San Diego, the Emulator cabinet Chip and I have been working on for the last couple of months will be installed on the USS WASP LHD-1 here in Norfolk. When Chip and I return from San Diego we will finish the installation and checkout on the WASP and then we get to go on another ocean voyage for a about a week. I am thinking that the cruise on the WASP will not be a whole lot like the Cruise on the ROYAL PRINCESS. The big difference between the WASP and the ROYAL PRINCESS is that I will be EARNING $$ and not SPENDING $$$.
Karen's parents have moved into their new apartment with out a whole lot of fuss. Carol is real happy, she managed to buy all new furniture. I managed to give them Cheryl's PC, sorry Dickie, instead of letting it sit in the garage waiting for her to get her own apartment (in about fifty years). I have even managed to get them on the Internet, somewhat... Their email address right now is firstname.lastname@example.org. They do not have a high speed connection, they are just using an "open" email account from our cox.net connection and they are using my other Internet provider, which hosts our web page and my domain name, as an outgoing email server. So they are definitely going the "cheap" route until we ascertain the depth of their impending Internet habit.
That is about it, so the next update will be after we return from the Cruise!
Cameron turned two years old today! Cheryl and Katrina are planning on celebrating their birthdays on the 23 as a "joint" two year and one year birthday parties for Cameron and Raegan. Reagan turns one on the 20th of August. They figure why clean up cake everywhere twice. I must agree with them, the kids are still young enough to pull it off. Karen and I did exactly the same thing when Mike was two and Cheryl was one. Karen made a cake one half blue and the other half pink. I sat one kid on each knee and let them tear into the cake and make a mess of it, themselves and me.
Boy, how time flies when you are having fun. I have been very busy with building the Emulator Equipment for the WASP, LHD-1, which is home ported here in Norfolk. Wow! A ship that I don't have to go out of town to work on!. It will keep me occupied until we leave on our Cruise on the 26th of this month! When I get back from our Cruise on the 10th of September, I will be traveling the next day to San Diego for about two weeks to finish up an upgrade on LHA-3. Then when I get back the first of October we will finish up the Emulator installation on the WASP. I will be busy until mid October I am sure.
After a short couple of weeks Karen's parents have decided that they needed a place of their own rather than "Bunking It" over at Karen's brother's house. We spent a couple Saturdays driving around and looking at Senior's homes, Senior's apartments and they even thought about buying a small house. Finally we found a nice established Senior's only apartments that did not look like an Odd-Fellows home. Actually a very nice two bedroom apartment on the ground floor with darn near the same square footage as our house! It is about ten or twelve miles away in the Northern part of Virginia Beach. They will be close enough to go visit whenever we or they want. They are set to start moving in on the 15th of this month. I can feel my back aching already...
Karen, myself and her parents are going to go visit Michael up in Stafford Virginia tomorrow. He is on a work release program up there until the middle of October. It is a long two and a half hour drive up there. Karen's parents are driving this time so I can sit and read and play with my new camera.
Since my last post, my wife has discovered Ebay. She has found "My Little Pony" toys on Ebay. We have a house full of little "My Little Ponies" now. I used Ebay to acquire an almost new camera. A Minolta Maxxum 7 35mm SLR camera, yes a film camera, and some lenses. It is really nice. It came with a 28-300mm zoom lens, a case, about 8 rolls of film and it cost me about $300-$400 less than the cheapest price I could find it mail order for. I have also bought a 50mm lens and I am planning on buying a wide angle lens for it also.
Our other large purchase of the year is a new fire resistant safe to hold our guns, jewelry, titles, certificates and other valuables.
It has been raining everyday on and off for about the last two weeks. I cut our grass about a week ago and it is looking dreadfully long. I hope to cut it either tonight when it "cools" off or tomorrow night after we get back from visiting Michael.
Only 23 days and a wake up until our Cruise!
Just a quick little midweek update. We all took our good friend Dick Celley out for a belated celebration of Dick's 60th birthday at a Japanese steakhouse called Shoguns in Virginia Beach. When they were done singing happy birthday in Japanese to Dick we all crowded together for a photo.
From left to right we have Laura , Katrina , Mike , Raegan , Dick just having been lei'd with Cheryl giving him some bunny ears, then Cameron being held by Chuck with his wife Karen in front.
Katrina is our son Michael's girlfriend and Raegan is their daughter. Cheryl is Cameron's mother, and Mike and Laura are longtime friends of both Dick and us. Now for the quiz. How many people are in this picture? If you said nine, you would be wrong. Somebody has a "bun in the oven" and it is not any member living in the Jagow house...
Seems like it has been longer than two weeks since this page was updated. So I had better get busy. First thing to greet me when I came back from San Diego was the rain falling on my yard, it rained for five more days on the lawn. While I was gone The Wife cut the front lawn for me but no one ventured into the back yard. By Saturday morning I was feeling the grass "kiss" the rear of my knees as I walked through it. I started early and was all done in only 3 1/2 hours. I had to pre-cut the rear lawn by mowing it with the string trimmer first. Then I was able to fire up the trusty old push lawnmowers and cut everything to an even length. Good exercise for a fat middle aged dude. I just don't like the rear getting so high as when the stupid dog Mollie craps, it only falls about halfway to the ground. The suspended poop is so nice to run into with the string trimmer and it makes such a dazzling display of poop-mist that I have to keep my mouth shut until I get past it.
Karen's parents made it in from Las Vegas a little after noon on Sunday. Barbara and the kids came over to socialize. From left to right we have Amanda, Barbara, Dork, Raegan, Karen and her father Frank. The next picture is of Karen and her mother Carol. Frank and Carol are planning on living with Brian and Barbara and their three children. They are going to build onto Brian & Barbara's house and add a large bedroom and a large bathroom for the Oldsters to live in. Seeing how I was left alone on Saturday night (Dork & Katrina out, and Karen was working) I ended up buying a little sixteen inch bicycle with training wheels on it for the Cameron. I am thinking he is just a little too small for it right now, but he really does try and ride it. He just does not understand that he has to pedal it to make it go. Since we are in the picture "mood" here is a rare shot of me holding both Cameron and Raegan and they are not even crying! This picture is of the old Goat and the Dork with little miss Raegan. Next is a close up of Cameron as he was sitting on my desk watching me work on the computer paying bills and balancing the checkbook. The last picture for this posting is of Katrina and Raegan, it is a very good picture of Raegan. But by the look on Katrina, I am not sure she was ready for the picture. Hopefully the red-eye is a camera problem and not a hint of demonic possession.
Karen has already started to buy clothes for the Cruise she is getting excited, I am too a little. It will be tough though going to sea and not having to work. I have to pay Princess Cruises more than a hundred dollars a day MORE than what I earn when I ride ship for work... I think I will enjoy the Princess cruise a little more than a "Navy-cruise", however on my last "Navy-cruise" I has the recipient of my third "Fly-Navy" helicopter ride...
Returned last night from travel on the USS PELELIU LHA5. Chip Phillips, a fellow I work with, and I flew out to San Diego two weeks ago to investigate a problem they reported on a couple of our pieces of equipment. We found nothing wrong with any of our gear before the underway period. Ship's crew claimed that the problems only manifested themselves when they are at sea. Since the ship vibrates a bunch when at sea this is not unfeasible so a team of four of us rode the ship. The food sucked and the berthing arrangements sucked in all, the whole trip sucked. We get on board and found out that some of the group will have to berth in medical overflow. That is like sleeping with 40 or 50 people packed like sardines. Myself and one other member of the team lucked out and were assigned staterooms. My stateroom had six people assigned to it with only four bunks, that meant the last two to show up were lucky enough to get portable cots to sleep on. By the end of the first afternoon at sea the other members of the team found the problem with one of their pieces of equipment. After three days with no problems found in our equipment, Chip and I were getting pretty bored watching the sailors work. On the fourth day we were flown off of the ship by helicopter back to Coronado Island. A long hot shower was readily appreciated.
Karen's brother Brian was on travel to San Diego also and staying at the same hotel. We went and had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants "Pinnacle Peaks" out in Santee. They serve a 30 oz porterhouse called the "Trail Boss" which is cooked over a mesquite grill. Brian's work buddy Chad came along also, Brian and I each ordered a "trail Boss" and Chad ordered a fillet. When the steaks came out, Brian's and mine filled the whole damn plate and Chad's filet was about as big around as the burger in a kid's happy meal and was accompanied by a piece of garnish bigger than the fillet. Now the fillet was about two inches thick, but it sure looked tiny compared to our "Trail Bosses". At the end of the meal when the waitress asked if we wanted "doggie" bags, we asked Chad if he wanted one for his garnish, it was pretty funny.
Upon coming back home I learn that Michael's girlfriend and daughter, our granddaughter Sissy, will be moving in while she looks for another apartment. This will make it pretty tight in the house. I guess Katrina will "bunk" in Cheryl's room and Raegan will "bunk" with Cameron. I guess we will see how it goes...
Today is father's day and I am just sitting here relaxing after a big home cooked breakfast. I thought I was going to have to mow the lawn but Mother Nature has been dumping more water on it for me. My best bet is probably Tuesday, it is supposed to be clear and not rain that day. Karen and Cheryl mowed the front yard while I was gone, but not the back and it is of epic length, again...
I had a rat-ass Ford Taurus as a rental car, it had 22 thousand miles on it and had scrapes and dents in every door and body panel, even a dent on the hood. When I rented it, it took me about fifteen minutes just to write down all of the damage on the little checkout sheet they gave me. Then when I returned it to the rental car place I parked it about a half inch away from the front bumper of a green Ford Focus in their tiny lot. The guy checking my car in went out and thoroughly inspected the Taurus for damage. When he came back in he said that I parked the Taurus up on a green Ford Focus resting on it's front bumper. I called bullshit and we got into a big argument. I marched his ass out there to show me the damage on the Focus. He pointed to spot on the license plate holder about the size of your little finger where the paint was scraped off. After he triumphantly pointed it out, I asked where the scraped paint was, since it was clearly not on the car I just turned in and it was not on the ground and I even got on the ground and looked under the cars for it in case a breeze would have blown it away. Then I pointed out that he did not move the Taurus, and no one else had moved the Taurus and that I had not felt an earthquake today so how was it that the Taurus was not touching the Focus as he said it was? He became mad and flustered and started hollering about his lame ass job and blah, blah, blah. I just waited until he was done and asked him for my bill. When he handed it to me I suggested that he should have paid attention in school and he could have had a better job. With that, he asked me to leave the premises, I replied that I would leave as soon as the courtesy shuttle arrived. I told him we could pass the time looking for the elusive green paint and then he got madder and called the courtesy bus driver to see when he would be arriving. I noted the van pulling into the lot and left. Hope he finds the green paint.
Today was a lazy day even though I had to cut the lawns. Karen had to work and Cheryl is sick with some kind of bug. Cammie went to visit his other Grandma. Overall this last four days has gone by too quickly with not a whole lot accomplished.
Karen's parents still have not closed yet on their house out in Las Vegas, My bet is that the buyers are procrastinating until the last week of the month so they will not have to pay very many days of interest as part of their closing costs. Once they have closed, they are going to have all of their things shipped out here to a storage place and then drive across country. Neither of them have ever driven farther than Las Vegas to Sa Leandro CA which is about a good day's drive. I printed a "trip-ticket" from a Map program I have so they should be all right. Basically all they have to do is go North in I15 to I70 and then go East until they hit I64, and then take that East until they hit the Greenbrier Parkway exit about a mile and a half from our house. Hopefully they will have good weather for their drive.
Our building of the emulator cabinets at work has slowed to the point where we will not have to work weekends for a while. We hope to have both units finished by mid July for shipment. We have about 85% of all of the cables made. Now we await for our metal items to come back from a machine shop. We have a bunch of other things to do while we wait like test the circuit cards and disk drives.
The weather is starting to turn more and more humid as we get closer to the summer. Still not very hot yet though. It wouldn't bother me in the least to have the summer stay cool, say in the upper 70s vice the upper 90s. The hurricane forecasters are predicting a very active hurricane season again this year. They predicted the same last year, but when it started to look as though they had been smoking something wild, the revised their forecast to say below average. Since I have a new roof and some other household improvements, the big storms will make a be-line here. Kind of like washing and waxing your car on Sunday and you just know it will rain on Monday...
We took some pictures of Cameron at our little park near our house. Hope you enjoy them.
This is Mommy and I sliding, the slide is not very steep so I don't go to fast and these damn sneakers keep grabbing so I can't get any real speed. This one is is of me going down backwards. That way my shoes don't hold me up so much. Just when I think I might get some real good speed going, Mommy catches me! Oh well! I guess I did not want too much sand in my hair. I guess it is time to go, bye-bye slide we will play again soon. Guess I will ride my own bike back home now it sure doesn't make as much noise or go as fast as Grampa's bike but it is fun for me. Sometimes I get this bike thing backwards, I figure if it did the work to get me up to the park I can help it back to the garage.
After the short trip back home I need to rest, what better place than on my fat old Grandpa! Here is what the cat dragged in for me, Mommy gets really mad if I play with it though. Sometimes I get to sit on Grandpa's bike and honk the horn! Othertimes Mommy throws me in the air real high and I get a little scared, but so far she has always caught me before I bounce my noggin on the grass.
Just when I start to think things are in a nice groove, someone goes and tips the apple cart upside down. I was sitting here thinking about the lazy summer I was going to have shooting my guns at the range on the weekends when Karen works, poker runs on the motorcycles when Karen has a Sunday off, just nice and mellow until our cruise to England in late August. Well along comes the USS Wasp and the USS Kennedy who both have some rather decrepit UYH-3 disk drives and RD-358 magnetic tape units and they issue Naval messages requesting help in having them replaced. Now to make a very very long story short, our command volunteered to help the ships out. What this really meant is that one brand new engineer and I get to build an Emulator unit for each ship.
I spent about a week "bean-counting" all of the spares we have around, I found just enough to build two PES (Peripheral Emulation System) units if we cannibalize one of the training centers PES units for processors and interface cards. I Took the command's half ton truck and extracted two new equipment racks and Universal Power Supplies from our warehouse in Chesapeake along with a bunch of our parts from my buddy Frank's lab at Amsec. I rounded up some tools for cable making and Chip, our new engineer dude, and I started on the long road ahead making cables and building the PES units.
Since the Kennedy and the Wasp needed their PES units yesterday we are officially in "hump" mode. Today is the second Saturday in a row we have had to work. We have about two hundred cables to fabricate. Each cable requires stripping dozens of little wires and crimping dozens of little pins on the ends and then sticking the pins (correctly) into a connector, we have to do this twice for each cable. Once we have all of these cables build, sometime near the end of this month - I hope, we will interconnect all of the parts of the PES puzzle. This will keep Chip and I out of trouble for some time, and it will help generate a little OT!
Then, just in case all of the stuff at work was not enough... Karen and I went for a motorcycle ride last Sunday, a nice 72 mile long Poker run, which I scored the lowest poker hand and received a little trophy which I can display next to my "Wild Cow Milking" trophy some friends and I won about seventeen years ago in Washington state. During the poker run, more and more oil kept dripping out from under Karen's bike, I just didn't like that at all. So when we arrived home, I tore into the right hand side of the bike hoping to find the cause of her oil woes. Now let me state that I have never had the engine covers off of the right hand side of her or any Sportster before.
I had removed the oil tank and the sprocket cover and found a split in the oil vent line and that the oil return line was in pretty bad shape. So I decided to replace the oil lines as all of them looked a little rough. I then I began to remove the right side engine cover, as the gasket seal broke I notice a bit of oil coming out so I slid the oil pan over under it to catch it. I then continued to pull the cover off. To my surprise, four big gears fell off into the oil pan! The thought "Oh shit, what have I done now?" rushed through my gourd and the little voices in the back of my head began chanting bad things. I realized the four gears were the cams for driving the pushrods which activate the valves in the cylinder head, quickly the little chanting was becoming deafening. On the bright side though, I now had easy access to the other end of the oil lines at the oil pump. It took me about three hours to get to the point of dropping the cams in the oil pan. It took me the remainder of the week working each night after I came home from work to replace the oil lines and get the cam gears all lined up. Late Saturday evening Karen's bike was back together and not leaking oil. Just so we can go on another poker run today.
Amazing, I have managed to update the page in less than a week? Must be pretty boring here at the house, you might think. The first picture we have here is primarily for a fellow I work with who does a great deal of fishing. I told him stories of how we used to fish for suckers in Grape creek. We had a 15 gallon drum that had numerous holes in the bottom to let the water out which we would load up with nasty gross cheese or some other vile bait and lower it into an eddy pool in the creek and then let it sit for about thirty minutes. Then we would haul it out of the water nearly full of suckers and empty it in the back of the truck. Grandma would use the suckers for fertilizer in her garden. The boy on the left is a fellow named Rick Wheeler whose parents owned a cabin about a mile away from our ranch and and on the right is my Grandma Helen, this picture was taken in 1978. The green truck is the vehicle I usually drove to and from school when I was in high school. Now Bill, this is fishin...
The next picture is the only picture of my Grandpa Jagow that I have. The other picture is a picture of my son Michaels's daughter. Now if you mentally strip away the stogie and glasses from my grandpa and then look close at Sissy, you can see a great resemblance, look at the cheeks and the chin. At least I can.
We are having Easter dinner here at our house. Brian, Karen's brother, and his entire family are coming as well as Sissy and her mother Katrina and my friend Dickie is coming too. I am sure fun will be had, noise will be made, messes will be cleaned and pounds will be added to all.
Today we had the heating and air conditioning people over here to look at our system as when it is heating it makes a great deal of noise like valves cycling shut and the unit outside coming on/off and back on again very frequently. The first fellow who came out about four weeks ago said he could not find anything wrong. I then called them and complained and they set an appointment up for two weeks ago, which they forgot and never came out. I was pretty pissed so I made sure they came out on my next Friday off. This fellow was here about an hour and he found that in our upstairs air handler a valve was clogged in the heating portion of the unit. He has to order the parts and then he will come back out next week as soon as the parts come in and fix it. Sometimes you just have to be persistent with these folks.
It looks like the Iraqi war is indeed becoming a liberation of the Iraqi people. Once they have spirited all of the Saddam angst out of their systems order should soon come to their country. I just hope the UN is only allowed to hand out food and provide medical services. I just don't think they ought to be in charge of any form of government rebuilding, and not just because they did not back the coalition in the war. Just look what a bang-up job they have done in Kosovo.
Grass is green as hell. I put down fertilizer with weed block last Friday. It went and rained every damn day this last week and has grown. I have to wait until late this afternoon to weed whack with my brand new weed whacker and mow the lawns. it seems every year I get to these lawn chores earlier and earlier in the year. I always say I should be smart like Dickie and pay someone to do the yard work. But hey, it gives my poor fat ass something to do that almost approaches exercise.
Had to go to the DMV and get my driver's license renewed. I guess if you have a couple of old tickeepoos they want to retest you. Unlike Dickie who was able to renew his over the Internet. I guess if I drove exactly 5.2 mph over the speed limit I would never reap the vengeance of the law... Anyway, it was pretty painless, I guess the Governor found enough money to bring back some of the DMV people he layed off in protest of the populace not approving his road construction bill last November. I had to take the written car and the written motorcycle test as well as the vision. Passed all three, missed one on the eye test Q looked like an O and I missed one on the car test. Don't park closer than 15 feet to a fire hydrant. I aced the motorcycle test, naturally. So now I have a new shiny license for five more years!
Now for some pictures, here is Cameron who has found a new use for one of his mothers bras, I told the Dork that when she wants to throw her old bra away to give it to me so I can hang it up in the garage and I can conveniently store two motorcycle helmets.
Here is a picture of Raegan and her mom Katrina we took last week, Sissy is sure getting big and look at those blue eyes!
Here is Cameron on my bike after he helped me change the oil. He likes to dip the tools in the dirty oil and then stick them in my ears or nose whatever other part of me that may seem appropriate for a 20 month old.
On any given Sunday you might awaken to just such a sight in our household. A naked little Cammie running like hell with your:
a. Car keys;
b. The TV controller;
c. The cordless telephone;
d. Some other vitally important item;
in his hands and accelerating faster than a dragster on a quarter mile strip.
I guess I have been a little slow in updating this page, seems I have been spending much of my free time watching CNN cover the conquest of Iraq. Logically, the US and Britain did exactly the same thing Saddam did over twelve years ago. We have crossed another country's border wishing to change the geo-political condition of that country.
Now don't get me wrong, I
am not a bleeding heart war-protester, I support our troops and Our President one hundred percent, however, we must all be acutely aware of exactly what We have done during these last three weeks. We have invaded another country to dispose it's leadership. And guess what? One of our reasons for doing so was the same reason Saddam invaded Kuwait. Oil. I grant you that oil is not the main reason we invaded Iraq but it is still somewhere in the line up after "Freeing the Iraqi people", "Disposing of a political monster" and "Stopping Iraqi coercion with terrorists". The US and it's coalition members must protect the WORLD'S oil interests. God (whatever you perceive it to be) knows the Middle East needs stability and that the coalition will ultimately bring stability to one of the most unstable countries there. While some folks view it as a horrible thing that the coalition has done, the world will be better place. What if Britain, France (hahahhahahaha!), the US or even the Soviet union would have gone into Germany in the early 1930's and disposed of Adolph Hitler before he invaded Poland? Could the war have been averted and millions of lives saved? Until September eleventh, I never would have thought the US would start a war, but We have, and now We should finish it. This morning, less than three weeks into the campaign, we are rolling our tanks through the streets of Baghdad after killing nearly three thousand of the Iraqi military yesterday. Despite there are three divisions of the Republican Guard somewhere still in Baghdad, it is just a matter of time before they are driven away or killed. Maybe they will get the message and shed their uniforms and combat boots like so many others have.
I have been following an Internet site called The Blogs of War which receives posts from folks all over including people in Iraq, news reporters and even some soldiers on the front lines. Many times items are posted and within an hour they are reported on the various network news channels.
On a lighter note, everyone in the house is well! No flu, no colds! HOOOEEEE! I just wonder how long it will last. Cameron is going to daycare now and he really loves it. He gets upset when he has to leave and is very exited to go there. His teachers love him and wish all of the little kids could be as good as he is. I guess they have yet to take something away from him that he "found". He loves to go outside and ride the little battery powered ATV we bought him and he just likes to be outside in general. He likes to help, anyway he can. When we go through all of the junk mail we have Cammie help throw it away, one piece at a time. Yesterday I was separating .45 caliber shell casings from .357 magnum shell casings after they had been cleaned and Cammie helped me put them into the right bags. Seems all you have to do is show him what he is supposed to do and he does it. It will be easier when he can communicate verbally better. But he is a lot of fun. He is still scheming on how to ride Mollie the dog without getting bit or tossed in "Time-Out".
Dork and Cammie have another portrait taken at the mall.
Boy was that orange font color hard to read, my mistake, I changed it to a more readable color. It did not look that bad on my machine at home, but on my laptop while in San Diego it was excruciating to read. The San Diego trip went well. I traveled with a fellow worker, Mike Stopper who I have been working with since 1994 on various things including the equipment we went to fix on the Peleliu. Mike is an Electrical Engineer and a PE, Professional Engineer - one of only three PEs at our command. A week or so ago a couple of folks from our command went to Peleliu to verify a technical manual for a piece of equipment. While there, they encountered some problems and called back to Mike for help. They ended up leaving with the equipment not working. The sailors on the Peleliu reported that the equipment had been working prior to our tech manual folks working on it. So, in an effort to get the ship's equipment back to an operational status Mike and I flew out to San Diego to see what was wrong and fix the darn thing. We had been hoping it would be a loose cable and we would walk on the ship at 8:00 AM and find the loose connector and have it fixed by 8:15 AM. By about 2:00 PM we figured out it was not going to be a quick-fix type of problem. By the end of the day we did find a mangled connector that had been broken and "jury-rigged" with the wrong pins and the broken wires just twisted together with black tape around them. And finally we found out that when one track-ball unit was installed and screwed in, not only did it not work, but caused other important parts of the system to not work either. But when it was not actually mounted with it's metal case touching the metal cabinet it worked, and the other affected equipment worked also. After a few minutes agonizing about a ground-loop and what could cause this, the sailor told us that the tech manual folks had brought a new track-ball out to the ship and it was this track-ball. At this point we went and acquired a different known working track ball out of another piece of equipment and hooked it up and it worked just like it was supposed to. We then determined that the new track-ball that the tech manual folks had brought with them was actually a bad part drawn from supply. This explained everything the tech manual folks said about the intermittent failure indications as well as the ship's claims that everything was working before the tech manual folks were there. We would have been able to fly home on Thursday if someone had not miss-pinned a connector they repaired. But hey, that's why I am just a technician, I have to give the PE something give me grief about...
So we left San Diego on Friday morning bright and early to the airport. Mike zips right over to the Electronic Ticket kiosk for Delta Airlines and gets his boarding pass and is all set to go. I start using the kiosk after him and run into a snag, the screen tells me that I have to go over to the counter for personal assistance. After a few minutes of the counter people having difficulty with my reservation, Mike heads off to the security check and we plan to meet in a few minutes at the gate. Ten minutes later, with my boarding pass in hand I wheel my baggage over to the security folks to look at. They look at my boarding pass and tell me they have to do a physical inspection of my luggage. I unlock the toolbox and clothes bag for them, they proceed to examine everything. And I mean everything. They even unrolled my socks and made sure toothpaste was in my toothpaste tube. When this was complete, they packed everything back in the best they could, they did not fold my unders the way they should have been, but hey, I was on the way home! I then proceeded to the personal security area leading to the departure gates. I again showed them my boarding pass and ID, again they called me aside and asked me to wait. When my very own personal security agent arrived, we went over and he examined everything in my carry on bag. When he was done I thought that was the end of it, wrong! He then ushered me into a little cordoned off area that was like a makeshift hospital room with a could of chairs and and a small table in there. Here I was requested to disrobe to my unders so they could check my clothes. If I refused I would not be able to fly that day. So off came my clothes, now this would not have been so embarrassing if my security agent would not have had the physique of Mr. Universe. While he was rummaging through my clothes, I was really hoping the next step did not involve a rubber glove, but luck was in my hand and he just asked me to get dressed and when I finished he thanked me and apologized for the inconvenience.
And people wonder why I don't like to fly anymore...
Karen and I are slowly getting over the virus, still coughing a great deal during the nights. Other than that we are both doing well. Cheryl and Cameron came back today from Omaha Nebraska where she was visiting a high school friend. She was supposed to fly in last night however, because of weather her connection was missed in St. Luis. The airline gave her a voucher for the airport Hilton, but she needed about $50 more to pay the difference between the voucher and the hotel's rate. I called the hotel and tried to give them my credit card so the Dork and Cameron would have a place to spend the night, but the hotel would not honor it unless I faxed a copy, front & back, of the card along with my authorization in writing for the Dork to use my card. Well, it was about 9:40 PM and I explained I could not get to a fax machine until later the next day. As my frustration built with this hotel clerk, Karen reminded me there was a Kinko's close and I could fax it there. So I made the trek to Kinko's and faxed the stuff to the hotel. The Dork was able to get a room and get something to eat. When she got home she showed me her checkout bill for over a hundred dollars! I asked what the extra $50 was for and she said "room service"... Arhggggggg!!!!!!!!!
Last Friday I pretty much painted our master bedroom since the Dork was gone and I could move furniture into her room. We also had our new garage door installed. The installer showed up in the rain and wanted me to move the material in the front of the garage outside so he would have room to work inside the garage. This material included my motorcycle, which is missing all the tanks, fenders and seat and is partially tore-down. I explained that my material in the garage was not going to get wet. I would move it as far as I could toward the rear of the garage. He was able to set up and begin the installation and I was able to return to my painting duties. After about an hour he knocks on the door and asks me how I am going to open and close the door. I thought about a "quick" response, but decided it would be wasted and explained that I would open it with a handle of course. He said there was none included in the installation materials, he had one, but it would cost me about $25. I told him that he must not have received all of the parts when he picked it up at Lowes. He began arguing that he picked up everything they had out for him. I decided it was not fruitful to argue with the fellow so I told him I would call Lowes and find out about the handle. Lowes indicated that the missing handle was an oversight and to go ahead and have the installer install the one he had with him and then Lowes would pay him back. So the installation continued and I went back to my purple paint, did I mention that Karen wants purple in our bedroom?
When the garage door installer is finished, he knocks on the door and shows me how the new door lock and handle work. He had me sign his installation papers and then I noticed all of the crap all over the floor of the garage and the driveway. I also see that he has discarded the cardboard that the garage door panels came wrapped up in, which he had casually thrown toward the rear of the garage on top of our motorcycles. I became a little concerned and asked if he was going to pick up after himself. He said cleanup was not in his contract. I stated it was, and it specifically included hauling the crap away including the old garage door, which was in the back of his pickup truck. I argued with him for a few moments until I realized that the "pig-principle" was in full force here, "singing to a pig annoys the pig and is generally a waste of your time", so I told him I would take it up with Lowes who I contracted with for the installation. After he drove away another phone call to Lowes was made and they promised they would have the problem taken care of. I took a digital photo of the cardboard thrown on top of the bikes so I could show it to whoever came over to clean it up, I then moved all of the cardboard out of the garage and set it outside on the driveway as well as sweeping up all of the crap on the garage floor out onto the driveway. Within the hour the supposed president of the door installation company showed up and I showed him the mess and showed him the pictures I took. He was apologetic and cleaned up the cardboard and most of the other crap as best be could. Then he launched into a tirade how it was partially Lowes' fault. When he was finished, I very acutely pointed out that there was no way in hell that Lowes' was responsible for his employee not cleaning up after himself. I then asked if he had been contracted to install my new patio door in a week or so, he said he did not know. I told him that I was sure he would not be the installer after this little scenario, as I was going to Lowes and register a formal complaint concerning the manner in which Door Enterprises conducted their business as Lowes representatives. He began more complaining and "harsh" words. Well, I fired right back that he was an idiot to even think remotely think that Lowes was responsible for the man leaving the mess, even after he was questioned about it. This guy was about six five and smelled like he had not bathed in a week, but I stood toe to toe and backed is sorry ass down and then politely asked him to remove himself and his vehicle from my property. At this point I think he saw the little sticker I have in the front window indicating that robbers should not rob this house as we have guns and are not afraid to use them and he grudgingly left. I made another call to Lowes to ensure he was NOT the installer for our patio door next week.
Karen worked on Saturday while I finished up the last bit of painting the trim and moved most of the furniture back into our bedroom which is now purple, we ended up buying new sheets to mach and a new mattress cover.
I even had enough time to wander over to the Hampton Gun Show where I became enamored with a Marlin lever action 45-70 Caliber buffalo rifle. I was a good boy and did not buy it then. Instead I went home and looked around on the Internet for how much others were selling the same gun for in various auction sites. Karen had Sunday off and I convinced her to accompany me back to the gun show for a "look" at the beast. Without too much begging I was able to convince her that I "needed" this rifle really bad and a hundred rounds of ammunition for it. The bullets are three times as long as a standard .45 auto bullet and I am sure they will pack a punch. I bought a scope and mounting rings for the gun today at HellMart, AKA Walmart, for under a hundred bucks. I will sight this baby in at 100 yards at the outdoor shooting range in Virginia Beach.
I have to fly to San Diego for a short trip tomorrow and I hope to be back before Friday as our new couch is to be delivered Saturday. If they deliver early maybe I can sneak off to the gun range!
Karen and I are still sick with a virus of some sort. Karen is feeling a little better today, I still feel pretty rough. Cheryl and Cameron seem to have been over the bug for a week or so. That is a good thing as the Dork and Cameron flew out to Omaha Nebraska Saturday morning bright and early to visit her best friend Liz from high school. Liz has a couple of kids with one about the same age as Cameron who is now 18 months old.
Friday before last, I watched Cameron for the Dork. We did some guy things like go buy parts at a couple of different motorcycle shops. Cameron really goes nuts over motorcycles, a condition that must be hereditary, as I am sure I have not influenced him in any way... Whenever someone goes into the garage to get a water from the fridge or something else he starts saying bike, bike, bike! So you must take him out so he can sit on the seat of Karen's bike and sometimes honk the horn on my bike which is still tore apart.
I had Cameron in the front of the cat with me, air bag disabled, and he was very good while we went here and there. One of our last jaunts took us near a Toy-R-Us so I decided to take him in and see what kind of mischief we could find. We looked at little toy motorcycles and lots of Hot-Wheels toys, but he was way too young for them. Almost discouraged, we strolled by the bicycle and tricycle area. This area also has those electric powered cars and jeeps and things. Most of these were priced way up there over a couple hundred dollars. Cameron was wanting to get down and sit on them very badly. I spied one that was fairly small and set him on it. It was a small green ATV style 4-wheeler. Much to his surprise the battery was charged enough that he could push the little button and it would lurch forward! As it lurched forward he would release the button and stop. He did this a half dozen times going down the aisle. I knew I should have never taken him out of the cart. I looked all over the shelves for a like product trying to find out the price. There was a Harley Davidson tricycle for $230 and a Jeep Wrangler for $250 with nothing looking like it was under $180. I finally found a salesperson who looked up the price of the little ATV. It was $74 and came with the battery and the charger, but best of all it was listed on the box for kids 18 months to 4 years old! But the salesperson did not know if there were any more in stock. While she was checking, Cameron continued his lurching down the aisle after I turned him around. It ended up that they still had one left, so I had her give me a ticket for one and then I peeled Cameron off of the display model. He was a trooper and only cried a little bit. We went to the front of the store and paid for the ATV and the little truck he wanted. While we waited for them to bring the ATV Cameron kept looking back towards the aisle where the ATV was that he was riding. After loading Cameron and the box with the ATV into the cat we left for home. I looked over at Cameron and he had the biggest sad face I have ever seen on him, and he had tears coming down his cheeks but he was not crying. He was sad we left the ATV in the store. He fell asleep on the way home and I put him down for a nap as soon as we got home.
I unloaded all of our booty and hid the ATV box so he would not see the picture on the outside. That night the Shithead's mother watched Cameron overnight. This gave me time to get the battery charged and the ATV put together, thought I was done with putting bikes together... I managed to scrounge up a Harley-Davidson decal to put on the ATV so it would be respectable. When he came home, he was really surprised at the new ATV! The Dork and I took him outside in the front of the house so he could ride it. The button on the new one was stronger and harder to hold in, so he was having a little difficulty holding it in, the Dork walked with him holding the button down so it would go. She was soon getting tired of holding the button down for him. Grandpa to the rescue! A little Duct Tape over the button and some close supervision and he was going like crazy!
The weather has been rainy and wet for the whole weekend. On Sunday Karen and I took Raegan up to visit her father Michael in the klink farm. We were able to visit for about two hours and Michael enjoyed seeing his daughter since he had held her since October. He is the usual "incarcerated Mike" sorry he is there and looking forward to leaving and going to the next part of his rehabilitation, sometime towards the middle of the summer. He works on the farm minding the pigs and cattle that they raise for slaughter. The farm has a barn that holds 2000 pigs! Once he leaves the farm he will go to another facility where he will be a trustee of kind, and able to work at a regular job to save money for a new start when he gets done. He will probably be on a significant amount of probation when he is released. Only time and his actions will tell if he learns anything from this endeavor.
Our new roof is holding well and the leak is definitely GONE! There is a fellow installing our new garage door this afternoon, since it is raining he wanted me to move all my stuff out of the garage and into the rain so he could work in the garage. Sorry, pal... I'll move some stuff back as far as I can but you are the one who gets to work in the rain if need be, those bikes are not going out in this icy rain!
I am working slowly, while the Dork is away visiting, on repainting our master bedroom. I think Karen wants a purple shade in there also. I suggested BRIGHT RED but she said no way. I hope to have that and the hall painted by Sunday when the Dork and Cameron return.
Everyone here has been sick with a flu bug on and off for a couple of weeks now. Karen seem to be the worst casualty, she spent about a week with walking pneumonia. While Cameron, myself and the Dork all have lingering sore throats and scruffy noses. Things seem to be on the mend and only time and Tylenol will tell.
Our new HAC, Heating and Air Conditioning, system has been installed and seems to be keeping the house comfortable. I just hope that we will never again see those big power bills again. January's bill was $245 for heating a little three bedroom single story house. It was quite cool here that month, so it is an above average bill for January. The real test will be this summer, when the HAC battles the heat and the humidity.
On Monday our new roof goes on. We chose a fairly light colored roof to reflect the heat during the summer, our old roof was black. Not to energy conscious there. We also have a leak that has been filling a bucket for sometime now inside our bay window in the dining room. Once the leak is fixed then I can replace the drywall that was damaged and repaint it. I still have to paint our master bedroom, maybe that will happen this weekend. As soon as that is done, we can get the old carpet replaced in the the three bedrooms and the hallway. I went to Lowe's this last weekend and ordered the new patio door and garage door. I sure hope all this home improvement stuff gets done soon.
I want to start putting my motorcycle back together by the end of February. I had taken the tanks and fenders off to be repainted by the fellow who did them last year and screwed up the pin striping. I want to replace the dash lights as they are all starting to be corroded from the weather and time. Our motorcycles are seventeen years old now, they are both 1986 models. I need to replace the primary cover gasket on Karen's bike as it has been seeping for some time now after it is ridden.
The last three weeks have been fairly eventful so I will try to fit it all in without making this a novel. First of all The Dork and Cameron have moved back in which was an ordeal all alone. We borrowed Uncle Brian's pickup truck over the New Year's weekend and moved most of the items the Dork wanted to keep into mini-storage. A bunch came over here and we have Cameron in Michael's old room and Cheryl is back in her old room. The Dork still has things left to put away.
Michael was sentenced on the 10th for his part in the check forgery scheme he was caught up in. He will be serving about four and a half months at a prison work farm about two hours drive from here. After that time is over, he will be sent to a state run project where he spends another four and a half months in a low security place during evenings and non-workdays. He will be allowed to work at a job somewhere while he is in this program. Then he will be out on parole for an indefinite period of time, once again, we all hope he figures it all out and uses this as a new beginning, time will only tell.
Then my mom called from Colorado with some pretty bad news, her mother and my Grandmother died in the nursing home. Grandma Helen touched many peoples lives. All who knew her were saddened by her passing. Her wishes were to be cremated and then have her ashes laid to rest next to her fathers grave up in the mountains. This is a picture of Grandma in 1976 before I had graduated from High School. This picture is of Grandma in her garden the same year. The next couple of pictures are from a vacation we took in 1988, this is Karen and her, and this one is another shot of her with Karen, Cheryl and Michael in 1988. This one is from 1989 at Clara and Margaret's house. Grandma Helen sitting down taking a break in 1994. We went on vacation in 1997 and visited her and my mother, but that visit was primarily captured on Video so I have no pictures to scan from it. That was the last time I was able to visit her. Only she and I know how much she influenced my life, no words in any language can ever express my admiration and respect for this woman...
After that sad week had passed, it was time for Karen and I to try and celebrate our twenty fifth wedding anniversary. And as usual, I have a picture of my bride to share! This year we dinned at a local restaurant named the Free Mason Abbey. Back on either our tenth or fifteenth anniversary we went there and they had napkins with our name and wedding date embossed on them and even a match book cover with our name and wedding date on it. This time the food sucked and we got a handwritten placard that said anniversary. Karen received a nearly dead rose in a weird plastic holder and I received a coffee cup emblazoned with advertising for their restaurant. It is pretty safe to bet we won't be celebrating any more events there. Karen and I will hold off on any real celebrations until late August, when we are booked on a European cruise on the Royal Princess cruise ship.
Not much more is happening, except that we are in the middle of getting our heating and air conditioning system replaced. As our luck would have it, that day was the second coldest day of the year. The heat was off for several hours while the air handler was installed and the temperature in the house dropped way down. They were able to hook up the "emergency heat" function of the air handler so we could stay warm over the weekend. Monday they are supposed to finish installing the outside heat pump unit and balance the system. Then later in the week, our new roof is to be installed and I may try my hand at installing a new garage door...
Made some changes to the Ramblings page, it was getting too damn long for one thing and it took forever to load on a slow modem connection. Sooooo, I have broken it down into yearly pages. As you may see at the top of the page, there is now a link for the 2002, 2001 and 2000 Ramblings pages. Each page is a different year. I hope this helps with the loading time issue...
Christmas day here turned out fairly well, first Katrina brought Raegan over so we could see her. She is a cute little girl that reminds me of my Grandpa Jagow. I was about ten years old when he died, so my memory may not be that accurate of him, but she reminds me of him, minus the cigar of course.
Michael's daughter Raegan
After Raegan and Katrina left, we all opened our presents and then had breakfast. Christmas was pretty good around here with Cameron making out the best I believe. After breakfast and cleaning up all the wrapping paper we trekked over to Karen's brother's house for a Christmas dinner. Once again, Brian and his wife Barbara did a wonderful job and we ate turkey and all the fixings until we were stuffed. Since it was a 27 lb. bird there were leftovers for all. Barbara's brother lives here in the area and he and his wife ate dinner also.
Barbara & Brian
The crew enjoying a "musical" moment
The picture above has all three of Brian and Barbara's kids, Lauren, Mandy, Briana and Cheryl's son Cameron on the keyboards. The "music" was flowing like a hot Karaoke bar.
After Christmas Brian and I painted the two smaller bedrooms in our house. The smaller room was done in a light blue and the bigger room was a nice violet. As you can guess, Brian did most of the painting while I observed and painted enough to know I made the correct career choice. I will see how much Brian taught me when I paint the master bedroom in a couple of weeks.
I am still in the process of finding a contractor to replace our roof and then another to replace our heating and A/C system. I am sure that will be a fun thing to deal with.
Dork and Cameron are pretty much moved in now, she still has to finish
her apartment and we have to put away a bunch of junk that Karen and I
stashed in those two rooms. The damn house looks like a
that has been shaken...
Jagow's Rest Stop