Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well, happy Halloween, all.

I'm not really sure why Halloween has nearly surpassed Christmas as the biggest holiday of the year. For some, it's good, clean(?) fun, and lots of free candy, I suppose. For others, it's the day that they feel they have blanket permission to raise hell, and destroy other peoples' property - all in "fun," of course.

It's a shame, really. When I was a little kid, my folks felt perfectly safe letting me and my little group of friends run amok on our yearly candy-gathering sorties around the neighborhood. Of course when I was a kid, my dad was in the Air Force, and we normally lived in the housing on the base where there was virtually no danger of anything worse than getting a garden hose turned on us if we got too rowdy. Nowadays, parents are scared to death to let the little ones go out by themselves. I watched tonight as carloads of costumed kiddies were driven about by parents who either watched carefully, or escorted the wee ones door to door.

It's a pretty sad commentary on the state of our society when kids' Halloween candy has to be taken to the local hospital to be run through an X-ray or MRI to make sure it's free of razor blades, drugs, bits of wire, or other booby-traps. Very sad.

My new Dremel is scheduled to arrive tomorrow according to the FedEx tracking info. I've got several projects lined up that it will be very useful for. One of these projects will involve something crazy I just won on eBay - an ancient 20MB hard drive - and I do mean ancient! I've posted a photo of it above. This thing has two 8-inch platters! And it's the platters that will be used in my little project. Stay tuned! I also bid on another old drive with 5-inch platters. I'm the only bidder so far, so we'll see how it goes. I'm not going to say what I'm making with these just yet; only that I got an idea from something I saw on another website. I think it'll be pretty cool, though.

Well, it's getting close to my bedtime, and it's going to be another busy day tomorrow, so for now I'll say....

Elen sila lumenn omentilmo

Monday, October 30, 2006

Manic Monday

Aiee! It’s Monday, and the %$%^&#% alarm clock went off wayyyyy too soon. Oh, well, at least I didn’t have a jillion calls to get up to this morning. Just the continuing check engine light issue on my Kia.

I called Jack Miller Kia this morning, to talk to the service department about getting this piece-o-crap checked out. The gentleman I talked to didn’t give me the impression he was terribly concerned with my insignificant little issue – remember, they’ve got their 1600 bucks out of me. He said he might be able to look at it Tuesday or Wednesday, but not on my lunch hour. That would interfere with their lunch. God forbid.

I quietly hung up, and called the dealership back and asked to speak with a manager. She was a lot more accommodating, and had someone call me back a few minutes later. They said to bring it on in, “because we need to get this thing fixed…” I agreed.

Naturally, as soon as I hung up and started the engine, the freaking check engine light went out. Figures.

To make a long story short, they took the Kia in, and (after an hour and a half), finally told me they couldn’t find anything wrong. Now, there’s a surprise! The service advisor said they changed some star washers on the grounding connections, and test-drove it. Okay, fine. In a week or so, when it happens again, I’ll just send copies of everything along with a complete report to the attorney general’s office. I’ve done that before, and I can tell you it usually gets the dealership’s attention.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?


Sunday, October 29, 2006

One Last Grill-out - Maybe

Well, let's see if this goofy blog works tonight......

I decided to give the old charcoal grill one last blast for this season. Of course, there still may be a few nice weekends before winter sets in. With global warming, who knows.

I took four nice skinless/boneless chicken breasts we got at Sam's yesterday, and marinated them overnight. I gave them a good rubdown first, with a mixture of salt, pepper, Emeril's Essance, and a little bit of Worchestershire sauce. I then put them in a zip-lock bag, and poured in some Italian dressing. I used Kraft because that's what we had on hand, but Wishbone or any other brand would work fine. I marinated them overnight, but I've had excellent results marinating them for as little as 2 hours.

I popped 'em on the grill after it heated up for about 45 minutes, and cooked them for about 10 minutes. I usually cut the thickest piece to check inside to make sure there's no pink. Chicken isn't something you want to eat rare. Try it sometime. The chicken is so moist and tender you can almost cut it with a fork. Deee-lish!

Well, another weekend is about over. Even with the additional hour we got back from daylight savings, it's still way too short.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

I May Dump Blogger

It has taken me a couple hours to post the entry below. As I type this, I don't know if THIS entry will make it to my site. Every time I try to publish an entry, I get a stupid error message. In reading the posts on Blogger's site, it appears many people have had the same problem, and there's no kind of response from Blogger. In addition, Blogger was down several times last week. I know it's a "free" service, but the plain and simple truth is that with all the other stresses and frustrations I'm dealing with these days, I really don't need something that's supposed to be a recreation to be a pain in the a$$, too. If this problem isn't straightened out in the next couple of days, I'm going to archive the Blogger stuff, shitcan Blogger, and go back to my old "Latest News" format. I have to convert everything to HTML and FTP it, but at least it WORKS.

Saturday Stuff

As expected, it was a very busy day today. We went out to south KC to spend some time with Jo’s mom, and – amazingly – most of the family was there. We got to see our new little great-nephew, Zander. Cute little guy. And I do mean little – he’s a bit of a premie. I got to hold the little fellow, and I guess I made him comfortable, because he went right to sleep. Or maybe I just bored him to sleep. Then again, maybe he just got tired of being passed around like a football, and said “the hell with this, I’m going to sleep!”

After we got home I went over to my dad’s to mulch up a yardfull of leaves. He’s been having some heart problems, and can’t do a lot of strenuous things until they figure out what’s going on and how to control it. I know it's driving him nuts, because he’s used to puttering around the yard, or working on any of the 300 or so projects he’s always got going on. A typical Shelley; always into something….

The Kia’s check engine light came back on again today. After spending over 1600 bucks on the repairs on the damn thing in the last month, I’m beginning to get just a tad annoyed. I guess I’m going to have to type up a nasty-gram to Jack Miller Kia, and give them one more chance before I go to the attorney general. I’ll have to take it back to the service department (for the 4th time) on my lunch hour Monday or sometime next week. If they’re lucky, I won’t attempt to drive that piece of junk up the service advisor’s backside. With all the other stress in my life, I don’t need to fight car problems every other week. You can pretty much assume that the chances of my buying another Kia or anything else from Jack Miller are roughly the same as Osama Bin Laden showing up on Oprah.

To round out my relaxing Saturday, we ventured over to Sam’s Club to pick up some groceries. I have a love-hate kind of relation with going to Sam’s Club, or any other big-box/discount warehouse type store on a weekend. I hate it because everybody living anywhere this side of the galactic center also waits for the weekend to show up there. And most of them don’t seem to have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to do once they get through the front door. They wander aimlessly around; completely oblivious to the fact that there are 547,356,245 other damn fools in the building, also. Morons.

On the other hand, I love it because every isle in the grocery section is a veritable smorgasbord of tasty delights. It’s a freebie tappas/dim-sum bar. You can get free samples of everything from fruits and veggies to Buffalo wings. I do wish they would start having free drinks, though. I could have used a cold drink after those wings! A sip of Jack Daniel’s would have also soothed my angst nicely.

I’m going to make a few changes on my website (again) soon. I’m thinking of deleting the “Rod’s Sketchbook” blog, and just setting up a section in the Art Gallery for it. I’m also looking at the resurrected “Stupid Computer Tricks” and “F-Stop” sections. I brought back SCT, and posted the F-Stop for a couple reasons. One of the main reasons was to experiment with Google’s AdSense program. I read some things on a website a few weeks ago relating the site’s success with AdSense as an income stream. In a nutshell, you put AdSense links on your website, and every time someone clicks on one of the links, you get paid a certain amount. My results – so far – have been, shall we say, less than spectacular. In the 3 or 4 weeks I’ve had them up, I’ve had – hold your breath – two, count ‘em, two clicks. This has resulted in the dazzling total of (gasp) twenty-seven cents! Wow! And the thing that sucks is I can’t even encourage visitors to click on the links. For instance, I can’t say something like: “Hey, take a moment to click one of the ad links. It costs you nothing, and it helps support Rod’s Lair!” No. I can’t say that. My bad. Bad Rod. Verboten. Disallowed. Huh-uh. Invalid.

Aw, come on, folks, read between the lines, already. What…. I gotta draw you a friggin’ picture?

Anyway, I’ll probably be removing the AdSense NonSense soon. If it’s not gonna earn it’s keep, away it goes, my precious. And I just refuse to put advertising crap all over every page of my website. I’ll take the whole site down and forget it before I do that.

Well, I’ve just been the chatty one tonight. I’ll sign off for now, but please keep stopping by the Lair. Cool stuff coming, I promise!

Elen sila lumenn omentilmo (A star shall shine on the hour of our meeting)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Night

It's finally Friday and payday as well. Since we go back to standard time this weekend, we even get an extra hour - and boy, can I use it!

I'm finally making a little progress with my workload. One of the guys helped me out in a huge way today by taking five PM calls which were all at one location. Thanks, John, I owe you one. Or five. After this week, I'm pretty exhausted, and looking forward to what I hope will be a semi-relaxing weekend. Although it appears I may be playing taxi driver again Saturday.

Looks like my new Dremel toy will arrive next Wednesday. I sent another e-mail to MaxTools yesterday, requesting some kind of an update. I got this response today:

"I just checked with my purchaser and was advised that we should have this product within the next couple days. Since we just started carrying Dremel a few weeks ago we hadn't received our full stock from the company. I do apologize for the inconvenience however your order should be shipping out within the next few days. If there is anything else that I can assist you with please let me know."

Let's see - I placed this order on the 21st, and my PayPal card was debited immediately. As of the 27th, I'm told it should ship "in a few days." WTF?? You know, this kind of horsecrap is starting to piss me off a bit. I mean, when I go to a customer location to service the copier, I'm expected to do the job right and leave my customer with a fully functional machine. And believe me, if the they feel it isn't fixed to their satisfaction, they won't let me drive out of the parking lot before they're back on the phone. But if it's going the other way - i.e. I'm the one expecting decent service, it's not really important. All I get are excuses. But then, I guess my little under 100-dollar purchase isn't as important as the contractor with a 20,000 dollar order.

At any rate, I finally did get a notice that it has been shipped. I'm glad, but with it taking 6 days from order placement to ship it, I'm not terribly impressed. I have several attachments I want to order for this tool, but I doubt I'll get them from MaxTools.

Jeeze - enough, already. It seems all I do is bitch lately. I hope I can post a more positive entry sometime this weekend.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just a Quick Update

Well, here it is Thursday night and I've finally got around to posting another entry.

Things have been busier than ever this week. Monday wasn't too bad, but the floodgates opened wide on Tuesday. The calls just poured in - I ended the day with about 17 calls up. After coming back from the disaster of a vacation last week, that was the last thing I needed. I've been busting my backside since Tuesday, and as of this evening I still have about 13 calls up. The good news is that most of them are PMs (preventative maintenance - think of it like an oil change on your car). The bad news is that a full PM takes about two hours.

I think I need another vacation.

I had another birthday the 20th. Whoopie. Jo bought me dinner, and we had a nice evening.

I decided to buy myself a birthday present since my Sears rotary tool decided to crap out on me last week. I ordered a new Dremel 395 kit with a flex-shaft attachment (no flex-shaft wisecracks, either!) and lots of other goodies from MaxTool.com. I was hoping to have it by this weekend, but when I checked earlier today, it hadn't even shipped yet! Hopefully it will arrive next week sometime. I've got some projects it will be real handy for!

Well, I'll sign off until I come up with something more exciting!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

The End of a Crappy Vacation

Well, I had hoped to have a few photos to post of enjoyable activities during my so-called vacation. I didn’t shoot one photo during the entire week off. To put it in a word, my vacation sucked.

Most of it was spent in the house since it was too gloomy, cold, and rainy to do anything outside. The two mild, beautiful days all week were spent mostly running errands and sitting in hospital waiting rooms. I certainly don't mind helping out, but sometimes it's good to have a little break from the routine.

I got one mileage check at the first of the week, but we were quickly relieved of it when one of the garage door springs broke. $150 bucks to replace two door springs.

It’s Saturday, now, and once again it’s cold and gloomy, and has been raining all day. The same is predicted for Sunday.

I’ll be headed back to work Monday, but instead of going back refreshed and renewed, I’ll go back frustrated and exhausted.

Like I said, this vacation sucked. I don’t know why I bother taking them anymore.
Sorry for the negative tone – I’m just extremely depressed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th!

Despite the stigma attached to today's date, it has been a pretty good day for a change.

First, there was some badly needed GOOD news on the cancer front today. The cancer is a very slow-moving variety, and no chemotherapy is needed at this point. If it becomes neccessary - later - there are oral medications to control it.

Next, we had a team meeting/lunch today, and we went to Houlihan's. Excellent! Of course, food always tastes better when someone else is buying!

Thirdly, I have a week of vacation to look forward to. Far too soon, of course, I'll be typing about it being over. Man, I wish we could hit the Powerball!

I'm hoping to get a little more done on my backyard patio, but we'll see. I also hope to get out of town for a little while - probably just a day trip. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do a little photography.

Perhaps things are turning around a little bit.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And Now, This......

Just click the title above.


I'll have to admit - I've worked on copiers since 1981 (minus the 8-year break working for Gateway), and I have yet to encounter this one. Maybe I'm just lucky - in this aspect, at least.

A Quick Update....

I know the posts here are becoming more infrequent, and even more infrequent on the “Rod's Sketchbook” blog. I’m hoping to be able to update more frequently soon, but the simple truth is I just have not had the time or enthusiasm lately.

With the continuing health crises that just seem to intensify with each day, things have just been incredibly stressful around here. Cancer with one family member. Heart problems with another. We haven’t yet healed from the loss of my father-in-law in January. And we just keep getting hammered with more and more. It’s just bad news, after bad news, after more bad news. It’s getting to be increasingly difficult to get up and face another day of it. And yet face it I must. I’m not ready for the alternative – not yet.

I hope one day to be able to post some good news here; and some happy things. Maybe someday.

I’m working on a new section for the Photography Section. It’s called “The F-Stop.” Several years ago when I was very active with the now-defunct Kansas City Metro Photographers’ Association, I had a website on Geocities with the same name. It had articles on homemade photo/studio equipment, photo techniques, and so on. I’m bringing back a more concise version of this site with even more articles and interesting photo stuff. Look for it very soon.

I have a week of vacation coming up next week. We had planned on getting out of town for a couple days, just to get a break from all the damn tragedy – but the Kia took care of that idea the last few weeks. With over $1600.00 in repairs, the money we had saved for vacation is pretty well history. At least it will be a break from running amok all over town for a week. Maybe – and that’s a big maybe – I’ll have a chance to shoot a few photos, or do something else with my wife that doesn’t involve doctors or hospitals.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


I couldn't think of a clever, catchy title, so I just typed Thursday. Things are pretty much the same old crap around here.

Had to take the Kia back to Jack Miller again today. The check engine light came on after my second call of the day. I was not happy. At least they didn't rake me over the coals financially this time. The service advisor (the same one the previous service advisor said didn't work there any more) told me that the connector they replaced last time had a pin with a loose connection. They were very apologetic, and didn't charge me anything. Perhaps it was the fact I was slowly changing into a snarling, drooling werewolf/Hulk in front of their eyes that indicated to them that I was less than pleased. At any rate the Kia is doing well again. At least until next week.

I've got the fall decor on the website, as you've probably already noticed. If not check out the Rod's Lair link at right. I'll be starting on the winter version soon - in between all the freaking crises that keep popping up.