Thursday, November 30, 2006


Just a quick update before I head off to bed.

It started snowing just a little after 1:30 this afternoon. By 3:00, they decided to send everyone home early. My field manager left a broadcast voicemail saying to check messages tomorrow morning before heading out. Depending on conditions, we may have an extra day off this week. It's almost 11:00, and the snow hasn't let up much if at all.

I took this photo shortly after getting home. The black stakes around the pole are about 8 inches long, and you can only see a few inches of them. I can't tell for sure in the darkness, but it looks like they are completely buried, now.

I'd say winter has arrived at the Lair! Here's hoping for a 3-day weekend!

Oh, yeah - almost forgot.... Got the Kia back today. They think they've finally found the problem. They replaced an "IAC motor" whatever the hell that is. The motor was sticking, and causing the engine to idle too slow, which was causing the stalling, and check engine light. They didn't charge for parts or labor, so they do seem to be making an attempt to satisfy me. Hopefully this will end the car problems for a while. I hope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If You Don't Like the Weather......

....Wait 5 minutes, and it'll change. At least that's the joke about the weather in the midwest, and especially around Kansas City. Yesterday, it was 70 degrees. Today, it's well..... UGLY. Just have a look at the photo I took out back. The trees behind my telephone pole are already coated with ice - wonder how much tree debris I'll have to clean up this time.

They kicked us loose from work early today due to the icy roads. I was working on a machine in St. Joseph (about an hour north of Kansas City) when it started. On the way back south on I-29, I saw at least a half-dozen spin-outs. One guy in a black SUV was doing whirlygigs in the northbound lane. For my part, I was being extremely careful not to end up upside-down in a ditch along the highway. Especially since I'm in a rental car while they try to figure out what's eating on my piece-O-crap Kia.

Well, not much else going on - I'm just going to sit here tonight and drink coffee, and play with my computer.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More of the Same....

Hey! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It's been a couple weeks since my last entry, but again (as usual) things have been super busy.

Things are somewhat stable with all the family medical problems, at least for the moment.

We had a busy 4-day weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday. Out of 4 days off work, we were able to just stay home and relax one of the four days. Sadly, that's becoming more and more the case. I can't remember what it's like to actually have two days in a row to relax and recover from my continually intensely busy work week.

Well, Wednesday morning I get to haul my piece-O-crap Kia back to Jack Miller. It has been screwing up again - all the same problems I've spent over $1800 over the last couple months to get rid of. Last night, it stalled out twice at traffic lights, it idles extremely roughly, and of course the check engine light comes on, and goes off every two days. I sent a rather pointed letter to both Jack Miller and Kia America detailing all the issues. I also threatened to go to the state attorney general if it didn't get straightened out very quickly.

I guess it got their attention, because I got a call today from the service manager at J.M. He is going to arrange for a car for me, and they will keep my Kia for a few days. I halfway hope they park the damn thing on a railroad track, but with my luck, it would just wreck the locomotive engine, and I'd have to pay for that, too.

I've been working on a couple projects in my shop as time allows in between all the frigging medical crises. I'd post a photo of my latest one, but it's destined to be a Christmas gift for someone, so I'll wait until after Christmas to post it.

That's all for tonight, so I'll say good night for now!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another Weekend....

Well, here it is - another week has streaked by at warp speed. Everyone says the older you get, the faster time goes by. At this rate, I should be 90 sometime next week.

I've posted a photo of one of my latest projects. This is a swag lamp made from a Hemingray #40 insulator and a few pieces of hobby wood from Hobby Lobby. If you like it, I'll be creating more of them which will be available in my on-line store. Each one is created by hand by me, so no two will be exactly alike. I'm working on some other ideas for unique items. Keep checking my website/blog.

Well, I guess we had our little one week ration of good news, so now it's back to normal - bad news on the medical scene. My dad had to have a CATscan a few days ago. Seems they found a couple "spots" in his last set of X-rays they hadn't noticed before. It just never stops.

Friday was a wonderful day (I'm being sarcastic again ;-]). It started out with me getting my butt chewed on my first call for billing issues. I got to my first call (a medical office) right at 8:00, and although they weren't open yet, I figured they would appreciate getting their copier repaired before patients started arriving. I knocked on the door, and was greeted by a very haughty office manager. Somewhat miffed, she commented that I had interrupted their morning prayers. I could certainly see her Christian demeanor shining through. When I explained why I was there she immediately launched into a diatribe concerning billing issues. "Well, I have issues with that since they billed me for the last service call!" Oh, I'm sorry - I guess we're supposed to provide free service - just like they provide free medical care.

Actually, the day did improve from that point. Of course, halfway through the day my old friend the check engine light came back on. I decided to just ignore it rather than taking it back to Jack Miller and letting them throw another 200 - 300 dollars' worth of parts at it - at my expense. I guess that was the right thing to do, because during todays' running around the stupid thing went out again. I am going to embark on a letter-writing campaign concerning this, however. I think after putting $1800 into this piece of junk over the last two months - and still having the same issues - it's high time to rattle some cages. We'll see what happens when Jack Miller hears from Kia America and the state attorney general. Yes, sometimes I fight dirty.

Well, time to get my fool butt to bed!


Friday, November 10, 2006

Now, That's REALLY A Hard Drive!!

This is an old Quantum hard drive I won on eBay recently. Note the case from a modern hard drive for comparison. This thing has two 8-inch platters and stored a whopping 20 megabytes. The big 120 volt motor spins the disks via belt drive.

Obviously, I’m not going to press this into service for data storage! I have quite another idea in mind. Stay tuned.

The past week has been insanely busy both at work, and off. My dad had a procedure today that involved running a catheter-roto-rooter thing into the arteries in his heart. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to be there for him, but the folks I work for were just great about it. The procedure went fine, and he didn’t even have to stay overnight at the hospital. The doctor said he’s in good shape, and there are no serious problems with the heart. We also got some good news concerning Jo’s mom. After the way things have gone the last few years, I don’t hardly know how to act with all this good news!

Hopefully, things will calm down a bit, now that the doctor stuff is over for a while. It looks like it will be a good weekend to relax for a change. It’s getting cold, and it’s a great time to just relax indoors with a nice hot pot of coffee. That’s my plan for tomorrow.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Now, That’s a Hard Drive!

This arrived on my doorstep today – one of the two old hard drives I recently won on eBay. As you can see, you’d have some difficulty stuffing this drive into your laptop – or your desktop for that matter. Note the Coke can next to it for an idea of how large it is. This old Maxtor drive has 5 platters, 5 ¼ inches in diameter as opposed to the 3 ½ inch platters in today’s desktop hard drives. Data capacity of this 5-platter drive? A whopping 170 megabytes. Of course, at the time this was cutting edge that was probably massive. And it probably cost a pretty sizeable chunk of change, as well. I bought it for a buck plus shipping.

Obviously, I don’t intend to use it for its original purpose. I’ve already disassembled it, and will use the platters for a little project.

Sometime soon, I’ll be receiving another old hard drive with two 8-inch platters, which I’ll be using as well. Stay tuned…

I’ve deleted the “Rod’s Sketchbook” blog today, and placed it on my website instead. Check it out by clicking the link to your left. I’ll be adding more stuff soon.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Car Repairs and Fridays….

It’s Friday of yet another totally insane week.

Thursday morning after leaving my first call, the Kia’s continuing check engine issue reared it’s ugly little head again. Since I was relatively close, I drove it back to Jack Miller for the umpteenth time. This time, the great magic diagnostic computer oracle indicated a “mass air sensor” needed to be replaced – another $200 out of my wallet. This brings the total for the last couple months up to around $1800.00. This piece of junk is bleeding me dry! At least they didn’t charge for labor or diagnostics, and gave me the wholesale price on the part – otherwise it probably would have been more like $500.

After 2 hours in the waiting room (listening to yet more Montel crap on the TV), I got out the damn plastic and headed out for my next call. I didn’t get a block down the road before the check engine light came back on. At this point, I’ll have to admit, I went a little ballistic. I stopped, backed up in a driveway, and screeched right back to the service door.

After the service advisor, service manager, and one of the floor managers got me off the ceiling, they arranged for a rental car – at the dealer’s expense – and assured me they would get it figured out. I’ll have to give the folks at Jack Miller credit – they didn’t just blow me off like some other dealers I’ve had in the past.

Today, I got a call from one of the sales managers. We discussed the possibility of trading into something a little more reliable. I mentioned I'd love to have another minivan. He is going to keep his eyes open for a minivan that we might be able to trade up to, while keeping the payments close to what they are now. I do believe it’s time to start at least doing some research on getting something else. I hate like hell to try and trade when I still owe a significant amount on a car, but sometimes fate forces your hand. In the meantime, I’ll just keep nursing this Kia along, and hoping for the best.

In other news…..

My new Dremel kit arrived on Wednesday. I love it! In the few spare hours I’ve had the last few days, I’ve been experimenting with it. I love the flex-shaft attachment; it provides very fine fingertip control of the tool, which will be great for engraving, carving, and so on. I’ve started a new insulator lamp, and there will be many more new projects. Stay tuned…

I am going to be deleting my “Rod’s Sketchbook” blog. I haven’t updated it in a while. The original intent was to challenge myself to create and post a sketch each day. But with everything going on in my life at the present time, I don’t always have time; or if I have the time, I’m not always in the mood. I still intend to draw and sketch as much as possible, but as has been the case the last few weeks, there will be lapses. I will be setting up a section on the website under the same name, “Rod’s Sketchbook.” I’ll be placing both new and old art there, but I’ll be emphasizing new work. I hope to have it active sometime this weekend.

Well, that’s about all the news that’s print to fit…..uh, that’s not right….. fit to print! So I’ll sign off for now, and go play with my tool – I mean Dremel.