Day by Day cartoon

Monday, December 31, 2007

I may need to start building a machine shop-

So I can learn to make fun toys like this guy!
68 horsepower per liter! Air-cooled? You betcha. This hand-built V12 engine, the fruit of hobbyist Ralf Drendel's labor, clocks in at a mere 87 cc's of displacement and cranks out a whopping mere 6 horsepower.
Make sure you have the speakers on your computer cranked up for the video!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Movie Reviews!

I've been exceptionally negligent recently reporting on the movies that the BSU and I have taken in at our local cineplexes. So in an effort to clear out the cobwebs of 2007, I'll tell you a little about some of the shows we've seen.

Most recently, this week in fact, we saw Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Now the spouse was opposed to seeing this film from the get-go, because she knew it was a parody and that's not her favorite type of humor. But, we were at the mall and everything else had already started, I wanted to see it and she gave in. I should have followed her instincts!This is a really lame story, no matter what the professional reviewers have said about it! John C. Reilly plays a pretty believable pop star and musician but the rest of the story is just lame. From early in the movie where Dewie accidently kills his more talented brother, in a play machete fight, the story goes right down hill. The story is about the efforts of Dewey Cox as he fights to make his way into the pop music world, struggles with all the disasters that befell so many rock superstars. Yes, I know the writers were poking fun at Coal Miners Daughter, Ray and Walk the Line, but most of the scenes really fell flat. Some of the scenes were truly funny, watching Dewey open with an all black band in a black night club after the regular band leader is busted up and can't sing was a good scene and the early scenes between Dewey and Darlene, so reminicent of Johhny Cash and June Carter was pretty funny as they played out their attraction for one another. The duet they sing is full of double entendres and was hilarious but the story line falls lame after that. In particular, when Dewey joins the ashram in India and meets the Beatles that are there to learn enlightenment is probably the worst scene in the movie. The Beatles have to keep referring to themselves by name so the audience knows who they are. It turns into a LSD tripped cartoon at that point for a little while and after that Dewey's life gets really ugly, fueled by massive quantities of drugs and misbehavior. In the end, Dewey does find happiness in retirement and getting to know his many, many children and a reunion with Darlene.

So, two thumbs down for this movie, in my humble opinion. The spouse hated it from the beginning and even though I laughed at some individual events, the movie as a whole just didn't work for me. Sorry Dewey!

A movie we did like and I recommend you see is Charlie Wilson's War. This movie is a telling of a real story and a real person, Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas. Charlie is encouraged by a rich, beautiful Texas socialite to use his congressional committee participation to fund the Afghan rebellion of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Charlie visits Afghanistan, sees the pain of the people there, living under Soviet attack and goes to work with an unruly CIA agent to begin funneling funds, weapons and training to the Afghan rebels trying to reclaim their country. His back room wheeling and dealing requires Russian weapons to be purchased from an Israeli arms dealer with funds routed through an Egyptian envoy andd matched by Saudi Arabian funds. Its a complex story but the intent is to give the Soviets a black eye. With surface to air missiles at the ready, the Afghanis do drive the Soviets out of their country and Charlie Wilson's secret little war is a huge success. But, there is always those laws of unintended consequence and in the closing scenes, Charlie's efforts to rebuild the country are rebuffed and history tells us what happened when those insurgents that fought off the Soviets became the Taliban that ruled the country in the aftermath.

But this is a good movie. Its smart and funny in places and the characters are entertaining and believable. Tom Hanks makes a great playboy Congressman, Julia Roberts could have been born tothe part of a Texas socialite and Phillip Hoffman makes a terrific disgruntled CIA agent. All in all, I loved it, the spouse enjoyed it and it was one of my favorite movies of the year.

American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington as a New York drug baron, Frank Lucas, setting himself up as importer of the highest quality heroin and selling it through fake businesses he establishes for his cousins and nephews. His drugs are more potent and less expensive than every other dealers wares. Russell Crowe plays the police detective who is trying to track down the influx of cheap drugs and uncovers this seemingly upstanding citizen who is polluting the bodies and souls of the people of his own neighborhood.

This is a gritty movie. The story is based upon fact and it doesn't gloss over the uglieness of a heroin infested community. It shows the death and destruction that drug addiction can cause while also displaying the enormous wealth that one person can accumulate at the expense of the poor persons selling their souls to buy their drugs. This movie left me questioning how any person could be so cold and indifferent to the plight of the persons he was so readily selling poison to for his enrichment. American Gangster is another favorite movie of 2007 for me and I hope it wins a bucketful of awards when Oscar time rolls around.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A couple funnies-

First there's this one: bunnies and thne there's this remarkable tattoo. Found first at Synthstuff.

Holiday slacking-

That's the only excuse I have for the dearth of posts recently. I certainly can't claim to have been too busy, that's certain!

As for Christmas- as Lawdog says" Make the holiday memorable, not perfect," and I think we can say that's exactly what we had at our house for Christmas. Noah came home from Logan on Monday afternoon and relaxed with us and then went to the candle light Christmas church service we always attend. He even volunteered to go with us and he participated in the service! That was very nice. Upon exiting church at midnight, the most beautiful snow was falling, adding to the magic and pleasure of the evening. We all slept in the next morning, me less than the other 2 and I had coffee made and the 8 inches of snow removed from the driveway before they were moving well.

So package opening came late to our house- no big deal that, and everyone seemed pleased with their gifts. The BSU really likes the dangly, diamond ear rings that I picked out for her, even though she discovered pretty quickly that she can't sleep in them with the post type backs on them. So they have already been returned to Cassars, where they came from for hook type backs that won't poke her as she sleeps. I got a new set of ski pants as my old set had mysteriously shrunk and a new set of warm leather gloves since the fleece ones I was using just weren't warm enough for ski duty.

Kye and Stef arrived later in the afternoon bringing more gifts and in time for a terrific turkey dinner with all the trimmings. They stayed a few hours and we all got to relax and rest and hear the tales of their adventures in Grown-Up Land.

Since then, I've been back to work, though mostly I've been tidying and filing and clearing stuff out. There are so few folks here that getting anything real accomplished has been impossible. I'm even going to bug out early here when I finish this post as there's just no reason to be here.

I'll be ticket checking again tomorrow at Powder Mountain, and every Saturday until spring, due to the management changes there and then I have another long weekend to enjoy before hitting the work again hard next week. We've accepted a New Years invitation over to Carol and Dave's place, which should be a fun change of pace since we typically stay close to home on New Years. But they have promised food and fun with their new Wii so I guess we'll head up there for some fun.

More later, I think, from the ranch, since everybody seems to be bugging out pretty quickly around here!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday message from Fred

Merry Christmas to all that happen to pass by this humble blog. If you happen to be a service member away from your family this holiday, I share in your ache to be home and I pray for your safe return.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Well this is perfect!

I got home from working at Powder Mountain Ski Resort just a little while ago, changed my clothes and the BSU announced that she was taking the truck and going out. I'm pretty certain that means she is out Christmas shopping for me.

But National Lampoon's Christmas is showing, right now on TBS and I get to watch it without disturbance. I even got to see it from the very beginning, somthing that almost never happens!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spouse made it home safely last night

All is well. Now there just remains some shopping to be accomplished, groceries to buy, cookies to bake and presents to wrap before the holiday arrives next week. I've ordered packages to be delivered to most of the folks that read this blog and I've already purchased the spouse's gift, (nope, not telling!) and have it wrapped and under the tree. There was a prime rib dinner at work today and tomorrow is the company's holiday luncheon.

Life is good. Maybe I'll get to go skiing this weekend.

The Christmas shopping must be complete-

Well for whatever reason, as I mentioned yesterday, the network filter shields were down since yesterday about lunchtime. And until about an hour ago, the shields remained down. But, whoever must have needed the access for some last minute online Christmas shopping must have finished up because the shields are back up. I can't see Instapundit or Gizmodo or anything with a blogger address again, just as it has been restricted for months.

Christmas shopping is the only reason I can imagine for the temporary reprieve from the daily restrictions. Either that or somebody tripped over a cable yesterday shutting down some machine that controls the interweb access and today somebody found the unplugged cable.


Cranky Professor really comes alive with the language!

[NOTE: Mom, you might want to skip this post. Or read it, its pretty funny.]

Cranky Professor shows that she really does know her way around the english language with this post.
Wait, I'm tired of being polite. Why don't you eat my ass with a soup spoon? You are a morally deficient, mentally insufficient, scabby, fungus-ridden swipe of dog shit. It's doubtful that medical treatment can overcome your colorful, hirsute and bastardized background. I hope your microscopic peener shrivels up, spontaneously combusts and falls off.
No way I could top that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas present from the network police!

I don't understand it but for some reason, this afternoon, the network filter managers seemed to have let down the shields. That's right, I can see blogspot addresses and Jalopnik and Gizmodo display properly. Heck, Gizmodo even displays instead of being blocked as it usually is and has been for a number of months. I wonder how long that circumstance might last, not long I'll bet!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A tale of a boy and his car needs

Well, how to tell this story? It is a parental quandary, sort of, and in another way, its none of my concern. But what's it all about? Its about my youngest son- that boy Noah and his automotive quandaries. Some background; he is 23, done with school at Utah State, he didn't even bother to check to see if he had any passing grades, which means he didn't have any. He is working at a Toyota & Honda dealership in Logan, as a lube tech- the lowest rung of the automotive technician ladder.

He's got a promise to get a technician position/promotion sometime later in the winter or spring. He also is still driving "Lumpy"; the 1990 Geo Tracker that I bought 7 years ago and that he has been driving as a daily driver while also off-road abusing the little beast for the past 5 years. It is pretty rough and in spite of his abuse, it keeps on starting everyday, so he keeps driving it.

But he wants to replace Lumpy. Its not quite as off-road capable as he believes is required for the level of "wheeling" that he wants to do. Its also not very pleasant as a street vehicle during the winter months. He also has a promise from the credit union where he has been banking some of his paycheck for several weeks, to fix him up with a loan for another vehicle of his choosing. So he has the urge to buy some new vehicle and a promise of more money than he has ever needed, close at hand.

He has talked about buying a used Mazda Miata or a Toyota MR2 sports car. Either one of those cars could be a great choice, affordable, reliable, and well supported by online communities of fans. Either of these cars are pretty watertight, have functioning heaters and come in a variety of power levels. He's also pretty keen to have a motorcycle, maybe a Suzuki SV650, to hear him talk.

But yesterday he brought home a Suzuki Samurai that he wants to buy. He found it on Craigslist and he is in love. He's in love with a purple hardtop 1988 Samurai that has been modified with a Toyota engine, transmission, and axles. It has (very) big tires, big springs, fenders cut away to clear the tires and a welded on, exoskeleton roll cage that blocks the rear door making it unusable. Its not street legal because the tires stick out too far and requires some kind of fender flares that will have to be fabricated to cover the tires to stay out of John Law's scrutiny. There is no heater, no defroster ducts and the snow drips in through the vents below the windshield straight into the cab. The rear axle has been welded so the tires squirm and chirp going around corners on pavement. The bottom of the doors is close to 3 feet off the ground to give you an idea how tall this crate is!

It probably is a terrific rock crawler or trail runner and it seems to have been put together by somebody who knew what they were doing- except for the rear door being blocked by the roll cage and spare tire carrier. All the welds I could see appear neatly done and I didn't see any terrible shortcuts in the construction. But it would be a terrible vehicle on the street. Noah's initial thought that the hardtop would be warmer in the winter than his convertible Tracker was pretty quickly disabused once he figured out that the truck had no heater core or even blocks on the open vents leaking in! The welded rear axle makes cornering an exercise in equipment and tire wear as well as being right close to dangerous in any kind of slippery traction circumstance.

He wants to buy this Samurai so he can do more off-roading than he presently can do with the Tracker, even though the Tracker has proven itself capable of 80% or more of the trails he has access to. He thinks the Sammy would be 100% capable if it just had a winch added to the front and an expedition grade roof rack to put gear in since the back of the truck is blocked. He thinks he can reconfigure the exoskelton to gain access to the rear door, if he could just get access to a tubing bender and a welder... The fuel tank filler tube needs to be protected from damage that could be caused by the rear tire.

He lives in one room of a rented apartment, has no garage or carport working space, would still need a reliable daily driver car and probably would need a truck and trailer to move the purple beast to the trails he wants to conquer since its not street legal. Or he needs to make it street legal and then pay for plates and insurance for more than one vehicle. And he wants me to co-sign for a loan if that will get him a better rate at the credit union.

Not too surprisingly, I said no. We talked about this for a couple hours yesterday and I don't think I dissuaded him from buying this Samurai. I tried a number of different tactics, offered suggestions about buying a reliable street car or truck and then using the Tracker for off-roading, fixing it up to make it a little more trail worthy. I tried to get him to consider just how much time, or how many weekends he would be free to go wheeling or whether he would be working, either to pay the rent, (and the truck payment) or to fix the parts that invariably fall off of rigs that get used off road regularly.

I'm pretty certain I didn't convince him to keep looking...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

An entire weekend by myself-

Well, not exactly by myself. But the BSU has been out of town since Friday noon, on her annual sojurn to Oregon for the sister's Christmas party. I stayed here, as usual and sent her off for the weekend.

So I've been partying it up all weekend, staying up late and drinking hard with all my wild friends and loose women. Right?

Yeah, right... Not so much actually. I did attend a fun dinner party that my buddy Loc had invited me to Friday evening. The sneak didn't tell me that dinner at ABC Mandarin was his son, Tom's college graduation celebration! That turned into a really nice evening and it was great to share in Tom's celebration of his hard work and success. Loc's pretty happy not to be footing his education bill too!

Saturday, Kenny and I went to the desert for a couple hours of shooting. We got off to a late start intentionally- hey it was cold yesterday, and it turned into an even later start after a long wait for lunch at the Flying J truckstop where we stopped for nutrition. But, it turned into a really nice afternoon of plinking and hanging out together. Kenny was even nice enough to feed me dinner when we got back to his place.

I am pretty unhappy with my Para-Ordnance Warthawg though because it still is not working right. I replaced the magazine springs a few months ago when I found that it wouldn't feed reliably and afterwards it seemed to be fixed on one trip to the range. But yesterday it still wouldn't feed worth a damm and the gun is no good for a concealed carry piece until I get it fixed. I may need to be contacting Para to see if it needs to go back to them for corrections.

Today has been a day of chores that I've been putting off for a while just out of laziness. I snaked the drain in the shower that had been slowing down recently. I replaced the bad strip light in the laundry room and I replaced the flush handle on the toilet that I couldn't stand any longer. That cheap thing had a plastic arm inside that flexed instead of lifting most of the time and I just hated it. So, with a quick trip to Home Depot, I solved that aggravation.

Afterwards, I've continued to cleanup the room that is becoming my guitar room, cleaned guns, washed dishes and laundry, carried out trash, finished off the last of the Thanksgiving turkey with sandwiches with Noah and neighbor Eric. I'm still soaking the stains out of my coffee carafe and I've watered the Christmas tree.

The BSU called, she may be coming home tomorrow instead of Tuesday. I suppose she's still tired enough after being in the hospital last week and its always hectic when she is with her sisters. So once she gets home it will be time for the final Christmas push of preparations. The boys have called or mentioned their interests so I have some idea for presents for them but I have no ideas for the spouse. She mentioned jewelry and I probably can't go wrong with that so I suppose I'll be revisiting the shop where we bought her anniversary ring.

Can I be tired now?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another medical update you should know about-

A few weeks ago I mentioned a friend Ben who had suffered 2 apparent heart attacks in an evening and his wife had found him not breathing, with no idea how long he had been unconcious. Ben spent a week on a life support machine, and based upon the Doc's advice, he was removed from the apparatus with the expectation that he was simply going to die in a couple days. The medical decision was to not feed him or treat the other maladies he was suffering but just to control his pain and to wait for his demise. I saw Ben just before leaving on our cruise and I was pretty certain I was saying good-bye to him and that I would miss his funeral while we were gone.

But Ben didn't die. Instead, he got a little better. And his boss convinced his Docs to restart medical treatment, which they did, and then Ben got even better. The pneumonia went away and he began to maintain his conciousness. He had almost no short term memory but in a couple weeks and with numerous visits from several of us, his memory began to return. Additionally, Ben has no permanent damage to his heart and no surgical procedures are in his future.

The week after Thanksgiving Ben was even moved out of the hospital and into a theraputic rehab center, which is where he is right now. He has regained much of the memory and thought process capability that the Docs said he would never have again. He is getting stronger and healthier everyday. He has apparently forgotten that he was a long-time smoker and seems to have no desire for the demon nicotine. There's a possibility that he might even be able to return home to live in the coming weeks and perhaps return to some kind of work although he has been medically retired from civil service already.

Going home is a problem though. Ben has a wife but she's not mentally healthy and she needs to be under somebody elses care besides Ben's. He has a teenaged son who has been placed in foster care during this entire episode. So things are not good, overall and Ben's problems are not all resolved.

But he is alive, against all odds. And he is getting healthy, healthier than anyone could have expected. Ben's life, and his restored health is a direct result of answered, fervent prayer and nobody can convince me otherwise.

Well, the spouse is home from her hospital stay

She has survived all the turmoil of 2 nights in a hospital, her diverticulitus is responding to 2 types of antibiotics and she is home so she can rest.

Truth be told, she got really good care and she is getting better, which makes me really happy.

And I've got the cold bug beginning to sit on my chest... Grumble!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This ain't going to happen!

I've taken the muffler of Sleek Black Beauty during this down time and I thought to have it shined up by having it dipped in a local chrome tank at a nearby establishment. The other day I carried it the muffler in there to get a price estimate for the work.

The estimate was for $350 and an unsatisfactory result due to all the bracketry that is attached to the muffler! I can't afford that!

What I can afford is to have it HiPerCoated by HPC,in a polished aluminum color. They quoted me $70 to do the job. I hope to take it to them on Friday after dropping the BSU at the airport for her trip.

Call it a Christmas present from me to Beauty.

Well this is no good!

The BSU's dreaded diverticulitus has reared its ugly head again and plunked her back into the hospital. We've been there all day after she decided that she recognized the symptoms and did not want to wait until she became critical.

Seems she was right and closer to being critical than she realized.

So, I'm headed back in a few minutes and I'll sit with her until they throw me out. I haven't decided about tomorrow's work shift. I guess I'll figure that out later.

UPDATE: I'll be skipping work tomorrow to sit with the BSU in the hospital. There's a chance she might have to get a colonoscopy since it has been 5 years since her last one. She is mighty intent to get well and out of the hospital as her airplane ticket taking her to Oregon is dated for this coming Friday.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Woman beaten on bus by 9 teenagers
So, a 26 year old woman tries to ride a city transit bus in Baltimore and a group of 9 teenagers decide they don't like her. She is denied a seat, viciously assaulted, thrown off the bus and received serious injuries. If- if there is something to the legitimacy of hate crimes- which I strongly disagree with, BTW, this case sounds like a hate crime. And it’s a racial crime, since the 9 teens were of one race and the assaulted woman is of another race. Which means that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will soon be holding rallies and shouting over bullhorns for justice for the injured persons due to this despicable crime. Right? No, Al & Jesse will not be coming to support this injured woman with their bloviating and pandering. You see, the injured woman is white. The 9 teenaged thugs and criminals were black so their behavior is is simply a result of their culture and economic misfortune and so they shouldn't be held accountable, if we were to believe those two whining jackasses.

Two things: First, if there is any justice, these 9 "students" will be charged and tried as adults, not juveniles. If they want to get all "tough" and threaten and injure citizens, then they have passed beyond simple  juvenile misbehavior and they should be tried to the full extent of the law as adults. Secondly, Maryland is a "may issue" concealed carry state instead of a "shall issue" state. Which means simply that firearms carry permits are available but only to a chosen minority under restrictive circumstances. Imagine how this circumstance might have ended differently if this woman or her boyfriend had been prepared and afforded the "privilege" to defend themselves with a firearm. I'm guessing that a simple revolver in the hand would have immediately reduced the 9 to 1 odds of a deadly threat into a de-escalated public disturbance. I suspect that even 9 teenaged thugs would not take the chance of being shot simply to hassle a woman on a bus about her taking a seat.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This looks like fun!

Its been a while since I tried to embed a video, so I'll see if this works. But the video is fun and make sure to stick around for the very end.
I found this on my good buddy Steve's Scooter Scoop blog.

Cops desperately chase Krispy Kreme truck-

Only after getting it stopped did it occur to them that it might have been stolen...

A new reader uncloaks!

Actually, I don't know if this WE visitor is a new reader or a long-time, regular visitor. But I do know that somebody I know, in a general sort of way, has recently revealed themselves in the comments of a prior post. That's pretty interesting. I'm especially curious how this person happened to become a visitor to this humble blog though I'm not going to ask, since that seemed to be a prime method of driving visitors away when I tried it in the past. So, welcome, new reader and keep coming back. There's occasionally a little something of interest going on here and I try to make things interesting to more folks than just me. I can't say how successful I am at that effort but I try.

I do owe everyone several movie reviews and maybe I can crank those out this week. Also, a final extended chapter from our trip last month and some pictures so the story can be saved for all time, wrapped up in these puny electrons.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Its snowing like it means to get serious about winter today. Its about dang time! Only a few of the ski resorts are open and only those that have snowmaking equipment. but so far, the pretty, powdery white stuff has been in really short supply around here and it looks really nice to see it out my front window this morning.

And hopefully in a few days, it will be ski season for me, back up at Powder Mountain Ski Resort. I've been hired to be a ticket checker again this year but with new management, (and there are new owners too), comes changes and so I'll be working differently than in past years. This year, it will be every Saturday, not every other one, which almost makes it sound much more like a real job. Additionally, ticket checkers are no longer "volunteers" and paid with passes that we were allowed to give away or sell. This year, I'll be on-the-clock and a paid employee. I just hope I make enough money to cover my gas bill for the truck and the chocolates that I buy and give away to people in the lift line.

But at least it looks like wintertime outside my window this morning and its pretty. I've got to do some errands this morning then I'll be playing with my guitars if my index finger will let me. And tonight's a hockey game!