Monday, May 26, 2008
I did get quite a lot accomplished this weekend though my work is far from done. I got the back patio cleared off and some branches and the old trumpet vine that we dug up cut up and into the trash bin. I also redid my secondary water distribution and filter assembly since it froze and broke at the only place I couldn't drain last fall. This year I mounted everything to the back wall of the shop so I can clean the filter standing up and I installed a drain plug at the very bottom of the line. I've weeded most of a flower bed, had a guy come over and power rake the thatch out of my front lawn, installed a new, bigger US flag and mount out front and got one of my broken sprinkler risers repaired. I also replaced the sticky cartridge in the kitchen faucet.
Now I think I'm going to get comfortable with my coffee cup and the new Jimmy Buffett book, A Salty Piece of Land that I bought last night.
You can read Kenny's version of the trip here and see some of the pictures that Kenny took of the scenery and fish we caught.
I have to say it was nearly a perfect weekend of fishing with two great guys. The weather cooperated perfectly, the fish were biting (some of the time) and we had a great time in the boat and in the campsite and camper. We all brought food and pitched in with meal preparation though since we were all guys, the food was pretty easy stuff to heat and eat. There was plenty though and we never went hungry.
Flaming Gorge is a beautiful place with dramatic rock cliffs of differing colors and shapes. Because of the nature of the reservoir, many places the water is 60-100 feet deep just a few yards from shore but in other places there are large beaches and shallow water. The sightseeing from the boat was almost as enjoyable as the fishing and since we did a lot of trolling for fish, there was time for lots of sitting back and enjoying the views and vistas.
One of the most fun parts of the weekend was showing Kenny and Jim how to catch rainbow trout using typical bass fishing techniques! During the first afternoon, while we were fishing by trolling along some huge red cliffs I decided to try to see just how close to the shore the fish might be by repeatedly casting a big, white tube jig against the rocks from the front of Jim's boat. I didn't know if I would catch any fish but I was a little bored of just sitting so it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I caught a really nice fish with this method! You should have seen the look on Kenny's face, it was hilarious! He was sure it was a fluke that a trout would try to eat this 3" tube jig but he did and I repeated the scene the following day just off the dock while Kenny went to get the truck and trailer at the end of the day.
On Sunday, when we only had a couple hours to fish before having to break camp to return home, we returned to the same cliffs. After getting nearly skunked trolling, Kenny talked Jim into moving the boat right up against the rocks and they both then tried my method of casting a white jig right against the rocks and they both caught fish! For a while we were able to actually see trout in 12-15 feet of water attacking the jigs we tossed in front of them! It was really exciting fishing and everyone hated having to quit when it was time to head back to the boat launch for the last time.
So, it was a terrific weekend and I hope I behaved myself well enough to get invited back next year. Here's some pictures from the trip and don't miss the pictures at Kenny's post.
Here's the welcoming committee at the boat launch-
Here's Kung-Fu Kenny-
Antelope are everywhere in Lucerne, Utah and we had visitors to our cmpground nearly every morning. This one was just about 40 feet away from the camper when we woke up one morning.
I did mention the beautiful rock scenery and vistas, right? Here's proof-
So, we are getting a new tile floor throughout the dining area and kitchen. The walls are getting finished and the ceiling is getting textured and painted. We have to pick out the cabinet and then Rex will install it and then we have to hire another contractor to install new countertops. And of course, the BSU doesn't want laminate countertops- too 60s looking according to her, so we have been looking at acrylic top colors. Of course, that means we will have to replace the sink and then the faucet assembly and redo the backsplash areas too. We won't be replacing the cabinets or doors right now but I suspect new doors might not be too far away in my future. I also suspect it will be weeks before my upstairs area returns to a finished appearance...
But, it needs doing and I can't get my dad, the busy handyman, to to drive up from Florida and bring his tools to do the job so I guess Rex will get the work. And my VA compensation will be put to good use right off the bat. Stand by for updates and pictures...
I'm washed out from doing repairs on my sprinkler system this morning so I might as well stay inside where its warm and my coffee pot is nearby. The weather guessers say it might clear off later but right now it is too wet to get outside.
My hummingbird population is beginning to grow, with 3 regular visitors to the feeder outside the dining room window. Right now there are two males claiming the feeder as their own and a single female appeared yesterday. Today they are trying to hide under the porch roof from the rain but there's just no good places to hang on so they keep looking in my window, just outside where I am sitting.
Here's some pretty interesting news- I am now not only a veteran due to my military service but I'm also a disabled vet. Long time readers and family, (redundancy alert!) might remember that I finally applied for disability consideration back in September 2007. I could have done this as far back as 2000 when I retired but I deferred this action out of laziness and apathy. But I finally went through the disability consideration process- which was not all that bad, really and this week I finally received the Veteran Administration's decision. I have received a 60% disability rating!
What does all this mean? Well, it means a lot of things, not the least of which is a considerable amount of cash will be deposited into my savings account each month. The amount is 60% of my retirement pay and most interesting, it is tax free. I also received a retroactive payment from September until now. Additionally, with the letter I received from the VA, my property tax on the house will be reduced to probably 0 dollars per year, saving me another $1000 per year and I will receive free entrance to Utah State Parks and all our US National Parks! Finally, and the real reason I applied for disability consideration in the first place, I will be able to apply for any Civil Service job that I wish to apply for on base, even if it is normally open only to persons already in Civil Service employ.
So one of my next steps is to start shopping for a permanent, Civil Service job doing the Program Manager work that I'm currently doing as a support contractor!
I'm also beginning the process to refinance the mortgage so I can pay for some improvements on the house and put a new roof on the shop. As our house is currently VA backed for payment support, I discovered that because of my disability, I can be excused from paying the VA financing fee which is several thousand dollars! Right now we are planning to refinance the house for 15 years instead of the existing 21+ years and with the extra funds that I will be receiving from VA I will be able to add extra to the principle most every month and probably pay for the house in under 10 years! This disability thing is turning out to be a good deal!
Monday, May 19, 2008
I made it back from the most wonderful weekend fishing trip ever. The weather was perfect, the company was friendly, the fish were (mostly) biting and it was really hard to quit when it was time to return home yesterday. I’ll tell more tales of the great fish trip later and post some pictures.
And surprisingly, my iPod returned today! Regular readers might remember that I loaned it to a friend who was apparently near death last October in hopes that having some music to listen to would stimulate his brain and aid in his recovery. My friend did recover and receive a medical retirement from the government and he’s been back home for several months. He doesn’t have much short-term memory left and he doesn’t remember to call me when we set up meet dates and the last time I asked him about my iPod, he had forgotten that he even had it. Where it might have landed in his house was an even bigger mystery.
So I had written it off. I have been looking at replacements and rather casually considering replacing my current cell phone with an iPhone. Right now they are overpriced and I couldn’t justify purchasing one. But rumor has it that Apple is introducing a 3rd generation model next month that includes GPS and much faster internet connections. Rumors are also circulating on the internet that AT&T will introduce the new machines with a couple hundred dollar price cut at just about exactly the same time as my current contract expires.
So- if the new iPhone does appear and if AT&T discounts it decently and if I can wrangle a deal with a new contract- I might just buy myself a fancy new phone that can double as my music player and storage. We’ll see.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
That's right, I'm getting back on another boat with Kenny for 4 days! We'll even be cabin mates this time as we are going fishing instead of on a cruise. Kenny has been going on a Flaming Gorge fishing trip for the past several years with a couple other guys and this year the guy that doesn't own the boat had to drop out at the last minute. So I got the invite to go along! We're leaving Thursday, returning sometime Sunday, staying in Kenny's camper and fishing from Jim's boat. It sounds like a load of fun and the BSU didn't complain one minute when I asked her last night. So I'm going fishing.
And that means tonight I have to go buy some groceries. And probably some additional fishing gear. Hey, doesn't every fishing trip require more gear? Kenny's emailing me right now saying we should leave RIGHT NOW before he spends another dollar at Sportsman's Warehouse! He hasn't purchased a new tackle box to hold all his new stuff but there's still tomorrow's lunchtime before we leave on Thursday.
Also tonight, Loc is coming over to the house to pick up his rifle and there's another guy coming over to look at the Avenger to consider buying it. I guess I can put off buying a new string trimmer for a few days since I won't be using it before next week.
I do need a new trimmer as the one I have now, purchased in 1980 off of a discount rack has finally gotten to the point of not working and I think I will just retire it after 18 years of dutiful service. The one I have starts now but won't continue running and it looks like the crankcase gasket is completely oil soaked and leaking and I just don't feel like messing with it. Plus I have a $25 discount coupon from Lowes, so I think a new trimmer will be taking up residence in my storage shed.
So- I have a grocery shopping list to make, car parts to pull out from under the bench, and decisions about lake trout or rainbow trout patterned crankbaits to purchase. And there's work stuff to take care of too!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The wait wasn't too terrible and the weather was pleasant so it was pretty nice outside while we took our turn for a table. Our waitress was hard working, friendly and eager, in spite of the level of activity she was dealing with on the busiest day of the restaraunt year. And so we're home, over full and happy.
I called Mom this afternoon and we had a nice chat and I got the chance to wish her a happy Mothers Day. I bought her flowers and they were delivered on time and she said they were beautiful, so I guess I did pretty good there. I've a package here to mail tomorrow for her and Grandma and I'm keeping the contents secret until after it gets delivered.
I got the yard mowed- out front, today, for the first time this year. The back yard still awaits. The Murray mower started right back into service after its rest time in the shed but the string trimmer might have finally given up the ghost. I got it working but it won't stay running for any more than a few seconds. Its only provided 18 years of reliable service for the 60 or 70 bucks I paid for it so it might just be time to retire it and get a new one. Just doing my part for the President's Economic Stimulus Package...
Kenny & I went fishing yesterday and we got lucky- the fish weren't biting and so we didn't have to clean any fish when we got home. It was a very nice day with lots of terrific scenery to look at and birds to watch so not catching any fish didn't spoil the day.
What else? I got Loc's pistol repaired by installing a new magazine catch and I'm pretty certain I am going to turn the gun into my gun instead of his now that I've fixed its bugs. I pocket carried it tonight and it was no more trouble than my P3-AT.
My local city of Ogden had a bit of excitement last night when the police had to teargas a house to breakup a party and standoff that eventually got 17 people arrested! I'm sure glad that didn't happen on my block!
So that's it for this weekend from behind the Zion Curtain. There are some other (maybe) exciting things happening that I can't reveal just now until I get some confirmations from a couple places and persons but I will spill the beans whenever it becomes official.
Friday, May 09, 2008
What? Yeah, 3:06. Same thing on the BSU's clock, 3:06. I went back into the bathroom, the battery operated clock read the same time. What the heck am I doing out of bed 3 hours early?
So I went back to bed. When the alarm does go off at 5:20, I hit the snooze button for an extended snooze- after all, I've already had my shower; I can sleep in for a bit! Except that Uintah cat came in through the pet door at 5:30, making that noise he makes when he wants to show you some critter he's killed. Sure enough, he's killed a mouse and carried it in to show it off. I gotta get up to dispose of the mouse.
Alright, alright, I'm up! No point in going back to bed now. So I got dressed, made my coffee and got to work 1/2 hour early today! What's that all about on a Friday?
I gotta stop skipping my citrus flavored vodka before bedtime if this silly behavior keeps up!
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Normally, but not today! Goodbye MCI & good riddance! Today’s the day that the Comcast technician arrives to install our new modem and connects out telephones to the cable instead of the phone company’s box on the wall. Hurray! The new modem has an 8 hour Uninterruptible Power Supply incorporated to ensure we continue to have telephone connectivity during a power outage.
I looked at our MCI bill the other day, $40 for the basic service and $27 in all the taxes and fees. I can’t wait to be rid of this obnoxious bill. I’ll be saving money every month by paying Comcast, reducing my bill paying load by paying just one company instead of two and enjoying the special rate for bundling that Comcast has offered me for the next 12 months. When that special package expires, I’ll be leaning towards getting the landline disconnected and getting the spouse to go completely wireless for our telephone needs.
We will still have the same home phone number, so if you have us in your address book there won’t be any changes required. And if you are peddling something over the phone lines- go away!
Monday, May 05, 2008
shot himself in the ankle while giving a briefing to his troops on how to clear a jam on a loaded pistol!
You know, Red Foreman and I have a name for people like this- Dumbass!
I also had a fault with Sleek Black Beauty coming home from Salt Lake City yesterday. Before I got home the right turnsignal had quit working. Tonight I had time to tear it apart to discover that the connector plug for the wire harness had broken its retainer clip and it pulled apart. Electricians tape substituted for the broken clip and it went back together.
Additionally, I had to remove the left side mirror and drill and tap a hole through the mirror stem and the adapter that threads into it. Then I installed a set screw into the two parts, locking them together. That mirror won't be turning around again any time soon!
So what did I do all weekend? Let's see-
Friday night I took the BSU to see Leatherheads. Its a reasonably funny movie about the early days of professional football, back when it was played in cow pastures. George Clooney directs and stars in this film, along with Renee Zellweger, who while she isn't my favorite female, still looks pretty good in viintage lingerie. Anyway, this is a simple film obviously created so George could have a fun time playing football and playing in the mud in front of a camera. So its no Oscar nominee but its plenty good fun.
Saturday began with errands around town, on the scooter and a stop at the local Yamaha shop where they were having an open house. Then it was back to the driveway and almost a full day of re-installing seatbelts in the boy's Tempo. I got nearly all the job done and finished up on Sunday.
I did have coffee with Carol on Sunday and got to ogle her new Camry hybrid before returning home to finish up the work on the car. Then it was off to a friend's retirement from the Utah National Guard after 28+ years of military service. The retirement ceremony was down in Salt Lake City and I rode the scooter down there and back home after a really long ceremony for three retiring NCOs.
As soon as I got home there was more work to do on the car as the dinger under the dash wouldn't shut up even when the car was running! That involved tearing the dash apart until I found the offending dinger, disconnecting it and putting everything back together before we could deliver the car to him, back down in Salt Lake City!
It was also his birthday this week and his GF's too, so the spouse and I took them out to a mediocre dinner at Applebees, sat for quite a long time afterwards chatting and then finally, returned home.
So, I was whupped. I had to go to work today to try and rest up and the workload there didn't allow for a minutes rest either.
There's a beutiful new, gray kitten at the boy's house, to replace a cat that belonged to the GF but managed to run away, and a young ferret! They are both just as cute as can be and apparently they like to wrestle and play together when they aren't worn out and napping. And he has the car, finally, and its time to get it inspected and licensed and insured and transferred into his name. He's taking it for the safety and emissions inspections tomorrow and hopefully, (keep your fingers crossed), it will pass ans be on its way to being fully legal.
So that's how I spent my weekend. I still don't have the grass mowed or raked, the Phantom put back together, the driveway floodlight replaced or any of the other numerous chores that need doing around here. But I'll get to them next...
Last night the BSU & I took the eldest boy & his GF out to dinner to celebrate their birthdays, both of which were last week. I wanted to take them to a playoff hockey game to see if the Grizzlies could put away the Steelheads and advance on to the conference finals. But we didn’t go to the game, electing instead to go to Applebees for a mediocre meal. But we should have gone to the E Center, eaten pizza and watched the Grizzlies win, 8-3. Dang! http://www.ksl.com/?nid=294&sid=3230497 I’m pretty certain we will be hitting a championship game or two next week though!
Ok, so I’m trying to get cranked up for another exciting week of work this morning and while drinking my first cup of coffee, I found a really fun video that I just have to share. This is too much fun so don’t miss it! http://gizmodo.com/386936/mentos-and-diet-coke-explosion-at-1200fps-casio-ex+f1-strikes-again
Something else I recently discovered- if you download the latest version of http://www.real.com/, RealPlayer, you can download and save those YouTube videos that previously you could only stream to watch online. I’ve tried it a couple times now and its really painless; just click the “download this video” button and it will be saved to your computer for sharing with your friends. It’s neat stuff.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
leave Comcast, you know that I was unhappy with their prices for my current services. And you might have seen the comment left behind by a Comcast Customer Service representative asking me to get in touch to discuss my unhappiness.
Well- I did get in touch, through a couple different phone calls and a failed attempt to get logged into their online bill management system which required more phone calls to correct. And- I'm staying with Comcast; they have kept me as a customer for another year.
I'm keeping my existing cable and internet connection and adding their telephone service to replace my current service through MCI. All told, I'm reducing my monthly expenses by more than 100 dollars which is a very good thing. Comcast's prices for their services will be good for 12 months before reverting to the normal prices but maybe by then they will be offering a fixed price for life similar to their competitors.
But, after next week when everything gets switched over and the new modem gets installed and everything is working, I think I'm going to be happy with Comcast again. Thanks to their anxious-to-assist customer service staff.