Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Goin Buggy

Meg's school program was today. Cutest thing I've seen in years. I'm sad we didn't video it. We should have known Meg would make a performance out of it and make up her own unique dance moves.

The program was named, "Goin Buggy." Everyone was dressed up as different insects: Lady Bugs, Lightning Bugs, Bees, and Meg's group of Butterflies.

Great way to end the night. A magnificent performance.

I dragged Flu Boy, Liam with me. We sat at the top of the bleachers, and tried to keep his coughs muffed with a towel. I had stayed home with him, a second day. Hopefully he'll be back to normal tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Backlog III

A couple of entries added to the backlog, from last October.

Doctor's Visit

Poor Liam. Little Dude has had a long string of woes. I worked from home today and took him to a doctor's visit .

Good news, it isn't his stomach this time. He's actually doing pretty well there.

Bad news: he tested positive for the flu. Not just him, but about 30% of his class! They're all sick. Must be a recent outbreak.

Hopefully the meds we picked up will make short work of this pox. We could use a return to normalacy. If there is such a thing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Backlog II

Caught up on some more posts from the past. Some from August - September of 2008:

Beetle Build - Battery Trays

Had a couple of custom alluminum battery trays fabricated. One in the front (first picture) holds four batteries (I put the second one in backwards!) and the whole collection sits over the area where the fuel tank used to be. We'll eventually put some equipment in the empty space, like a retractable extension cord (to the recharger) or a sweet car computer.

The tray behind the back seat (second picture) holds five batteries. Still have to mount it in place (though 175 pounds of lead acid batteries hold it down pretty well.) Debating about painting everything. To do that we'd have to un-do the whole setup. But it would look much sexier!

To hold two batteries in the back, on either side of the motor, Roger drafted up a pair of "saddlebags." (Third picture.) The fabrication turned out perfect, and the batteries fit snugly. In the picture, behind the saddlebags is a flat sheet of aluminum that will serve as a skid plate. It will block debris and water from coming up under the motor. At least in theory. It hasn't been mounted, yet.

We finished wiring up the battery pack and the high voltage system is complete. But in my excitement, I forgot to take pictures. I'll have to document that for posterity on Tuesday. I have to get one more battery and Roger will wire up the low voltage system. At which pount, we'll be able to spin the tires. Finally.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flash flooded

Another storm last night. This one brought even more rain. And we found ourselves flash flooded at one in the morning. Thankfully, it was mostly rain and very little thunder or lightning. The kids slept through it. Cindy and I complained. We're good at that these days.

In the morning, we discovered more limbs down. I had to remove one from the roof. The rest were outside our bedroom window. I'll clean them up tomorrow, or some other time when it is dry and I don't have to hike through soggy grass to get to it.

Made an interesting discovery while wandering on the roof. There's some kind of large, exposed pipe. It should probably have a cover over it. I don't know where it leads, but it probably doesn't need to have rainwater and/or stray animals invading it. I'll have to pick up some kind of widget to cap off the mystery tube. Hopefully I can show a picture of it to somebody at Lowe's and they'll tell me what to do.
Then, Cindy and I spent about five hours cleaning the garage. We did this because there was 2" of water in it last night. Every box in there was ruined. Several of my collectibles were ruined. And for certain, our day was ruin.

I'm way past the point of being tired and disenchanted. I think the last time I had a "day off" was last Father's Day, when Cindy and I went to Dustin, FL, for our first-ever vacation away from the kids. Since then, there has always been something on my plate each day and each weekend. It's my own fault for having so many projects and doing so much myself. But DAMN! I need some time to unwind and do absolutely nothing. And I don't think I'll be spared this Father's Day.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I'm attempting to make a dent in the massive backlog of posts that I have sketched out over the years. I'm guessing that I have at least 200 missing entries. If I did 5 per day (yeah right!) it would take me more than a month to catch up. If I did 2 per day (more likely) then it would take me three months. I'm betting I'll be doing it for years to come.

New backlog posts:

Lightning Fallout

Burned a vacation day and spent time dealing with the lightning fallout. Had to call the electric company since they're responsible for the outside power lines. Had to call the gas company who said everything should be good since we have manual valves and nothing was cooking when the lightning hit. Had to get an appliance guy over to check out the washer, drier, oven, microwave, stove, and confirm the range top is dead. And had to get some electricians over to confirm the wiring is still good (for 35+ year old wiring) and they also installed a whole-house surge protector.

Not how I wanted to use vacation time. But at least nobody was harmed. And my computer is still working!

Interestingly enough, just before she went to sleep, Cindy made an unusual discovery. She was cleaning in the kitchen when she spotted something strange on the face of the clock. Click the pictures for larger views. It looks like the bolt of lightning went from the power outlet (right of the clock) to the range top (left of the clock) and along the way it melted the plastic on the clock (by the number 3) and then singed the dish rack (by the number 6.) It left a trail of smoldering bread crumbs that we were able to follow.

Never a dull moment these days.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad Weather

A peal of lightning. Instant detonation of thunder. Liam shrieking, "I'm scared! I'm scared!"

I wake up in the hallway, on my feet. My son's face pressed to my chest.

Down the hall, an odd clicking. Like a taser discharging. I walk into the kitchen. Sounds like popcorn in the microwave. But there is something flashing blue and white under the stove burners. A stobe light behind the clicking of the taser. And while my brain is trying to figure out what poltergeist has infected my appliances, a spike of pure orange flame shoots up from the stove. The clicking and flashing stops, but the fire remains. Without thinking, I stick my face over the stove and try to blow out the flame. Thankfully, nothing explodes all over me.

Eventually, we discovered that the lightning had come in through the front wall, took out our TV and the kids' Wii, then proceeded to run along the wires to slag the garage door, and kept down through to the kitchen, where it lept out of the wall and hit the stove, destroying the igniter and setting the plastic on fire.

Not a good start to the day. Maybe four grand worth of damage. But nobody was hurt. I can replace "stuff," but some wounds don't heal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beetle Rendering

I work with many talented people from many different fields. One of my co-workers, Tommy Snell, did a fantastic rendering of the Beetle. What impresses me the most is that he did it without seeing the actual car. Just my description and pictures of the parts (like the fender and the running boards) that I bought.

It is a great piece of work and I'm even more excited to get the actual ride completed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beetle Build - Dash - Part Two

Mildly unproductive evening. We worked on the lower-voltage wiring inside the dash. Pulled off the steering wheel, put in a 6-slot circuit box, broke down the ignition switch, and wired up contactor.

The white object is the dashboard. The round object below that is the steering column. The cable on the floor is the line to the throttle. And the new throttle can be seen if the picture is clicked.

Hoping to get the "battery pack" (ie: all 13 batteries wire together) finished this weekend. And then we'll be able to see if the tires spin. God willing.

Oh, yeah. Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ramp Removal

A friend of my mother had a "Katrina Cottage" in Pass Christian, MS. It was eventually returned, but they left behind a long wooden ramp. Mom's friend said we could have the wood if we took the ramp apart. Since it was treated wood and barely a year old, we figured we'd use it for some future project.

Originally, Mom & Dad tried to take it apart by themselves. They used Dad's cordless screwdriver and spent two or three hours removing two sheets of plywood and a dozen handrails. The problem was that the screws were counter-sunk into the wood, difficult to find, and even more difficult to remove. So they called me to do the heavy lifting.

I fired up the fubar and went to work.

I'd clobber the wood. Dad would pile it by the truck.Kicked down the 4 x 4 posts. Disconnected the ramp (in 10' sections). Flipped over the large pieces. Smashed off the side pieces. Whacked the slats free. And slowly but surely deconstructed the whole thing.

When everything was disassembled, we canter-levered the long pieces over the tailgate, stacked the 4 x 4 posts and slats on top, then topped it off with the plywood. Tied it down with some rope. And hung a white shirt off the back, as a warning for any cars that happened to get behind us.

Dad didn't think it would all fit. But where there is a will there is a way.

And we did it all in an hour.

Strike A Pose

Liam was delving through his closet this afternoon and found "a tuxedo." He decided to try it on and thought it fit pretty well. He came in and decided to strike a pose for me.

Later, Cindy came home and asked, "Who was messing with my clothes?" Liam said he found a tuxedo and it fit him. He thought it was something Nana had bought at a garage sale.

No, Cindy told us, it was hers.

Liam admitted he wondered why a tuxedo would have a matching skirt.

Thankfully he didn't put THAT on.

Werewolf Sighting

On the way to Autozone to pick up some more wire and I had a werewolf sighting. Caught a picture as proof. Click the image to enlarge. Couple of things to notice: He is absolutely shirtless. That is not a sweater. He is in a wheelchair. And he is in the middle of the street.

The biker driving in the opposite direction is also shocked to see the werewolf.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Much better

I'm happy to report that Liam is finally feeling better. For the first time in a month, he's almost made it through an entire week of school without checking out.

So, what happened? The short version is that Liam has developed Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. More commonly known as acid reflux. Thanks to a pediatric G.I. specialist in Mobile, AL, we learned that we had been giving Liam's meds to him completely bass ackwards. We were sold several times (by local pediatricians) to give it to him twice a day, morning and night. We gave it to him after breakfast and after supper. We were SUPPOSED to be giving it to him on a completely empty stomach. Before breakfast. And before supper.

The very first day we gave the meds correctly, we saw positive results. And each day has improved since then.

We hope we have seen the worst of it. We'd like to get back to a sane, relaxed, and productive household.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I'm completely swamped, under-motivated, over-worked, stressed-out, and up to my eyeballs in drama. As a result, I haven't had any energy or spare braincells to document my adventures as of late. Hopefully I will catch up on them and retro-post some of the things I've documented with the Ye Ol' Blackberry. But I'm not sure when.

Liam's stomach issues continue to devour all our energy. He has acid reflux. He's incredibly consumed with fear that he will "get sick." Meaning he doesn't want to throw up. So he literally asks us every few minutes, "Am I going to be sick?" When he isn't asking that, he's reminding us, "I'm worried," or "I'm afraid," or "I'm scared." Hours and hours and hours of that. It saps our strength and disrupts work, school, and everything in between.
He's on a new med as of today that we hope helps.