Monday, April 13, 2009

On The Way

Between Liam's stomach (which is pretty much back to normal with very few isolated episodes of uncontrolled acid reflux) and my time on the car, I have been a very lazy sloth. I haven't eaten right. I haven't taken my vitamins. And I haven't worked out for almost six weeks. All with bad results: no energy, no motivation, and my lower back is turning into painful mush. So I'm back in the gym, back to the supplements, and watching what I eat (within reason.) And I'm going to try to sleep more. Fewer games, fewer movies, more rest. Get on the way back to my former glorly. (Okay, stop laughing...)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Backlog IV

Some newly-entered posts from a few months ago. Stuff I didn't get to because of sloth or a broken PC.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Giant Blue Puppies

Cindy took it upon herself to suddenly and unexpectedly force Meg to sleep in her own bed tonight. What followed was a bombshell of little-girl-lunacy and the most amazing quotes.

"I can't sleep in my own bed! I can't! I have bad dreams about giant blue puppies stepping on me. And snakes wrapping around me. And my eyeballs falling out!"

And Cindy stressed to the point of seriously thinking she was having a heart attack. But she survived to see another day. And no dogs landed on Meg.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Luciferian Post

I barely slept last night. 0330 - 0615.

And then Liam tried to get out of school by using his entire arsenal of excuses. Including the new phrase, "I'm going to burst." Much yelling, crying, and gnashing of teeth followed. But no bursting.

I'm dead on my feet but I do have one dubious pleasure. I'm officially entering Luciferian blog post #666.

Odd how we mark the milestones in our lives. Next stop: #1000!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

This Olde House - Saggy Ceiling

We noticed the ceiling in the garage had started to sag. When I checked in the attic, the strongback running above the garage had separated from the beams it was ment to be supporting.

My plan was to jack the ceiling from below, close the gap between the beams and the strongback, then sink several 7" lagbolts through the strongback and into the beams. Nails didn't hold, but lagbolts certainly would.

When I tried a car jack and a 2x4, the car jack started to bend. When my father brought over his half-ton jack, even that couldn't lift the ceiling. Then I had a flash of insight. I had put the left-over 18" floor tiles (from the kitchen) in the attic. A bunch of them. Turns out, about 600lbs worth of tile. Once we moved those (not fun!) the half-ton jack started to work. But the 2x4 warped under the pressure!

Today, I picked up an eight foot 4x4. THAT work. Liam helped crank it. We jacked the ceiling a full six inches. Then I climbed up into the 120 degree attic, drilled a pilot hole with my cordless drill and then used the hammer drill to sink a dozen 7" lagbolts into place. Once they were all in place, I released the jack, and the ceiling held in place.

No more sag. Mission accomplished.

Beetle Build - Low Voltage System

Last week we concluded the high voltage system. Linked 13 x 12v batteries together to create one giant 156v battery. This week we wrapped up the low voltage system. This powers the starter (to activate the batteries,) the throttle (to control how much juice goes to the motor,) the lights, the radio, and everything else normally associated with a car.Roger did the bulk of the complex wiring work. I did the grunt work, fetched any parts we needed, and helped "fish" the lines though the ductwork in the Beetle's body.

The main task today was to get about a dozen lines run. Most of them from the controller (the silver rectangle above and to the right of the motor) to the 12v battery (under the passenger's seat) and the fuse panel (under the dash.)

For the short term, I'm using a recycled 12v battery. Once everything is lit and we know it works, Eventually the used battery will be replaced by a 12v 100 amp hour UPS battery. But that thing weight 80s and costs a little bit more.

Roger wired up everything kinda quickly and we lit the beast. When he keyed the ignition, we heard a loud CLICK as the contactor (next to the battery) snapped shut, creating the 156v circuit between all the batteries. Then Roger touched the throttle. Nothing. He pushed it further. Nothing. All the way down. Nothing. No go. The Beetle wouldn't move. And the hunt began.

Whipped out the Fluke and started testing all the wires and connections.Full charge on the batteries. All the fuses were in place. The throttle was sending signals through the lines. But the controller wasn't sending any signals to the motor. And eventually we noticed the controller wasn't displaying any signs of being powered. It had indicator lights, but they weren't lit. 

In the end, Roger isolated the problem to the new connector. It has ten pins. He thought the pin at the 1 o'clock position was the first pin and wired everything from there. Unfortunately the pin at the eleven o'clock was the first pin, and everything after that was mis-wired.

Roger will have to cut out the connector, re-pin it, and then re-install it. Two to three hours worth of extra work. Hopefully we'll get that done on Tuesday or Wednesday. And THEN the tires will spin.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Another Saturday

Cindy was off shopping somewhere. I don't ask, anymore. Had the kids all day. On top of my usual project list to wade through. Backed up by maybe four hours of sleep.
  • Sent off the taxes and some eBay sales
  • Took Liam in for his first haircut in like six months
  • Grabbed lunch and watched an airshow
  • Cleaned out two boxes of leftovers from moving 4yrs ago
  • Installed two new motion-activated floodlights outside
  • Tried to fix the sagging ceiling in the garage (need a 6x6)
  • Tried to fix the rider mower (need a new elec system)
  • Took the kids to Monsters vs Aliens
  • Bought some bday cards for Cindy
  • Bought some coffee-related gifts for Cindy
  • Kept the kids alive and fed and bathed for another day

Friday, April 03, 2009

Week Ends

The calendar says Friday. This is normally when the week ends. But it doesn't end to me. Too many projects. Not enough time. Not enough sleep. I get these headaches after three days. A buzzing, like pop rocks, in the back of my throat. And after eleven hours on the job, I'm dragging home thinking about nothing but drinking until my teeth float.

At least I have this lovely sunset greeting me in the parking lot.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

MOVIE: Big Nothing

If Big Nothing was on the big screen back in 2006, it didn't make a big splash. Unfortunately, I don't remember who suggested that I watch this flick. I owe that person an ass whooping, whomever it was.

Big Nothing stars David Schwimmer as a frustrated, unemployed teacher joining forces with a scammer (Simon Pegg) and his girlfriend (Alice Eve) in a blackmailing scheme. All manner of unbelieveable happenstance explode inside the plot every few minutes. Supposedly comedic twists and thematic flip flops.

But I didn't dig it. It was like Friends had a bastard love child with Pulp Fiction and the offspring was only seen on a Saturday morning live action kid show, but with violence and profanity. I think perhaps the writers took the worst elements from a bunch of other failed movies, stirred them together in a pot, boiled off the few remaining decent elements, and snorted the thick pasty remains. The rancidm undigestable creation they vommited up after the nose candy co-mingled with their bad-Indian-food-lunch was put on film and labeled: Big Nothing.

Maybe I would have liked it when I was 12. (Back then I thought that Scooby Doo was high drama.) Maybe there are some baked. stoners chicks (or confused stoner dudes) walking Blockbuster and they happen to have a crush on Schwimmer enough to rent this flick. I dunno. It could happen. But otherwise, I am not sure who would like this movie. It certainly wasn't me.

I to bathe after watching it. It felt like I had pissed all over myself whiling rolling around on the floor of a Mexican slaugher house for the entire show. It was just that vile. It took two showers to get the stink off of me.

If I ever come across the writer or director, I'm going to paint an American flag on them and mail them to Iran.

Tornado Warning

Another day in my newfound soap opera of a life. Today, Meg and her krewe were evacuated to the hall when the city of Gulfport sounded a tornado warning. Fortunately, no ill befell my Baby Bear.

Meanwhile, Liam has moved past the coughing / fevered stage of the flu and is into the tired / aching stage. Complaining that he was exhausted, he stayed with my Mother today. He survived, too.

Will the madness cease? Please?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

MOVIE: The Forbidden Kingdom

In The Forbidden Kingdom, a discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

I wish I had seen this on the Big Screen. Great special effects. And fantastic, amazing, worth-seeing-twice fight scenes. Good pacing. Fairly creative story. Interesting ending. But offset by average acting. And Stilted, predictable dialog. Again, stellar fight scenes. Made the whole movie worth renting. My chief complaint is that I will never believe a kid can study any (ANY!) martial art for a couple of weeks/months and have even the slightest chance against a battle-tested veteran warrior. I know I'm watching a fantasy flick, but they could stay somewhere in the same ballpark as reality.

Otherwise, I enjoyed In The Forbidden Kingdom a lot more than I thought I would. Probably not a good date flick. Girlfriends/wives won't REALLY enjoy it. Though they may pretend to. A pretty kid-friendly flick. Boys will definitely enjoy it. I'd recommend it for a rental. It was a welcomed distraction from the norm.

MOVIE: American Meth

A documentary from 2008, American Meth takes a very small, focused view of a very large, ungodly problem. The stories of "normal" every day Americans as they battle against their addictions to meth unfolds slowly and carefully, taking gradual steps to make sure the viewer understands this is the real deal. It isn't some fictional plague sweeping across the nation, it is already upon us, killing us from within. Every day. Every state. Without regard to race, religion, nationality, or economic footing. Neighbors. Coworkers. Friends. Family. Any of them could be involved in the non-stop pursuit of the potent high delivered by meth.

The story does drag at times. I found it became redundant after a few tales. The viewer knows what is coming. And gets numb to it. What kept my attention was the effect meth had on families. Children were all-but abandoned. Spouses gave up on each other. Parents tried again and again to save their kids from the addictions. And jail time was a frequent outcome for most users.

American Meth is a documentary. It isn't likely to be found in the "New Release" section of Blockbuster. So I had to go looking for it. And it met my expectations. While slightly dry in places, the stories were touching and well presented. Morbid to say, but I honestly wanted to see some more overdoses and a lot more about the physical side effects of prolonged meth use.

Probably not something to watch on a date. But I would recommend it for older kids, to demonstrate what is lurking out there. I think the movie makes its point and it is a point that should be shared with as many people as possible.

MOVIE: Taken

In Taken, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired special ops veteran that finds himself having to track down and recover his daughter who has gone missing in Europe.

Bryan Mills apparently has three very special skills. He finds people. He punches them in the throat. And if he shoots them with their own guns. If he is in a good mood, he likes to stick people with knitting needles.

I caught Taken on DVD. I wasn't overly impressed. There was a good bit of originality. It was short. Had fairly minimal dialog. And it had some decent pacing. But the acting wasn't very moving. I didn't find it too believable. And I'm never inclined to enjoy a plot that tries to convince me: one man and a pistol can take on a small horde of well-armed bad guys.

May make for a good rental on a slow weekend. Not a date flick. (I think it would especially turn off any mothers of young girls.) And not something the kids would watch.

Back To School

After two days at home, with me, Liam grudgingly went back to school today. He was very tired, but we all were. Nobody slept well last night, except Meg. Liam couldn't sleep because of his coughing. cindy and I couldn't sleep because of the coughing.

Liam skipped P.E. and had a breathing treatment (and brief nap) in Nurse Cindy's office. She snapped a quick photo to remember the event. Hopefully we all do better tonight. And tomorrow.

We can all use a return to normalacy.