Sunday, September 28, 2008

Early Season Hunting

Went down to the Lake area last weekend and spent some time at the McNally Farm- beautiful. Killed some time and beer- no deer. Although, on Sunday morning, I walked out to my vehicle and 50 yards away a big doe stood looking at me from the yard. I didn't even have a shirt on at this point- so no shots fired. Early bow season is for the birds. But here's a nice picture from the farm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

music therapy

When I was really little- like 4, my dad bought a guitar. It was a Yamaha acoustic electric. My dad is not a musical person. He loves music (as long as it's "uplifting"), but he's not a musical artist by any stretch of the imagination. In fact he's a real bad singer. I can't count how many hymns I suffered though as a teenager at church listening to him sing off key- and then off key in another key. I'm still embarrassed. But that's not the point. The point is he had this guitar and started taking lessons. He never got good and quit taking lessons. I used to mess with that guitar and I thought it was pretty cool I guess.

Years passed, now I'm like 9 or 10- you know, like first grade age when you're home schooled. And I going to this elementary school in Miami, where we lived and the music teacher thinks I'm real good. So I take these tests to go to this special school for the performing arts- and I get accepted. Pretty cool, I could grow up to be a rock star. BUT... it's in kind of a bad neighborhood- so my parents decide not to send me there. I was bummed, but I didn't protest. Besides, you don't have a lot of pull when you're 9 or 10.

More years pass, I'm in high school (before I dropped out), and I'm taking this guitar class. It's a total blow off class, but it's cool and I learned some cool things, met some cool people, and had my first chew of tobacco. I met this guy Bill Kays and he could already play any song by AC/DC. I took my dad's guitar down to the sort of local music store and traded it for a piece of crap electric guitar and a tiny little amp. We lived in Osage Beach, which is part of Lake of the Ozarks, also known as the White Trash Riviera, and there wasn't much to do there through the school year. So I played guitar a lot and stared figuring some things out.

1993- I start college in a wanna be branch dividian cult school also known as "AU". And that "U" should really be in quotes all by itself since that place was anything but a university. I have a dorm make named Scott. Never before and never since have I played guitar with someone more talented. I never learned more either. We would play for hours on the weekends and more than once Scott fell asleep while playing late into the night. We played a talent show once. It was a instrumental I wrote.

The next year Scott moved back home and I got in this little group and we played at a coffee house in Longview, TX, a couple of times. It was fun. KAL remembers I'm sure since he was there with a HUGE mixing board and pro level speakers. We called ourselves "Little Brother". It was fun, but never as good as in practice since we were always nervous.

1995- I move back to Missouri and now I live in Columbia, since my parents moved there. I'm going to Columbia College and I don't know anyone in town. So I start spending a lot of time playing guitar. I'm playing 3 or 4 hours a day and I start getting really good. I'm not trying to brag, but I knew I was making some crazy music. Sometimes I would quit playing because I would get scared from how good the music was. It was coming through me. I would occasionally play with other people when I'd get invited to play in party/jam session situations, but everyone would always start asking, "What's that chord?" or "How are you doing that?" but I didn't know since I was just going by sound instead of knowing names for it. I wasn't having to think to do it. I was just feeling it, and it was happening. I could never record what I was playing because when I would try, I would think about it being recorded and it never turned out as good.

Over time, as I got busier and eventually got a job, I started playing less and less and the guitar I've had since 1993 isn't sounding very good to me. For the past few years I've hardly played. I've had moments of inspiration, but they went out fast. I kind of felt like that time was over.

But remembering back to that music teacher who thought I had some talent, and banging out tunes with Bill and Scott, and playing in my parents basement (my bedroom) for hours at a time, and remembering that feeling that I got when I knew I was really making music, and feeling like I need a creative outlet, I decided to get back into it. I never quit loving music, I just quit cutting out my own little spot of it. I heard this interview with jazz guitarist, Stanley Jordan, and his musical philosophy was so inspiring I almost went out and bought his newest album. As it turns out, I'm not that big of a fan of his music- but I really, really like what he had to say. So I got a new guitar. We'll see what happens. It's really just about how it makes you feel. Express and release.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why did you turn off the jazz music?

John Coltrane. He got in my head and I didn't need to blog for about three months. Then I went back to work and I need a ventilator. Now I think Butthead is in my head and I have lots of hate. More angry teaching. "No damn it! I said do the exponents before the multiplication!"

It was a good summer. I started riding bikes again. I even raced three times so far this year. I'm racing Gary Boring this weekend in Jeff City. I'm going to whip his old ass! Then I'm going to sell my bike and quit again. I built a wood shed with the dude. Then he drank my beer and left. I have no wood. Weeds grew in our flower beds as I worked for the one they call Barry. Things got built, weeds got big. Less free time = more weeds.

I don't work in ISS anymore, so no more funny stories from there. Fine with me. Nothing worse than being stuck in a room with pissed off middle scholars who didn't do it. I don't have much free time these days. Let me rephrase that. I don't have much time these days that I fill with doing what I choose. Even my dog is laughing at me...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Time Revisited

I think the last post like this had somewhere around 28 days to go before school was out. Now it's 7.5. Not bad at all, but I get more anxious as it gets closer. It reminds me of getting ready to go on an exciting trip. It's really bizarre having time off in a big chunk like a summer. Not many jobs like it.
Plans for this summer: Part-time job, maybe a couple of bike races, couple of float trips, read a book. Outside of that I intend to play it by ear. I'm going to try not to drive much and either walk or ride as much as I can. A trip to Dallas, and Austin may require some time behind the wheel though.
With the end of the year coming up I think I'm going to try riding my bike to and from work next week after 4th quarter grades are turned in and I don't have anything to teach. I've done the ride home before a couple of times, but I've never done the ride to work. I'm planning on leaving my house about 5:30am. We'll see how that goes. Should make for a good post.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 First tirp to the Current River

If you're into the outdoors and "floating" in Missouri, (by canoe, raft, or tube) you've probably been to or at least heard of the Current River (info) in southern Missouri. The Current River is a spring fed river with headwaters starting at Montauk State Park (info) and moving south towards Arkansas. This area is part of the Ozark National Senic Riverways. There are a lot of small rivers to float in south Missouri, but the Current is my favorite of all the ones I've floated over the past 20 years or so. Clear cold water, excellent landscape scenery, and lots of trout to fish. At the headwaters at Montauk there's a fish hatchery run by the state where they raise trout. It's amazing seeing these trout in the tanks. They're separated by size and eventually released into the Current River to go where they please. When it's feeding time you can't even see any water between the fish because they feed so aggressively. I read somewhere that trout were first introduced to the Current by railroad workers coming from the west. From what I understand, most trout in the Current are from the hatchery and not "wild", but that some decendents from the original stock may still be reproducing outside the hatchery.
One of my best friends of more than half my life, Morgan, and I headed down two Fridays ago for the earliest float/camping trip I've ever done in Missouri. The weather can be very volitile this time of year and a strong storm can change things for the worse very quickly when you're around a river. Flash floods are a real concern- it rains heavily upstream, you're downstream where it may not be raining at all. The runoff water from the rain upstream builds and a wall of water heads downstream while you sit on the bank considering your next trip to the cooler for another "coldun" (cold one) with your fishing line in the water. Next thing you know the river seems to be getting strangly bigger and you move back a bit to keep your feet dry. Suddenly you realize what's going on as the river rapidly rises and you grab your cooler to head for safety. You make it to higher gound as the rest of your belonging are swept downstream along with trees, brush, cattle,and the occassional human.

Well, none of that stuff happened on this trip- although we were very aware of the possibility. In normal conditions the Current runs about 2' to 2.25' above Akers Ferry (One of the landmarks of the upper Current). 4' is considered "flood stage". On April 10th the Current was at 12' at Akers Ferry. That's a lot of water. Luckily, the water was pretty much back to normal when we got down there. We camped right near the river at a federal campground that is not widely known. I hope it stays that way because it's much better than most of the outfitter campgrounds which consist of a big field that's been overused. At those places you tend to be surrounded by people, loud music, yelling and cigarette smoke. This federal spot is pretty much hidden, quiet, senic, and non-comercialized. No one even works there. You just put $5.00 in a box and choose your spot.
We arrived about noon and set up camp. Morgan likes to really get things set up quickly when we camp. He says it bothers him until it's all done. I think that must be some primative instinct. We knew the possibility of heavy storms was in the forecast. Luckily, Morgan brought his weather radio. After setting up we headed to the river and started fishing- no luck- the water was still too high in this spot and fast with no cover for the fish to hide behind. Morgan tried to start a fire by rubbing sticks together for about 10 minutes. Then I got out the firestarter block and got the fire going. We were visited by our neighbors from about three camp spots over. They were a couple of guys from Kentucky visiting for turkey hunting. I only have two things to say about their visit. One: First impressions make a difference and the size of one of the guy's shirtless beerbelly was enough to worry me a great deal- it was awful. Two: When I say, "Well, we better get dinner started." that's your cue to bug out instead of poaching another coldun. Anyhoo, Thunder began to rumble in the distance and drew closer. We cooked dinner, (chicken with tomatoes and black beans) and just as we sat down to eat- it began to rain. Luckily Morgan has set up a lean-to with an extra wall blocking the direction the wind was blowing from so the rain couldn't blow in on us. It turned out to be a full on storm as we sat under our lean-to staying dry. As we listened to the computerized voice on the weather radio warning of the severe weather headed our way we came up with an emergency plan that consisted of Morgan running for higher ground and leaving me to grab what gear I could since it was pretty much all mine- bastard. Luckily, the storm came and went in about 20 minutes. After the storm, Morgan thought we better put a water mark stick down by the river so we could see if it started coming up. He notched it for reference and we felt slightly more secure. Turned out to be a nice evening and the sky even cleared. It got calm. But still I wondered if the river would come up and get me in my sleep.
The night was filled with me waking up thinking I could hear the river roaring as it rose to drown me. It turned out to be the wind blowing through the trees that surrouned us. It got fairly windy since a cold front was coming though. And as it does when a cold front comes through- it got cold. Down to about 40 degrees. I got up once to check the stick and see if the water on our marker was coming up. As I peered down the beam of light from the mag lite onto the stick I could see I was worrying for nothing and slept better the rest of the night- until our neighbors rolled in from a nearby bar at about 4:00am. They kind of hinted at us joining them on a trip to the bar, but I didn't bring my banjo and this wasn't Deliverance.

We got up the next morning and got the fire going again, ate a pound of bacon, and broke camp. We saw one of our neighbors staggering to the outhouse about 8:30 and I was thinking he didn't make it up for the morning hunt. Morgan also discovered he had a tick on him in a real bad spot. I'll let you use your imagination on that one. We drove to Akers Ferry, about 9 miles away, and got picked up for the float by the outfitter. We were the first customers of the year. We put in about 9:30 and started our float by going right by the place we had camped before. Luckily, the river never came up whatsoever. It actually dropped a little. So much for the lost sleep over worry of a flash flood.
Something to keep in mind when going on a float. There are two kinds: Kind one: Float, drink, swim, and be rediculous. Kind two: Float and fish, have a couple but keep your wits about you for when you snag your line in a tree while getting turned around in a riffle. The main thing to keep in mind is that it's either a fishing float or not. Don't try to mix a couple of people wanting to fish with others who don't. It just doesn't work- sort of like socks on a rooster.
Turned out to be a great day for a float- sunny and 70 degrees. The trout were very active too. I think between the two of us we caught close to 10 fish. It took us a while to find out what they were hitting on, (rooster tail) but once we did it got pretty fun.

So to make a long story a little longer, it was a good first tirp of the year. I'm planning on heading down at the end of this month to do it again. It's good for your mind. Kind of clears your head. Here's a shot of Morgan reeling in a trout. Next trip- more pics.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gardening at Night

We've been very busy in the yard between cold spells, planting, trimming, and mowing. It kind of becomes a part time job this time of year. That's alright though, it really beats winter.

Leslie just had to get the pots done on Thursday evening. Then it became Thursday night. We needed light and it made for a couple of interesting shots.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

People who should stop telling others how to live- the short list

I just read an interesting article about this guy. Here. If all the facts in this article are true, I'd be looking for advice elsewhere. I'm not reallly surprised by what I read. I just find it irritating.

And here's his buddy who is apparently disin' him now that his rep is sliding.
She spends a lot of time talking about marriage. Funny, she's never actually been married herself. Tell Stedman I said hi.

Most of you don't know this guy. Try to keep it that way. He's a self proclaimed "slave" for Jesus. He always reminded me more of Mr. French from "Family Affair"

Oh wait, this one's dead. He can't do much harm in that state. HaHa.
Let's end on a positive note. This guy is worth listening to. Ohh yeah!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elements of my life

I'm kind of a vehicle guy. I've had seven vehicles since I started driving: 1 Volkswagon, 1 Ford, 2 Toyotas, and 3 Hondas. Big whoop, I know. This post is just about one (or three) of them- the Elelment. If you've never ridden in an Element or at least taken a close look- you should. You might even be among the majority that think it's ugly. Well, all I can say to that is that you're ugly if you don't love my Element.

Here's the family album of my "E" family.
This is the E I got in 2005 after riding in a friend's and loving it. Four speed automatic. At the time, this was the best E you could get- the EX. It had all wheel drive, waterproof seats, big stereo for a stock stereo- even had a subwoofer. I loved this E. Hauled everything in it- deer, wood, concrete, bricks, bikes (one time I had four bikes and three people in it), and anything else I needed. The E has over 75 cubic feet of cargo space. As a comparison, a Honda Accord Sedan has 12. So you really can put a bunch of stuff in it. I did a lot of bike race trips in this E. One of my favorite things about all Elements is that they have NO carpet. So it doesn't matter if you have muddy boots on or a dirty wet dog after a trip to the dog park. But I digress. On with the family album.

Another shot of my first Element.

Oh, #2... kind of a redheaded stepchild. This one was an '08. In 2007 Honda made some nice changes (upgrades) to the Element. More horsepower, five speed transmission, standard painted quarter panels, traction control, airbag front to rear, and some other cool trim stuff like blue back lit gauges instead of standard green. I was able to sell my first one for a profit and pick up this one for a basic flip. It was like getting a brand new car for less than what I still owed on the first one. It was a good deal. I didn't go with the black this time because I wanted something that would look cleaner longer- black is really hard to keep clean. It was kind of a boring color- but it was different. Then, after a few short weeks of driving, I started noticing a strange noise. To make a long story short, Honda's change to the transmission made this one "drone" loudly when at cruising speed. The exact speed I travel 250 miles a week for work. It got really annoying. So it went to the shop three times. Finally, it was discovered that ALL the new ones with the automatic 5 speed tranny do this. My solution- get rid of it. I only had this brown cow for about three months. Kind of a skeleton in the family closet.

Then one day, this one showed up from Chicago on special order.
Pretty. My favorite of the three. 2008 EX AWD 5 speed Manual. Like the one before it, this one is an '08 but since it's a manual transmission it's geared differently and doesn't make that noise that I couldn't stop listening to. It's much more fun to drive and the black is black. I also got splash guards and side steps with this one- nice touches. Since I've had it I also added a hood deflector (great for all the highway driving with semi traffic throwing crap up all the time) and a custom grill guard. At some point I'm going to get a short ram intake, torque dampener, and fog lights and bull bar. I plan on keeping this one for quite some time.

Where are they now: The 2005 lives in St. Louis and belongs to a nice family that does a lot of triathlons. The brown bag '08 also lives in STL and belongs to a guy who works in film. I made sure he knew about the sound- but it didn't seem to bother him. He was very excited about getting an almost new Element for a great deal.

Other Element facts: two power outlets (front and rear), front and rear seats fold down to make a bed (yes, I've used it), rear seats fold up into the sides of the vehicle or can be taken out completely to leave you with the practical equivalent of a 5 foot truck bed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mr. Fix-it

"We know what to do when it rains." That's a quote applicable to this situation. A few weeks ago my wife and I noticed the dryer wasn't doing it's job- drying the clothes. It was running, just not drying. We thought it might be time for a new dryer- so I started researching and didn't like what I saw- high prices. We have a big dryer, and I couldn't see downsizing. So I start "experimenting". I thought it had to be something simple. I took apart the dryer until it didn't look like a dryer anymore, I check electrical connections, I put it back together, I turned it on, it ran- but it didn't get hot. Luckily, in my autopsy of what I thought was a dead dryer, I found a folded up piece of paper located behind the "control panel". It turned out to be an assembly drawing of the dryer with all the parts numbered and labeled. I looked over it briefly and set it aside thinking it wasn't worth trying to fix this dryer anymore- it is about 10 years old and it came with the house when we bought it.

A few days went by and we shopped for dryers. I really didn't want to buy one. I looked over the assembly drawing again and came up with one possible solution- heating element. The dryer ran, just didn't get hot. So I called up Sears and ordered the part. It came, I installed it, it worked! I was really excited since it had only cost $60.00 instead of hundreds for a new dryer. The dryer actually worked much better than ever before now. Upon examining the old element I could see it had actually caught on fire at one point from all the lint built up in the floor of the dryer over the years. Now here's some advice- clean your dryer out occasionally. On ours there's a panel on the front that you can take off and expose the inside of the "box" I vacuumed three or four loads of lint from the inside of the dryer. Taking apart the dryer also let me clean out the parts individually. I found money and a gym ID card from the previous owner of the house in the compartment that holds the lint screen. It really helps the efficiency of the dryer to have it all cleaned out too.
So all was good again...for about three weeks. Suddenly, while drying a load the dryer just quit. This was bad. Could be anything I thought. I again took the dryer apart and started tinkering. I thought I must have knocked something loose while working on it before and the vibration of the dryer released some connection completely. No luck- must be time for a new dryer I thought again. I went back to the assembly drawing. There were two fuses listed: a thermal cut-off, and a thermal fuse. Apparently, these are safety parts that shut the dryer down if it's getting too hot. You can't tell if the fuses are blown by looking at them- they don't even look like fuses. I ordered the parts again hoping I wasn't wasting my time. When they came in I installed them and immediately the dryer worked. I was really happy. I was still only up to $100.00 total investment for the new parts. The satisfaction of repairing something I previously knew nothing about was very cool.
I'm not certain, but my theory about the fuses blowing is that the new element wasn't a good match with the old fuses. The fuses/thermal cut-off were worn out and the extra heat of the new element just pushed them over the edge.
It was a great learning experience that I hope to not have again for a long time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

29 days to go

Time moves slowly when you are bored and detached from what you're doing. That's pretty much the feeling I've had for a while now at work. I am cooked for the year. Next week is the second part of the MAP test (math portion), and after that I think I'll feel even more done since that test is the pressure cooker of the schools today. Somehow, someone along the way decided that the MAP is a good way to judge the quality of job teachers are doing. As if student performance is a direct reflection of the job I do. Yeah right, and every kid who wants to be a pro football player will be as long as his coach is good enough. I'm just ready for this year to end. I wouldn't recommend getting into education to anyone. Sure, you get the summer off. But I assure you, you'll do 12 months worth of work in the 9 months school's in. You are tied down for the school year. I've been doing this for eight years now and I'm very efficient at what I do. I don't take work home and I don't come in extra early to get caught up. It all happens between 7:20 and 3:20. At the end of the day though you're lucky if you have the energy to use the few hours you have free before going to bed at 9:00.
Yes, this is a rant- which I rarely do on this blog because I just don't want this blog to have that vibe. I don't like to read constant complaining on other blogs, so I try not to do it here. Since this blog is mine though, I'll choose this time to leave it as a rant session.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

old and new

Photos of before and after a meal and a shave.
The meal...

The shave...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Revelation and Disfunction

I just realized how much our building principal and the President of the US are alike. Amazing...

Not much going on. Just here in ISS again. One kid is in here for making a "shank"- or is it "shiv"? Either way, a stabbing weapon-you know, like they use in prison to kill each other. You just take whatever you can sharpen and sharpen it. You might also tape it to something else to increase it's length. Whatever. I'm over these issues. I'm over people thinking my work output is directly reflected in student grades. My job is to lead horses to water- you can probably finish that thought. Mostly I'm over all you parents who should have used stronger protection or just kept it zipped up. I'm no parent, but when you're asking me advice about what to do with your 12 year old (and I'm not talking about how to do math) I think that proves there's a problem. Quit reproducing and dumbing down the species. McDonald's is going to have to quit taking applications at some point if you don't slow down.

Don't worry, I still have good students and students who want to learn. My guess would be most of them have two parents at home who are at least semi-hardasses- meaning they do the job of parenting even when it hurts. The rest of you so called parents need to get a clue and take some responsibility. I'm not a babysitter and this isn't daycare. You don't work and learn- you get a "F". Deal with it. That's how life will be in the future- may as well learn it now. "Why does my kid have a "F"?" "Why don't you ask him?" He or she might tell you something interesting like, "Well, you don't seem to give a F*^K, so why should I?"
Now that's an editorial.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Frozen Toes

For the non-locals who don't know about the bike racing scene in BOCOMO, this past Sunday was the formerly know as "Froze Toes" Frozen Toes bike race. I'm not sure when the name was switched- perhaps when the president of the local bike club started calling it "frozen toes". Anyhoo, it's about a 60 mile race (two 30 mile loops) in some of the most boring land in central Missouri. Anytime you can see more than a mile up the road (or in any direction for that matter) it's more than likely boring terrain.
I didn't race this year, or last, and probably not "next year" either. Just not my kind of race. What I did do was volunteer to be a follow vehicle driver for the race. Kind of help create a "rolling enclosure" and try to keep racers from abusing the yellow line too much and winding up as a hood ornament on Farmer Brown's daily commute to give the cattle hay. I was glad to do it and I got to watch the race.
Two years ago I think there were about 140 people in the race. This year- only about 50. I guess a bunch of people thought the weather was going to be bad- as it should be- this time of year. So I guess you could say it was a more "intimate" group. Lots of guys helping each other out. You know, like when you have to pee and ride a bike at the same time- kind of hard to pedal. So what do you do? You get another rider to push you while you're peeing- or trying to pee as appeared to be the case for several guys who seemed to have some accute stage fright keeping them from relieving themselves. Or maybe they just couldn't find it in the cold weather- not sure. Nonetheless, this was probably the most entaining part of the race for Prozenberger and me to watch since the rest of the race was fairly boring and slow this year. At more than one point I looked down at the speedometer to see we were going 14MPH. It was more like a ride than a race. But hey, that's easy from me to say from the drivers' seat of a warm dry car and only pushing the gas pedal to move.
It was an interesting perspective to stay behind the group the whole time. I did see a crash and one of the guys landed squarly on his face while still holding onto the handlebars. That was ugly. It was fun pacing a few people back up to the group when they got gapped off because of the wreck. One guy had the nerve to complain about the quality of the pace he got after the race. Sorry, but I don't think the officials who were watching would have been real happy with you getting any pace. I was happy to do it for whomever I could. I know Buttsmackers was appreciative.
As chili left after the race. I think that makes five years for me now with no chili after. At least I did get to see Jimmy again. I almost couldn't resist hugging him- but I didn't want him to get too excited and put on the goloshes and get out the tacklebox.
If you don't get a lot of this post- I apologize- lots of inside jokes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day. It's an interesting day here at school because you have three types of kids coming in: Those who are into it (wearing pink or red, giving and getting gifts and cards). They know they're loved either here or at home. Those who are not (eh, just another day at school). Probably don't know what day of the week it is either. And then there are those who are depressed (no gifts, cards, or candy and a feeling of loneliness). Maybe very alone even when everyone's around and not many hugs in their life. It's interesting to observe who's who today. I feel bad for the depressed kids. I'm wearing a bright pink/coral button up. That's my contribution to the atmosphere. I've heard already twice today, "Real men wear pink." "Yeah, I know, now get to work changing that fraction to a decimal before I take your candy and eat it in front of you." Just kidding- The kids actually get a kick out of me playing with them like that and it keeps the mood a little lighter. I knew what I was getting into wearing this shirt. It's amazing how in this small town pink is still seen as a female color. In my whole life I've never attached gender to color. Color is color and they're all cool in one way or another. So I'm going to start changing my blog colors on a regular basis- just to keep it interesting. Speaking of interesting, if you haven't checked out my wife's blog yet (yoga gal)- I recommend it. Clickit And hey, hug somebody today- even if you don't feel like it- you'll feel better afterwards for sure...unless of course they are stinky- then you'll just want a shower.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Disaster or Sign from God

Waaaaay back in January, New Year's day to be exact, and after a long night of celebration, I woke at 6:00am to the sound of water. I listened to it for a while trying to figure out what it was. "Is that one of our fountains? No, it's Zak splashing in his water bowl. Wow, he's really splashing a lot." I tought. "And so rhthmically". "Wait a second...something isn't right." I jump out of bed and open the door to the room where the sound is coming from. The same room that has my two aquariums set up. One is a 30 gallon and the other a 60 gallon. My first step into the room was a wet one. I know immediately what's happening- aquarium leak! I'm not ready to deal with this considering the previous night's activities. But trouble doesn't usually come when you're ready for it. So I flip on the light and luckily there's only about a quart of water on the tile floor. I'm thankful for two things at this point even though my mind is still a little fuzzy from the Southern Comfort. Thing one: we have very little carpet in our home. Thing two: we were home when this happened.

I run downstairs and out to the garage. I grab two five gallon buckets (very handy to keep around) and head back up. Very luckily, the water was dripping (flowing is more like it at this point) in a way that I was able to catch the water in the bucket. The leak was getting worse and the water coming out faster. There was nothing to do really except go downstairs and make coffee. I spent the rest of the morning letting it drain out and emptying the buckets when they were full. Towards the end I kept one bucket of water and transfered the fish into it. They were donated the next day to one of the local pet stores. The 30 gallon tank found itself on the curb and is now part of the landfill.

Here's the interesting part to me. First of all, I don't recommend ever having an aquarium on the second floor of a home. If that tank had drained out while we were away that would have been a major disaster for the first floor ceiling and walls. Probably would have cost thousands to repair. Second, just the day before this tank began to leak, I had set up my big 60 gallon tank. After the close call of the first leak I decided it was a sign that I shouldn't have 90 gallons of potential destruction set up to blow. So I drained that tank with a vacuum tube out the window and put that tank up for sale at the same local pet store. No more fish in our house.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

ISS Post

It's been a long time since I posted from ISS. Mostly because it's changed a lot for the worse. It used to be a place where kids would come and have to do their school work for the day and then read. Well our new asst. principal, who has never actually worked in the ISS room, changed some things about it and now it's a constant struggle of paper pushing to and from students. It makes the poor choices of students who get into ISS the ISS supervisor's problem. But that's the way things have been going around here. Instead of teaching the students responsibility, it's taken off them and put on the teachers. I'm not subscribing to this.

But yesterday was interesting. Keep in mind this is middle school- 6-8th grade. Five students. By the time I get there, a lot has happened. One kid has given prescription meds to two other kids. His backpack was searched and they found pot. Two girls had to be separated because they are lovers. And one girl's backpack was searched and razor blades found which she uses for cutting herself. "Oh, my dad knows I've done it before." Uh, I would classify this situation as "ate up". What happened to the good old days of fights and running the halls? If you think you have any concept of what middle school and high school is like now based on your experience from 10 or more years ago- forget it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

P.O.S.- Bissell Pet Hair Eraser

Don't buy this. We've had ours one month and it's now broken. It's still running and sucking, but not without issue. First,one of the attachments ( the pet hair eraser mechanical brush) quit working when it allowed hair to accumulate around the belt and wheel that makes it a mechanical attachement. Luckily, I was able to take it apart, clean it, and put it back together. Then yesterday I was just cleaning the floor and noticed the the vacuum getting louder and louder and starting to vibrate. "Something's not right!" I yelled over the scream of the hearing eraser... uh, I mean pet hair eraser. I turned off the vacuum and noticed my hearing has now been notched to the certain frequency of one said double cyclonic action vacuum. Patiently, I examimed the PHE and cleaned every part I could find to clean. I turn it back on and still the vibration and volume comparable to that of the space shuttle take off is blasting from our living room. Even Ziggy, our cockapoo, (and yes that is a dog breed not a bird) won't come near as he usually likes to do to investigate and try to dominate. He's sure the situation is about to become very dangerous and takes shelter in the other room. I can only imagine how his hearing was effected. Anyhoo, I examine the rotating brush located at the front of the PHE and I can tell something isn't right. It's pivoting instead of just spinning. This causing the vibration and noise. I take the brush off and examine it. One of the bearings is jammed down into the bar at and angle and the plastic is warpped. I take it all apart and try to rebuild it, knowing full well that this will be a temporary fix at best. I put it all back together and try it out. This time only about 150db roar through the house. But by the time I make it upstairs it's back to full throtle-up and ready to make the final push into orbit. So I must get a new rotating brush. Really, that will solve the problem, but who wants to deal with that after one month of use. On the other hand, this vacuum really does suck! Pun intended.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Is it winter or is my life just boring?

I have to laugh at myself for thinking my life is boring- because it's not, never has been, and probably never will be. I think I just get kind of bored in winter and blame it on my life. It's like every thing's on hold for about three months- which is really about as long as winter really lasts around here as far as I'm concerned.
I've just been working- lots of geometry lately- I love that stuff even if it's challenging to teach to kids who'd rather be playing Guitar Hero. But they like it when they get it right- so that's good enough on a daily basis.
I've also been going to the gym a lot and getting huge. I'm so massive I barely fit in my already gigantic ego that is starting to feel as if it's about to explode.
I did a lot of hunting for the elusive whitetail deer the past few weeks since the season was coming to a close. I wound up sticking one last Friday evening just before dark. But as fate would have it my worst fear came true and I didn't find it. It was kind of a weird shot. The deer was almost under me and facing right to me. I was about 20 feet up in a tree. I shot and stuck it right behind the shoulder in what should have been a spine severing shot- dropping it right there. But as the deer ran away with about 12 inches of arrow sticking in and about the same sticking out, I wondered what the outcome would be. It got dark, came back with a light, found blood, but no deer. Came back the next morning, looked for two hours and found the broken end from my arrow about 1/3 of a mile from where I had shot- and that's it. It is the worst to hunt and mame. Especially when you see some of the animal interaction I've observed while hunting and you start to see the qualities in these wild animals that we see in our domestic pets that make us love them so much. But that's the way the season ended for me pretty much. It was still a good season.
Sooner than later, the bike will come off the hook in the garage. That's the next adventure I suppose. Until then I guess I just try to keep it on the sunny side.
Oh yeah, I linked a couple of new blogs you should check out. One about breathing, one about a coyote.