Sunday, April 15, 2018

Eli turns 12 and Stuff

 Eli turns 12 with a chocolate long john donut and a candle.
His party was officially a paintball affair.  It was cold and miserable for bystanders like me, but the kids that came along didn't care one bit.
 Eli was a bit menacing in his mask.
 Some last minute instructions from the Dude.
 I would seriously run like I was in the movie Deliverance if I saw these characters.
 They started a little slow.  Kinda like they didn't know what to do.
Four hours later, they were practically pros at this stuff.  Eli's time on the couch, seemingly being wasted by playing Call of Duty, came in handy as he was a driving force in some of the wins.
He capped the week off by practicing with a drill, a saw, a file, and some wood. That resulted in a trip to the hardware store for some more wood that he swears he wants to build into a chair.  We shall see!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fifty One is a pretty boring number

So yeah, I'm another year older in a couple days.  I was pretty proud of 50, now I move into the realm of the boring at 51.  I mean, there is nothing special about 51.  Hence this entirely ludicrous blog posting.
I still do odd jobs and I am so damn proud of my headlamp that I use it whenever possible.  Even when I don't need it.  If I'm having a conversation with you in broad daylight and I have on my headlight, just go with it.
I'm also fond of getting my youngest son to do more exercise and activity than he wants to do.  It's kind of a thing.  On this day, I drug him around south city on our BMX bikes.  Today he went on a hike at Greensfelder.  He's always wary of how long we intend to do something...he knows better.
And I also don't mind embarrassing him or Hanna.  Hanna asked the other night if I had a tank top.  I said "Hold my beer...."
My trusty Fusion turned 160k.  That was enough.  I drove it in to a dealer and traded it in on an incredibly sensible car.  I was sorry to see the old girl go, but I'm not sorry that I won't spend many evenings on the garage floor with antifreeze or oil dripping in my face.  Don't think of it as a birthday gift to myself...think of it as a birthday gift to the drivers on the local highways that won't wait in a traffic jam when the old girl broke down!
Since I use my cars as a pack pony, it carries a lot of stuff in the trunk so I can be prepared to fix just about anything.  However, even I was surprised once I emptied the trunk.
The 2014 Ford Focus.  I like it.  I think it likes me. I'm going to treat it very, very well because it will probably be Eli's car in a few years...right about the time it will require me to lay on the garage floor and have oil and antifreeze drip in my face.
I caught this on the highway the other day, folks.  Be lucky that this gem wasn't at the dealership when I traded in the Fusion.  I might be driving "ECTO-1", as it said on it's license plate.  Don't think I'm joking!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

More Rear Brake Work

My original equipment Ford brake pads on the rear of the Fusion lasted 130,000 miles.  Those things were troopers.  I replaced them in the Fall of 2016 with some bargain basement "ceramic" pads.  Well, those pads were worth 30,000 miles.  Seriously.  They were done.  Cashed out.  Just what I want to do with my Sunday off, replace brake pads made of cream cheese.
Those are the back plates on the right of the cream cheese pads.  Yep.  No pad material left whatsoever.  New pads on the left are good ol' replacement pads from Autozone.
 Another look, just to increase the humor.  Yep, just the back plate left.
Surprisingly, the rotors are still deluxe.  No marking or scaring, no pits, no warping.  I must have just replaced the pads in time.  I'm sure these pads will last longer than the car will run!  I used this time in the cold garage to change my oil, too.  At this point, it is harder for me to change the oil in a car than to replace pads and rotors.  It takes me longer to jack up the car and remove the wheel than to do the brakes.  Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Riding and Going Nowhere

 Dreary and warm ride down to Jefferson Barracks park this morning..
 Sylvan, this park holds a special place in my heart.
 I rode around the skate park.  Love the berm action!
 My shit bike is positively light weight compared to this monster.
 Calm and very low, the Mississippi river.
 The start of the greenway.
 You can really see how low the river is here at Carondelet.
 A good read.
Fascinating bridge that ends at the overlook.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Trail Running. Or What To Do On Mountain Bike Trails without a Bike

A few months ago a running race caught my eye.  Running never usually catches my eye.  But this run was on the Beulah trail at Greensfelder, which is where I ride my mountain bike quite a bit.  What fun!  A caveat was that it was at night.  And a timed event, sort of like endurance mountain bike events.  You could run for 9 hours (what the hell??), 6 hours (you kidding me?), or 3 hours, everyone ending at midnight.  Ok, still sounded like fun.
I talked a few of my coworkers into doing the race.  Sometime in December I started running a bit so that I could do this thing.  I didn't really run enough but I did some strong runs and really thought I was solid.  I got a sinus infection two weeks ago and that made me fear the worst.  I did the race anyway.  I hadn't run much over 10 miles until last night, but it wasn't the distance.  I just suffered from the word go.  I muddled through and finished 3 laps, right at 13.1 miles.
 Strava was very impressed.
I did finish in the top ten.  Top five would have been nice.  But it really, really was all I had.  No more.  No mas.  Finished.  Done.  It was right around 20 degrees at race time.  My water froze.  I kicked a rock in the most technical section and yardsaled, full spread eagle, at about the 2/3 point. And the third lap saw quite a bit of freezing drizzle and snow, which made the last rocky section really treacherous.

I was the first old guy to finish, though.  And there was some 63 year old dude only a couple of places behind me!

Overall I would say that it was a great experience.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Hanna Turns 18 only Once in Her Life!

Hanna turned 18 last week.  Which means she can vote, go to war, and probably do a lot of other adult things.  Besides that other important stuff, we toured Webster University which offered her quite a scholarship.  Curiously, they even had her name on a parking space in front of the building!
After the tour, it was time to get down to business.  We went to lunch with the family and there was this cake.  Since cousin Max has his birthday only a few days from hers, quite often we celebrate them together.  This cake was quite cool, because he turned 20 and she turned 18...in 2018.  Get it??
The obligatory posing with the cake.  Someone made it a point to point out that although Hanna played soccer and Max played football, no one knows why there were basketballs on the cake.  Food for thought.
 And then my three kids posed together.  They are good kids.
And then I had this abnormally cute photo of Rex that I had to share and this is as good as any place I can think of to put it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Idle Hands Don't Get Much Done

 Obligatory dog photo.  Rex is omnipresent in my daily activities.  Isn't he cute?
The basement has been a constant struggle for me over the last few years.  It has been a dumping ground, even though there are perfectly good shelves that I built ten years ago.  I made strides toward getting things organized.
The bench top was 18 years old.  It has moved into and out of four different houses.  It was nasty.  I haven't finished it yet but a new top is right around the corner.
And yes, the Christmas inflatables are finally dried out and stored away.  Man, these things get nasty.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Post of 2017 - I Know You're Happy!

As you may know, I'm fond of my daughter. One of my Christmas gifts this year was a canvas photo of the two of us.  It's wrapped around a wooden frame.  Thank you Flannery Allison, who also took the photo.
This 1999 Big Shark Racing jersey has made it back to me.  At some point over the years, I had given it away to someone.  Who gave it to someone else.  Who then gave it to me.  It's kind of like a lost puppy (or a bad penny!) who found his way back home!
Baby, it's cold outside.  That means I'm on the trainer.  You probably can't tell, but that's Micheal Rassmussen dropping Alberto Contador in one of the final stages of the 2007 Tour.  I finished the year off with minute on/minute off intervals.  Yay!  And yes, that's a Mustang clock.
 I mentioned it was cold outside.  Yep.
But I've never seen a day too cold to run stairs.  I haven't ridden my BMX bike to the stairs in a couple weeks, which hurts my heart.  Certainly today wasn't a day to ride to the stairs.  So I drove.  I'm good with that.  No ice or snow on the steps...I did bring a broom last week to sweep, mind you.

So that is it for 2017.  It has been awesome and awful, just like every year! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Hazards of Driving a Car Past it's Prime

The Fusion has 157,000 miles on it.  It has been exemplary in it's service, but the miles...the miles.  They are adding up and now is the moment that anything except total engine failure can happen.  And it always, always, always happens when it is BUTT ASS COLD outside.  Cue the massive coolant leak that popped up today.  I made it home from Chesterfield with the heat going in and out, a sure sign that there wasn't enough coolant to do the job.  I pulled the old jalopy into the garage and figured out that it wasn't major, but a major pain in the butt.
It's called a Water Outlet.  Pretty simple, but it plays a big roll in passing coolant between the head, the radiator, and the heater core.  Apparently it's a common failure in the 2.5 liter.  I was so worried that the freeze plug you see above that nice little clean coolant passage was the culprit.  Nope.  But it was a bear to get everything out of the way to remove this thing.  I pinched my right index finger with needle nose pliers in the process.  Grrrrr.
This is the dumpy little creature.  Not much to it.  Plastic, with a giant red O-ring to seal it to the head.
And that O-ring is what fails.  You can see the distortion.  This part cost $35 and the coolant was $30.  The price of my time and my pinched finger cannot be calculated, however.