the weekend's a bust

...pretty much. nothing's gone as planned. once again the chaos that is Loren's mom's house contributed to his not coming here this weekend. an entire weekend of time to spend with my son, down the tubes. for anyone that might not know, this time is pretty much the aim of everything i do- so what to do when it doesn't work out?

for me it boiled down to doing a buttload of chores. if i'm going to sit here by myself (not counting Chowder), i'm at least going to do it in a clean house. bathrooms are passably clean, kitchen's clean, living room, dining room....laundry done....windows passably clean, most of the dusting done. damn i sound like a proud housewife- but actually i just can't stand being mired in my own filth....that's not quite the same thing, i don't think.

Thursday Loren's last basketball practice was cancelled- i'm sure he was a little disappointed, since he was psyched for it. last practice of the season is kinda special, after all. needless to say, i didn't get to see him Thursday night either. wasn't all that annoyed with that, considering he was coming the next night for the weekend....but Friday night i drove out to Loren's mom's only to find out Loren wasn't coming. i left more than a little angry when i realized i'd not only made another trip up there for nothing, but Loren wouldn't even give me any kind of a straight answer about when he'd come the next day. serves me right for forgetting my cell phone, but the chances were slim that anyone would've picked up the phone had i had it and called; the extremely annoying trend lately is the lack of phone-answerage on their part. it's not a big deal for anyone but me- i'm the one that has to make unwarranted trips when there's no answer. in any case, Loren didn't really deserve the things that wanted to come out my mouth so i figured it was time to make tracks.

Saturday afternoon Loren's mom called me to tell me that the company that was the cause of Loren's decision not to come to my house was going home, and that she'd call me back in a little while to tell me when she'd bring Loren over. she never called back. can't say i was the least bit surprised. back to cleaning for ol' inf. thanks for the interruption- and for the reminder of what's buggin' me- now go away.

i trimmed the hydrangea bush back, and burned all the old brown flowers. a little gasoline helps immensely when you're trying to burn stuff. the hydrangea is pretty much the only thing i care about in the whole yard, it's beautiful when it blooms. it looked pretty sick in the middle of winter....hope it comes back decently this year. it'll prob'ly be ok. a year or two ago i noticed that the stalks contacting the ground grew roots, so i pushed a couple of the bottom branches down into the dirt and held 'em down with a couple big rocks. sure enough, it grew out and sprouted a couple new small bushes. should be interesting to see how they come in this year. they look like they're doing pretty well, maybe better than the remainder of the bush.

i also got the rearview mirror i bought (too long ago) installed on my truck. hopefully that will get me out of the ticket i got for not having one recently. much thanks to my dad for donating a (very) old drill, as the project would've been an exercise in futility without it. turns out the mirror, which was supposedly made to fit my truck) was the wrong type, but Yours Intrepidly managed to make it work. i don't give up all that easily. the truck's no fashion plate, so the mirror doesn't look too out of place on it. and hell, it'll be nice to have one again.

Saturday night was Loren's last basketball game of the season. he played decently in the time he got to be on the floor. they played against a team that was a fairly even matchup to them, not out of their league (literally) this time around. they lost by two points in OT. it could've gone either way, right up until the end. Loren's team jumped out to an early lead but the other team battled back by mid-way through the first half and it was close for the remainder of the game. none of the refs knew what to do when the game ended in a tie, and they decided on a 2 minute OT period. Loren was up for that- though he didn't get to see any action in the OT. all in all i think he was on the floor for less minutes than his effort and skills deserved, but that's not surprising considering the track record for the coaching staff the rest of the season. to their credit, they've been nothing but encouraging to him- and all the kids- and i think all the kids improved in skills throughout the season. here's hoping Loren finds another sport to sink his teeth into this season. love to see the boy play sports.

my folks came up to see Loren's last game, as did Loren's Aunt Melissa and Uncle Jason. my (basically) bad attitude toward Loren's chances of coming for the remainder of the weekend colored the evening a little worse for everyone, for which i'm properly ashamed. in the end, Loren decided to go with his mother- which surprised me not at all, considering the same company he stayed at her house to be with in the first place was still there- and staying the night again.

i screwed around too long before the game for us to make dinner beforehand, so after the game my folks took me out to dinner at a Mexican place down the street from here, decent food but not the best. service wasn't as good as usual either. kinda fit with the whole progression of events though. afterwards we went back to my place for a cup of coffee before they headed home. always nice to spend time with my folks.

i didn't have a lot of energy left so i worked on updating the stats for my NBA fantasy team and setting my lineups, etc., then hit the hay.

this morning i've been hangin' out, read the email, played with Chowder. been listening to a lot of music on Rhapsody radio. they make somewhat-customized radio stations based around pretty much any artist included in their offerings, so i added a bunch of stations based around guys like Joe Satriani, Pat Metheny, Al DiMeola...all the interesting guitar gods. right now i'm jammin' to the Joe Satriani station. there's certainly a lot of music included which doesn't float my banana, but skipping past songs you don't like (or don't fit with what you're trying to get) is part of fun. and you can always change the station and change back to sort of refresh the whole thing. discovered a guitarist called Buckethead (the bucket he wears is a KFC bucket....go figure)- the guy's interesting.

Loren's got a post-season basketball shootout thing this afternoon. it's sort of a shooting competition and the last man standing wins Sonics tickets. Loren didn't do very well last year, but i think he has a shot this time around- his shooting's a lot better than it was last year.

and now we're up to date, so- duty fulfilled- i'm outta here. time to to squeeze something out of this day before starting another work-week grind.


you know it's bad

when you feel bad about spending $8 on a couple paperbacks. been frequenting the used book stores for a copy of Raymond Feist's Talon of the Silver Hawk, and finally one arrived. yay! had to buy it. they had the sequel (title escapes me at the moment) too, so i bought that too, while they were handy. don't know if the third installment in that series, Conclave of Shadows, is out yet, let alone in paperback (i rarely buy anything but paperbacks) but i'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

i happened to be in the vicinity of the used book store yesterday, when i made a side-trip on the way home from work to buy a new pair of sneakers- don't feel bad about those; shoes are a necessity. i've been needing a pair since the evening of Jan 7, when Chris and i attended the Disturbed concert, and (being slightly inebriated) i lost one of my pair in the crowd. someone was stepping on my foot when i got crowd-surfed. i guess the people in front of me didn't like me pushing them in the back all that much. go figure. however, the new pair i got will serve adequately for the time being, and they were cheaper than the last ones i bought. and they actually fit, compared to the slightly-too-big ones Chris gave me to wear in the interim....i wasn't planning on keeping 'em, but they've gotten pretty trashed since he handed them off to me, and i really doubt he'd want them back in the condition they're in. sorry, Chris.

i swear it gets harder to find good shoes every time i look. everyone makes a ton of crap, and decent shoes are generally as expensive as they are hard to find. i'll have to be more careful with this pair.

Loren had basketball practice last night; he's got one more scheduled, and his final game on Saturday night. should be fun. might have to break out the ACTUAL video camera for that one. he's done pretty well this season, and i've seen a definite improvement in his skills. he's got a lot more confidence on the court than he did when the season started, and has contributed solid minutes, for the most part, when he's been on the floor. i'm hoping he'll play baseball this year- it'd be great to see him pick that back up- but we'll see. he may be ready for a little break in the sports action. wonder if there are any spring soccer leagues forming...maybe an indoor league?

learned how to run the torch (somewhat) at work today; enough to run parts anyway. there's a propane tank, and an oxygen tank, and a CNC torch head we cut something called "link sliders" (also known as "triangles"- though they're not actually triangles) with. basically, you babysit this torch and load large sticks of steel flat bar, interspersed with monotonous grinding away of slag and tangs left in the corners by the torch. dirty, wet work; the parts and slag fall in a water table to cool them off so they can be handled in a reasonable amount of time. this is the last machine in the shop for me to learn to run. i anticipate being proficient at it quite soon, as it's not that complicated.

time to get cleaned up for the evening, and get some chores done while the opportunity presents itself.


and the remainder of the afternoon

....held some napping in front of this very computer screen (mine, not yours), followed by a can of Chunky soup (Grilled Chicken & Sausage Gumbo....not very good) consumed while reading a bit more of my most recent book (David McCullough's 1776...good, so far), followed by the remainder of the ice cream in the freezer (Dreyers Rocky Road, decent despite the slightest touch of freezer burn), consumed while watching the 2006 NBA All-Star game (which the East won 122-120). this was followed by a trip to the grocery store for the acquisition of some lunch supplies (store-brand turkey and Kraft American cheese slices, plus some Gardetto's Italian recipe snack mix and a plastic tube of Lay's-brand processed-potato-snack-Pringles-copycat-things), a gallon of milk, and some coffee (some type of Millstone organic dark roast, whole bean, though i prefer buying Starbuck's-roasted Costco brand but had not the time, nor the money, nor the inclination to make the effort to this past week). the Lay's not-really-chips got consumed while i queued up and began watching Robots, and the coffee brewed. the coffee is actually pretty good, and i'm now drinking it black, since i used the last of my Carolan's Irish Cream on the first two cups. black coffee is still a mainstay around here, though i have to admit i've become rather fond of Irish cream liqueur, which transforms actual coffee into something more like a snack, for lack of a better term.

damn tired tonight. every time i get inactive for a few minutes i start nodding off. i must not be feeling overly creative to go into the prior amount of detail on purchases made at the grocery store. incidentally, readers are cautioned not to take the inclusion of that product-specific information as an endorsement of the products mentioned. the Dreyer's is generally pretty good ice cream, for the money, though certainly not of the quality of say Ben & Jerry's, or Haagen-Dazs, and the Millstone coffee is good, though. and Rocky Road is one of Loren's favorites; he chose it when it was purchased. when i have the money i tend to buy the expensive ice cream, which (according to an article i read in consumer reports a long time ago) is measured in quality by the relative scarcity of ice crystals in the finished product. more cream and less water = thicker, richer ice cream (and also more fattening) and Ben & Jerry's scored pretty highly on that list. besides, they make this wonderful concoction of coffee ice cream with actual chunks of Heath bars in it (hard to resist) and also one with some excellent peanut butter ice cream chock full of peanut butter cups (not Reese's....the ones in the Ben & Jerry's are probably better in their ice cream than the Reese's would be). those last two items definitely get an inf endorsement.

tomorrow is another day off of school for Loren, the last of the 4-day weekend that constituted his mid-winter break, after which i expect him to get his mind back on improving the grades he needs to, and maintaining or improving upon the others. tomorrow is another day of work for me, and by next weekend i fully expect to be exhausted. hell, i fully expect to be exhausted by tomorrow evening....and for that matter, to wake up exhausted tomorrow morning. i don't really notice the fatigue during the work day, motion begets motion and momentum builds up to keep me going- but that just makes the crash on the other end more inevitable. i probably ought to go get some sleep.....though if my track record runs true, if by no means follows that i will. the actual act (is that redundant?) of sleeping is not really very enjoyable, or productive for that matter. waking up completely rested, with no pressing business to attend to, is certainly quite satisfying. remembering a particularly vivid dream is, too- but sleeping itself? not the most thrilling activity.

i wonder if anyone's ever done a long-term study on burning the candle at both ends. i suspect people that push the hardest and sleep the least actually burn out quicker (by which i mean "die sooner"). a lot of folk wisdom/common knowledge/wive's tales have a basis in observable truth, and i wonder if that might be the origin of the previous term....?

blah. i'm even boring myself now. time to go.

long week

spent the majority of last week working, more so than usual. worked 10 hours on Sunday last week, then a full week, and another 10 hours yesterday. haven't put 60 hours on the clock in a long time, and i'm pretty much beat. a little creative bookkeeping kept my hours from last Sunday off the OT clock; my boss would likely have given those hours to a part-time employee if he had to pay me overtime for them, but offered me the time on the clock instead, to help make up for the day i missed when the clutch went out on my truck. so those hours got moved to a prior pay period. i still owed him an hour OFF the clock for time i was overpaid the week before Christmas, so taking that hour into account, my 10 hour shift last Sunday worked out to 1.2 hours of OT. yesterday's hours were all at OT rate though (assuming i'll get full shifts in for the remainder of the pay period). this is a good thing, because even 10 hours of OT isn't enough to make up for the $235 ticket i got upon arriving to work yesterday. it sucks to get a ticket at all, but it REALLY sucks when you get one on the way to work, when you're already tired and trying to make up some of the money you already spent on an unexpected expense, and now you will work the entire shift knowing the state's taking the money you needed, and then some, and you would have made more money STAYING HOME. i hate the police. they're never there when you need 'em, and they're rarely able or willing to do much (if anything) about problems you have- the time my house was robbed comes to mind. all in all my experience with police has shown me that you're just better off when they're not around.

i'll be fighting this ticket (or at least part of it). i was fined $132 for allegedly travelling 51mph in a 40mph zone; my speedometer said 44, and i saw the policeman. i'm always looking for them there, on the block i work on, where there accidents are frequent and police presence is common. they're out there giving out tickets all the time, and i'm generally quite careful to watch my speed. in this case, i didn't even bother to brake, believing myself to be travelling within an acceptable margin of the posted limit. obviously that was not the case. i don't believe my speed exceeded 45mph, so i'll be contesting this one. and, as advised by many, i'll be requesting the officer's presence in court.

the other half of the ticket was for not having a driver's-side sideview mirror. i don't plan on contesting that, but will have it fixed forthwith. i'd actually bought a replacement mirror and had it in the vehicle with me at the time of the stop. i suppose i should have explained that to the officer (a Snohomish County Sherrif) before i let him write me a ticket.

i wonder if it's legal that he didn't ask me for proof of insurance? i gave it to him anyway, when he asked for my license, but maybe he realized he'd be writing me tickets for the other offense(s) and was trying not to pile me up with $600 in fines (though a fine for no insurance would've been impossible).

on to other news.

i started calling Loren at his mom's house around 4pm yesterday afternoon, as per my stated plan, and after a couple calls managed to get an answer about when he planned on coming for the evening, so i could leave work. i definitely needed to stay working as long as possible yesterday, both in terms of wages to be earned and also in terms of work to finish. i made adequate progress on both fronts, and left around 5:40 for home. i was in a fairly miserable mood for much of the evening, and pretty tired to boot, so it wasn't the most fun Loren or i've had. i ordered a pizza delivered (both more expensive and less enjoyable than the frozen ones i normally buy) and we watched an episode of ST:DS9. he was ready to watch more, but i didn't, being tired at 10pm and ready to fall asleep on the spot. he was pretty tired too, though he had a little more gas in his tank than i did. in the end, inactivity won out, and we both were crashed out on the couch before we knew it. sometime in the middle of the night i woke up and woke him up, told him to go to bed- before falling asleep again myself. then i woke up about 4am and padded upstairs to my own bed.

we spent a little time together this morning, he played some video games and i watched. we got cleaned up and before you knew it, it was time to take him to his basketball game. his team played another "select" team, and got pounded something like 78-11. Loren played a good game overall, but not spectacular. he didn't score any points, but did block a shot, and played well on the low post for the duration of his minutes (about 1/3-1/2 of the game) and put a lot of pressure on the players he defended. he played aggressively enough to rack up two fouls. that's a success in itself, i've been trying to teach him to use his fouls. the other team shot horribly for the most part but put up a ton of shots, and in the end their offense was just too much for the Tigers defense to stop. the Tigers looked a little shell-shocked in the first half, but played hard in the second and had more success. Loren took off after the game to go back to his mom's place, to hang out with a friend of his (and moreso his brother's). thanks to my sister Melissa for coming, and another thanks for the coffee she bought me! after the game it was home for me.....and now i'm here, so it's time to decide what to do for the remainder of the afternoon.


busy this week

...hence the lack of posts. place got kinda trashed, spent most of last night cleaning it up; still got some more to do.

Loren's getting a 4-day weekend from school. his results this quarter seem pretty good- for the most part- but he's still got some rough spots to iron out. what i did last quarter didn't work, so i'm trying a new approach. getting a little resistance from his mom, but that's not exactly surprising. she's certainly not addressing his school issues so it's up to me. i hate to criticize her approach (or lack of one?) when i'm not around to witness what actually takes place over there, but this much is certain: she absolutely will NOT sit Loren down immediately after school and make sure he does his homework, and she doesn't have a clue about what's necessary for him to improve his grades in the classes he's struggling in. being out of school for a week SERIOUSLY damaged his grades, and his teachers are only posting results online in a hodgepodge fashion (as usual) so it's really very difficult to get a handle on what's going on. i need to get ahold of the school, since i still don't have his report card for last quarter. i bet his mother hasn't given that much thought either.

Loren had basketball practice tonight, and did fairly well. nothing spectacular to report there- it was a fairly random evening.

Loren will (supposedly) be coming here Saturday night, for the remainder of his break from school. his mother has been trying to talk about what is going to happen for a week, without making any kind of decision about ANYTHING. no progress. so i took matters into my own hands and decided- he'll come here Saturday night and stay Sunday- and Sunday night, even though this hasn't been discussed. possession is 9/10ths of the law, right?

pretty much working my butt off this week; put in a 10 hour shift on Sunday, and i'll be putting in another long one this weekend. the last one went to making up hours i missed before, so it got juggled around onto other time periods (not exactly legal....but i'm not complaining; i need the money and it was nice to be offered the opportunity to make up my lost time, from when my truck died). this weekend's a different story though; it should all be OT, if my hours don't just get cut later in the week. i think i'd be a little upset if that happened. 10 hrs of OT would amount to a windfall of around $170- nearly half my truck repair bill. still haven't heard a damn WORD from the towing company that got my truck over there, let alone seen an actual invoice for the towing. bet i got charged, though. tomorrow i'll have to call 'em again- during business hours so i get a live person instead of leaving another message that doesn't get a reply.

not a lot interesting to speak of this week. still in the 3rd seed spot in NBA fantasy. another of my players got traded (the third one). the first was Desmond Mason, who went to the Hornets, before i waived him from my fantasy team; then it was Wally Szczerbiak, who's played great for me since i picked him up; he got traded to the Celtics, and he went from being the #2 scoring option behind Kevin Garnett in Minnesota to being the #2 scoring option behind Paul Pierce in Boston, so no real change as far as stats are concerned. the newest trade was former Sonic Vladimir Radmanovic, traded to the Clippers. wondering whether it'll be a smart move to waive him during the All-Star break, since i don't have games for a few days, or if i should keep him in hopes that his numbers will take an up-swing with his new team. there are certainly players available i could get better numbers out of.

finished my Twain book of short stories last night; sometimes, while i was reading it, it seemed like every story in it was better than the last one, but after finishing i'd have to say they were all pretty much excellent across the board. a singularly talented writer, and a true American icon; definitely one of my all-time favorites.

still working on finishing the conventionalization of files in my photo album- i'm making headway, but it is a slow process. can't wait to get everything posted. then i'll have to order something so the Kodak people don't just eliminate my gallery for non-support. i think a nice mug might be in order, since money continues to be tight.

as i may have mentioned before, i backslid a bit on the no-smoking thing, but have managed to keep it to a minimum. i can definitely tell a difference, i don't crave them like i used to. a lot of a smoking habit is just habit. i think that's the most pernicious part of the whole thing, the urge to fill little breaks in the action with a cigarette. i've been (pretty successfully) trying to save them for times when i really actually want one, rather than just reach for one impulsively (or is that compulsively?), and many times when i light one i don't want to smoke the whole thing anymore. when i've worn this pattern in for awhile, i'll decide if i want to try quitting again. i'm sure those in the medical field would tell you ANY amount of smoking is too much- but common sense tells me that there has to be SOME point at which a person smokes so little that the impact on their health is negligible....though where that point lies is likely less than i'm smoking even now.

suppose that's about all i have to blab about at the moment.


Saturday come, and nearly gone

Friday night (last night) held no surprises for Loren and i, and that suited both of us just fine. i drove out and picked him up from his mom's, and we headed home for our usual Friday night pizza & catch-up (not "ketchup"....that would be gross) session. the Sonics were playing the Hawks at Key Arena, and we got a chance to check out another of the players on my fantasy NBA team, the Hawks' Al Harrington. he had a good game, though not good enough to seal a victory for the Hawks; the Sonics took the contest 99-91, though Rashard Lewis left in the first half with a nasty thigh bruise. so much for HIS stats on the night. an enjoyable game anyway- especially watching Damien Wilkins (one of my favorite role-player Sonics) have a career night, including scoring something like 23 points (a career high for him) and at one point in the second half scoring the last 13 consecutive points for the Sonics. Nick Collison, another of my favorites- who's also seeing more playing time under Coach Hill than he might have under Coach Weiss- tied his career best in rebounds, and showed some strong slashing moves to the hoop, in a great starting effort, and even Robert Swift (also the beneficiary of increased playing time under Coach Hill) had a career night in rebounding as well. the Sonics tried to give the game away a bunch of times, turning the ball over WAY too much in the second half, but Damien played probably the best game of his life and put it away down the stretch- FUN to watch!

after the Sonics game we settled in for another episode of ST:DS9, as we make our way through the DVD on our plate at the moment. i figured we'd get to watching the last one today and i could return the disc, but that was not to be. it was too late to watch another episode last night, so it got put off until today, and today we just ran out of time.

Loren did a little relaxing, rising an hour or so earlier than i did (pretty normal for a Saturday here), and got a little TV under his belt, and a little internet time. i got up about 11am, and we had some breakfast and took care of the morning stuff, before i hopped online and started reviewing his school progress with him. he was convinced he got all the work he missed during his recent illness turned in, and that may very well be (i'm pretty inclined to believe him) but the results don't show on the internet yet; there's always a little lag between what he's turned in and what makes the most recent update by any of his teachers. the next part of the school progress review was checking out what he needed to accomplish this week- and that was a sorrier story. he managed not to start a week-long experiment- assigned originally while he was out sick- and we came to the conclusion that he only had 2 days to get some bread to mold (likely not enough time to see any results, let alone successfully meet the requirements), but i had him do what he could to be as prepared as possible to turn it in on Monday anyway- though he'll likely get a bad grade. i told him he should ask his teacher if he'll get a better grade by turning it in 5 days late, but complete, or done as well as possible, but incomplete, and turned in on time. either way he's likely to have cost himself a bunch of points; the average science assignment is worth 100 pts, this one- like most week-long experiments assigned in that class- is worth 400. he'll have to live with the results. it also turned out he didn't finish the majority of his math homework, also assigned as a single assignment with a week allowed for completion. this one there's really no excuse for, considering that's the only way he EVER gets math homework and it's nothing new. i've told him countless times to sit down and do an honest day's homework immediately when he gets home from school, before doing anything else, but that rarely happens- his mother simply won't enforce the policy, which is extremely disappointing. i know i'd be handling some of the responsibility best placed on him, were he to come here after school rather than his mom's house, but i think in a short time the routine would kick in (since it would NEVER change) and he'd do what needed to be done on his own in short order. however, he got that assignment completed, and done as well or better (including neatness!) than any i've seen him do so far, including the "extra credit" portions (always optional and available). i think he'll get a great grade on that. he also did some reading for a book report he was assigned earlier, due Feb 23- which he forgot about until i reviewed his pending assignments with him.

beginning at about 3pm, when my very loud and prolonged castigation for blowing off/forgetting/failing to do/whatever-you-wanna-call-it his homework for the week, he sat down and worked his tail off at it, with a good attitude, and kept at it right up until we had to get him ready for his basketball game this evening. he was more than a little disappointed that we had to spend our Saturday with him at the kitchen table working, as opposed to screwing around having fun with me- and so was i- but i think he spent his time wisely, and i know i did the right thing by making him get his stuff done. gotta say: i'm impressed with how he handled that disappointment. i told him, don't be upset, just fix the problem so we don't repeat it next week. hopefully it'll stick. but enough about homework.

tonight was BASKETBALL night for Loren, and he had a CAREER night! what a great game, and so nice to see it come after a fairly hard day. Loren's team lost a really good contest 36-33. Loren started, and played the entire first quarter, and was subbed in once for a few minutes in the second half. during his first stint on the floor he made his presence known with consistently excellent defense (playing aggressively enough to get called for his first foul of the season, which was great to see), and showed good movement on offense without the ball. that movement earned him a couple well-timed passes- both of which he put in the hoop! the first was a shot from the side of the key, down low, the second from about 16' out, both from the left side, both bankers off the backboard, if i remember correctly. he also stole the ball on an inbounds pass, and he said he came down with a rebound, though i don't think i saw that (could've missed it, i'll have to go watch the video to see if he did....or if the shaky, distracted cameraman- Yours Truly- caught it). he brought his defense back onto the floor with him when he was subbed in during the second half, but never got the ball for another shot, finishing the game with (by my count) 4 pts on perfect 2-2 shooting from the field, 1 steal....and maybe a block? i'll have to go look again. DEFINITELY a great game for him, despite the losing effort. from the point of view of a spectator in the stands, this was a competitive game throughout, neither team building an insurmountable lead, nor able to stop the other from taking it back. this is what makes sport so much fun- close competition. would've been nice to see Loren's team get a win, but i think most of his team was happy to have been in the game the whole time.

Loren took off back to his mom's this evening after the game, armed with his science experiment, completed math homework, and Playstation 2. he managed to leave the PS2's power cord here- and when he called to ask about it i declined to drive it out to him, mentioning i could leave it where he could come get it tomorrow while i'm working if he liked (left outside in a place he can find it). then i looked at the power cord and realized it wasn't a transformer or adaptor or anything- simply a power cord like you'd find on a boom box. which made me think he might be able to plug the power cord from his boom box into his PS2. i told him to try it, and the plastic on the end of the cord where it plugs into the PS2 wasn't shaped correctly, since the PS2 cord has a couple notches which fit around a couple tabs in the slot for it; i told him to have his mom's husband cut the plastic away so that it would fit- which i've done on other cords for other devices successfully. his mom seemed reluctant to let that happen, but eventually her husband agreed to give it a try, and was successful, so ol' inf gets an 'A' this evening for solving Loren's prob- and his mom's husband gets an 'A' for effort for doing something nice for m'boy.

tomorrow is a long day for me, though the work will be easy enough. making up some time lost to my truck being out of commission, and the hours are certainly welcome. it'll make for a long work week, but so be it. i've been trying to get a little ahead on the bills so if there's a little minor disruption in the pay schedule (as sometimes seems to happen) it doesn't put me in a tight spot. the way to do that seems to be to go through a tight spot now. i've been forcing myself to exist on basically nothing but credit card charges (and as few of those as possible, for the least amounts, and only for absolutely necessary things) for a few weeks, and putting the checking account money into the bills. i'm planning to keep it up for as long as it takes to get at least 2 paychecks ahead of the bill cycle, so i have a 1 week hedge against a belated paycheck, and another week to allow for electronic bill payment lag. after that i intend to see just how much money i can possibly spare toward paying down credit card debt. still considering refinancing my house but....one thing at a time, i think. transferring the balances to term-guaranteed lower rates (around 4%) was Step 1, getting ahead on the bills to make sure none of those payments happen late (and ruin Step 1) is Step 2.

last Monday, as i've been planning, i quit smoking. after three days of being pretty miserable i started feeling better about the whole process, and noticing differences. food really does taste different when your lungs and mouth clear out a bit, and i noticed some of the lines on my face starting to lighten up some- that was unexpected. i've come to the conclusion that i really don't want to quit smoking completely forever, if it's possible for me to do it with moderation. that may prove impossible. after 5 days of not smoking, during which time the urge to smoke diminished slowly but surprisingly steadily, i gave in to temptation and bought a pack of smokes, mostly to see if i could smoke one without immediately wanting more. the first few drags of one were enough to make me realize how fast your body gets over nicotine- it made me damn dizzy, and upset my stomach. having them in the house though, makes it much harder not to smoke. after 20 years of smoking it's going to take more than a few days of abstinence to get over the urge to light up, even if the body really does get over the nicotine addiction quickly. the habit is much harder to break than the addiction is. as i type i'm smoking the 9th cigarette i've smoked in 6 days, which is the same as saying i've smoked nearly half a pack since last night- still only 1/2 as much as i had before i tried to quit, but clearly a full-on backslide, in my mind. the question of whether i can change my habit to being someone who smokes on a rare occasion is still an open question, but for the moment at least the answer to that seems to be a resounding "NOPE". tomorrow i go back to work and first thing in the morning i crawl back on the wagon. i'm going to see how long i can manage to wait without smoking with cigarettes in the house. but to what end? i'd like to be someone who can smoke occasionally. if i had to put a number on it, i'd say a limit of...hmmm....a pack a month (?) would be an acceptable definition of "occasional". if i can't manage to do that, i'll have to do like the alcoholics do, and just swear it off completely. another way i'm planning on discouraging myself from indulging (overindulging?) in smoking is to start running again. i used to really like running, and it's certainly great exercise- i don't get much aerobic exercise anymore (read: pretty much none); and on the few occasions i've run i get MUCH more in tune with the amount of abuse my lungs have taken- and that's positive motivation. so, next step is to put the smokes in the cupboard (or maybe the freezer- i hear they keep well in there) and work on how long i can go without, knowing they're available at any time....can't say that i'll be surprised if they'll be gone in a day or two....but if that happens, i try to quit completely, for good, again. in the meantime, i'm committing myself to not bring any with my anywhere, or buy any more for the forseeable future. before i get off the subject, i have to say that i was surprised how quickly the STRONG urge for a smoke RIGHT NOW went away....and not altogether surprised that the lingering urge to light one up sort of lurks right beneath the surface, all the time.

moving on....

had a few minutes this evening to play with some scripts for this site; i'm considering including a script which will rotate between the current and past pictures displayed above this posting section. there are plenty of scripts online which can do this in Javascript (a somewhat limited compromise solution, in the absence of the ability to run CGI, PHP, SQL or ASP stuff, none of which are permitted on the servers i currently use for this site) but most of them aren't exactly what i have in mind. my main concern is formatting; i want a fairly specific and simple output that won't change the overall presentation i've worked on for this page. many of the scripts i've found include elements for additional user controls which invariably must appear in one form or another. i prefer something that just changes the image from behind the scenes and leaves the remainder of the page the way i've got it. i'm sure the results will be noticeable to those familiar with this site, if i'm ultimately successful.

been spending a bit of time finishing out the (flat excellent) book of short stories by Mark Twain (pretty much my favorite writer, i'd have to say) i started a long time ago. i'm down to the last story, and since i've pretty much worked my way through all the full length and major short stories he wrote, i'm actually finding myself a little reluctant to finish that one, in the same way that more thoughtful children might begin eating their ice cream more slowly as they see the remaining amount diminish- with the noticeable exception that Mr. Twain's words are unlikely to melt should i wait too long. i'm going to have to look around for any of his works that failed to appear in the this book, The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, and the previous one i read of his, The Unabridged Mark Twain- which contained "nearly every major work of fiction ever published" by him. what an amazing writer, and obviously someone who viewed the world in much the same way as i do. laugh out loud funny, with absolutely scathing social commentary, and just enough, and appropriate, empathy, presented in his trademark Everyman style, subtly sweetened with uncommonly beautiful prose in just the right measure....i don't think that's putting too fine a point on it. can't wait until Loren and i get to the ST:TNG episode(s) in which the characters actually encounter Mark Twain....those were always fun.

ok- this has turned into a book, so thanks to all for reading, especially those few who've made a habit of visiting my little corner of cyberspace (you know who you are, and you help to make this all worthwhile).

PEACE, and a great remainder of the weekend to you all.


so much for Loren's basketball practice this evening

[editor's note: posted Thursday night, after midnight]
i swear the league Loren plays basketball in has the worst communication of any i've ever encountered. drove out to take him to practice tonight, only to find upon arriving on the court that his practice was cancelled, on account of they changed tonight's practice to a game and changed the time to 2 hours earlier. i swear it's like people are going out of their way to EXCLUDE Loren from playing. those people are going to get a piece of my mind. what a buncha crap. this is what we paid $75 for? so they could have no clear idea of who they were going to play against, or when, and not give out any contact information or bother to inform people when things get changed? granted Loren's been sick for a week, and missed a game and a couple practices, but hell he had a 103 degree fever- he didn't have a choice- and he was at the last practice- and heard full well that it was POSSIBLE they'd change things around for this evening- but no one bothered to confirm it, at least not to him- which, interestingly enough, might not be for a lack of attempt, considering the general lack of response to phone calls to the Loren's mom's household.....these people should be getting ahold of ME.

anyway- we showed up like normal, and although it wasn't a huge inconvenience for Loren, since his mom's is only about 10 minutes away- but for me it's an hour and a half round trip all things considered, not to mention almost 40 miles of driving.

during practices, i think the coaches do the right thing- although i'd be a little remiss not to mention that the coach that's supposed to actually be the coach doesn't do much at all except enforce discipline occasionally, and maybe help drill a lone player one on one when they get left out of a team scrimmage due to an odd number of players showing up, or offer a little encouragement or advise from outside a drill- while letting his assistants actually control the flow of practice, provide most of the coaching tips....i wonder if he's grooming them to do it on their own, or if maybe they're doing it for high school community service credit or something. i would SO feel bad if i was Loren's coach and left him out of the loop like that- wonder if they do.

stopped off and got a few groceries on my way home from all that, this evening. did a little laundry, and watched the movie A Series of Unfortunate Events. it started out looking quite interesting, but was definitely a large departure from the one book i read of the story. the movie combined events from the first three books in Lemony Snicket's series, i think. actually- to be completely honest, the movie was enjoyable enough, and filmed well, and acted well....but nothing really struck me as fantastic- and in truth, the books were a bit of a let-down from the accompanying hype, too. i rarely expect a film to live up to the hype, but books? some of them hit you like a curve ball to the side of the helmet from out of nowhere.

actually, when you get right down to it, the louder the hype, the fewer things manage to live up to it. in movies, the last time i found something that truly fulfilled my expectations was King Kong (and i'm betting Peter Jackson and his team are just getting warmed up as far as blockbusters go). the last time i was completely blown away by how well done something was....The Lord of the Rings movies come to mind most quickly, and The Incredibles. Toy Story. The Lion King. Star Wars: Episode III. Star Trek: Generations, or Star Trek: First Contact.

in books? the Harry Potter series takes the cake, as far as contemporarily-released epic stories accessible to kids, with adult appeal, adventure and humour in large supply, and believable characters you can empathize with. the acting in Unfortunate Events was superb- even Carey's expectedly-overblown Olaf was very good; he really is an amazing actor. best surprises in the movie? Meryl Streep, as the neurotic aunt, for one. since i haven't read that far in the books i wasn't expecting her, and i believe they mixed up the sequence of events to cram her (and the herpetologist uncle) in the middle of this film, rather than leave the entire film in Olaf-as-Olaf's hands. why use Carey for one character when you can use him for three? it's a long series of books, and if Olaf's not gone in them (can't say for sure if he is or isn't, since i haven't read 'em, but they blatantly mentioned Olaf getting released by Jury of his Peers) then surely Carey'll be back. but i got away from my point: most surprising things. the other that comes to mind in this movie was (can't remember the actor's name) the herpetologist uncle singing with an autoharp in one scene- nicely done. music is powerful in film!

the outtakes were great, and in some ways even better than the movie proper; surely half the people in the theaters had neither seen (nor cared to see?) the books that spawned this film before the fact, but Carey pulled them in nonetheless- and the outtakes are as fun as his antics during the film; they should be: much of his in-film dialogue came from ad-libbed monologuing during screen tests. i wouldn't classify watching this film as an Unfortunate Event- but the books were more fun. and last impression: Aussie Emily Browning could be Angelina Jolie's 14 yr old little sister.

and that's way more than enough inf press on a fair (but not outstanding) movie.

ok it's damn late- time to crash. wish i had more interesting things to say than talk about what i watched on television. maybe i'll jump backwards to things i've skipped over in the next entry, or the one after it.


i have nothing good or particularly interesting to say...

WARNING: foul language [readers with easily offended sensibilities are strongly cautioned, and advised to skip this unimpressive, unimportant, disappointing and predominantly unenjoyable post in its entirety.]
...except perhaps that today was the first day in a long time that i've been out of smokes and haven't bought any. yay. quitting smoking sucks. maybe being an ex-smoker is whoopee-hooray-yeehaw-happy-happy-joy but quitting is a total bitch. didn't help that i struggled all damn day doing the most bullshit part of my job on the most bullshit parts. and that my truck is in the fucking shop- again tomorrow, since the fucking tow truck driver couldn't find my house without fucking calling me, and then still didn't get my truck to the shop until 11 fucking o'clock this morning, even though i set the balls in motion on fucking FRIDAY.

of course, i might be a little bitchy today.

Loren called this evening. he seems pretty happy about being in drama class (3rd qrtr. elective). his Language teacher (his school splits a traditional English class into "language" and "reading") is also going to be his teacher for his other 3rd qrtr. elective, Spanish.

when i was 12 i didn't care about smoking one bit- and somehow managed to make it through just fine. nicotine is evil.


it's over

the 2004-2005 NFL season. the unprecedented run for the Seattle Seahawks at a world championship. the Super Bowl. all done. if you live under a rock: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10.

i'm not a sore loser- i never argue a good call, whether it helps my team or not. i'm such a fan of good officiating that sometimes it's even hard to watch the NBA- my favorite sport; there are sometimes so many bad calls in a game that the general assumption seems to be that "it's always a little fixed". i'm not sure i'd go that far, but i've certainly seen a bad call go one way, then another bad call made the other way (the "make-up call", where the refs attempt to set the game back on the course it might've taken if they hadn't blown it). but that's the NBA. this is a SINGLE game for ALL the marbles, and the officials are supposedly the best the NFL has to offer. in my mind- they dropped the ball tonight. taking away a legitimate touchdown by D Jack on a VERY questionable call, and then coming in to spot Big Ben down at the goal line and changing your mind midway there, and calling a touchdown? that's the story of your game, folks.

90% yellow towels in that stadium; you have to wonder how much that played into things....the mental game is a big part of it. Seattle certainly didn't play their best game.

still, it was as enjoyable a Super Bowl party as my sister and bro-in-law could throw, missing only a Seahawks win. the food was excellent, and plenty. the TV for the game was fantastic. the company was first rate, and 19 strong, including m'boy. the only thing missing was a Seahawk win. Loren was understandably a little bitter toward the refs. some of the mistakes were blatantly obvious. Loren said it made him want to be a ref so he could make sure games were played fair. i told him he should just play football and go win a Super Bowl- that'd make him feel a little better. as for me: i'm not one to dwell on bad calls; they happen in games, and it's one of the hurdles a team has to get over to win a championship. but like Coach Holmgren said after the game: this is a bitter pill to swallow, but all those guys deserve to hold their heads up. you don't get to the Super Bowl by being a mediocre team- these guys played like champs all year. and don't forget the way the Steelers looked on the sidelines when they were down 3-0 late in the 2nd quarter....hell they looked a little apprehensive when they were up 7-3 at the half. only a little better execution on Seattle's part might've been enough.

so now the question becomes: what's in store for the Seahawks next year? will Shaun Alexander be back? (we hope so). will Seattle repeat the success they've had this year? (highly likely if they can field a similar team). will they be in the running for the title again? (certainly possible). will the national media still fail to give Seattle the respect it's earned? (highly likely, since they didn't win). i'd like to think this season'll change the Seahawks' image, but without doubt, winning the Super Bowl would've gone a lot farther toward that end than losing it will. if they make a respectable run at the championship next year, people will start to notice. these guys have a taste of the big game, and a lot of them'll be counting the days until they get another run at it. which do it in a Seattle uniform is anyone's guess right now.

just cringing here, to think of all the naysayers- here in the NW- that'll come outta the woodwork to talk this team down now. everyone around here loves a winner, but sometimes i think they love to hate a loser even more. there are a lot of casual "fans" around here that seem almost happy to wallow in cynicism toward the pro sports franchises here. defeatist, fair-weather fans are a dime a dozen (especially where the Mariners are concerned- in all honesty, Seahawks and Sonics fans tend to be more diehard). so i guess we'll see who's still wearing Seahawks colors come the fall- i will be. betcha m'boy will be too. wouldn't have it any other way.

bet i can find me a Super Bowl XL sweatshirt this week, cheap.

in other sports news: my fantasy basketball team went 4-1-0 against the stiffest competition in the league this week, to close the gap between my team and his. my team's record jumps to 57-12-1, his goes to 58-11-1; not bad considering losing 0-5 to him would've meant dropping to 53-16-1 to his 62-7-1, and likely putting it out of reach for the rest of the year. i think i play that team once more in the regular season, and hoping to go at least 3-2 against him next time around- and not drop any games in the interim. definitely feeling appreciative of some solid (though by no means spectacular) work by my players this week.

i gather i misunderstood the rules earlier, and i'm actually in 3rd place in overall standing, league-wide, as another team, with (as of last week) a paltry 44-21-0 record has won more games in their (MUCH weaker) division, and as such occupies 2nd place. i play that team the week after next, and have played them once this year already, winning 4-1-0 against them, so it's likely i'll regain 2nd place overall. in the end, 2nd seed plays 3rd seed in the first round of the playoffs, so that matchup wouldn't change regardless of which of us is in 2nd place- and the winner of that game takes on the winner of the 1st seed v 4th seed game. chances are still excellent for a finals appearance for ol' inf.

Loren's back to his mother's tonight, most of his missed schoolwork accomplished. he failed to complete one of the assignments, and that's not so bad, considering he was out of school for a full week. the teacher for the class he hasn't finished the assignment for will give him full credit when it's turned in- so no harm done for the moment. Tuesday Loren should be back to basketball practice (he missed a game and the last three practices, i think). hope the coaches understand he was damn sick. there was no game for his team this weekend, cancelled due to a prevailing interest in the Super Bowl on the part of damn near everyone involved in Loren's league. i'm hoping the skipped games this year were postponed, but i doubt it. Loren's basketball season is likely to end at the end of the month, and then we'll see what's on the horizon for him as far as sports go. he might very well decide to take a little break. and if he does, i intend to make up for those days i'd see him at practices.

power went out last night / today's events / etc.

killed my computer and clocks again. been pretty blustery around here, makin' all the Seahawks fans nervous: Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow, and everyone wants to watch the Big Game. the line seems to be Pittsburgh by 4 points, but i think the Seahawks are gonna take it. maybe wishful thinking- but they really are a damn good team this year, and i haven't been all that impressed by the Steelers in the games i've seen them this season. GO SEAHAWKS! Loren's excited- he's under the impression he's never seen a Super Bowl before (though i remember him being here for last year's, when Paul McCartney performed at halftime- following the Janet Jackson BS that happened during the previous year's halftime stupidity). i'll have to go back and check if there's a blog entry for that to prove it to him....[scanning old blog entries.....]...nope there's not. my memory will have to suffice, and as that's likely not enough to change Loren's mind, this next game will likely live ad infinitum in Loren's memory as the very first Super Bowl he ever saw. one more reason to hope the Seahawks take it all!

feeling quite handicapped without my wheels. can't imagine not having a vehicle as a normal state of existence. that would certainly take some getting used to, after 20 years of driving around pretty much at will.

looks like my folks'll be coming over to pick me up around noon tomorrow, for my sister and bro-in-law's Super Bowl party. [Editor's Note: this is undoubtedly the most usages of the term "Super Bowl" in any post in the history of this blog]. it'll be good to see everyone tomorrow, and even better for Loren to get to see all the family, something that happens all too seldom in my book.

my fantasy basketball team's been doing well against the stiffest competition there is in my league. don't know if my opponent's making mistakes or not, but today it seemed to me that he might've- he had some players on the bench that seemed eligible for today's games; is it possible that someone else makes a management mistake once in a while too? hope that's true, it'd even the odds a little bit. i've been more than a little consciencious handling my team this year, but i've certainly made a few mistakes. s'pose it's only human for someone else to as well.

today came and went all too quickly. i slept in till around 10:30am, Loren did his usual morning thing on Saturdays here, namely taking advantage of the existence of cable television (unavailable where his mother lives) and watching cartoons- a perfectly respectable activity. we spent a lazy morning updating NBA fantasy stats, going over some of his old homework assignments, talking about science and math (i can't ever resist quizzing him on things he knows, and teaching him about or drilling him on things i've taught him that his school hasn't). one of the more interesting ones for me is changing complex multiplication problems to a series of smaller multiplication and addition problems, which are easier to do in your head, i.e. 15x14 = (10 x 15) + (4 x 10) + (4 x 5) = 150 + 40 + 20 = 210. i don't know if that's part of what they used to call 'the new math' or not- it's certainly not something they taught when i was in school- it just seemed to me easier to do the problems that way, than try to carry numbers in your head. less to remember maybe. math is fun. i try to do it in my head as much as possible- and so does Loren, sometimes to the detriment of decent grades on math assignments, where it's not only required for a good grade, but also necessary to get the right answer. it's easy to make a small mistake when you do things in your head, and it's easier to check your work on paper than do the problem from scratch in your head again to compare your answer....not that Loren's much in the habit of checking his work. something to work on....

we managed to get a little farther in our book this evening, The Wishsong of Shanarra, something it's been nice to get back to after (for some reason....possibly spending more time watching videos when he's here than normal) a longer break than i like. i won't be reading to him in the evening forever; i know my parents certainly didn't read to me in the evenings when i was in 7th grade, but it's not really a little kid thing with us anymore, as we spend time talking about the story, etc. i guess it's more just traditional than anything now. i'm fairly certain the last book i'll read aloud with him is the last in the series of books we began a looong time ago: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series (fantastic books, by the way). i've been reading to him since he born, and i'll be a little sad to see that particular tradition end. but all things for children must end for them to grow. i miss singing him to sleep sometimes too- which makes me feel a bit more motherly than i'd like, i don't mind admitting- but since i've spent the last 12 years playing a single-parent role, it's not all that surprising. i'm living proof men can be as nurturing as women, but more surprisingly- and importantly, i think- is proving beyond doubt that most invidividuals have within themselves the ability to play both roles, if they allow it happen. a man understands what it is to be a man, and acting like a father comes naturally enough- but (in most cases) a man also remembers his mother, and can make a pretty good guess at what things he has to compensate for as a single parent. i'm not sure it's even all that difficult- if you love your kids.

that's as good a place as any to end a post.


my damn truck, and the rest of my day

dead in the water. my truck made it here just fine last night after work. i know, because i parked it in the driveway like i always do. when i attempted to leave for work this morning, i pushed in the clutch and it went to the floor with very little resistance- it just felt kinda strange, and i thought, "oh no...." it's prob'ly just coincidence but it seems like it could be synchronicity or something: i've been thinking about the clutch going out on the thing, even though it hasn't had any trouble to speak of. sure, it made a little slipping noise sometimes when it was in gear, but it's an old truck ('92 Dakota). it always runs fine....but not today. that to-the-floor thing is a classic sign of clutch cable failure.

bracing myself for the worst, i depressed the clutch pedal again; well, i tried to. my knee almost ended up in my chest- it wouldn't budge. it's kinda like that feeling you get when you think you're at the top of the stairs, but you're not yet, and the floor's just WAY too high when you put your foot down. didn't move at all, not a smidgen, not an iota. not a nanometer. dead solid stuck. hmmm. ok. can i change gears? yup. transmission's ok. gear shift lever works fine. is it going to start in gear when i turn it on? hmmm...turn key (cringing against likely grinding noises).....no noises, truck starts right up (this truck's good like that....good truck [pat, pat] nice truck). rev the motor- still normal. let's see....change gears while motor's running, without pushing in the clutch? yup- no scrape, no grind, just changing gears smooth as silk. @#($*@#!($&*!~*!!! (that's what you call "some colorful language".)

ok, i see the symptoms. what's the diagnosis? perhaps something in the clutch actuator assembly? is the pedal binding? doubtful- not when i can change gears with the motor running- the clutch has to be stuck disengaged (which, if you're familiar with automotive mechanics i don't need to tell you, is only supposed to happen when the clutch pedal is depressed....by which i mean physically pushed toward the floor, not emotionally downtrodden). could the clutch cable be stuck somehow? also doubtful. when they break, your pedal goes to the floor with no resistance whatsoever....let's see....pop the hood, take a look. interesting: didn't know it until now, but this truck has a hydraulic clutch actuator, a new animal for this blogger. wire-driven actuators pull mechanically on the clutch assembly to disengage it; this one pushes, the opposite motion to get the same result- which means the entire clutch assembly is different....

so let's see....2 hydraulic cylinders (each a tube with piston inside, which drives, or is driven by, non-compressable hydraulic oil). a fluid reservoir w/DOT 3 brake fluid for the hydraulic oil (which was mildly surprising to me- though it shouldn't have been, considering the brake system is a quite similar hydraulic system), connected to the master (drive) cylinder. a hydraulic fluid line connecting the master and slave cylinders, with the slave cylinder bolted to the outside of the bell housing of the clutch assembly (way down under the belly of the beast, where people seldom go).

so how does this actually work....? a good explanation of clutches can be found here, but the short answer is: pushing in the clutch pedal shoves the master cylinder's piston forward, forcing hydraulic oil through the fluid line, which drives the the piston in the slave cylinder forward. the slave cylinder's piston has a rod on the end which pushes against a spring-mounted pin that causes the clutch to disengage, or in other words: separate the components of the clutch assembly so that the motor's (spinning, while running) driveshaft is no longer in contact with the transmission's pressure plate. as you let the clutch pedal out, the outside force exerted on the system (via your foot) decreases, the master cylinder's piston can retract, the hydraulic fluid moves in the opposite direction (toward a state of equilibrium, or at least insufficient positive pressure to actuate the clutch assembly), the slave cylinder's piston retracts, and with it the pin forcing the clutch assembly to disengage, allowing the clutch to come into contact with the flywheel. the driveshaft (again, always spinning while the motor's running) and the transmission (possibly spinning or not- and likely at a different rate, in any case) rub against each other until the resistance caused by their friction synchronizes the rate of spin between the two (meeting somewhere between the two rates of spin), and they become "fully engaged", not slipping on each other anymore. once that state is achieved, the torque (spinning force) of the driveshaft is thereafter fully transferred (through that engaged clutch assembly) to the selected gear of the transmission, which in turn transfers that torque to the driveline, which transfers it to another set of gears called a differential, to the drive wheels.

2 drive wheels, in my case. which aren't moving, even when the transmission is in gear. so either there's something wrong with the clutch itself, or the pedal/hydraulic system you control it with. so which is it? first thing to check is the hydraulic fluid. checks out ok- maybe a little low, so i add a little....shouldn't be the cause of the problem, in any event. maybe the cylinder(s) is/are stuck? could be. disconnect one end and try to move the piston.. hmmm. which end? decide on the slave cylinder, with only two bolts and not a lot of crap in the way. get nut driver from tool box in garage- think twice, grab them all, which keeps me from having to walk back in through the house to the garage if i have the wrong one. since the garage door is effectively blocked by 2 large sheets of plywood which wouldn't fit in any other way- for the moment- and....oh, forget it- on with the mechanical thing. go back outside, crawl under the truck. try the 1/2" nut driver- correct size, first try. yes! got an eye for these things. too bad the piston makes it impossible to grip the handle to turn the driver. hmmm. need a socket. go back inside anyway, through the house to the garage, find a 1/2" socket, go back out, crawl under truck....realize parking brake doesn't work and this is on a slope....think twice. remember car falling on me when i was 17- lucky, wasn't injured. remember aquaintance from high school pinned under car unto death.....sigh. crawl back out, get great big rock from overgrown jungle of garden in front yard, wedge behind front wheel, just in case. rock rolls. rock too round. toss rock back in jungle and choose another, more carefully. wedge rock behind front tire. rock vehicle back-n-forth a bit, check for movement- none. ok. satisfied. crawl back under truck with socket and wrench, put socket on bolt- no. socket too short. damn. crawl back out from under truck, go through house to garage, look for deeper socket. no. not exist. [sigh]. find open end/box end wrench....very short wrench....shake head at sorry state of tool box. remind self to invest in some damn tools for the umpteenth time. get cheater bar, just in case. go back outside, crawl under truck, put wrench on bolt, turn. no. stuck. push really hard, crack knuckles on steel....expected- not upset. rub hurt hand. try again, rack knuckles again, not so hard- try cheater bar. put wrench on bolt, cheater bar on wrench; drop cheater bar, put cheater bar on wrench, drop both, pick up wrench, put on bolt, hold wrench carefully, put cheater bar on wrench, crank carefully about 1/8 of a turn....it moves! progress. set aside cheater bar, turn bolt with wrench, then fingers. repeat successful procedure for 2nd bolt. remove slave cylinder. push in pin. works fine, including transferring force to the master cylinder. check for leaks, see none. maybe master cylinder siezed? doubtful- motion present....leave slave cylinder hanging, crawl out from under truck, try to twist free master cylinder- it rotates out of firewall. excellent. easier to disconnect cylinder from pedal, or from hydraulic line? check pedal assembly....looks kinda hard to get at. go back to engine compartment, check out cotter pin...push pin type. hmmm. scratch head. get idea! go through house into garage, get sheet metal scribe and hammer. insert sharp end of sheet metal scribe into pin hole, tap with hammer- pin moves. go into house get vice grips. try to pull out pin....not enough sticking out. scratch head. idea! go through house into garage, get old wire coat hanger, break short piece off with needlenose pliers, bring pliers and wire outside. hold wire with pliers, tap with hammer, pin moves. try again with vice grips. not enough sticking out, angle is bad. return to wire, drop wire , search for wire, no find. growlz. go back into house with pliers, break off longer section of wire, return to truck. grip wire with pliers, insert in hole, tap with hammer, drop wire. search for wire. no find. GROWLZ. force cylinder into better position, carefully adjust vice-grips, pull pin- yes! got it. remove fitting from end of cylinder. push cylinder toward firewall to simulate pedal pressure. spew hydraulic oil over air filter cover and engine. swear- the stuff's caustic and eats paint. go inside, get rag. carefully remove fluid line and slave cylinder- spill more fluid, including on outside of fender, tire, and wheel rim. use rag to clean up as much as possible. wonder if the paint on the truck is going to corrode. think that losing some paint on this truck is about as damaging as pissing in a garbage dump. wipe off fluid anyway. crawl into cab, head under dash, check out master cylinder attachment to pedal....not difficult. go inside, get small flathead screwdriver from junk drawer in kitchen, go back out, pull retaining washer, exit cab, move piston in master cylinder freely- spew more oil, this time mostly on the driveway. cylinder is definitely not bound. nothing in hydraulic system or pedal assembly seems unable to move freely. worry. problem likely more serious.

scratch head. smoke cigarette. call mechanically-inclined friend to confirm what i suspect: clutch assembly is frozen disengaged. friend agrees with my assessment. only options: 1) jar loose the assembly, 2) remove transmission and fix properly. think. think of lack of decent tools. think of lack of jack stands to support transmission when disconnected from engine. think of slope truck is sitting on and lack of parking brake. think of lack of proximal area to work on vehicle. think of work already missed and possibility of missing more. think of cost of getting vehicle fixed. think of cost of towing truck to shop for repair. ponder relative benefits and drawbacks of rock and hard place.

Loren here for weekend, out from school sick (very sick) all week, likely needs help (read: cattle prod) to complete missed school work. Super Bowl XL is Sunday- Seahawks' first trip, will not miss that. weekend fairly busy. work looming Monday. figure it may be possible to repair at home, but combination of uncertainty of length of time to (and success of) repair and tight schedule this weekend.....tough. call shop that replaced freeze plugs and shocks, get estimate of cost and turnaround; call insurance, ask about towing coverage- it exists. wonder if negative effect on insurance rates outweighs cost of towing....figure i can decide to turn in the claim later....all in all: $250 labor + parts + $75 towing....likely $400-500 bill altogether. ouch. OUCH, DAMMIT! bite the bullet. make it so. need my truck.

so this weekend, though stuck around the house for the most part, will be a decent one, but it's going to cost me about a week's wages, or ~2% of my income for the year. sigh.

could be worse, the truck coulda rolled on me. or i could be my neighbor, who fell at work and is now faced with being out of work for weeks, in significant pain, dealing with the rock of trying to work hurt (like i did with my broken foot) or the hard place of waiting 6 weeks for any kind of flow in the form of lost wage replacement (like when i broke my thumb and wasn't allowed to work). decide i like my situation marginally better- no pain involved. i don't like pain. it hurts.

surprise (not), my boss wasn't noticeably upset. i figure that wasn't wholely unexpected, he's a guy who's had a few things break down on him before. he told me i wouldn't have had this trouble if i'd bought a Ford. should've told him i would've only had faulty tires or a bad ignition switch or something like my sister did on her Explorer. must be getting slow in my old age. it's a 13 year old truck with 170K miles on it; i've put 135K miles on it myself in the last 10 years (one of which it sat in the driveway with blown freeze plugs).

so maybe the bus? or possibly catch a ride with co-worker on Monday. i'll figure it out tomorrow. tonight, it's late, so i'm headin' down the home stretch here.

Loren's mom brought him this evening, and stopped at the store for me on the way here. hated asking for the favor, but i guess swallowing pride was easier than a walking 2.5 miles. wish i would've been thinking more clearly this afternoon when i walked right past the grocery store to the 7-11 for smokes, which i've been out of since last night. i'm planning on quitting on Monday morning, and it seemed a shame not to have any NOW. think i'll light another one, now that i think of it....damn i'm really gonna miss this....more often than not i truly ENJOY smoking, and if i wasn't already showing "mild signs of early stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" i prob'ly wouldn't be quitting at all; at least not yet.

but once again, i digress. Loren came, and showed me a fantastic drawing he did (his mom gets to keep this one, wish i had my scanner workin'...) and we ate pizza and watched some Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 1 disc 7, which we somehow skipped), and generally caught up with each other- our usual Friday. he had a boatload of energy, and is obviously feeling much better today. happy. next week promises to be some long days for me; if i work an extra 8 hours before Wednesday i'll be back on schedule with the missed work, and that'll take about a third of the sting out of the truck repair bill- plenty of motivation. hope there's enough work to support it.

time to go or i'll sleep all day tomorrow and waste my Loren time. PEACE

so (some) Muslims can't handle a political cartoon?

what else is new. they get all upset over unflattering depictions of their prophet as a terrorist? fine, be upset. let's see do the math, shall we?

a symbol of Islaam, combined with a symbol of violence. can we guess what the response was? how about a dozen armed Palestinians surrounding the offices of the European Union in Gaza, burning flags and threatening to kidnap French, Norwegian, Danish & Germans unless their gov'ts apologize for publishing the cartoons. 300 Pakistanis screaming for the death of France and Denmark. a lot of bluster, and i hope it stays that way- but won't be the least surprised if the situation escalates.

sounds like the cartoons were right on the money to me. i'm not a fan of any religion (hence the name atop this page) but i think, to the credit of the general (contemporary) Christian culture, you'd be hard pressed to spark 'em into a violent reponse to any depiction of their religious figures. the subculture of violence within the Muslim culture is certainly higher than in other groups, but i tend to view it as a case of some bad apples ruining the image of the normally-adjusted majority.

and does anyone really expect any better from the Palestinians, a people that can sweep out their gov't of former terrorists in favor of a bunch of practicing terrorists? surprise! they waved guns and threatened people.

more power to the European papers that are printing and reprinting this stuff in spite of the response, and more power as well to all the Muslims who expressed their displeasure without threatening violence.

regardless of what happens in the rest of the world, thugs can shout all they want and/or shoot whomever they please, but the American press'll never bow to censorship. the religiofascists won't be happy until they control everything, but they lost the argument when the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and the idea of personal freedom- of human rights- took root in the world. let them stamp their feet; their tantrums won't last forever. the world's outgrowing that crap.....slowly.

more proof this is the greatest country in the world: the American press response to all the controversy? instantly republish the inflammatory material ad infinitum! i love it.



seeing as how it's a new year and all, i spent a little while running the numbers from my main MP3 page (the link's always at the top right of this page, or you could just click here) but if you click here instead, you get a nifty spreadsheet i worked up that crunches the numbers for the site's traffic. personally, i think the music's more interesting (though i have to admit i'm rather fond of numbers too). for the truly click-impaired i'll summarize: traffic and downloads were up overall, and streaming plays were down. the actual spreadsheet can give you an idea of which songs were the most popular, etc. and i'm happy to say that since posting the first songs back in March of 2004, the main and sub-pages on that site were hit 4,511 times, and my tunes were streamed or downloaded 2,781 times- respectable numbers, in my book.


let there be sight

thanks to my folks, and a great Christmas gift, i am leaning back comfortably in my computer chair typing this post- and i can see the (tiny) type on my screen! for years my father's traded computer work for one Dr. Betts at Mountlake Terrace Eye Care, for goods and services from his office. they passed some of that bartering power over to me, in the form of the first eye exam and contacts i've had in years- 5 years, to be exact. it occured to me this evening that i've never actually had any form of vision correction since i moved into this place- so tomorrow (when i'll likely get here when it's still light out) i'll get possibly the first good look around the neighborhood i've ever had.

since the eye care place is close to my folks' house, i also had the opportunity to spend a little time with 'em this evening, something i mean to do more often. tonight they took me out to dinner at my dad's favorite restaurant, a little Mexican place in downtown Edmonds that makes a great carne asada. add in a little black beans, and a Negro Modelo, and we're talkin' about some fine food; and of course the company was excellent. thanks for the gift, and dinner too, guys.

so now i sit here in a pair of contacts that are so comfortable i can't even tell they're in my eyes; i liked the ones i used to wear (extended wear or disposables) back in the day, and these are even better. i think the last prescription i had for glasses/contacts was a little too strong; these don't put everything into such razor sharp detail, but seem more natural. the doc told me it's easy for people to overcorrect for nearsightedness (like i have). i still need to get some glasses, and enough contacts for the next year- i imagine i'll be spending most of my time in the contacts, but it's certainly nice to get them out and let your eyes breathe for awhile, every now and then. besides- glasses are an opportunity to totally change your whole image. gonna have to look around a bit and see if there's something that really catches my eye. the last pair i bought were like $300, and that was quite a while ago. i know i liked the ones with springmounted frames, but i have to admit the ones my dad has, flexible titanium frames, are super light and very comfortable.

bummer for the day: today was trash collection day, and when i got home from work/eye appointment/dinner/coffee with folks, the lid for my trash can was nowhere to be found. annoying. that can's practically brand new, and has locking handles. either some kid made off with it (doubtful ?) or the garbage guys didn't lock it down with the handles and it blew off....though it blowing so far i couldn't walk up and down the street and find it is a bit of a stretch too. 'spose if this is the worst thing that happens to you in a day,your day's not all that bad.

time to get some other stuff done before i'm totally consumed by the CRASH i feel comin' on.

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