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March 31st I went and spent the day at the SPCA. There's a dog there, Tana, who's got a mangled front leg that's being amputated on Monday. We've offered to foster her for the few weeks it'll take her to get over that.

In the evening, while Vic fiddled in the garden, I pulled some of the door panels off the van. I've decided that I probably can't fit the central door locking motor to the sliding door or the rear hatch, but we'll see what I can do.

March 30th I met Jeff for lunch, and it seems he can get me the 6v headlight bulbs I need for the YSR - in fact, he's ordered them. Hopefully I can get that running soon, and start tidying up the loom, as it's a monstrosity at the moment. Vic spent the afternoon messing up the garden again, while I took a look at the bits I want to do with the van. I got all of the insulation out of the rear hatch, to see how hard it'll be to hook up central locking to it. It can't be done, from what I can tell, however I reckon with a little bit of application I can sort out the actuator as a remote tail release. That's cool, as the combination central locking / keyless entry / alarm system I've bought supports that. I also looked at the sliding door and decided it was going to be tough. I then broke down and looked in the manual, and it looks like it might not be as tough as I thought - my van might have been designed for central locking, so all that's missing is the actuator. I need to take the guts of the door out to see what I can do, but that shouldn't be too awful difficult. While it's all apart, I'm going to upgrade the insulation with a layer of space blanket and closed cell foam. With the fibreglass that's already in there, I reckon I can make the van a much more stable temperature environment, and it should even be quieter, too.

I also bought a reversing warning system - it beeps when you look like you're going to hit something. You can't see an awful lot out of the back, so I figure that it's a good idea. I have a pretty good idea how I can fit the sensors, so I'll look at that when I run out of other things to do :o)

March 29th I cleared some of the carnage in the garden - we're currently up to date with the clippings, but the green waste bin is full. And they don't empty that for another 10 days or so... oh well.

I picked up the spare wheel carrier for the van from the powdercoaters - it looks great, and I'm starting to look forward to getting it fitted. I need to get a cover for the wheel, so it looks less expensive, but other than that, it shouldn't be too hard.

March 28th I was pretty tired after a long day yesterday, so in the evening I caught up on some TiVo and watched Battlestar Galactica . WTF? Is she dead or isn't she? I get songs stuck in my head for days, too, doesn't make me a toaster. Jeez.

March 27th I had to go down to the Bay Area for business, so I took the van to put some miles on it - it's the first longish trip (~300 miles there and back) it's had on the new engine. 5 hours of driving later, and at an average of around 20mp(US)g, I got home. I'm tired, and I get to do it all again on Monday.

March 26th We went to the gym in the morning, then I set about finding somebody to fix the CV boot on the Subaru. I found a local place that would change the whole drive shaft for $40 more than just the boot, and as they said there was contamination in the grease (well duh...), I figured it was worth doing just to get the bottom boot changed at the same time. It was ready in the afternoon, so it's back in the garage already!

March 25th I kicked around the house, doing a little work on the YSR and cutting some of the dead foliage in the garden to fit into the bin. I was just killing time until Vic got home from work so we could watch the MotoGP race from Jerez. Good to see Vale winning again. Good to see the poison dwarf still not winning again. I find it a little sad that Honda built a bike to suit Pedrosa, when Hayden is the world champion - poor Nicky's not being given the equipment to defend his championship. Still, I don't know why I thought he ever would, as he spent last year testing parts for Dani's RC212V while he was leading the championship. It reminds me of when Colin Edwards put together a record equalling run of WSB wins to take the 2002 championship, only to be left rideless at the end of the year.

March 24th I ended up getting out of bed early, so I finished filling the hot tub while watching a few programmes on the TiVo (it took an hour or so). I then rode the Hawk to the SPCA for the rest of the day.

When I got home, I looked again at the CV boot on the Subaru, and found the split in it, so that definitely needs replacing. The thing is, my generic manual says to inpect the boot regularly, and look at section 7 if it's torn. Section 7 makes it seem like the whole gearbox needs to be removed to replace the boot. I'm not the world's best mechanic, but I'm pretty sure it's easier than that :o) I'll see what it'll cost to have this $13 part replaced next week. Strangely, Geri at the SPCA's Subaru Legacy just blew a CV boot, too.

I also started to look at the stator for the YSR. The old one had a cut lighting coil. Great, that'll never work. I picked up a stator with an unknown lighting coil and a suspected bad source coil for $6 shipping, so I've bodged the two together - I have a known good source coil, and a possibly good lighting coil with a possibly good pulsar all together. Now I just get to see if it works. If the engine runs, we know I've soldered the source coil on OK, and the pulsar's fine. If the battery charges, we know that coil works OK, too. I still have a bunch of wiring to do, but I'm going to assume that this is all good and button up that side of the engine :o) Slowly, but steadily, I'm getting there.

March 23rd We dropped the van off to get one of the tinted windows recoated, as it's been peeling. The Subaru was still smelling of burning when it's hot, so when we got home, I peered under it (a lot of fun with a scalding hot exhaust system) and it looks like one of the CV joint boots has torn - at least, there's some sort of grease all over the catalytic converter, and looking at the splatter pattern, it's coming from something that's spinning. Great - now I get to fix that. I might look at it myself, as it seems that I could soon have all of the time in the world to do stuff like this... I could just give up and pay somebody to do it though, as I'm lazy.

Vic continued decimating the garden, this time the back. I'm concerned that we're totally outstripping our ability to discard of the dead stuff, but she's happy. She's bought a pond type thing, that now has water and fish in it. That's lucky, as when I saw it, I thought I was going to have to dig a bigassed hole in the concrete that passes for dirt in these parts.

In the evening, Andy and I met up again in World of Warcraft and knocked out a couple of quests. We thought it wouldn't take too long to collect 16 satyr horns each, but we were wrong, it took an hour or so, just going round and round, and killing and killing. Still, we're both now at level 31.

March 22nd I did a little work on the YSR - I now have the headlights and instruments fitted, and got the old, dead stator out (I had to bend the wiring bracket as the screw holding it in is wrecked - I think I've done that before, so I hope I don't have to do it again!).

I ran into Andy in World of Warcraft and knocked out some quests in Ashenvale. We're both now at level 30 now.

In the evening, after Vic came home in the Subaru, I went into the garage to get something to find an awful burning smell, and a little smoke. I poked, prodded and looked at everything, but I couldn't see what caused it. Let's hope she just ran over a plastic carrier bag or something.

March 21st I took the parts for the spare wheel carrier for the van in to be powdercoated. I've been meaning to do this since I got it almost a year ago :o) They said it'll take a few days, and despite the fact that their minimum charge is $150, they're hoping to get it in with something else, and charge me $75. I said I was in no rush, fool that I am :o)

I started refilling the tub, but the wind kept blowing bits of plant in there. After about 1/4 full, I gave up the constant picking of bits and closed it up for the day.

March 20th The boss called to ask me to come down to San Jose on the 2nd of April. OK, so it's an exit interview, and I'm the one who's leaving. They always said they were going to dump one of us support people, so now I have less than 2 weeks to get the van as sorted as I'd like, if I'm going to go touring in it :o)

In the afternoon, it rained, so I didn't get anything done with the water in the tub.

March 19th Vic planted some flowers to mask the devastation in the front garden, and I just pottered around doing little bits of work here and there. I finally got around to draining the water in the hot tub though, as I tend to try and do that when the clocks change, and they changed 3 weeks early here this year.

March 18th I spent a frustrating morning talking to DirecTV about the TiVo. It's been playing up a little recently, so they said to do a total reset. Well, it came back from that and said to call them. The first moron I spoke to put me on hold until I hung up after 20 minutes. The second just plain hung up on me. The third put me through to her supervisor, who told me that I could ignore the message. He also told me that I'd have problems with the dial-in as I have DSL. I couldn't get him to understand that the DSL is on 2 physically separate bits of wire, and that the other TiVo is connecting just fine, thanks. Eventually I got rid of him and set about recreating all my season passes. And there, my day was finished. Jeez... this technology stuff is never going to take off at this rate.

It'll be funny when I have to call back and ask them to replace it (again), as it really is broken :o)

March 17th I started the day playing a little World of Warcraft, seeing as it's been a while. Vic's hunter is now level 26 :o) Then I went to the SPCA for a little while, where we had 1 dog adoption... it was to some local radio personality - I had no idea who the hell he was, but watching some of the staff fawning over him, you'd think he was Donald Trump with better hair. Oh well :o)

After the shelter, I went to Scott's for his birthday, and Jason's going away party. Vic went to Laura's for her St Patrick's Day party. A fun time was had by all.

March 16th Vic attacked the bushes in front of the house, as there's a lot of dead wood in there. At the end of it all, she's left the stumps sticking out of the ground so she can manage them better (there would have been just dead wood when she got it to where she wanted it anyway). We filled our green waste bin, and Kathy said we could use theirs, so we filled that, too. And Dorothy offered hers, so we filled that too. There's only 1 bag of leaves and stuff that was caught under the bushes to dispose of now, and that can either go in Fred's bin, or I'll toss it in with the regular rubbish. Ahh... the sweet smell of progress.

After work I took the van to the airfield and pulled the Rans out. It was quite hot out, and I think I flooded it trying to start the engine. After 15 minutes of cursing, I managed to get it to start, and it ran fine after that, but I was later than I'd expected taking off. I ended up just cruising around in a big circle and heading back to Lincoln. On my way in, there was an experimental calling up to say he was approaching from the West, but behind me. I started calling my position every mile, with my height, until he was past me - I never actually saw him until I was on the downwind leg, and he was on the ground. It was Noel, who used to share our hangar - he called on the radio and said "Hi Dug" :o). As he's at Ray's, as I turned on to finals, I told him he could take off ahead of me - sport pilots are supposed to be on the ground at sunset, and ultralight pilots have until 30 minutes after :o) It quite cool being "Dug" rather than "the ultralight" for once :o)

March 15th In the morning, we went to the gym for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. Later on, I played with the mirrors on the van. I put the passenger mirror on the old metal base that I had, and was going to do the same to the drivers' door mirror when I found that the cause of the thing folding in was that it was almost broken inside. So I put the old mirror back on, and I'll see what I can do with the new, broken mirror. It'll probably live in the box o' parts as a spare glass, like the broken passenger side one. I'm not having much luck with these, am I?

I was screwing with Microsoft Virtual Earth, and I found that the Subaru was at the airfield when the North facing picture was taken. This lead me to scan as much of the picture as I could get to to see if I was out in the Rans when it was taken, but it doesn't look like I was. Boo.

After work, I went to the airfield, and there was a Porsche Boxster parked in the middle of the hangar, making it a little tricky to get the Rans out. I managed to not scratch it, and went for a little flight around the area. There was a pall of smoke in the air, over towards Sacramento, but it was too far away to see what the problem was. I later found that it was a fire on the railway. The new building near us is getting on quite well, so I have to be careful not to overfly the new houses. I managed to resist the temptation to go and land on one of the new roads, before they put up all the light poles and suchlike :o) When I got back to Lincoln, I was just about to shut the doors when a Piper Warrior showed up, and I met our new hangar mate, Tim. He'd left the keys in the Porsche, but I hadn't thought to look. Just as well, I'd have probably wanted to take that out instead of the plane :o) We put his plane away, and I headed home.

March 14th Vic called from the SPCA to say that Pepper and Rusty, guinea pigs, had been adopted. That means that all the babies we had in the critter room have been adopted. Except Anoke, who Vic's still fostering, as there wasn't anywhere to put her.

I spoke to Scott, and he's seen how much fun I've had working on the van, and decided to buy his own money pit - a 1969 Chevy pickup - in white. He lamented it being as old as he is, but in better condition. It needs it's air conditioning fixed, too.

I went to the airfield, with a view to taking the Rans out for a little while. The thing is, I drove the van, and when I got to the hangar, I realised that the hangar key is on the keyring for the Subaru. Doh. It was too late to get home and back, so I scrubbed it for the day :o( Still, I did use the GPS to find out that the speedo over-reads by about 10%. And that the drivers' door mirror folds in at 65mph.

March 13th I woke up in the dark again, so I got up and watched some stuff on the TiVo, so I can try and catch up. Vic got up and went to work, then so did I. When she came home for lunch, it was to pick up the Subaru, as we're now fostering a mother rabbit and a bunch o' kittens. Rabbits aren't like guinea pigs - their young are born helpless, so it could be a couple of months before we see the back of these :o)

March 12th We woke up at some unbobly hour, but couldn't get back to sleep, so got up. I was back at work, so I caught up with email and suchlike. Vic was off work, so she went over to check on her critters at Laura's, then via the SPCA. A lot of the guineas we (well, she... I didn't do anything) fostered have been adopted now, so she checked out the few remaining ones to make sure they were still OK. They were.

March 11th Got up at 0 dark 30, finished packing and went to Heathrow. The flight to Chicago was uneventful, other than 2 of the movie channels being broken. So they showed the movies that we'd seen on the way out - Vic watched Happy Feet for the third and fourth times. Once on the plane to Sacramento, they were showing... Happy Feet. I finished my book :o) As the clocks in the US went forward, every time the stewardess told us the time at our destination, it was different. Jeez, UTC -7 hours...

When we got to Sacramento, I went and got the car while Vic got the bag, then I picked her up at the terminal and we drove home. Over 70F, and light until 7pm... welcome home.

I need a vacation :o)

March 10th We borrowed Mum's Mini and went to Steve and Poke's to watch the MotoGP race from Qatar. Damn, that Ducati's fast.

In the evening, we went briefly to the flat, so I could see the new bathroom, then we met Russ and Deeps for dinner.

March 9th During the day, we went to Kew Gardens, but Vic wasn't feeling well, so I went to the pub to meet everybody by myself. The funny bit was Russ showing up with his girlfriend and her daughter - not having ID, she couldn't get in, so we relocated to another pub, and picked up a kebab on the way past :o)

March 8th We waited for the rush hour to die down, then went to London and rode the London Eye, then walked past the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square so we could see the Manet to Picasso exhibition at the National Gallery. We ended the trip at Covent Garden before walking back to Waterloo Station and riding the train home.

March 7th We bummed around in Staines for a while, then met Granny Mac for coffee. Afterwards, I went and bought a few things that are illegal in California for the van. An extra mirror to stick on the windscreen - the standard position is too high to see out of the back properly, as the AC unit gets in the way. A steering wheel knob - this always makes me laugh, as my license says that I have to use one, but you can't buy them any more.

In the evening we met Simon for the compulsory Pizza Hut stuffed crust meat feast with barbecue sauce, rather than tomato(e) base :o)

March 6th I woke up with a headache, and eventually got out of bed. We went to Windsor and toured the castle.

March 5th I went with Dad to see Nan, and Vic went with Mum to a funny talk on body parts - from hip replacements to breast implants. In the evening, we met Paul, Steve and Poke for a few pints at the Old Red Lion, not far from Mum and Dad's. It was then that I remembered I hadn't eaten since breakfast :o) Still, fun was had by all, and we got home without incident.

March 4th We actually arrived at Heathrow. We were both pretty tired, so we didn't do much else from this point. Hey, it's supposed to be a vacation, alright?

March 3rd We flew... first to San Francisco, then on to Heathrow. Apparently the Department of Homeland Security have raised the threat level to orange, whatever that means. We were wondering if we were supposed to prepare not to fly, or to run across the terminal to try and beat the level going to red. Were we supposed to be watching for suspicious activity, or cowering in fear under a bench?


March 2nd We went to the gym, then later on went shopping for the last minute stuff for the trip to Blighty.

March 1st I took the van to meet Vic for lunch, so I could get a couple of wide angle mirror doohickeys, and while I was at the SPCA, she showed me a puppy that reminds her a lot of Chloe. She's pretty much the same colouring, without the pretty white splash on her face. Still, now isn't the time to be adopting a new dog, I keep telling myself.