Ma Blog‎ > ‎2008‎ > ‎


August 31st Nothing cheers me up quite like getting paged at 05:10... especially as it was a fairly trivial problem that took longer to start the computer and log on to the customer's system than it did to fix. Apparently he couldn't understand me when I told him what to do. Of course, now I'm awake, so I'm stuck for the day. Tilly wasn't happy at being up, but at least she managed to go back to sleep after I'd let her out to pee.

I peered at the van, only to find that, to add insult to injury, the measurements in the lift kit instructions are wrong. So, the instructions say to drill the holes for the hydraulic ram at 20 5/16" apart, when the ram itself is only 20", centre to centre. I had a bit of a stamp around at that, as I'll either have to work something out, or drill even more holes in my pop top.

Vince called in the evening and suggested that we go flying... seeing as the wind at the airfield was only a 3mph partial crosswind, I agreed to meet him there. I pulled the Rans out, and got it all started up and ready to go by the time that he landed. On 33... the wind was from the North, meaning it's cooler. Luckily Vic had suggested a shirt on my way out of the door, so I didn't get too chilled. We generally screwed around to the North, flying over Camp Far West reservoir and Rio Oso before heading home. There were 2 planes in the circuit at Lincoln, but everybody was perfectly cordial and it all worked out just fine - rare for a weekend, when usually you'd find that at least one of the planes wasn't listening to the radio, and was flying against the general circuit direction.

In the late evening, we watched the MotoGP from San Marino. I think Stoner binned it trying too hard again... he seemed to be stepping out a lot more than Rossi's Yamaha. Vale now has as many MotoGP wins as Agostini :o)

August 30th I went to see what was freaking out Tilly in the front window, to see a black rabbit lying on Jim's garden. We tried to catch it, but couldn't - apparently Vic's seen (and failed to catch) it before... so it does this from time to time.

I decided to start the tricky part of the work on the van - the measuring and drilling. I've managed to drill and mount the front roof rack mounts without any drama, but the rears need longer bolts for the pop-top lift hydraulics, and I then managed to tear the tent canvas. Bugger. So, now I need to decide whether to try and patch it, or just put in a new tent ($300 plus about a day's work). I was not pleased.

In the evening, I had a long chat (more than one battery could cope with) with John, who's just moved to Arsemunch, DE about flying, riding etc. He thinks I should replace the tent, as it'll bother me otherwise. I guess I could get a 3 window tent while I'm at it.

August 29th I was off today - the actual holiday is Monday, but I have to work that. After various sodding around at home, including pulling some weeds in the garden with the new weed puller thingy that Vic got me (it pulls up chunks by the roots, rather than me just yanking out the bits I can see and hoping I'm getting some of the roots), we went to meet Jeff for lunch. I picked up a replacement for the 6mm Snap-On spanner I buggered up years ago working on the suspension on the van, then we went to get the Subaru some new shoes. That took about 2.5 hours - I'd been expecting a lot less, somehow, but when we got home Tilly had been asleep, rather than destroying things.

August 28th It's Thursday, so Vic went dancing. I went watching. Tilly ate more of the rug. We had more harsh words, but I'm thinking I need to take her for a walk after her supper if she's going to be left for any period of time.

August 27th I went to the airfield and pulled the Rans out. The hangar doors have been fixed, so they're a lot better than they were. Not good, mind you.
John with the Pitts was working on it in another hangar, and had flown over in a Cessna that we had to push out of the way so I could get my Rans out. It was a pleasant evening, and I just pottered around for an hour. When I got back to Lincoln, John was still there, so I lent moral support and a few tools before the mosquitoes started biting, when I left him to it. Apparently he was aiming to clean out the fuel filters after some interesting engine behaviour on the power run-up.

August 25th After work, we went over to Freedom Field so Vic could go up with Vince in his wobbly. It was about 10-15mph, which is a bit too exciting for me, so I stayed on the ground and supervised Tilly playing with Lucky (basically putting her on her lead when planes were coming or going - Lucky keeps out of the way, but Tilly isn't bright enough not to chase them).

August 24th Vic headed out early to go hang gliding, but had a nasty landing that hurt her arm enough that she couldn't carry the thing back up the training hill.

Tilly burst her new beachball during the morning, so I gave her the secondary ball - a cheap basketball - to distract her while I cleared up the pieces. That lasted less than 5 minutes, so I cleared up those pieces too.

I played a little World of Warcraft, and managed to get my druid up to level 61.

I started the easy work for fitting a pop-top raise kit to the van, I'm at the point where I need to start measuring and drilling holes now, but I want to integrate this into fitting the roof rack stuff. I dug the fake rain gutters out of the box o' parts, and decided that I should really clean them up and paint them before fitting them, as they were disgusting. Oh, and unlike the previous owner, I'm going to fit them on the sides of the roof, where they're actually supposed to be... on the top makes no sense to me at all.

August 23rd I got up on the roof and washed the solar panels, using some car wash soap. This looks to have cleaned them a lot better than just hosing them off, so I need to get a sponge on a stick so I can wash them all - I couldn't do the middle ones.

Today was Tilly's first birthday, so I gave her a new large beachball, which she chased around the garden as long as I'd let her all morning.

The family Kelly came up to see Tilly, and eat lunch :o)

I fiddled around with the (now) 16' ladder, and got it mounted to the roof of the Subaru so Vic can go hang gliding tomorrow. The thing is that it needs to go on the long side of the garage. We discovered that we can put the glider on the roof if I back the car into the garage, so she could just go in the morning.

August 22nd I took the van over to Vince's, so we could fit the 1/4" wheel spacers he's made up, to stop the front wheels clipping the suspension when going over bumps. We did the rear wheels, too, but I think they'll end up coming out as the sliding door looks like it'll rub against the tyre when it opens, eventually removing the paint :o(

When we got back from dinner, Tilly had chewed a hole in the rug in the family room. She has a tendency to lift threads out with her pointy little claws when running around, but usually I'm there to clip them off before she notices them. I wasn't, so she did, and it obviously became a game. A whipping's in order, but we had a discussion about how we shouldn't do this unless we want to live chained to the tree in the back garden. A short chain, to stop her digging up the flowers.

August 21st Vic wanted to go dancing, so after she got home from work, we went to a bar in Sacramento so she could dance, while I watched. My knee's not up to dancing, plus it's R&B stuff, not really my bag, man.

August 19th I replaced the 110v socket in the van with one of those newfangled GFCI sockets. This allowed me to take out the ugly circuit breaker mounted below it (and replace it with a plain cover. I'd considered another power socket there, but I rarely use the two I already have), and to have a little light that shows me when the van's plugged in to shore power.

August 18th We finally got around to watching the MotoGP from Brno. I don't care what he says, I think Stoner binned it trying too hard having just passed his pit board to see Rossi had taken 0.2 seconds out of him on the previous lap :o)

August 17th Well, the wind's started to pick up, so the temperatures are lower. At last :o)

Vic's new hang gliding instructor had suggested that the 10' ladder wasn't really long enough to hold the 17' hang glider, so I took the ladder, and the part that I'd been using in the garage over to Vince's. We (well, mostly he) made up a delrin plate so we could bolt the 2 parts together, and we shortened one end to 6'. so, it's roughly a 16' ladder now. I put all the parts in the van, headed home and proceeded to bolt it all together in the driveway. Sorted - I just need to get some more pipe insulation to cushion the steps.

August 16th While Vic went and dealt with guinea pigs (we're down to one baby - want it?), I went and picked up the cantilevered brake lever for my mountain bike, and despite it being for the right hand, it works pretty well. I just need to train myself not to pull the lever all the way back to the bar all the time, as I've been doing since I got this bike.

It was over 100F, but after going to dinner with Vince, the wind was getting up, so hopefully the temperatures will be less grotesque, as forecast, next week :o)

August 15th Another 110F+ day, that saw the solar panels pass 3,000KWh generated. That's over $250 in electrickery, right there :o)
They're also reporting over 5,000lbs of CO2 hasn't been generated to provide me with power. Of course, due to the very hot weather, we've used 100KWh so far this month, mostly on the air conditioning :o(

August 14th Hopefully the hangar people fixed the doors at the airfield. I had thought about taking the Rans for a spin, now I can get it out, but the 7mph crosswind made me think otherwise. It's also 110F again, and, from what I can tell, hasn't dropped below 75F for days. It's too hot to be outside in the evening. Even Tilly is worn out quickly, running around in this heat.

August 13th 110F. Just as well we got the air conditioning fixed yesterday.

I was supposed to be going to the airfield, to get the weatherstripping installed on the doors, but they finally called at lunchtime to say not to bother. Just as well I didn't have anything better to do, eh? Talking of flying, a VariEze flew over - now there's a strange sounding aeroplane.

August 12th Having called around and spoken to various pirates about the air conditioner not working, I just happened to be talking to Jack from the airfield, only to find out that not only is he a building contractor, but he can also do HVAC systems. So, he and his HVAC guy came over to look at our problem... it was one of the capacitors, and he changed the switch (it pits from sparking on and off) while he was in there. Strangely, it was 106F outside, and "only" 86F inside... not bad.

August 11th I went out to collect a pizza for dinner, and came home to a house that was 84F... the air conditioning isn't working. We peered at this, that and the other, and figure that it's something to do with the fan on the cooling tower in the back garden. The fan seems to turn OK, but there's a 370 and 440V capacitor in there, along with a switch and a little circuit board. 370 and 440V sound like a lot more fun than I'm prepared for, so I'll have to call somebody about that tomorrow... joy.

August 10th Vic went hang gliding at the Ed Levin park, apparently where a lot of hang gliding originally started. As she's with a new instructor, she did a lot of ground work and then a few bunny hill launches. She was a lot more enthusiastic when she got home.

After all the fun of the last week, I had a quiet day, tinkering with the controls on the DRZ, tidying up around the house a little, playing with Tilly in the garden and cutting the grass. Bummer... I have to work tomorrow :o(

August 9th The guinea pig adopters showed up and collected their cavy, so now we're down to 4 fosters.

We went over to Jeff's to pick up the DRZ, where he managed to break one of the mirrors. We threw some JB Weld on it to hold it together, and I stood around making helpful suggestions about the Yamaha Banshee that's running so rich that it's spitting fuel back out of the carbs. I eventually decided to change a fork seal for him, only to have the oil explode all over me - it seems some retards use the air bleed valve to pressurise their forks rather than let the air out. That's probably why the seal burst in the first place... jeez. I finally got to ride home. I want to spend a little time fiddling with the placement of everything, and the biting point of the clutch, but I immediately felt a lot more at home on the thing.

While we were killing time, the visiting rabbits' family showed up to collect them, and I spent the time putting the ladder back on the roof of the Subaru. It makes it easier to find in a car park, if nothing else...

August 8th Vic took one of the foster guinea pigs out to see a potential adopter, and didn't bring her back, so we're down to 5 fosters. A family showed up to see the babies, and it sounds like they're going to take one.

August 7th After Jim took a photo of us all, the family left for San Francisco via Dublin in the RV on the way home, and I started back at work. I've missed work. Not.

August 6th Russ and Deeps went and played a round of golf with Scott while Mum and Dad cleaned the RV out, and I stood on the roof to chop some bits off the tree. We all met up for lunch, and after that, we did various bits of shopping, and so on before meeting Jim and Kathy for dinner.

I received the electrickery bill, to find we used 191KWh in July. So, that's $16.06 for electrickery, and $12 to get it here. Outstanding.

August 5th I took Russ for a brief cycle on some of the local trails, and managed to nearly kill him. When we got back, it looks like he doesn't drink enough when he's cycling, but fun was had by all.

I spoke to Stephan about the van, and he sounds as annoyed as I am - we've agreed that the perfect course of action is if the gearbox guy buys me a new gearbox - he's going to look into that and get back to me.
Having spoken to Jeff, Russ and I dropped the DRZ over, so he can take the auto-clutch out again, then we all went to get some stuff he needs for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (no, really) next year.

We had a barbie at Scott and Becky's in the evening, when Tilly got to practice her swimming, and trained Jackie to fetch a ball in the pool when she didn't want to jump in and get it herself.

August 4th The van had been playing up when we went out for dinner last night, so I took it for a little drive to find that the gearbox is playing up when cold just as it's done before when the torque converter failed. I left a message for Stephan about it, and headed into Roseville on the DRZ to meet the family shopping. I pottered around the car park looking for the Subaru, and decided that I still hate the auto-clutch. When we moved to the other side of the centre, I had to ride the bike over, and Russ and Dad said I don't look comfortable riding it... they're right, I worry too much at slow speed.

August 3rd We awoke fairly early again, and this time Tilly slept through the night pretty well. She should have done - she was pretty tired. We broke camp, said our goodbyes and left Emerald Bay headed for Apple Hill as it's on the way home. The van works a lot better downhill than uphill, as it handles better than it accelerates. Anyways, after a brief tourist trap stop, we were on our way. We had lunch at Apple Hill, then got home and unpacked in the early afternoon. The RV was touching the tree infront of the house, but it doesn't look like it's done any damage.

August 2nd Tilly woke us up in the van at about 3am playing a new game she'd invented that involved jumping from the driver's seat to the passenger seat and back again. I managed to convince her to settle down again, and she slept with me holding her front paw. We all woke up fairly early, and started a day of walking Tilly, playing with Tilly and hanging around. You know, camping.
I've bought a solar water heater for the van - it's a glorified bag of water, but other than a few leaks at the joints, it works quite well - I washed my hair in it after a few hours of carting it around to the nearest rock in full sun.

We were all hanging about the camp fire after dinner, chatting, when Vic went to see what was going on with Tilly to find that she really wanted to get in the van. Where she settled down and went to sleep on her bed - that has to be the first time she's gone to bed before us since she was a little puppy ;o)

August 1st I'd taken the day off, so I started out by getting woken up by the visiting rabbits at 4am. When it was daylight out, I got up on the roof and washed the solar panels, and treated a little bit of rust on the bottom of the van before we headed out to Scott and Becky's to go to Emerald Bay State Park for the weekend.

They weren't totally prepared, so we let Tilly play in the pool learning to swim while we killed time. She can swim fairly well now, and got to the point where she'll jump into the water to get a ball or somesuch.

Anyway, we finally got going, and the van dragged us up the hills reasonably well. We got there, having taken Tilly to the highest point she'd ever been (about 7300'). She spent the last 45 miles or so sat on Vic's lap, staring out of the window.
Once we'd set up our camp, we took Tilly for a walk while everybody finished with their camp setup. When we got back, Scott wanted me to help him with an RV that had shown up double booked for our site - turns out it was Mum, Dad, Russ and Deepah, and they'd flown in for the weekend, and driven up from Los Angeles in this little behemoth.
We spent the evening sitting around and talking, and playing with Tilly. When we went to bed, Tilly growled at everything she heard, but was generally OK.