Ma Blog‎ > ‎2009‎ > ‎


April 30th My head's still swollen, so there's no bike riding for me this week :o(. As I'm pretty much stuck at home, I reposted an advert for a computer monitor I never use, and spent the morning fielding emails from people who suddenly wanted to buy it, including a minor local celebrity. The monitor eventually went to a guy who works at the local aviation museum that I've never actually been to.

Once that was dealt with, I spent the afternoon making some bagels, after seeing a recipe linked to a web article I'd been reading. When Vic called from the SPCA to ask me to bring her a coffee, I took her a couple and she pronounced them edible :o)

I also got the electrickery bill, and thanks to the solar panels, we again generated more than we used - actually for the first time we generated enough to even offset the standing charge for the connection to the house :o)

April 29th I sat around like a plant waiting for a guy who wants to buy one of my old computers to show up, and when he didn't, I went to the gym. I got back to a message to say he'd overslept (funny, he wanted to be here at 8am, and I pushed him off to 9am), and would try calling me when he left work. Great. I then killed time waiting for a telephone interview with the Employment Department that never came - I filed for benefits as
  1. I've paid in tens of thousands of dollars over the years, and it only seems fair that I can claim some back now I need it
  2. I'll be unemployed for a while - the unemployment rate in California has passed 10%
It's interesting, I see a few local jobs getting posted on web sites like Craigslist, but everybody seems to want 15 years of experience for $8 - $10 an hour. That's just crazy.

In the evening, the computer guy came over and bought the PC, so that's out of the house.

April 28th After the weekend's sunburn, my forehead is all swollen so I look like Herman Munster. Still, my netbook arrived so I could spend the day installing stuff on it.

Tilly spent the morning sleeping, so was right as rain in the afternoon.

In the evening, we watched the MotoGP race from Motegi - not bad!

April 27th We were all sore and tired after yesterday, so we were just pottering around when Vince called to suggest brunch. We went :o)

Tilly seems to have blisters on her rear feet after pounding around all weekend, as she's been hopping along on 3 legs half of the day.

We just slept for a while until Vince called again to say he'd dropped his laptop and broken it, so he brought it over so I could take a look. It looked like the hard disc was dead, so I replaced it with a decent sized spare I had lying around. Problem solved :o)

Interestingly, Tilly's just fine when she's chasing a ball and playing with Vince :o)

April 26th We got up early(ish) and headed to Ed Levin park so Vic could go hang gliding and Tilly could go to the dog park. The guys from Wills Wing were there, and there were people taking test flights on their new gliders, but Vic stuck to her wing. The first flight was great, with a couple of thermals / updrafts enabling her to stay up for around 30 minutes. The wind had built up a lot be the time we got back up there, and she was literally sucked up into the air when John and I let go so she could check her pitch. After a briefer flight, the landing borked one of the down tubes, but more experienced guys with better gliders were nosing in hard too.

On the way home, we stopped at Vic's mother's, so she could met Tilly and we could just say "hi". After that, we stopped at a diner for dinner, and left Tilly in the car while we ate - we sat near the window where we'd parked so we could keep an eye on her. She sits in the front seats and watches everything intently :o)

We got home late, and just fell into bed.

April 25th Vic and I went for a bicycle ride, then took Tilly to the Bear dog park to try and wear her out a little. She's managed to get a couple of blisters on her feet from sliding on the dirt, like she slides on the floor at home. Silly dog.

I tinkered with a trailer wiring harness on the van, and got that all wired up. I need to get a couple of connectors to reconnect the extra brake light that I have plugged into the trailer hitch though.

April 24th I had a quiet day, and in the evening Vince came over for the toad in the hole I'd made. It's been cold most of the day, and actually rained for a few minutes, which'll have washed the worst of the crap off the solar panels.

April 23rd I finally got around to cleaning out the hot tub, while Tilly ran around like a lunatic trying to catch the water I was throwing out.

April 22nd I'm finally up to date with the recorded TV stuff, so I can seriously look at cancelling the satellite service. I've checked the OTA reception, and it's still fine with the cheap UHF aerial in the roof :o)

I went to the gym for the first time since my UK trip, and struggled. Getting old sucks.

I also finally broke down and ordered a netbook, so expect prices for them to crater shortly. I chose this one for the good battery life (claimed 9.5 hours), wireless N support and decent keyboard - I looked at them at Best Buy, but Best Buy have a down specced version with the old wireless G support, no Bluetooth and the N270 processor. And the best thing about ordering it online is that I get to use up most of my Paypal balance from my Ebay adventures.

It's been bloody hot here - so much that Tilly only wants to play ball outside for about 5 minutes before lying down for a rest. That's all set to change tomorrow, reportedly, and the wind's started to pick up already.

April 21st I started the day on the roof, rinsing the solar panels. This was worth it, as we passed 6MWh this afternoon :o) After spending the day watching TV, playing with Tilly, going for a mountain bike ride and cutting the grass, we went to dinner with Vince on the motorbikes.

April 20th I just did silly time killing stuff around the house, while catching up with the TV shows I missed while away. Wow, I do watch a lot of TV :o)

April 19th I was up early again, so I surfed for porn and watched TV. Interestingly, when Speed were stuck with no MotoGP race for Qatar, they showed last year's race. It doesn't look like they've shown the actual race yet, but I don't care :o)

Vic and I managed to get out on the mountain bikes for my usual ~10 mile loop, doing the off trail sections.

In the evening, we went out for dinner with Vince, so we could all catch up.

April 18th I woke up ridiculously early, so spent some time at the computer. Tilly came and sat on my lap a couple of times before going back to bed. After breakfast, I spent some time playing with her in the garden, and eventually took her for a long walk to see the tail end of the Earth Day stuff at a nearby park. The future would seem to be solar power and compact fluorescent lights. Got them, thanks. I spent most of the rest of the day catching up on some of the hours of TV that were recorded in my absence while Vic worked on a class for the SPCA. Oh, and eating chocolate.

April 17th I flew home via San Francisco. On the way, I got to see the truly awful The Day the Earth Stood Still and the pretty funny Yes Man. Vic picked me up at the airport, and when we got home Tilly barked at me, then went a bit crazy. Not as crazy as Chloe used to go, but it's nice to be remembered :o)

April 16th We spent the day finishing up a bunch of stuff at the flat. There are still a few (hopefully small) things to be done, but the back of it's broken. It can be rented out again. Paul, the guy who had been renting it before, came over to pick up his mail, ski boots, Playstation etc, and was amazed that the balcony tiles are gray, rather than black with mould :o) Apparently he misses the big living room and 2nd bedroom / office in his house :o)

We met Russ and Deeps for dinner, then went home so I could finish jamming stuff into my bag.

April 15th Today was Nan's funeral. There were a bunch of family there who I haven't seen in absolutely ages. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

April 14th We spent most of the day doing stuff at the flat to get it ready to rent out again. We sorted out a cupboard that was falling apart, painted the ceiling in that room and so on.

April 13th I spent the Day with Jason and Fiona - he's been out of work since December, but it sounds like he'll be working again soon. While I was there we watched the rerun of the Quatar MotoGP race after it was rained out on Sunday. It was a bit of a procession :o(

April 12th Dad and I took Tilly's uncle, Sam to his agility training class. He's not very agile, really. As is was Easter, they had a little game where Dad ended up having to follow Sam through one of the tunnels. Sam turned round to see what he was doing, entertaining the crowd quite well until one of the instructors teased him (Sam) out with a biscuit :o)

April 11th Dad and I spent part of the day tidying up stuff in the flat, then picked Mum and her cousin up at the airport (they'd been in Japan).

April 10th I didn't do much today - been hanging out with Dad, and we went to the flat and made a list of things that needed to be done to rent the place out. We stopped at a DIY place to get some supplies

In the evening, I went to see Paul, Steve and Poke at the local pub. Dad and I walked there, and Russ and Deeps showed up. Beer was quaffed, and a good time had by all. I got a ride home with Paul in his Smart and completely forgot about it, so it must be like a normal car except when it comes time to park the thing.

April 9th I managed to sleep in until about 11am, after a false start at being awake from 4-7. I just sat around and talked to Dad all day, then we went to Pizza Hut for dinner.

April 8th THe daring pilot landed us at Heathrow, and Dad picked me up from the airport. I spent the afternoon drinking Lift, then we went out for fish and chips and I got an early night. I managed to stay asleep until 4am :o)

April 7th I tidied up the house a little, then Vic dropped me at Sacramento to fly to Chicago then on to Heathrow. I was offered a business class upgrade for a piffling $850, but declined :o)

Despite being sat next to a talker, I got to see the forgettable Quantum of Solace and the reasonably amusing Bedtime Stories on the run from Chicago - they were showing Marley & Me on the Sacramento flight, and I've seen that. And I didn't want to be sniffling in public :o) I read my (well, Simon's) book.

April 6th After going to the gym, we went out to do some last minute shopping for my trip to the UK. We stopped at Expo on the way, and bought a $900 rug for $270ish, for the family room. It's replacing the one Tilly chewed holes in. This one's cut pile, so hopefully it'll last better - the problem was always that Tilly managed to pull up little tufts, then she'd see on them and chew / pull them up. Hopefully this is fixed now.

I spent some time trying to get an old laptop working to take with me on my trip, but it wouldn't connect to the network with Xubuntu, and doesn't even seem to want to boot on Ubuntu 8.10. It was running 8.04 just fine before I fdisked it to try and install Windows 7 (it wouldn't run the installer because it couldn't recognise the disc format. Then it won't install because you need 512Mb of memory - surely it could have told me that before I splashed the disc?). I've finally got to the "screw this" phase, and I'll just borrow a PC while I'm there.

April 5th I went for a cycle fairly early, and tried some of the dirt trails along near the official asphalt / concrete trail. I'm guessing that there have been fewer horses on the trails through the winter, as they're not all smashed to pieces. This means I can ride on them quite well. Other than the massive dips, of course, but I managed those OK.

We went over to Scott and Becky's, to drop off a PC that I want to get rid of, and the Scouts want to use. There might be more of that as I sort through my crap piles :o)

After dinner, we walked Tilly to the ice cream store, where she got some whipped cream while Vic had chocolate ice cream.

April 4th I started the day on the roof cleaning the pollen off the solar panels, and spraying Tilly with water. She never seems to understand where it comes from, so it makes her run around like a lunatic :o)

I took down a broken branch on one of the taller shrubs while I had the ladder out.

After the almost fire in the critter room, I finally got around to reinstalling the circuit breaker in the van. It's under the power plugs, and before everything in the circuit. So, if the draw in the van goes above 15A. it'll trip.

Vince came over in the evening, and ate barbecued beast.

April 3rd I got the electrickery bill today, to find that we generated 103KWh more than we used in March. Cool - the hot tub's off for the moment, until I get a new lid, so it'll be interesting to see how long we can keep generating more than we use :o)

In the afternoon, we watched a bunch of TV to get it off the DVR, and then a copy of Marley & Me I bought on Ebay. Sadly, it's a counterfeit copy (it stops playing for a few minutes in the middle) but we saw the main part of it. It's a bit more about the family than the dog than I remember the book being, but that's Hollywood.

We were supposed to be meeting Heather for dinner, but the wind has set off her allergies, so we canned that.

April 2nd In between trying to get hold of the Employment Department, I went to look at the instrument panel in the van, and got that wired up to use 12v LEDs. As I had the van on charge last time I tested stuff, I've blown the first of the string of LEDs in my array. That shouldn't happen now, as I'm told the inline diodes will drop the voltage.

In cutting the grass, I managed to behead a sprinkler, so that had to be fixed.

I've evenyually given up trying to get hold of anyone at the Employment Department, and just written them a letter to say I've been trying to get hold of them by telephone, but life's just too short.

In the evening, Vince and I rode over to the local Chinese buffet place (well, the one that's still open, anyway) for dinner, and Vic joined us there after work. The new helmet fits OK, it just feels weird at the moment.

After we got home, we were watching TV when Vic and Tilly heard something weird in the critter room - it looks like the filter for the fish tank was clogged, causing water to run down the back of the tank and to drop on a surge protector. Shorting it out and causing it to burn - I'm now wondering what it takes to trip one of those things. Still, no harm done.

April 1st I wasted the day trying to talk to the Employment Department, as I still have an interview with them scheduled for the 17th. I still can't get through to anybody there - basically it just says "we're busy, try later" and hangs up.

In between cursing the inefficiency of it all, I spent my time playing with Tilly and playing with stuff in the van... I got the floor sort of finished, and finished up the LEDs for the instrument panel. I then noticed that one of the side marker lights wasn't working, so I've replaced them with my new 12v LEDs, rather than arrays of 4 3v LEDs.