Sunday, March 1, 2009

Working on Saturn

Okay, so I was not working on Saturn, or even a Saturn V, but 2002 Saturn SC2, to the point, my car. Okay my wife's car. Last week I had taken it for an oil change and an inspection, where the guys told me, well it has a check engine light, so we have to run a diagnostic, then we can tell you what to fix. Okay, $60 when Autozone does it for free? Well I do know that the hand held readers do not go as deep and there are some error codes they just don't read. But when they told me that it was going to cost more to fix the car than the car is worth, I lost my cool, told them to remove it from the diagnostic gear, give me the readout and good bye. I took the car home, and started reading the list of repairs, which included replace the radiator fan motor, and coolant sensor. Okay a lot of sensor's need replaced, but the good thing about sensors is most of them are where you can get at them. A trip to the car parts store, and under a hundred bucks later I have 2 gallons of pre-mixed antifreeze, an engine coolant temperature sensor, a PCV valve and a Haynes manual. In less than an hour I had the aforementioned parts in place, had refilled the resevoir and the car looked good! No more error light on the dash (which had only started).

Polly had mentioned that the car had run hot on occasion, but not so much that it was a worry (just warmer than usual and this was prior to my work). Well after about a week the low coolant light started coming on and would not stay off. After more investigation I find that Polly thinks we have a leaky radiator, but I think it is the hose (mostly because a hose is WAY cheaper than a radiator) so I replace the hose, refill the fluids and satisfy myself that there was a pinhole leak in the hose (BTW there has never been a puddle of coolant under the car until now as I spilled a bit whilst changing the hose. Looks good at first, and about a mile away, coolant low light. This is frustrating, the engine is not getting hot, the coolant is moving through the system, what is the deal? Well further investigation leads me to suspect the fan is not turning. Like the fact that the fan is not turning. So I check the fuses...30 amp fuse, and yup it is blown. New fuse, and a fill up of the radiator, since the fan was not running, looks like we have been losing a bit of steam, so to speak. Test drive looks good and we will see in the morning.

Total outlay for parts:
  • $12.00 Coolant sensor
  • $20.00 Coolant premix
  • $3.00 PCV Valve
  • $20.00 Repair manual (still find good references on the net, but this is nice to have)
  • $18.00 hose
  • $5.00 Fuse
So for a total of $78.00 I resolved a cooling system issue, and 1 hour of laber is $60.00, plus I did not have to buy a radiator fan. And the guys at Autozone read my error codes for the other things I need to fix, so I can get started on them too. I still need to take it in for a clutch, and some other major repairs at a later date, but what the heck so far this has not been such a bad deal.

Now if only GM could fix their problems with Saturn...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Are you asleep in the light?

This last week I saw a post on that just got to me. It was a story about a body frozen in the ice of a basement in Detroit, but not about that, more about how the people around had just kind of accepted it. You can read that story here. Anyway, this really hit home as my wife has been doing a lot of work with our church outreaching to the homeless in our area. Polly has a huge heart, and these guys really touched her. I know Houston does not get cold like Detroit, but it does get cold enough. My pastor brought this news story up on Sunday as part of his sermon (read more on Kathy's Blog)

What really got me is that Keith Green addressed this in a song Called Asleep in the Light, often heard prefaced by a dramatic retelling of the sheep and the goats (he plays both a sheep and a goat). Thanks to the wonders of Youtube, I found both and wanted to share them with friends. Here they are:

Sheep and the goats:

Asleep in the light:

Okay so this is from the 70s and Keith does kind of look like the happy plants painter guy, but the message is the same today, as it was then, and even more important about 2000 years ago when Jesus said it originally.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am a bad blogger

Really I am, I mean I have all these intentions of keeping up on my blog, but that darn life of mine keeps butting in. Well be that as it may, I pledge to keep my one reader happy and start blogging more. Who knows, maybe I will get a second reader. My wife finally has a facebook, so anything can happen.

It has been a wild ride lately, lots going on and all of it at once. Sometimes it feels like the time is on a slope, and the further along we get the steeper that slope becomes. I said that last year went like falling down the stairs, a lot of bumps and confusion, and you keep trying to grab on to something to slow it down. And sadly enough almost everyone I know understood and agreed. Now I am looking at 2009 and seeing as tomorrow is the 31st already I have to say, looks like I missed that first step again.

More to come as I think of interesting, pithy or silly things to say.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Waiting on the world to change

Well the seasons are changing, even in Houston, albeit slowly. And the times, they are a changing. And well the baby needs changing, but me, I think I have been changing too much lately. Okay, one thing is changing. I am getting whiter. No, not less tan,..just more white hair. Gray I did not mind so much, but the white that is bugging me. Just 2 years ago I still had a lot of dark hair in my beard and now it is almost completly white. My hair on my head is graying, or whiting. I once had brown hair with red highlights, it is still thick, but the brown is turning silver and the red has already turned white. I am still pretty unlined, partly because my face is rather full (read fat).

This really does not bother me as much as it sounds, but here is the weird thing. I know that I am 45, but inside, I am still 16. I look in the mirror and think, when did I get this old. I guess what is getting me, is that I am getting older, and so are we all. My aging is not so bad, but watching my wee ones (one of whom towers over me) grow up. I still want to take care of them like I used to, but that is not what they need now. And watching my parents grow old, that really hurts, because I know I am following. I look at some of the recent pictures and I see my uncles face looking back at me.

What is really funny is that one of my favorite songs is this classic They Might Be Giants song...older. give it a listen, and cheer up, we are all getting older.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A 20th birthday to remember

But I am glad it was not mine.

Monday was my son Nathan's birthday. An all around good reason to celebrate. But somewhat muted for him. You see Sunday night he lent his car to his older brother to run to McDonalds, less than a mile away, at about 10:00 Pm. Why he was running for food that late when I had just bought groceries is anyone's guess. Now some background to make this more interesting. Joe is a terrible driver. He has wrecked at least 3 cars, burned up the motors on two others, and wiped out on his bike, at least 4 times. He even hit a parked undercover cop's personal car with his motorcycle in a parking lot. Get the idea? When Nathan got his car last year, we told him, you do not loan your car out to friends, and you do not under any circumstances let Joe drive it. Ever. Now I shoudl say, this is not the first time Nathan let Joe borrow his car, but it is the last time for this car at least.

The story we got is, Joe is driving along, wearing his seatbelt, at a safe and reasonable speed, when he suddenly hears a pop, the car skids to the right, into a nearby ditch, hits the culvert and winds up facing the opposite direction. There is a dent in the windshield with blood and hair on it, he cut his lip (right on the stupid labret piercing),his entire left side is bruised, and he can't move his shoulder and arm very much at all. He calls Nathan, asking for mom. We hear Nathan ask, where are you? Mom is at the store, I'll call her. I am on my way. Those of us who heard this assumed that Joe ran out of Gas (Nathan did the same on Saturday morning) and Nate was taking him the gas can. Not so much. After a long period of no word from anyone, I call my darling wife. She says, hang on, I will call you back, and I say, just tell me what happened. She says, Joe totalled Nathan's car. Sometime later she came by the house to drop off whatever it was she had left for, and gives me a synopsis.

Long story short. Car, totaled. Joe, alive, but finally went to the doctor; possible broken clavicle, no work for a week. Nathan, no way to school or work, except to bum rides. Car gone, not even worth $100 to a junk yard. Another bummer is that Polly (I wanted to wait) had decided to give him his birthday present (cash from the family) on Friday since he was going to San Antonio to see his girlfriend. So, he has almost no money. You see, he has a good job, makes about 600 bucks a paycheck, and spends every last dime. So now he suddenly discovering that when you have no money for down payments, and no credit history, people don't just hand over car keys.

He is however being very kind to his brother about wrecking his car. And the funny thing is I wonder if that is indeed the unkindest cut of all. You see when you mess up and someone give syou heck about it, you can feel justified in being mad at them, and not having to deal with the consequences of your actions. However when someone is kind and understanding, sometimes that makes it harder, becuase then you have to deal with the awful feelings of guilt and such that come along with a big mistake. But then again, Nate also thought that insurance would provide him enough money for a new (used) car, or at least a down payment. Suprise! Not with just liability. But he did get off the hook for towing. At least he did not put on 500 dollar wheels and a thousand dollar sound system in a 2000 dollar car.

Actually a lot of interesting fallout has come of this. Polly has lost a lot of trust in these guys, and instead of trying to fix the situation, she is saying, your problem, not mine. Told you not to let Joe drive. Oh, and for the next foreseeable future, both boys paychecks go directly to Mom, who will dole out cash as needed, and by her determination of need is. May get interesting around here.

Anybody want a couple of post teenage boys? Cheap? They do work hard, when they are not banged up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's a beutiful day in the neighborhood

It really is, the weather is gorgeous. Warm, but not hot, clear, not too humid. Once the mosquitioes settle down post Ike, it will be delightful come evening. This is the time of year that makes being in Houston through the summer worth while. I know some folks talk about our humidity, but I have lived in the desert, and I have lived in the snow country. Say what you like about the humidity, I have never had to shovel it. Or put on humidty screen, unless you mean right guard. And here in the lovely west Houston area, we are treated to mostly quiet evenings, and pleasant places to gather and visit. In fact I think it is time I put in a firepit so that when the weather gets just a touch cooler we can sit out side and just visit and enjoy the nice weather. As I sit in my windowless office in the center of the building, hearing the roar of the File server fans as they cool the computers down, it almost makes me miss when I worked out of doors. Then I remember being in jeans and boots, pulling barbed wire or chasing escaped critters in the summers heat. No thanks. Oh, and anyone who thinks Houston does not get cold, get a map of the us, or better yet a globe one of the ones with bumps to show the mountains (topographical, I know). Now look from Canada to Houston, you see the two sets of mountain ranges that seperate the east and west from the middle of the country? those run north south, mostly, and work like a funnel to channel the cold winter air coming down from, or worse, across Canada. Hot and humid is muggy, sleepy weather. Cold Humid air is painful like knives when the wind blows. On the more bright side, our winters are maybe a couple of weeks of cold weather.

Yup, I do like it here, mostly. And like Ben Franklin said, Everyone Talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.

Me I am getting my hammock, an umbrella and a blanket out, with a mosquito net a cold beverage and a good book. Wake me if another hurricane is coming.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some things they don't tell you to prepare for in a hurricane

  • Grind your coffee beans before the power goes out
  • Find something to do while you are waiting for the storm
  • get something to keep everyone occupied after the power is out
  • Everyone eats the boiled eggs first, boil more
  • The more stuff in your fridge/freezer the longer it stays cold
  • The more stuff in your fridge/freezer the more you may have to cook, eat or pitch
  • Cat food and cat litter, you don't have enough, trust me
  • Wash all the towels first, and everything else. Really you don't know how long until you can wash again
  • LED flashlight bulbs last longer. weirder light, but longer.
  • Sleep while you can, you may not get too for a while
  • Get to know your neighbors before the power is out
  • Trim branches before the storm is close
  • Grind the coffee before the power is out. Starbucks didn't open soon enough.