Monday, March 30, 2009

Burst Bubble

I have an ING Orange Savings account.  I thought I was earning something like 4.5% or something.  I found out today that I am earning a paltry 1.5% on it.  Where did that come from?  Can anyone else offer any solutions on a highly liquid financial storage solution where we can dump our "emergency/rainy day" cash where it will actually bring in a return?

I'm not sure how I ended up with such a huge disparity in my perception on that savings account yield?  Didn't ING used to offer attractive savings rates?  Am I delusional?  Anyone?  I have been shamelessly pimping their (apparently non-existant) greatness for years now.  I feel so violated...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fruits of the Day

OK, so our gas saving Metro has officially been in the shop for more time than it has been 'on the road' since we bought it, but today, I made some pretty significant progress that I have to brag on a bit.  

First, I finally got the seal for the transmission that goes around the CV shaft and got that installed (This is the third seal I have brought home with high hopes that it would actually fit - dern parts store guys!)  Then Sterling and I buttoned the front end back up and got the wheel installed.  Here's what Sterling did next:

Look closely - he lined up a bunch of bolts (some standing on end) to make a "person" out of them.  By the way, I love that 'bolt box.'  Whenever I am in need of a bolt for something (quite often) it can always be found in the bolt box.  It rarely let's me down and every time I find a bolt, it means one less trip to the hardware store to search for one.

Back on topic: the second thing I accomplished on the metro is something I am really proud of.  I not only wired up a couple relays to control the headlights (they were subjected to the most redneck hack re-wire job ever prior to our ownership of the vehicle and the wires literally smoked when the headlights were on) but I actually was able to track down the factory control wires to tap into so that now, our headlights will be controlled by the regular controller thingy instead of having to mess around with two separate switches that were crappily mounted under the dash.  Screwing up wiring is (apparently) very easy, but resurrecting it from the factory wiring harness is very difficult, so even though it took the better part of the day to get it figured out, it feels great to have it done.  Coincidentally, for those who will ever rewire a metro, it turns out that the factory controls for the headlights actually complete the circuit to ground instead of completeing the circuit to the battery.  That part took me a while to figure out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Bad Day

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

I guess I spoke to soon earlier today, and it looks like the gravedigging of earlier in the week isn't finished. One of our angora goats gave birth today to a little buckling and he has already passed on. I don't know what might have caused it because he looks fine...he just is dead.

So we have one (pregnant) nanny left and in her hang all hopes for our first angora nanny kid. Out of 4 births so far (2 this year & 2 last year) all have been bucklings.

It sure is sad to be burying what should be a cute little scampering kid.

A Good Day

It was a good day.  How can I tell?  Well, because I was able to incorporate this formula into an actual Excel spreadsheet at work to solve a somewhat problematic data issue:

=INDIRECT(CONCATENATE("'Data Summary'!",(ADDRESS((6+$I$1),8,1))))
My wife thinks I am crazy for being so excited about it, but it isn't every day that you can nestle three rarelyp-used formulas into a single formula to perform a specific purpose in a spreadsheet.  It's like finally being able to use the lowest key on the piano, or the smallest wrench in your toolbox, or something like that.  It is just a rare and fun occasion.  (this one's for you UnkyGiash - who says I never speak on work on this blog?)

Another good thing?  My good ol' pops just saved us $870.00 today.  We had already received a $900 check from our (now bankrupt) home warranty company to replace our water heater (which has been popping the high-temp override switch on a daily basis) and with $30 in parts and an hour of labor, we just replaced all the parts and have what is practically a new water heater.  I never would have done that - I would have just taken the plumber's advice and got a new heater.  So, here's looking at you pop.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reminiscing Bout Ol Times

It's been several years since we sold this bad boy, but we all sure do miss it. The day it sold was the day my mancard took its biggest hit.  Of course, you can't really fit too many hay bales in the rear of one of these...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad Sign

Sorry for the horrible picture, but what you see here is a large hole in the process of being dug.  Josh's cattle raising experiment has gone terribly wrong and we're hoping that his last little Jersey steer will avoid this fate.  In fact, we had been hoping that too for the latest casualty, but it seems to have unexplainedly taken a major turn for the worse while we were gone on vacation.  The last remaining steer is actually in fine shape, so it seems likely that he will make it.  That's the good news.  Unfortunately, at this point, there is very little hope that this operation is going to come out "in the black."  

We're Home

The beach house scheme (three houses rented in a row with all family in all of them) is awesome, here's why:

  • The kids can roam around with the cousin/friend of their choosing and never be in a situation where they are arguing over turf, toys or friends.
  • The kids just roam around snacking and eating at will
  • The beach holds serious attention and allows them to spend tons of time outside each day and they are pooped each evening and crash moments after hitting the pillow
  • Family and freinds everywhere
We actually ventured out on "organized" trips twice; once to a mineral springs and once on an outing to a different point on the beach and in my opinion, while both were very fun, both were situations that almost detracted from the overall experience as noted above.  It is really hard to sum it up, but when the kids are never rounded up and thrown into a car to be taken anywhere, there is just NO stress at all and they just can do their thing.  This was a vacation that truly felt like a vacation to all - to the adults, to the was perfect.

We left the beach at 10pm on Saturday night after watching Twilight (I missed the beginning and end and parts of the middle, so I am reserving judgement) and arrived in TX sometime around noon on Sunday.  Very uneventful and a pleasant trip overall since the kids slept nearly the entire way.  Thanks to dad, the ranch is in great shape and we seem to have all our livestock still.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What a Beach!

The houses we stay in (Kat/Matt on left, us/Allreds in middle, Bill/Barb/Johnny/Mami on right) Note how they are all on stilts:

Biking on the beach (don't worry Mark, we hosed her down afterwards):

A note on Biking on the Beach - I was very surprised at how well it works! The tires sink almost not at all as long as you stay near the water (but not in it).

Beach fun:


It was amazing.  The shuttle launched on schedule in a huge explosion of light that lit up the sky.  It then took off leaving a huge trail illuminated in the evening sky and after about 30 seconds, the sound hit us (we were 12 miles away - as close as you can get) and it was awesome.  The pics are all on Auntie Barb's gallery here:

It was really awesome and the camaraderie of all the family members for the road trip was well worth it - even though getting out of Titusville after a shuttle launch is a total no-can-do.  Just getting out of the (tiny) city alone was a 2-hour ordeal!  I hadn't hung with Young Johnny or uncle Bill in far too long and it was certainly worth doing.  Ignore what the FL humidity and salt water has done to my hair here - this is the last remnants of the smoke trail (probably 10 or 15 minutes after the launch):

Sunday, March 15, 2009

FL Unky B-style

I normally avoid disclosing the fact that I am not at home on my blog (don't want any readers robbing me blind in my absence) but in this case, since the house is being occupied, I can share our current exploits:

We drove 16 hours to a beach house in the FL panhandle that has, sofar, exceeded all expectations. The house is ON the beach, ON stilts, and ON fire with awesomeness. In the short time we've been here, we've swam in the gulf, chased beach crabs, had cookouts and in general just hung out. There is no shortage of cousins to hang with.

Right now, I am driving w/ unky Bill to Cape Canaveral to watch the shuttle off (hopefully) in a spontaneous out'n'back jaunt that borders on insanity after the crazy-long drive to get here, but there was no way I was missing out on a road trip w/ Unky Bill. Stay tuned for the results!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Silly Kids

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sterling's B-day

We celebrated Sterling's B-day early on Sunday with Grandma & grandpa.  We gave Sterling an Adam's Trail-a-bike and he seemed happy with it, but since it was Sunday, we didn't go for any long rides or anything and he really didn't mention anything about it until today when he asked if we could go for a ride today after school.  I told him yes and tried to slip out with him incognito, but Ginger is always quick to notice any furtive activity around the back door and sure enough, we were busted.  She came out in tears knowing that she was getting ditched - it was too much and I buckled.  The result:

This bike is currently set up for Jessica (women's saddle, low seat) and I just went ahead and rode it as is...ouch!  With the saddle being that low, it was a killer on the knees.  After viewing these pics that Jessica took, I think Sterling's seat was too low as well.  I'd figure we prolly rode a couple of miles (maximum) in an out and back, but it was real punishment.  
The seat post on the Trek (pictured above) is a 26.9mm diameter and my Ellsworth has a 31.6mm.  That seemingly insignificant difference makes it so that I need to order a new collar for the trail-a-bike to get it to work on my Ellsworth.  After today's ride, I can tell you that I will be ordering that part very soon.  I want to try to take Sterling on a real trail or two - once we get him a good helmet.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Sterling is starting to read/write these days and you can just see the whole thing starting to come together in his little head.  One way that is manifest is the things he suddenly starts to notice.  Such as today in sacrament; the speaker was talking about Daniel in the Lion's Den when Sterling suddenly turned to me with an excited look on his face and exclaimed, "Dad!  We have the bible of this one!"  

You're church they talk about the same Bible that we have?  Wow!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Laws of Success

I just read a book and this is the first time I am trying this link to the Goodreads review that I wrote for it, so we will see how it looks in Blogger. Here we go:

The laws of success The laws of success by Sterling W Sill

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a very interesting read for me. The book was written in the 60s by a man steeped in the 40s/50s mentality and some of the concepts (the role of women, the importance of one's reputation, etc.) are definitely dated and could be considered offensive to the thinnest skinned politically correct. On the other hand, Mr. Sill lays out a very navigable path to self-improvement and self-motivation. The book is formatted in a manner that is NOT conducive to cover to cover reading and is probably better suited as a "bathroom book." Each chapter is a short and totally independent short sermon on a particular "law" that should be adhered to in the attempt to gain success (professionally, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) I started out reading the book as a novel. That did not work and I was about to abandon the book because it really didn't go anywhere. I changed tactics in about chapter 6 and was soon down to where I was reading a chapter or two a day. That worked out very nicely and gave me a daily boost of character-building advice and knowledge. I believe that Mr. Sill has succeeded in defining the laws that could lead one to a path towards true success. For that, the book gets 5 stars, but for a lack of readability and dated notions, I downgraded it to just three.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shop Stuff

I have one of these:

It is a turf vacuum that picks up anything from cigarette butts to pop cans or, supposedly, even beer bottles.  The one I have is one that we were paid to remove from a customer's site.  It had a blown engine (they run on a 5 HP lawnmower engine) and flat tires.  Other than that it was in good shape.  I brought it home, did some research and found that they retail for anywhere from $1,700 to $2,500 and decided to renovate it.  

I dismantled it to make sure everything worked except the engine and after confirming that it would work with a new engine, I ordered a 6.5 HP engine from Harbor Freight which arrived today and I started the install process tonight.  

Unfortunately, since the HF engine is a generic one, there are a few things that are requiring me to make some modifications.  The biggest difficulty was that the muffler on the new engine was placed about an inch too far to the front of the engine which meant that it would interfere with the big suction fan chamber thing on the front of the vacuum.

In this image, you can see the flange on the muffler pipe is totally NOT going to meet up with the manifold area where it is supposed to bolt on (flange and manifold areas circled for your convenience)

I was pretty bummed about this not fitting, but it didn't take me long to work up the courage to really "tear into" this project.  It required courage because I had to break out the cutting wheel and chop the BRAND NEW muffler in half so I could weld the piping into a form that would allow the muffler to fit.  The problem was I didn't have any little tubing  that would match the muffler pipe that I could use to make the modification...
...then I remembered this old bike we have that the kids left in the driveway and had been subsequently run over.  I went out to check and, yep, sho nuff, the handlebars looked like they would be just right.  So I dismantled this:

And turned this:

Into this:

You can see I just chopped the muffler pipe in half and cut a section of the prebent pipe out of the handlebar.  I then welded the muffler pipe flange onto the section of pipe to get this:

Then after measuring it and trimming it and remeasuring it over and over again, I finally got it to where I felt it was in the right form to turn it into this:

Which, of course, leads to this:

It's not yet bolted on, but you can see that the muffler pipe flange is now in a position where it can be bolted onto the engine block while it moves the muffler over enough that everything fits.  Yeah!  

I didn't have time to finish a few tiny modifications to move the gas tank over a 1/4 inch tonight and the muffler was too hot (from welding) to install and it is too late, so this is where I left it for the night:

The motor is installed on the base and bolted down, the front vacuum chamber, muffler and gas tank are removed.