Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Vegas

My wife and I hit Las Vegas again on Tuesday on a slightly unusual quest - SHE wanted to do some shopping.  Now, most guys won't believe this, but my wife and daughter don't like to shop.  Yeah, I know it's tough to believe but it's true.  My personal belief is that they think things should just be brought to them so they are insulted by the need to look for stuff.  Anyway, they wanted to go shopping.  I got to come along.  And what did I do?  I went shopping.  Duh!

After dropping my wife off at the daughter's house, I went to the Man Cave Place:  Harbor Freight.  It really is a hoot to go into that place.  There are all these guys going around looking at every item thinking 'what does that do' or 'what could I make with that'.  We really are like kids in a toy store.  It's funny; and I have to admit that I'm as bad as anyone.  Yes, I walked up and down every aisle.  I had received a flyer from them and had a couple of coupons for things I wanted.  As it happens I bought ONE item that I hadn't planned on buying:  a pair of tweezers with a magnifying glass attached.  We'll see how that works out but old age and far-sightedness makes me appreciate magnification! 

One thing I knew I wanted was a solar powered pump to make the bird bath into a sprinkling bath.  I've read that the still water can harbor various nasties that make the birds ill.  Regardless of the truth of that, I thought having a little fountain out there would be cool.  So for $17 I got this little pump.  I've got to say, it's cool!  I've never done anything with solar except some yard lights.  This thing is so amazing.  If you cover maybe a tenth of the surface of the solar cell, it stops immediately.  When you let the sun hit it again, it's on.  Cool!  Yeah, I know, every rv-er worth their salt has solar but we don't so this is all new to me.  (Have towed our trailers over 60K miles though (>96,000 km)).  Of course the spray pattern is wrong so most of the water is being sprayed out on the rocks.  After filling the bath three times in about two hours, I brought the darned pump in!  Maybe we'll find another bird bath!  Maybe I can go back to Harbor Freight and look!

So here's proof:  see the water on the rocks on the left, I'm an idiot.  Have a good one and don't hurt yourself laughing at me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trailer repair - part 2

We left the house at 07:00 to get to our 09:00 appointment in Las Vegas.  Turns out we were about 20 minutes early but they are repairing the road to Vegas and we could easily have been held up.  I liked the guy who did the work right off; he came out as soon as he saw us and asked that we position the trailer so he could more easily move it.  These days having someone come out to your vehicle is rare!  He took one look at the worn tire and said we needed an alignment.  Heck, I didn't realize you could align tires on a trailer!  He also suggested that we have him put the spare on and use worn tire as a spare.  Better and better.  So leaving the trailer, we went to do errands. 

My phone rang about an hour later; trailer is done.  In addition to the alignment and tire swap he had discovered that the bearings need to be re-packed so he did that.  Cool.  And the $200 he charged was $1000 less than estimated by the guy here in town who was going to fix something that isn't broken.  We will be going back to Arrow Frame and Alignment; I just love it when people know what they are doing.  So now the trailer should be good to go.  We have fancy aluminum wheels on the trailer and the spare is just steel so I'll be visiting a local tire shop to get them to swap the tires but that's nothing much. 

While standing in the guys lot I happened to look at one of the tires on the truck.  Hmmm. There staring me in the face was a screw imbedded in the tire.  Grrrr!  I haven't taken it out yet but at least if it goes flat I'll be at home.  Hopefully this will get all the trouble with the truck and trailer out of the way for a bit.  We are planning on a couple trips later in the summer and it wouldn't hurt my feelings a bit if they were mechanically uneventful.

I was in Walmart today and saw a 70" (178cm) Sharp LED tv for $2498.  What in the world?  How can they be so cheap?  Yeah, I know, my wife is going to want one but honestly, that is just amazing.  I wonder what's coming in next week, a 10 foot (3m) tv?  If Walmart has stuff like that, what would an electronics store have? 

Here's to an amazing electronic world.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All fouled up - as usual!

All my plans for the week have pretty much gone south; like that's something new.  But we'll get there I just feel it.  Monday we thought we'd go into Las Vegas but it was windy & ugly so we said why bother.  The only thing I really managed was to go to Home Depot and buy some more charcoal just in case I get the desire to smoke something.  I paid with my credit card and walked out to the car.  By the time I got there my cell phone was ringing; it was the credit card company!  They wanted to know if I'd just bought something at Home Depot then asked about a purchase from Shopcoonline - nope.  Turns out our credit card number is being used fraudulently.  The credit card companies have certainly gotten better at detecting fraud and I'm really happy about that!  Anyway, we cancelled the card and will get another in a couple days. 

Tuesday we took the trailer to our local RV sales/repair place.  That afternoon I got a call saying that we needed new leaf springs and two new tires - $1200 worth!  No, I'm not buying that.  It seems to me that there must be something about that one wheel.  So this morning we went over again and picked up the trailer.  I must say that the manager was fair; he said all they did was a visual inspection so there was no charge.  Next I called the dealer we bought the trailer from, Johnnie Walker in Las Vegas.  I no more had 'only one tire' out of my mouth and the service manager said 'you've got a bad spindle'.  Now that makes some sense to me so tomorrow, Thursday, we are towing the trailer to Las Vegas for repair.  The funny thing is that the RV dealer can't handle this work; they sent us on to someone else.  The young woman on the phone said the repair should take only a couple of hours.  Now that's sounding good.  Hopefully I'll be able to report a good experience.  We'll see.

Pahrump has moved into the summer a bit before Memorial Day.  We are in triple digits most afternoons (38+C) and only about 70F (21C) at night.  The local radio station has a contest for the first day that we are in triple digits for most of the day - like noon on.  It hasn't happened yet but should be in a few days.  It almost makes me happy to be inside scanning photos!  Almost.

I'm scanning photos that are in albums now.  One of the first albums I found is of our 1993 trip to Europe.  Jeez, next year that will be 20 years ago!  This album used some kind of fancy sticky pages with a clear plastic cover over the photos.  It was never meant to be left untouched for 20 years because getting the photos out is a real bear.  The plastic sticks to the page and the photo is very difficult to remove; it takes me longer to get a photo out than to scan one.  Grrrr.  I've scanned about 40 photos and estimate that I'm about a fifth of the way through the album.  I also found the notebook containing a sort of trip log.  It's kind of fun re-living our trip.  Here's a photo of a castle on the Rhine.  We were pretty fascinated by the whole castle thing & took way too many photos of them!
Y'all have a good day now.  Take care.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting ready

The last time we towed the trailer we recognized that the right rear tire was wearing strangely; in fact it was 'cupping' on the sides.  Tuesday we are taking the trailer to our local rv shop to see what they say about it.  It should be interesting; the last time I was there they had about 15 motorhomes in the lot and 2 towables.  There is a heck of a difference so we'll see what they know about trailers.  Also, the next day, we'll try washing the rig!  Should be fun.

My theory is that there is a slight difference in the towing angle between the front axle and the rear that accounts for the wear pattern.  You might want to fix that but on the other hand, you must replace trailer tires every four or five years because of the damage from the sun.  These are 2 years old already and haven't had much relief from the sun.  So should I:  1) fix the problem or 2) just rotate the tires or 3) fix the problem AND rotate the tires.  Hmmm...   Well, you should know that cheap me is thinking of leaving the problem and just rotating the tires.  After two years these tires are probably half gone just because of the sun; why not rotate them and kiss them bye?  So, we'll see how honest/intelligent our local guy is.

We have NOT done some of the less critical things:  wall off the utensil drawers from invasion by dog hair, replace the bathroom sink (it IS extremely small but replacing it is kind of daunting), and replacing some of the lights with LEDs.  I'm hoping that we'll at least wall off the utensil drawers before we go anywhere.  The problem with LEDs is that the amount of electricity used is not a matter of concern for us the way we use the trailer.  If we were boondocking it would be very important; for us but I doubt if we will boondock 3 nights this year.  Hmmm.  Any cost-benefit folks out there?  Who cares if the mid-summer folks like us pay a bit more for their power?  Well,  of course some folks are concerned about the extra $.50 a day but I don't think it bothers us on a yearly basis.

Tomorrow, Monday, we are planning on going to Las Vegas for supplies:  the list doesn't include any real basic things but more of the stuff that we miss as treats.  There is also a question of bedding -  our current trailer bedding is too small and we are still searching out something better. It's managed  to keep us warm for two years but you can believe I've heard about it every week or two.

Hope you have a good one!  I'm planning on it.  Take care.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Belated Mother's Day

I hope all you mothers had a good day.  Hearing from the kids is good regardless of their age.  We did well:  called the remaining mother, got a call from number 1 son and a visit from number 1 daughter.  What could be better?  Daughter brought lobster for herself and her mom; steak for me (shellfish allergy).  It worked out beautifully.  She also brought a DVD from Redbox.  It is the first Redbox we've ever gotten that was in just awful condition.  Someone must have been handling it with peanut butter on their fingers.  It took half a dozen cleanings before the thing would play.  Nasty!

On Saturday I indulged myself in doing something I've always wanted to do:  create pulled pork on the bbq.  I started about 08:30 making a rub and soaking wood chips.  I stole ideas from a couple people on the website.  My main guide was this instructable.  By 09:00 I had the pork butt on the bbq.  I was having trouble getting smoke, perhaps the fire wasn't hot enough, but had a serendipitous moment.  We had a couple of uncooked sausages that we wanted for a late breakfast so I tossed them on the bbq directly above the charcoal.  The fat dripping off the sausages onto the charcoal got the smoke and fire going very nicely.  I tried keep the fire low and indirect and was successful for a while.  After an hour or so though I was unable to stay in the 225F - 275F range (107C - 135C); got up to 300F (149C) for a while.  It went quite well though; this is a photo from about 13:00 - 4 hours into the cook.  That hard layer on top is a fat layer that was hopefully dripping down into the meat as well as the drip pan.
Finally about 14:30 I started losing heat.  I did not start with as many charcoal briquets as suggested by my guru (didn't have any more!) but I did have some lump charcoal.  Lump usually burns faster and hotter than briquets which is the reason I didn't want to use it but when I put it on top of the already burning briquets, it just lay there.  It didn't even smoke.  I've no idea what happened there!  Anyway, I needed heat so I turned on the gas bbq and moved the meat over to it.  I figured it had gotten a big enough dose of smoke anyway.  Using the gas (Weber Genesis) with one burner on as low as it would go and the other two off, we were sitting right at 275F - perfect.  I had to shove the bbq back next to the house so the wind wouldn't blow out  the flame but it worked!  It was almost 17:00 when I wrapped the meat in foil and took it into the house.  We prepared a salad and some vegies while the meat rested - we are trying to learn to rest meat after cooking but it sure is hard after you've been working on it for eight or nine hours!  We finally got to eat; and I must say it's good.  The wood chips I used were mesquite, not what the guru suggested, and we did find the meat has a slightly odd taste.  But it was what I had and it is very good; just a little odd.  I was pretty shy about making the rub too strong and as a result it was quite mild.  Next time there will be more zoom to the rub.  For a first try though, I'm very happy.

This week we have medical tests for my self and my wife and a return visit with the vet for the dog.  We sure do spend on the medical front!  Last time we talked with the vet she noted that the dog as cataract on both eyes.  "There are several vets in the valley who will remove that for about $3000 an eye."  Jeez, give me a break! 

I've downloaded a utility called TreeSize Free (via a link from CNET).  It lets you know how much space is being used in various files on your computer.  It has always bothered me that I can't get that information from the operating system but maybe I'm weird.  This thing though went through my computer in a few minutes and told me all kinds of interesting info.  For example, all the photos I've been taking and scans I've been doing are taking up 9GB of space!  And I'm no where near done!  I'm going to back everything up though.  Losing all those photos would just be a killer!

I've got to go.  Hope you have a good one.  I'll try to post a bit more; once a week is just bad. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Scanner update and Guilty Pleasures

I'm still scanning; though it is getting less fun by the minute!  I did discover that I can scan negatives and get a decent image though it really helps if the negative is in good condition.  Some of the negatives I tried had been wrapped with a rubber band and getting them straightened out was a major pain. Still, it worked finally!  The film carrier is made of plastic and I doubt if it would last very long if I were doing hundreds of photos.  It's the same carrier used for slides but the slide portion is just holding the slide in position where the film strip portion is controlling the strip and holding it straight and flat. 

I must say there are things I miss about film.  I may have to get the old Nikon out one of these days and see if it powers up.  Here's a photo I took that I don't think I can recreate now.  (Of course I could do it on the computer but that's a different sort of thing!)

I was thinking this morning about Guilty Pleasures.  You know, things that you enjoy that you feel kind of silly about liking.  My wife and I both love slapstick so one of our Guilty Pleasures is the long running tv show "America's Funniest Videos".  Another Pleasure that is mine alone is a web site where people (mostly men) display what they carry in their pockets every day:  it's called EDC for Every Day Carry.  I take it mostly with a large grain of salt because I don't see a lot of people typically carrying around a $400 pocket knife or watch; much less a gun!  But it's still fun.  It has influenced me I must admit.  I bought a small LED flashlight (at Walmart for $3!) that takes a single AAA battery and added that to my load.  I'm really surprised how much I use the darn thing.  Now having seen the story about the baseball usher who saved some children from attacking dogs, I'm considering carrying a locking pocket knife.  My old Swiss Army knife is great and I wouldn't be without it but a locking blade would make a big difference if it was to be used as a weapon.

Speaking of things that are sliced up (what a segue!), it must be time for an update on our dog's surgeries.  Three of her cuts are doing really well but the wound on her chest is still looking pretty nasty and Monday is the three week anniversary of the surgery.  We are giving her keflex under the vet's prescription to treat infection but may be back to the vet to see if there isn't more that we can do.  I must say it felt rather silly to go the the pharmacy for something for the dog. 

Well, time for me to go do something even if it is wrong.  I'm making some shelves for the garage and you wouldn't believe how many hours I have wasted already and they aren't done.  Have a good one!