Monday, February 17, 2014


Wow...the first week plus has ZOOMED by! I have no possible way to keep up, so I just pick and choose what portions to watch...sadly I'm missing SO MUCH! Susie, keep the "POOP" your ultra condensed take on things! One thing I did see was the last period of the mens US vs Russia hockey game early Saturday morning. OMG! I've never been a huge fan of hockey (I've been to games though, and it's WAY more fun in person, especially the minor leagues!)....but that game was something. And it was pretty clean overall too, especially considering the rivalry. Not a huge van of the Olympics rule that if the net is off it's moorings by even a tiny bit a goal doesn't count rule...seems like a goalie could really take advantage of it (in the NHL they don't have that rule apparently)...but it worked for us this time, sadly enough for the Russians...that goal they got with just about 5 minutes left from about 20 yards out just zipped thru everybody like a beam of light...and then was disallowed cuz our goalie had knocked the net a bit earlier. Because of that disallowed goal it then went to overtime 4 on 4, and after 5 minutes of that we had the greatest shootout I've ever seen! Oshie was pure calm under what must have been amazing pressure! He was all smiles and seemed to REALLY be enjoying himself each time he took the puck and moved in for a kill...and more than a few of those were sudden death if he missed as he was shooting last after his first goal.

Was very sad for Daly (the US Skeleton dude) who had been going back and forth with his friend and American between 3rd and 4th place in the Gold medal round of 4 runs...his friend had barely slipped ahead into Bronze position in the 3rd run, and on his 4th and last run as he was on his takeoff his sled runner came out of the groove and it was all over but for the crying...tough way to end an olympics. His friend got Bronze, and at least he was cool enough to say if anybody was going to beat him he was glad it was his friend...but I thought it was in EXTREMELY poor taste to keep the camera in his face asking him question after question...he was ready to cry and was having a very hard time staying composed...they should have at LEAST cut the video away and just had the audio for crying out hiss for that interview. How the hell do you THINK he feels after just losing any chance at a medal after training his ass off for the last 4 years?

OK...gotta run...Susie, we're all counting on you...feel free to expound in even more detail...I'm doing a LOT of my Olympics viewing vicariously thru you...

later gaters!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Remember me?

Hello again.

As is now quite obvious to all (and by 'all' I mean both of you who still come into the Asylum occasionally), I have utterly failed in my one New Years Resolution (which was something along the lines of NOT going a month at a time without posting). Sheesh, I just don't know where the time has gone! Suddenly it's FEBRUARY! Punxatawny Phil has already made his forecast for the coming spring (or lack there-of) for crying out loud!

All I really have is a lame bag of excuses, so I won't even bother to bore you with them. They would sound pathetic. I know work has been quite busy. QUITE. BUSY. But that isn't it. Somehow my home-hours have disappeared without my consent or knowledge. It's like I come home from work and wake up in time to get ready for work. My weekends seem to go by even faster. And I don't really feel like I'm getting anything done. Well, that's not entirely true. This past weekend I did put in a new hot water heater. Turned out to bea MUCH larger job than anticipated. About 2 weeks ago I noticed the wall behind my heater was dark (it's in our finished garage, sitting on a nicely finished pedestal in a corner-nook by the door going into the house). Closer inspection revealed it was mold growing up the wall. And on the other wall too. And below where it was sort-of standing. The constant dripping and the weight of a full 40 gallon unit had melted it's way thru the finished sheetrock like a hot-knife thru butter. Moldy butter. Under the goopy moldy sheetrock was wet plywood. I invented a little catch-basin for the leak, with a piece of tubing (from an old camelback hydration unit) funneling the water into a coffee can. The area mostly dried up in the week and a half that it had with no dripping water until the moment I was ready to replace it.

I knew removing the unit was probably the easiest part of the job. I was right. Shut off and removed the gas line, hooked a hose to the drain valve and drained it (took longer than I thought),  torched the pressure relief valve copper tubing to unsolder it, and then unscrewed the incoming and outgoing water pipes from the top. Then I just loosened the two retaining straps screwed into wall studs, and it was free. Lifted the leaky beast off the pedestal and that was that. NOW I had a good view of the damage a leaking water heater with no drip pan can cause. Ripped apart the pedestal, both layers of plywood had to go (wet and stinky). Scraped the mold off the walls, realized that the mold appeared to go deeper than the top layer and into the sheetrock itsself, so modified my plan and cut out some fairly decent pieces to totally eliminate the cancer. Another trip to Home Depot (I think I had 3 trips on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, and this doesn't count the trip or two I took before hand buying the new unit and everything I THOUGHT I needed at that point. I have a theory on "how many trips to Home Depot" any particular DIY job will take me: "one more trip" is the answer to that question. After I made that trip, I ask the question and it's still the same answer. It's almost like I'm locked into my own little bizzare "Ground Hogs Day"/Bill Murray time warp thing were I keep going back, buying different stuff each time, yet never quite getting everything I need (in my defense, in each phase of the overall big-picture project is when I find what I should have gotten for that phase).

In the end I'll say that I think I saved us a lot of dough by doing all this myself. A hired plumber would have taken out the unit and then gone away until a carpenter did all the work ripping out and replacing damaged wood and sheetrock. And then taped the joints, slathered on the 'mud', let it dry and sand it down, spraying orange-peel texture to match the rest of the walls, and finally paint the entire area so the plumber could now finally install the new unit. And of course, the new unit had different locations for ALL the fittings. The new unit was taller, bigger around (not a lot), but required me to re-work the gas line, pressure relief line, exhaust vent ducting, and the intake/outgoing water lines. And then after all that there was the NEW drain line for the drip pan (1" PVC, which is a pretty large line). That had to be routed outside (so I had to core-drill a hole thru the wall/stucco) as I have no drain inside my garage. And quite honestly I'm still not quite done. There is more spackling on the sides of my pedestal that needs to be done, and sanded/textured and painted. But I'm somehow in no hurry to finish that particular part...I have hot water again and we're happy. I was SUPPOSED to be up in Sunnyvale on travel for the last 2 weeks, and boy am I glad I didn't end up going. Jeannie most likely wouldn't have noticed the leak for many more days after I did, so the mold/water damaged area would have likely been far more substantial. And she (we) would have paid a fortune for other to come in and do all this. Canceling my trip saved us a BUNCH of cash for sure.

OK. Enough on that...(I'm sure you have been thinking that to yourself for like 10 minutes now). What else is going on? LOTS, that's what. The top of the list is that CHRIS HORNER HAS A TEAM FINALLY! Isn't that great news? He likely won't race le Tour, but it sounds like he will be at the Giro, AND if he stays healthy he will get to defend his Vuelta title! I'm sure he's somewhat disappointed at his new salary, being a Grand Tour winner last year, but it's better than early retirement! And hey...what if he does real well in either/both Grand Tours this year? Wouldn't THAT be exciting! What else...the Super Bowl...sadly (or not) I missed most of it working in my garage. But turns out I didn't miss much...I was rooting for, strike that..I was rooting for Peyton Manning (as a Raider fan I HATE the Broncos...but I do like Peyton). I sure hope he comes back for another year,  because having THAT as your last game before retirement would be a horrificly sad way to end such an amazing football career (note: the Raider fan in me just did a double-take at my saying "I hope he comes back next year" the same inner Raider fan is slapping me silly wondering how that sentence escaped my brain/fingers). Back during the playoffs I reveled when Denver went on and Indy was out (again more inner slapping my face)...I hate it when teams have NO loyalty to guys who have done SO MUCH for the team/city and then trade them away for the newer younger cheaper (or not?) guy. Such as when Indy let Peyton go and picked up Andrew Luck (I'm not saying I don't understand it, but I still HATE it when they do that). Or when San Fran let Montana go to KC so they could play Steve Young. And Jerry Rice too. And when my Raiders let Marcus Allen go to KC also. I think the teams OWE these players who were the heart and soul of their teams for so many years, that they should suck it up and let them play until they say they are done. Yeah yeah...if I was the owner I probably wouldn't do that either, but I WISH they would.

And HEY HEY HEY!! Bum BUM Bum (always have a hard time putting the Olympic theme into words)....yes, it's THAT time again! The WINTER OLYMPICS! So sad that Lindsay Vonn won't be defending her title...she is so amazing! But we have such a plethora of AWESOME winter athletes...and the winter Olympics are just SO much more exciting than the summer Olympics in general! It's like most of the events are right out of the extreme sports category! Downhill skiing (hitting nearly 700 miles per hour on SKI's!), bobsled, luge, skeleton, half-pipe, sprint skating, it goes on and on! And what about those guys flinging those uber-heavy "Rocks" down the ice with little sweeper-dudes steering/clearing the run? DANGER DANGER DANGER! Oh my gosh...that sport is RIFE with potential for disaster! (aren't those sweeper guys going BACKWARDS?) Figure skating...mens, womens, ice dancing, it's pretty much gymnastics on razor blades! And then my personal fav: Ski Jumping! OMG!!! That ramp is so long and steep...the guts to jump into those two little tracks and fling yourself off the end of that ramp at just under light-speed is so far beyond me that I get goose-bumps every time they go! I remember Eddie the Eagle from the UK a number of Olympics ago...they had never had a jumper before...he was their first. In the big scheme of ski jumpers he wasn't very good (as compared to pretty much everybody else doing it), but he DID IT! Over and over again he went off that jump and lived! He was a hero and I can't watch that event without thinking of him (WAY TO GO EDDIE!!!!!) Or the year Jamaica finally had a bobsled team! That is a VERY dangerous sport...a lot is riding on your captain NOT killing you all with less than stellar steering.

What other events...biathlon! Cross Country Skiing at world-class pace, and then shooting TINY TINY little targets with your heart beating out of your chest! I shoot, and I can attest how hard shooting is under the BEST of circumstances...doing it over and over again in the middle of an endurance ski race is plain CRAZY! Crazy FUN that is! Those guys and gal's are just amazing! Gosh...I'm just giddy that they start TOMORROW!!! I am a bit worried though...they are a huge worldwide event, which is a wonderful target for BAD people. I sure hope and pray for all the athletes that the bad people don't use the games as their 15 minutes of fame to the world. I sure hope the Soviet security is and has been on it's "A" game! We'll know soon enough.

I've been riding as much as I reasonably can...we did have almost two weeks of SUMMER back when the rest of the country was getting hammered with storm after storm! I think my little town of Santa Maria actually had the national high one day in that run...we were at 87F! And now that our 'normal' winter temps have returned (actually we've been below our average the last week or so, rats!) it's very difficult for me to coax myself out on the bike in the wind and cold (by cold I mean 40's and 50's...not cold like MOST of you know..but for us that's QUITE cold I'm sad to say). We do need rain in a desperate WE WILL ALL PAY DEARLY FOR PRODUCE AND SUCH IN THE COMING YEAR IF WE DON'T GET RAIN AND LOTS OF IT VERY SOON sort of way. California is one of the largest produce growing states, and we are in trouble. Our reservoirs are at or near record lows, the groundwater is at or near record lows...bad times are ahead if we don't get SOME rain. We're probably about half-way thru our 'rainy season' and I heard the news last week that here in Santa Maria we are 12" behind our annual average. I think we've had like .3" of rain in almost a year. Not good. VERY not good.

OK...I'll wrap up this veritable smorgasbord of topics blathered into a single post wishing for the rest of you that Ol' Phil the groundhog was WRONG, and you all have an early spring coming. In the meantime, it's OLYMPICS! Woo-HOO!!!