Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An ode to Groundhogs Day

Here’s to the special Holiday, so soon after the New Year; 
and with it our weather forecast, that we wait with baited breath to hear.
Just who is this evil sorcerer, who can end winters icy chill? 
Why, It’s the humblest of all the creatures, called Punxsutawny Phil!
He’s just a groundhog, a furry mammal as you all know; 
but every February 2nd, he’s the star of our weather show.
He doesn’t care about politics, nor about what you do; 
Phil doesn’t even care if you’re red or if you’re blue.
He doesn’t even notice, how much money you might make; 
he just wants us all to know, about what’s really at stake.
Six more weeks of winter, the worst news that he could bring; 
but if we’re really lucky, we’ll get an early spring!
Phil doesn’t care, if you’re woman or if you're man; 
he just makes his prediction, the best that he possibly can.
When he calls for spring, he makes most people glad; 
but if it’s more winter, then he makes most people mad.
From the California rains, to the states with all the snow; 
all I can say for sure is, PLEASE LET THIS WINTER GO!
I bring you this meager verse, from the state of Colorado; 
where the winter is REAL and I pray, that he doesn't see his SHADOW!
But don’t blame the groundhog, he just calls it as he sees; 
it is whatever it is, so go on out and do as you please.
I’m doing that here in the Springs, riding my mountain bike in the snow; 
and with these final words of mine, I guess I'll let you go.
Our lives are too short, to let winter stand in the way; 
so even when it’s cold outside, I say go out and PLAY!
I’ve nothing more to offer, this is the last thing that I’ll say; 
I hope you all have a wonderful, fantastic Groundhogs Day!

Colorado Springs, Gold Camp Rd, 1st tunnel (5 miles in), 1/29/17

Saturday, January 21, 2017

May you live in interesting times!

Well. A LOT has happened since my New Years post. Lots of great College Football, lots of great NFL football, the start of cycling season Down Under, and hmm...seems I'm forgetting something, what could it be? OH, RIGHT! We have a new President! I almost forgot about that, what with the almost non-existent media coverage and all. It ALMOST slipped by under the radar. Sheesh...the Media really needs to pay attention and start reporting on this stuff!

Yes, like it or not, Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America.

Wow. Or maybe it's WOW.

It just seem so surreal. I mean, yes, we had Ronald Reagan the actor as President...but he had also been Governor of California, so had SOME actual inkling of what a President should do. But Donald Trump?

REALLY?? This isn't a joke? The guy from reality TV is our PRESIDENT? Ha ha...April Fools (in January)...he's not REALLY our President...gotcha! Made ya look!

But alas, I woke up this morning (Saturday), and while getting ready for work turned on the news, and lo and behold it wasn't a dream...he really IS President (tho I was very lucky to catch a teensy snippet saying so...cuz, you know...the near entire media in this country totally not reporting anything about this whatsoever). And so, away we go on this wild ride we are all on. The roller coaster has left the station. And the ENTIRE COUNTRY, belay that.....WORLD, is along for this ride. Wherever it takes us. I'm not even sure these tracks HAVE an end...maybe they just shoot the car off a cliff, or maybe in 4 years we will cruise smoothly into the end of the ride...we just don't know!

So, just WHERE will we ALL be 4 short years from now? Will things TRULY be better for most of us, (which is ALWAYS the hope for a new President)? Will wrongs have been righted? (Will rights have been wronged?) Will our income tax system have been FINALLY overhauled for the BETTER of the average citizen? Will our immigration PROBLEM have been fixed? (for those of you who don't live anywhere the southern border, you may not realize the extent of our problem...but I can assure you, people in New Mexico, Arizona and California can give you a good description). Will the immigration problem (assuming it's been fixed) have been handled FAIRLY and HUMANELY? Will our world-standing have taken a turn for the BETTER? Will our military be STRONGER? Will our (and by "our" I mean "the world's") environmental problems be better? Will racism (in BOTH directions, anti-black, anti-white) be better? Will our nations deficit be LOWER than the 19 TRILLION and change that it currently is (consider that we're adding 3.1 BILLION $ a day at the moment)? Will our businessman President reign in Congress (wouldn't THAT be something!) and get spending under control, halting or better-yet REDUCING our deficit? What will our space program look like? We retired the space shuttles with NOTHING to replace them, and as a result have been pretty much financing the Russian space program, paying a kings ransom for each astronaut we send to the ISS. What about the war in space (if you don't know about this, google "CNN Special Report, the War in Space...it's pretty damn scary!)? Cyber-terrorists? Al-Qaida? ISIS/ISIL? Home-grown terrorists? Gun control (or more accurately, the further erosion of the 2nd Amendment from the honest law abiding citizens by making new laws that DON'T FIX THE PROBLEM)? Will WE (the average American Citizen) have more or less freedom than we do now? What about our Government spying on us and their misdeeds to US Citizens? (everybody should watch "Snowden", a documentary movie made about Edward Snowden by Oliver Stone). Along w/ Snowden, everybody should also watch "CitizenFour", another documentary about Snowden, except this one IS Snowden and the actual reporters, not just a movie about him).

This all (the current state of our country) reminds me of a scene in the movie "Dave", in which the imposter President Mitchell (played fabulously by Kevin Kline) has a press conference and says "we've got so many problems that we don't even know where to start". I feel like we're there now. In the movie he (the imposter President) steps up his game, and after firing the Chief of Staff works very hard for the betterment of the common people, homeless people, working people....the average Joe. In the movie we had a fantastic President, even if he only was a Temp.

Dave, we need you! Or certainly someone LIKE you. 

Can (will) Donald J. Trump be able to make things BETTER, or will he make things WORSE? Will he be able to work WITH Congress for the betterment of the country? (that would honestly be a bone-fide MIRACLE, not just for DJT but for ANY President). Can (will) Congress get their collective heads out of their un-named orifices and DO THEIR JOBS for a change? What will the Supreme Court look like 4 years from now? IMO, anytime there's an odd number of judges in the Supreme court and a vote comes up with an even number on both sides of the issue, I personally think the senior judge should NOT vote and leave it as a tie. Anytime something HUGE (ie: ANY case before the Supreme Court) comes down to ONE PERSON being in a position to make that decision for EVERYBODY, that is just too much power. But that's just my 2 cents worth.

COMPROMISE! THAT is the name of the game people. NOBODY gets everything they want. Our system was made by our VERY SMART forefathers to FORCE compromise. When there's no compromise, NOTHING gets done. Nothing gets FIXED. We NEED things to get fixed, as I'm afraid we are quite broken. Our government "of the people, by the people, for the people" is out of control, and has been for some time now. They seem to be more interested in KEEPING their jobs than DOING their jobs. About the only thing I can say with utter certainty about DJT is that he has a pretty steep uphill battle against him. Like any President, he has roughly 1/2 the country hating his guts (only in his case it's actually over 1/2). Can he win over even SOME of the haters? Will he LOSE some of his supporters? One thing is for sure...he's been elected. We all owe him a chance (what other option IS there?) Just like every other President over the centuries has had their chance. Maybe he can pull off a miracle and unite our country....but quite honestly it's a VERY tall order. With the current state of the red and blue division in our country I seriously doubt ANYBODY can pull that off. Well, maybe Clint Eastwood could....I think he'd be a popular President. All we'd have to do is send a bunch of copies of all the spaghetti westerns (Hang Em High, A Fistfull of Dollars, etc) and Dirty Harry movies to our enemies, and they'd be quaking in their boots at us with him as our President!

But that's the end of my rant today. To find out where this all leads, tune into the next edition of SOAP! (am I showing my age by referencing that TV comedy show of the late 70's? I personally thought it was HILARIOUS!)

Hang in there America...and think good thoughts. We NEED them! And hey....like Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of every show..."Lets be kind to each other"! Words to live by for SURE!

I fly to Colorado Springs AGAIN on Monday for another 3 weeks. Old Man Winter, here I come (hooray). Yes, that was my totally heart-felt rousing cheer to go freeze my hiney off again. I've GOT to get back to Hawaii...where we're cold at 60 degrees! THAT'S my kind of winter! Later gaters! And on that note, I'll sign off.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Wow...another year has passed! We're ALL another year older. The incessant march of time continues it's unrelenting pace. Time slows for no one...that seems to be the unbreakable rule (as far as we know). That, and the double-edged-sword of gravity. Yep...gravity. Can't live without it, but in those (hopefully FEW) dire moments when you are no longer in control of your fate and are plummeting the few feet towards mother earth, it's a real bitch. I crashed on my mt bike a few times this past year. No serious injuries thank goodness, but a renewed dis-appreciation for road-rash (can't imagine how the roadies deal with it so non-nonchalantly..it really SUCKS!)

My charity-work went well last year, as I earned enough money selling fruit, muffins and bagels at work to buy FIVE bikes for World Bicycle Relief (and I bought them all during a time of all donations being matched, so actually I bought TEN Bikes in 2016)! I've been doing this (raising money for charity) for EIGHT STRAIGHT YEARS NOW...it all started back in 2009 with Fatty and making money for LIVESTRONG. We switched to WBR a few years back due to the utter collapse of LIVESTRONG (when it turned out that Lance is the DEVIL). Anyway, at just a cursory glance I've now raised over $11,000 for those two organizations! Not too shabby for doing this on my spare time (I go into work 45 minutes early every day to put out my stuff, then on Friday afternoon I pick my stuff up and put it away after work). That and the time I use going to the store to restock my goodies every week...but hey...I'm helping people that I don't even know....that's kind of cool!

My new year began with me on my knees in the garage, trying to fix my car seat. While I was away in Nevada seeing my Dad and step-mom for a few days over the Holiday break, Jeannie had my car (I took hers...it's bigger for 3 people. Me being taller than Jeannie she had to adjust my seat (it's a 5 speed so getting the clutch to the floor REQUIRES proper seat placement). It's been a while since anybody  has adjusted my seat, and my car is now 14 years old. Something was frozen, and next thing you know the seat won't latch anymore...she had to use a few of my boards in some clever jamming ways to be able to drive my car.

Something I had never really thought of before...if you can't adjust the seat (specifically, if you can't LOCK the seat into position) it's un-drivable! Literally...if I can't fix my seat the car is just a hunk of metal and plastic taking up space in my garage! So I spent well over an HOUR trying to figure out what was wrong (ever TRY to get a good view of the mechanics underneath your car seat? They don't make that easy I can tell you!)

After I figured out the problem (the spring-pin that is moved by the seat-adjust lever was fully retracted, NOT springing back into the center track locking the seat into place), it was another hour trying to figure out HOW to get the seat out to get TO the device to TRY to fix it! (all of this is on my knees btw...and my knees are 56 years old and not really happy about this, even kneeling on a folded over rug). Eventually I figured out that the 2 tracks on the sides let the seat roll forward and backwards, and the center uni-strut type piece mounted in the front of the seat-floor (with holes in one side for the spring pin to latch into) has a long rivet-thinggee that is keeping the entire seat in it's tracks. Remove the rivet-thinggee and it will slide right back out of the tracks and I SHOULD be able to lift the seat out.

Right.....it actually was that easy. NOT. I had to sawzall the rivet-thinggee in 2 places to remove it (when they install these seats in the VW factory in Germany, they are NOT intended to come out again is my impression).  And YAY, the seat did slide right out of the 2 tracks and the center locking device, just like I figured. HOWEVER. The moving part of the operation (the spring loaded pin thing) is still attatched to the seat via a bicycle steel cable and housing (just like a bicycle brake unit) but I can't see ANY way to disconnect it. And the center track sliding/locking thinggee is bolted to the floor. So long story short, the seat is still attached to the floor, albiet by a 1 foot steel cable and housing. With a plastic thingga-ma-jig attaching the cable and housing to the seat-adjusting-lever. Also there are electrical cables connecting the seat to the vehicle wiring harness. NOT even going to try to disconnect those, being as I can't disconnect the steel cable and housing..there's just no reason. But I WAS able to finally lay the seat sort-of on it's side so I could get to the floor-mounted spring-pin thinggee (the movable locking part of this operation).

And obviously it's frozen in the 'unlocked' position. Making a long story short, and without causing further damage, and using a hammer AND some WD-40 I was able to free the spring-locking-pin deallie-job so it now moves again, just like new! Other than the broken cheap-O plastic bits (that broke when I was TRYING to lay the seat sideways so I could get TO the frozen pin thing) I was almost done! So here is where the Jerry-rig comes into play. I have some aluminum tape that I was able to cut into strips and lock the steel-cable/housing unit into a reasonable position (I hope) back to the seat adjusting handle. So far so good, the handle now moves the pin in and out like it should...(not sure how long my jerry-rig tape will hold but for now I'm good...if it fails it will likely slip out of position and then I won't be able to un-lock and move the seat, far better than not being able to lock the seat into position IMO). So with more back and knee-breaking labor I was able to FINALLY get the dang seat back into it's tracks and the center uni-strut piece into IT's track, and viola...it locks and unlocks again! I fabricated a new bolt to replace the rivet-thinggee I sawzall'ed out, and replaced some trim pieces over the wheel tracks, and I was done! My car is now a car again!

I figure VW would have charged me about a thousand bucks for that, OR they would have just replaced the entire seat (if that's even possible for a 14 year old car) charging me more than the car is worth, OR they would have just said they can't fix it and left me in limbo. Either way, it's actually a good start for the new year...my car is ALIVE again! HOORAY!!! Who knew how complicated the under-workings of a car seat are? That's actually quite some engineering come to think of it...the seat needs to easily move back and forth at will, yet lock QUITE solid so that in the event of a car crash it doesn't let go and crush your knees and body into the steering wheel. Boy that spring-pin thinggee must be STRONG!

ANYWAY...I'm NOT doing any bike riding just now...I dropped my NEW (1 year old) mt bike off at the shop down near my brothers house (Newbury Park/Thousand Oaks, the shop I bought it at) as the Cannondale Carbon Lefty fork is STILL having issues....it's been having problems since I bought it. This time they sent it back to the factory...HOORAY! Hopefully it will get FIXED this time...we shall see. Other than the fork issues it's quite a bike, and I can't wait to have it back out on the dirt! It's been rainy and cold (poor me) since I got back from my Dads, and my old mt bike is still in Colorado (where I'll likely be heading back to in a few weeks) so I only have road bikes for now, and I'm not into 'solo' rides unless I'm out on the base (cuz I don't want to DIE from the yahoos NOT paying attention). So my cycling has taken it's usual 'holiday' slack period...and my hard-won fitness is taking a real nose-dive as usual this time of year. Oh well...it will come back..just seems it's harder every year to 'get it back' tho. Something about this 'getting older' thing.

The other thing of note at our house is we FINALLY pulled the trigger and ordered window shutters for the entire house (the interior kind that have the slat running down the middle so you can open and close the shutters, and they swing open to the inside to allow you to clean / get to the windows). We've hated the up/down cheap-O wooden blinds that came with the house ever since the moment we moved in. And the vertical plastic shutters for the 2 sliding glass doors were HORRIBLE. So...we saved and saved for a decade or so, and BAM! Ordered them back in Sept I think (they had to come out twice to measure, and then they take a few months to get made) and we JUST had them installed..took them 2 days on the 30th and 31st (New Years Eve-day)...but BOY do they look GREAT! I had to remove all the blinds and curtains AND hardware, and fill in all the holes, sand them down and then paint over the repairs before the shutters were installed. The shutters for the 2 sliding doors are impressive (and QUITE expensive but well worth it!) I won't give you the total damage, but it was a LOT (however they will substantially add to the value of the house, AND we get to enjoy them the rest of the time we live here!)

So now I just need to finish painting the inside of the house (just bought ANOTHER 5 gallon bucket of paint)...I'll likely work on that some today (the 2nd) and also I need to take down the Christmas lights outside...maybe today, maybe next weekend...we'll see.

And so...our New Year is off to a roaring start! Our health is good, our families are doing good, and our fur-babies re good. I hope YOUR New Year is off to as good a start! My only downside thus far is my Wolverines fell apart (but came back to make the game QUITE close) against Florida State, and then my Raiders totally fell apart against the Broncos (however they at least had a reason...you don't go very far in the NFL with a 3rd string quarterback...likely their playoff run will end quick...but WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR! For BOTH teams! Harbaugh has worked a miracle with a losing team bringing them to the top rungs of the National Championship hunt...just wait until a few years from now when the entire team is of his recruiting! (and look at the Niners, and their utter collapse without him!) And the Raiders...just WOW! 12 and 4? That's a record most teams DREAM of...and for a lifelong Raider fan, well, it's been a LONG WAIT for that kind of season. Losing Carr to a broken leg is just horrible luck...but he will be back next year and I think they Raiders will be a team to recon with. Just you wait Denver and KC! Next year we WILL win those games!

And with that optimistic outlook for 2017 I sign off.