February 28, 2017

176,373

That's how many miles I'd put on the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Bought in 2009, with barely 20,000 miles on her, we began travelling.  I was in Colorado at the time, having recently moved from Arizona.  Down in Phoenix, I had a little Dodge sedan, small and 4 cylinders and utterly unimpressive, but affordable on a paramedic salary.  Once I moved to the Denver area, and began to reacquaint myself with the mountains, I soon realized that I needed a better vehicle, one more suited to loading up the back pack, tent, sleeping bag, dog, and cooler of beer.

My new job was a huge raise, and with few changes to my lifestyle, I found myself rather flush with cash, so I plopped a huge chunk down, about half of the purchase price, and financed the rest.  And managed to pay that off in 3 years instead of 5.

In 2009, I drove from Colorado to Indiana for Christmas, and it was on that drive that I truly understood how comfortable the vehicle was to drive when I made the trip back in a single push -- 1180 miles, 17 hours, stopped only for gas and bathroom breaks.  Got out of the Jeep, stretched a bit, wasn't sore at all.

Some years later, I got married and moved back to Indiana to be with my wife and begin our lives together.  My belongings in a uHaul, the Jeep pulled it with barely any effort (granted, most of the trip was downhill), and still had space for the dogs in the cargo area, a Yakima Space Case on the roof rack with the camping gear, and a cooler of sandwiches and beverages in the back seat.  We stopped for the day near Columbia, Missouri, and camped on the banks of the Missouri River.

I used the Jeep to teach my ex-wife's oldest daughter to drive.

We took a vacation to West Virginia for some white water rafting, then to western Pennsylvania for some camping.  Four of us, camping gear, etc.

During a cold week in January, I drove that Jeep up into Michigan, visiting client sites in blowing snow and brutally cold conditions.  Never missed a beat.

When my wife and I split, I lived in the Jeep for three weeks, folding the rear seats down and laying at an angle, I would barely fit.  In the morning, I'd get up and drive a few blocks to the YMCA for a shower, then go to work.  In the evenings, I'd sit on the back bumper, drink a couple beers, watch the sun set, and cry from the pain of the divorce.  But through it all, Jeep was there.

As the prodigal son must, I had to go "home" to Colorado, so once again I saddled up for the move.  I had to replace the front drive shaft, and gave her a radiator flush/fill, transmission flush/fill, and an oil change.  Once again, loading the uHaul trailer, I hit the road, this time stopping just outside Lawrence, Kansas, to camp overnight.  The next evening, I arrived at my new home in Fort Collins.  So many things were up in the air -- where was I going to live? How much could I afford in rent?  Will I like my new job?  -- that I was very worried and stressed for weeks.  All of this was new again, and am I going to make it?  Through it all, I had my Jeep.

The past few months, she started having some issues, and I put some money into her for repairs, but yesterday was the end.  Driving back from Cheyenne after going to fix a client network issue, she blew a cylinder... the rocker arm blew up through the valve cover, and smoke poured freely from under the hood.  Had her towed to a mechanic, who gave me the bad news today: Engine is done, $4500 or so to replace it.  Not worth the expense, so I'll head over to the shop this evening, collect my personal belongings, and say my good bye to the most comfortable, most enjoyable, most wonderful vehicle I've ever known.

10 years.

176,373 miles.

Countless memories.

So long, Heep.  We had us one hell of a good ride.

February 21, 2017

DMV Rant

So took a couple extra hours during lunch today to get over to the DMV and get my Colorado driver's license (really for no other reason that I'd like to be able to buy a pistol, should I find myself flush with extra cash).

First, the BMV in Indiana is FAR more efficient than the one here.  Back in Indiana, I walked in and walked out with a driver's license in less than 15 minutes: "Here's my proof of residency, here's my old CO license, here's my money... Thank you, ma'am, you have a nice day, too."

Here, I took my number, then stood in line.  And stood.  And stood.

And stood.  For 2.5 hours.

After 2.5 hours, my number gets called, and I approach the counter.

Where I get told that my driving privileges in Colorado are suspended.

Because I did not provide proof of renewal of my insurance in September of 2013.

Which, coincidentally, happens to be ONE YEAR after I moved to Indiana.

To make things better, the form on which they printed the steps for appealing this issue has my name listed at the top...

... right above my old address in Arizona, which I left in 2008 to move here.

When I showed the DMV counter agent my Indiana license that has an issued date of 9/8/2012 as proof that I didn't LIVE in Colorado in September 2013, she shrugged her shoulders and pointed to the appeals form.

Absolutely unbelievable.

I'd make note that Colorado has no trouble taking taxes from my paycheck, but damned if they're going to keep their database current and accurate.


February 16, 2017

The Hits Just Keep Coming

Fort Collins is a very bicycle friendly city.  There are bike paths a plenty all across town -- see this map for more (opens as a pdf file) -- and at most any brewery, pub, or eatery you're likely to find significant bike rack space to lock up your ride.  We've got bike racks on the front of the ambulances in town, so if a cyclist gets hurt, the EMS crew can transport the bike as well as the patient, and the city buses have bike racks as well.

When you consider this, add in the growing bulk around my mid-section from too many beers and not enough exercise, and top it off with a splash of generally nice weather, it's perhaps no surprise to learn that I have been looking around for a used, but still serviceable bike to ride here and there.

Locating a decent bike on Craigslist for a decent price, I drove over yesterday evening.  Took the thing around the block, and liked it.  It's tall enough for me (those who have met me know what that means... Those who have not, I'll simply state that I'm just shy of six and a half feet tall), and all the parts are in good shape.  I handed the man the cash, we shook hands, and I loaded the bicycle into the back of the Heep for the drive across town back home.

And that's when the Heep decided that it wasn't going to start.

For a few months now, it's been doing this strange thing where when the engine is warm, the Heep doesn't want to start easily.  It's almost as if the engine is getting flooded with too much fuel, causing it to fail to start.  Typically, I just have to wait a half hour or so for the engine to cool, then it starts up fine.

But not yesterday.  Yesterday the battery went Tango Uniform.

I called a buddy who came and tried to give me a jump start, but to no avail.  He gave me a lift home, and today during lunch I went to the local auto store, bought a battery -- $172 for a vehicle battery?  Kiss my hairy Polish ... -- and I'll have a co-worker give me a ride to the Heep after work to change it out.

On the plus side, now that I have a bike, I won't need the Heep for anything shorter than, say, a 10 mile trip, of which I do very few.  So it's going to sit in the garage for a while, I'm going to start saving some extra cash to get a down payment put together, and this time next year I'll be looking for a new ride.

Son of a....

February 15, 2017

Barbecue and Beans

Being a bachelor and cooking for one has some unique challenges, not the least of which is portion size.  It's actually a challenge to make a varied, balanced meal for one... Yes, it's easy to cook a single chicken breast or pork chop or steak.  But what about the side dishes?  Ever try making au gratin potatoes without having enough to feed four?  What about the vegetable?  A can of green beans is enough for two at the minimum.  Because of this, I find myself cooking in volume, and using small plastic tubs like these to store extras in the freezer:






The other day, due to an aching back and some lousy weather, I found myself spending a weekend indoors.  Having a bone-in pork shoulder roast, I set to making some shredded pork barbecue and baked beans:

The night before, soak a pound of dry pinto beans in plenty of water in your refrigerator.  Also, make up some barbecue rub if you don't have some already:

Barbecue Rub:
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Mix them all together in an air tight bag, store in the freezer to keep dry.

Generously rub down a medium bone-in pork shoulder roast with the rub, place the roast into your crock pot, add a cup or two of water, and put on low heat.  Come back in 8 hours or so, the pork should be fall apart tender and cooked.  Remove the meat to a pan, let it cool just a bit, then remove the bone and shred well.  Add your favorite barbecue sauce, and enjoy.

In your crock pot, you've still got the juices from the pork shoulder.  Don't throw that out!  It's going to come in useful shortly...

Those pintos you've had soaking overnight?  Drain and rinse well, then add them to the crock pot with the pork shoulder juice.  Add a quantity sufficient of water to cover the beans, and put the heat on low again.  About 8 hours later, the beans should be cooked.  NOW you can strain off that liquid and portion out your beans.  I like to add some shredded pork to each container of beans, but that's just me.

All in all, this netted me five plastic containers each of beans and barbecue pork.  Each container of pork is about 4 or 5 sandwiches, give or take, depending on how much meat I put on each one.  

I kept one container of each in the fridge for dinners/lunches the coming week, and the rest are in the freezer, which means I've got at LEAST 8 meals out of it.

Making America Nekkid Again!

Less than one month in office, and we get this:

Just a year after Playboy made a radical shift away from its mainstay of nude photos, the magazine will reintroduce explicit imagery in an attempt to reclaim “who we are.”

:-)

February 14, 2017

Bravo, Zoo Atlanta

This is beautiful.


Zoo Atlanta has a sense of humor when it comes to Super Bowl LI. They say they had made a bet with the Providence Zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo and Carousel Village, that the losing side would name one of their baby animals after the winning team's star quarterback.
But instead of picking an adorable baby animal like a penguin or a bear, Zoo Atlanta named a Madagascar hissing cockroach after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.



Bravo, Zoo Atlanta.  Bravo.


I've Been Informed

That the Oroville Dam in California, the one that has been neglected for decades and is in danger of failure, is only in the predicament it is in because of Trump.

Yep.  It was doing just fine three weeks ago.  But in that time, Trump managed to cause it to erode beyond safety margins, and it's because he hates California.

Powerful man, that.

February 10, 2017

Sure it is...


“It’s harder to get a driver’s license sometimes than it is to get a concealed weapons permit and that just seems a little off balance,” said Kalamazoo Chief Public Safety Officer Jeffrey Hadley

From here.


< sarcasm...>

I can see how that'd be true.  I mean, when I went to get my Indiana Driver's License, I recall having to submit to finger prints, a background check, pay $135 or so in fees, and wait up to 90 days while they processed my request.  


</ sarcasm... >

Back the Truck Up

An open letter to my IT clients:

If you are planning on an upgrade of your company's business application, and you've been planning on this for a few weeks, and part of the upgrade process is to get a full backup of your server, you might want to let your IT Managed Service Provider know about this...

... And do so with more than a 5 minute advanced notice.  Sorry, but no, your on demand backup job won't be ready in the next ten minutes.  Have your software vendor go get some breakfast, come back in two hours or so.

(Before the other IT folks chastise me: We do incremental backups during the week, full backups on Saturday.  So last night -- Thursday -- we did an incremental.  The next full was scheduled for tomorrow.)

February 7, 2017

Hide Your Crazy, Folks

Now that Betsy DeVos has been confirmed to head up the Department of Education (an entirely useless bureaucracy that doesn't do a very good job of... well, educating people... but I digress), I'm hearing people locally call to have our local representative Cory Gardner impeached.

Let alone the fact that the GOP controlled Senate isn't going to allow impeachment hearings against one of the GOP members, I have to ask "Impeached for... WHAT, exactly?"

What crime has he allegedly committed?  What law did he break?

Or do you just want him impeached because he didn't vote the way YOU wanted at the confirmation hearings? 

I'm almost to the point where it's time to shut off any form of electronic interaction with people... The crazy is on full display from the left and the right, and I'm really tired of it.

February 2, 2017

Who? And They Said What?

Here's a blip from an article I came across today:

People are literally losing their minds over the mere thought of him sitting in the Oval Office.
A mental faculty failure that is driven, I fear, by sore loser syndrome.
The protestors wanted, and expected, Hillary Clinton to sweep this ghastly man to crushing defeat in the election two months ago and become the first female president.
When it didn’t happen, mainly because Hillary was a terrible candidate who fought a terrible campaign, they were collectively struck down by Post Trump Success Disorder.
This is an awful affliction that causes victims to lose the power of calm, rational thought and instead resort to uncontrollable, unrelenting outbursts of shrieking, screaming, wailing and teeth-gnashing.
Every single thing President Trump now does, says or tweets or is greeted by instant paralysis of perspective.

I'll let you ponder who wrote it.

The answer, and the link, are after the break...