Saturday, May 14, 2011

Andy's Big Adventure

I was driving home from WalMart today on the I-10.  Everything was going smoothly until just a little past Cotton Lane, then all of a sudden there was an unmoving wall of traffic.  They were going from three lanes down to one.  So I waited.   Then I waited some more.  We were probably going about 2 miles an hour and there was another mile and a half before the next exit on Jackrabbit.  I waited some more and looked over next to me on the side of the highway.  There was a dirt road.  I would have to drive down a little incline and there were some big berms here and there, but I knew my little buggy could do it.  There were tire tracks so I knew someone had done it before, and I think I had seen people going over it with dirt bikes or quads on the other side of the highway.  I pondered the legality of the situation.  There were no signs saying not to do it.  I don't remember ever going through this when studying for my license or in the traffic school I had to go to about eight years ago.  I waited some more.  It's my day off and I really didn't need to hurry.  BUT DARN IT I WANTED TO DO IT, AND I DIDN'T SEE ANY COPS!  So I turned off the freeway, went over the weeds and down the embankment and picked up some speed!  I looked ahead and saw that the trail turned up.  It looked like it was going back up onto the freeway.  Uh oh, I knew there was no way the people on the highway were going to let me in after what I'd just tried.  As I got closer I saw that the trail turned back down.  Whew!  Then there was a little trench, probably about two feet across that was filled in with river rock and was a little bit higher in the middle of where my tires would be.  To late to turn back now!  I made it over without any problems, and kept on moving.  Then I saw posts for a barbed wire fence!  I started chanting, "No fence! No fence! No fence!" (because that actually helps, you know).  As I got up really close I noticed that they had either intentionally left an opening, or someone else had cut it.  The space between the posts was pretty narrow, but I made it.  Fortunately, my Beetle isn't very big!  Then, on the other side of the fence, was a steep embankment to get down onto Citrus road.  Oh well, there I went, and my big adventure was over!  It may not sound like much, but for someone who lives at my speed, that was quite and event!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Awesome day!

This was my seventh day off in a row!  This nursing thing definitely has some advantages.  I didn't even have to take any time off!  I got my bike rack on (actually, I did that last night, but it was late enough it didn't make it into the blog).  Here's a pic:
I've found my bicycle lock, too.  I'd be all ready for shoppin' if I could just remember where I put the key to my lock.

Hannah earned another movie today.  We got four cartoons at a garage sale for a $0.50 each, and Hannah has been earning them for playground accomplishments.  The poor thing is pretty scared of playground equipment, but today she climbed up an arcing ladder 5 times and a pirate ladder 6 times!  I spent about an hour with her at the park and she had a lot of fun.

We went to Wal-Mart and picked up some banker boxes for storage.  Ariana decorated them so they look nice.  The stripes were already on them, but the flowers and leaves are Ariana's.  I think she's really good!

Then we roasted marshmallows in the backyard.

Four dollars at Wal Mart for the Sterno can, and $2 for the roasting sticks!  Did you know they have flavored marshmallows!  We had strawberry and chocolate/vanilla combo.  Ariana's is the burning one.  Mine has chocolate stuffed inside.  I like the way the heat softens the chocolate.  The strawberry marshmallow stuffed with white chocolate is also very good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ups and Downs; at least, that's the goal.

We're having trouble with our garage door opener.  Its a Genie Pro 500.  Anyway, we drove home from mom's the other day and the garage door opener wouldn't work.  I got out and tried the key pad.  It didn't work.  We had our house keys, of course, but the front door was also chained, like this:

So we went to the neighbor's and borrowed some bolt cutters (man those are cool, I think we're gonna get some to leave in the car).  We managed to get in, tried to open the door from inside the garage, and it still didn't work.  It just made a humming noise.

My neighbor offered to help me fix it.  He came over the next day.  We messed with a few settings, but nothing changed.  We thought about going inside the box, but 1) we couldn't open it, and 2) I was afraid of voiding the warranty.

Today I called Genie customer service.  I explained it was still under warranty.  I figured they would get my address and schedule an appointment for a service technician to come over.  Instead, they asked me a bunch of questions, transferred me to a level 2 tech, then he asked me to dismantle the thing!  It kinda reminded me of the commercial where the guy is sitting at his kitchen table with a steak knife getting instructions over the phone on how to remove his own appendix or something.  Anyway, I explained that I had a hard time trying to get into it before, and the tech just said "yup, this is probably the hardest model to get in to."  He said I would only have to remove the left panel.  So I told him I'd give it another try and call him back.

I got that panel off, called back, and got another level 2 tech.  He said it sounded like the problem was with the capacitor.  He asked me to locate it.  I told him I didn't see it.  He got frustrated with me.  He described it and told me to find it and see if I found any fluid around it, or smelled anything burnt or saw anything that looked burnt or loose.  I told him I had only taken off the left panel, and he told me I would have to take them all off.  I told him that I was concerned about that because I would have to remove four wires that were attached from the outside to the opener.  He seemed irritated at that and told me they were easy to put back on.  So I told him I'd try again and call him back.  I finally got all the panels off, located the capacitor, and everything seemed OK.

I called back, thinking "what are they gonna do if its the capacitor anyway, walk me through the process of removing it with a soldering iron, tell me to go to Radio Shack, then walk me through the soldering process again to replace it?"  Anyway, I didn't get that far, because I could only get through to a level 1 tech.  She told me they were going to close in 30 minutes and all the level 2 techs were busy.  She asked if he could call me back if he had time, or call me in the morning if he didn't.  At this point, I was a little frustrated and explained that I'd never had to do this much to trouble shoot a warrantied part.  I told her it would be fine for him to call me back and that I'd work on my engineering degree while I was waiting.

Brian (the level 2 tech) called back.  I told him I didn't see any of the issues with the capacitor that he wanted me to look for.  He had me locate a gear and told me to spin it 10 times.  "Uh, is this all pretty low voltage stuff?  Should I turn off the power or something?" I asked.

"Well, I would at least unplug it," he said.

"Thanks for volunteering the information before asking me to stick my hand in there!" I thought.  Later, I wondered if there was anything else that was dangerous that I did that he didn't warn me about.

Anyway, once I found the part and spun in around, he asked me to see if it worked.  It didn't.  He told me I would have to contact the people who installed it and have them come and take a look at it.

At least the call center seemed to be located somewhere here in the States.  I'll try to call the builder tomorrow and ask who they had install garage door opener.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We're sick. And we don't feel well, either.

Everybody's sick.  Ariana's got some congestion and a fever.  Hannah's also congested.  Friday I was vomiting (I'm pretty sure I caught it from one of my patients).  It was a personal best!  Usually I only vomit once or twice in a day.  This time I threw five times in seven hours!  Yesterday my body ached from the muscle strain, just like it does when you exercise too much.  Could I get six pack abs if I got sick more often?  I'm not nauseous any more, now I'm just congested.

The weather's beautiful!  Right now it's raining, and just a little earlier there was hail!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Buggin' me

So, my Beetle failed emissions.  They (the emission folks) gave me this handout that said my hydrocarbon output at idle was 4x what it should be.  The pamphlet had a list of possible causes, including the ignition system.  So I turned to the John Muir Hippie Beetle book, found the section on ignition systems and timing, and gave it a go.

I found the distributor.  That was easy!  Going good so far.  As a side note, I just got a bunch of new shiny tools!  Feelin' manly! I opened up the distributor.  Hey, this is going really well!

Step 2: Pull the rotor off.  Something in here comes apart!?  It doesn't look like it does.  I pulled on this black thing in the distributor.  Nothing happened.  OK, time to go to the index.  Ah man! I got oil on my book!  I knew it would happen eventually, but I was still disappointed.  OK, page 9 has a picture.  Nope, distributor is closed in that one.  Page 234 has a picture.  Same picture.  Page 16 doesn't say it has a picture, but I'm running out of options.  Aha!  It does have a picture!  Oh, the rotor is that black thing I tried to take off earlier.  I tugged a little harder, and it came off.

Step 3:  Stick a tool (feeler gage) between the points.  It should be .016 inches.  Its off!  Eureka, I found the problem!  The gap is only .013 inches now!

Step 4: Spend at least an hour pushing and pulling on the point to get it to the right gap width.
OK, the gap is finally correct.  Turn the page.

Step 5: Confirm the point gap by making sure the dwell time was at 50 +/- 2.  Right, I knew I would need the dwell meter.  I ran upstairs, put the battery in it, started downstairs, and realized I didn't know how to use it.  Ran back upstairs and got the instructions for the meter.  This doesn't look too hard.  Plug in a couple of probes, hook up the alligator clips.  Good to go.  I checked the dwell and it was at 45.

Back to taking apart the distributor.  Double check the point gap.  Hmm, point gap is good.  Back to step 4 of pushing and pulling on the point, then recheck the dwell.  I tinkered with it until the dwell was at 49.3.  Ready for a scream and happy dance!

Just for future reference I rechecked the gap.  It was at .013.  I wish I had read the whole procedure before hand.  I'm guessing my dwell time was already correct.  Pity.  Oh well, it was an educational 2-3 hours.