Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Chronicles of CherkyB: Episode 1 - The Journey East

Yes, the fambily is heading on a big junket across the eastern seaboard of these United States. It is sure to be disastrous, but thus far we can only guess as to exactly which iceberg will do us in.

Will it be that, somehow, despite all the promises to the contrary, we have even more luggage with us than we had the last time, and which caused us a great deal of trouble trying to get a larger rental car at the Hartford airport at midnight when it would not fit?

Will it be that three out of the four of us are sick with colds? (I'm the one who is OK. Thank you for your concern.)

Will it be that we miss our connection in Chicago, which happens to be the last flight out tonight?

I don't know. I just know that disaster looms.  These trips always entail disaster.

I've decided to implement a magic word that when said, means we must stop fighting and act happy. I think I can do that, as I am a paragon of self-control. I have not yet broken this news to the fambily - the news of the secret word, not the news of my legendary self-control. That, they know all too well. I have chosen the word, "artichoke."

I hope we don't happen to have stumbled upon the artichoke festival.

We're sitting in the truck right now, waiting for HannahC to get out of school. We left way early, cuz The Mrs. was out of her mind stir crazy to get going. Been sitting here 20 minutes already.

I'm writing this on my new Droid Maxx. It's hard to blog with no keyboard. Oh, here comes HannahC.

Off to the airport we go.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Why, I never

This past Saturday, we decided to take the day off from yard work and, "go do something fun."

What this means is that I spend most of the day driving while The Mrs. alternates between snoozing in the passenger seat and fiddling with all the HVAC controls to set the to the exact opposite of whatever I set them to, HannahC sits in the back listening to One Direction on her iPod, and MaxieC listens to mp3's of books on his iPod, whining about how we're not there yet and asking how long it will be until we get there, then "fact-checking" the response vs. the "time remaining to destination" he can read off the GPS nav screen. He has not accepted any concept of rounding to the nearest quarter-hour, nor the idea that if you can read the answer off the nav, there is no need to ask me the question in the first place.  I suspect he mostly just enjoys being annoying.

I have no idea which side of the fambly he gets that from.

We decided to take a run up to Breckenridge Brewery, as they brew the one and only beer that The Mrs. will drink anymore: Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. We'd never been to Breckenridge, being that it's a ski town and none of us ski, but it's right outside of Frisco, a place the Mrs. likes and had suggested as a possible destination to, "go do something fun."  Plus, The Mrs. has been threatening to take me camping near Frisco and renting a pontoon boat from the marina to go fishing all day on Fathers' Day, so I wanted to check out the reservoir (Dillon Reservoir) and the boat rental situation ahead of time.

Good thing we did that.  The water level is very low, and none of the floating docks are in.  The water is about 1/4 mile from where the rental dock should be.

We went up to Breckenridge and found the brewery pretty easily.  Well, we found the brew pub.  I'm not convinced the bottling operation is anywhere near that, cuz the building is just brew pub-sized.  Whatever.  The food was decent, and I ordered a Vanilla Porter (cuz they are fantastic), and The Mrs. ordered...

A Coke.

This angered HannahC, as we had just driven two hours to go to the home of her one and only favorite beer, and she didn't order any of it.  The excuse given was, "I don't want to drink at this altitude."  This is thin gruel, as the original discovery of Breck Vanilla Porter was at a little pub in Estes Park, where they had it on tap.  The elevation there is 7522 ft.  This was a mere 2000 ft higher.  But, whatever.  She just gulped down a whole bunch of mine, so she didn't have to count it as "drinking".

Other than lunch, Breckenridge was a total bust.  There's really absolutely nothing there in the town but ski shops and bars and t-shirt shops.  As The Mrs. kept saying, "This is nothing like Aspen."

I've never been to Aspen, given that I'm neither fabulously rich nor a raging leftists, but The Mrs. used to go there every summer for some music thing.

The Mrs. had found some open space preserve just outside of town that we were going to visit.  Supposedly, it had a lot of wildlife and sometimes even moose.  After lunch and a stroll through town, we set off looking for it.  We had its GPS location, but the street location given for it on the website was in the middle of town.  We drove completely around the periphery of where it was located on the map (which took about 20 minutes), and could find no entrance.  So, we went to the local gas station, and I topped off the old tank with about 20 gallons, and the rest of the fambly went inside to buy every snack food they sold and ask for directions.

The directions were, "I dunno.  I've never heard of it.  Drive up to Peak 8 and ask at the lodge."

So we drove back up the mountain along the road that bordered the open space (theoretically), only this time we went down every little dead-end side street along the way, still finding no sign of this place.  Finally, we ended up at the top of Peak 8 and found something that looked like a lodge but was actually a pricey condo resort, and the Mrs. went inside to ask for directions.

"It closed last year.  Doesn't exist anymore."


However, that's not the point of my story.  The point is that on the way home, I was driving along I-70 between the Johnson Tunnel and Denver along the section with the very long run of 4-6% downgrade slope, and there were signs that said, "Truckers make sure your brakes are working and adjusted," and The Mrs. asked me, "what does it mean that your brakes are 'adjusted'?"

Not being a big-rig driver myself, I went with what I knew.
Me, CherkyB: "Well, when you are pulling a trailer, you have to adjust the brake gain on the trailer vs. on the tractor based on how heavy the thing you are towing is and how good its brakes are.  You want them balanced so all your wheels brake evenly.  You see here, I have this thing right here to adjust that," and I point to my integrated trailer brake controller.
The Mrs.: [looking somewhat confused] "You mean, you can tow stuff with this truck?"
Me, CherkyB: "Yes, of course."
The Mrs.:  "So, like, if we bought a boat or a camper, you could tow it with this truck?  You won't need to buy a different truck?"
Me, CherkyB: "Yes.  I can't pull one of those 30 ft 5th wheel trailers like [our next door neighbor] has, but I can pull anything we would ever buy."
The Mrs.: "Wow.  I had no idea."
Why, I never.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is it just me

...or does everyone else snicker when they read the word, "proteins?"

This is apparently a new menu term.  I saw it multiple times today, and I can't remember ever seeing it before.  First was at lunch, at a local Thai restaurant, where the lunch specials came with "Your choice of Proteins chicken, beef, pork, tofu." (One doesn't expect perfect punctuation on the menu of a Thai restaurant.  In fact, I think it's actually required to include a bunch of errors in order to be "authentic."  The restaurant equivalent of "keeping it real.")

Then, when I got back to work, I read the flyer for the new, improved cafeteria menu, and the salad bar description said, "Crisp greens and hot Proteins".  And the next menu item also described Proteins.

Yeah - "Proteins" needs to be capitalized, I guess.

Still, though, whenever I read "Proteins," I think this.  It makes me not want to eat there.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Smart Cars

Those two or three of you who still read this blog know that I am a very, very humble man.  But, sometimes I just have to brag a bit about The Childrens.  Probably as a way to let everyone know what a wonderful, successful parent I am.

This is one of those times.

What follows is a completely true story that took place Monday.  We were sitting at a traffic light, and a Smart Car was sitting at the light on the intersecting street.  It had a complete vehicle wrap advertising a local shoppe, and on the front had either a nose or a bow tie.  I couldn't really see it that well cuz it was facing perpendicular to me.  But I made note to MaxieC:

Me, CherkyB: "Look!  A clown car!"

MaxieC: "Daaaah.  That's not a clown car.  That's a Smart Car."

MaxieC: "In fact, it's not really a Smart Car.  It's more like a stupid car.  You can't even fit any dead hookers in it."

Me, CherkyB: "Heh heh....wait...What did you say?"

MaxieC: "I said it was a stupid car."

Me, CherkyB: "No.  After that."

MaxieC: "I...uhhhh...I can't even fit your groceries in it."
That's my boy.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

What a Rip

With heavy heart, I began to dismantle the old entertainment center this morning.  I got most of the "removable" parts off, and then I started trying to remove the glued in parts.  The entire top, with shelf, came off surprisingly easily, being held in with just a few screws and gravity.

MaxieC worked to dismantle the top while I strategized on the rest of the case.  He had a great time using the power drill to remove all the wood screws. Funny thing, though.  As we got farther and farther into the dismantling, I found more and more parts that were not solid wood.  In fact, it seemed like nearly everything was press board with a very high quality wood laminate on the surface.  The only things that turned out to be actually solid wood were the four corner posts and the trim frame around the top.  Everything else was fake.

When I bought this from a name-brand furniture store, it was sold to me as solid wood.  But the whole damn thing is fake.  Very high quality fake, mind you, but still fake. What a rip.

Well, when the entire purpose of carefully disassembling the piece is premised upon saving the wood, and then you find out that there isn't actually any wood to save, there's a tool specifically designed for that.  It's made by Milwaukee, and if you load it up with a blade called "The Ax" that is designed for demolition, well, hell, things get fun real fast.

MaxieC tried to bash it all up with a dead blow hammer, but achieved only limited success. I suggested he get the 12 lbs. sledge, but he didn't want to. You can lead a horse to water...

We then spent about an hour putting together the new, much much cheaper entertainment stand that will hold whatever goodies we get this Christmas.  It says the top can hold 200 lbs., but is not allowed to hold a tube TV .  Odd, as my tube TV doesn't weigh anything near 200 lbs.  The corner TV mount arrives via UPS on Tuesday.  Once I get that up on the wall, I'll probably have to decide on which TV Santa will bring.

Obsolescence, Get to Know It

There is nothing sadder than obsolescence.  Well, other than maybe friends and family dying.  Or a pet dying.  Or The Bills going to four Superbowls in a row and losing all of them.  Or, perhaps, one of your single friends telling you he's getting married.  Or having to sit through any of The Twilight movies after the first one.  Or going to the garage refrigerator only to remember you've run out of beer.  And then realizing you're also out of bourbon, too.

There are many things sadder than obsolescence, but still, in the greater scheme of things, obsolescence is sad.  Though in a good way, because it only happens when something better comes along.  Like how nobody eats a Whopper anymore since the Whopper with Cheese came along.


Obsolescence is one of side effects of the great march of progress called "Creative Destruction" that happens largely in capitalistic societies where people are continuously striving for improvement.  Both incremental improvement and revolutionary improvement.  Creative Destruction is one of the best things ever to happen to society, and it has liberated more people from poverty than any Live Aid concert could ever hope to.

Still, it's sad when it happens to you.

For instance, when you bought a beautiful oak and cherry entertainment center that could hold an outrageously large 32" TV.  And you bought high quality furniture, because you didn't want any of that screw-together particle board crap.  No, you wanted something that was going to last and last.  And you took it from your first house to your second, then to your third.  And in the third house, it kinda ended up in the rec room in the basement, cuz there was a built-in nook in the family room that would hold a 43" DLP widescreen TV just fine.

And then one day, out of the blue, your son says, "I want an Xbox 360 for Christmas."

Well, the Xbox 360 is a fine piece of machinery, but tailored more for older children.  Ones who have graduated from high school and are still living in the basement.  We're a PlayStation household, having owned the original and then two of the PS2's.  And the PS3 plays Blu Ray, a big cost saver right there.

"OK, I want a PS3 for Christmas."

Well, son, the PS3 really wants to be run with an HDMI output onto a widescreen TV, and the rec room TV is a 14-year old analog tube TV, and it doesn't have any HDMI inputs at all.  Now, the surround sound system I have down there has 4 HDMI inputs, cuz when my old stereo reciever (though I bought with money I earned drying cars at a carwash between high school and college) died, I got it anticipating that one day we'd probably get a new TV and game system, but it can't convert HDMI inputs to analog outputs for DRM reasons..

"Yeah, OK Da.  We'll just get a new TV, too.  That'll be great!  Should we go shopping right now?"

You know the thing about a 32" tube TV with a beautiful oak and cherry cabinet?  There's not one goddamn person in northern Colorado who wants one badly enough to carry it out of the basement of someone else's house.

Another sad thing is that I'm old now.  It just happened kind of all of a sudden.  This blog used to be about all the fun little fix-it jobs I used to do and the wacky hijinx that ensued, but I have really slowed down a lot in the last couple years.  I hardly do anything.  And the thought of trying to lug this giant entertainment cabinet up the curvy stairs from the basement is itself awfully tiring.

Yes, I lined up three other guys to help, but still, I am struck with the futility of this.  There are a couple donation places that will take the furniture (but not the TV), and only if I put it in the driveway for them so they don't have to carry it out of the basement, but who will really want this?  No one.  Even poor people don't have tube TVs anymore, and the cabinet is useless for anything else.

So, I've decided to do something drastic.  I'm going to dismantle it and try to get as much good lumber out of it as possible.  It's a damn shame, as the tracks for the sliding doors that cover the TV are works of art just by themselves.  Time stands still for no one, though.  I need to take Ol' Yeller out in the woods and shoot him.  

I toyed for a while with the idea of cutting the top off and saving the bottom cabinet, but I'm not sure what I would do with it.  Who needs a cabinet with sliding drawers that have inserts to hold VHS tapes?  No.  It's a goner.  I'll try to be gentle, as gentle as one can be with a Sawzall...