Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh great

Just when I need the money the most, cuz both Cavitation and MoustachioP insisted that European stock were the best investment around, and they completely tanked yesterday and today, AdSense decides to run public service announcements.

Do we really honestly need more hurricane relief? When was the last major hurricane? Don't people, like, take hurricanes on as a risk when they decide to live on the Gulf Coast? They decided the trade-off was worth it, and now they want my blog to bail them out? When I lived in San Schmose, I never expected anyone's blog to bail me out if there was an earthquake.

This sucks.

I'm going to have to start writing more about tractor-mounted snowblowers and doing my taxes with Tax Cut or Turbo Tax. Those posts always had good ads. Heck, I could do movie reviews and get ads for gay chatrooms like Cavitation does. At least it's not charity. I'm not killing myself for five masterpieces a week for charity.

I've learned my lesson

Today, I finished up work a bit early - about 5:00. This is because I had set most of the day aside for attending a series of meetings reviewing status, plans, and strategies in my area of expertise on the follow-on project to the one on which I am now working. I did this, of course, out of craven self-interest, as the place was just loaded with people I am required to suck up to.

That, plus I'd really like it if the project didn't make a gigantic mess of things and then dump it on me to clean up very late in the game. There is some history of that kind of thing happening. Though not with this exact group of people. Just with half of them. You know, the Tinfoil contingent.

Tinfoil chided me at lunch for not killing the feature that my career depends upon being a success. The one mentioned in his bio. Silly lad doesn't know he's asking me to kill the wrong thing. He should be asking me to kill ACPI P-state support, as that's the thing that screws with what he's worried about. But, like so many here in Ft. TomCollins, his understanding of such subtleties is, like his fashion sense, backwards. But I can't tell him that because my job description requires me to suck up to him.

Luckily, he reads the old blog about once a week, so mission accomplished. He'll be mad that I blamed his contingent for problems, though, as he'll say it wasn't his fault and he fought the good fight and lost, and all that. Maybe I believe him, like maybe I believe him that he wasn't the one who made fun of my truck. Especially since Rico apologized for that today.

Apparently, Rico is also a blog reader. Notsomuch an ad clicker, though.

Anyways, I finished up work around 5:00, then I yakked with El Torito for a couple minutes, then I came home. I heard HannahC playing the piano, which is in the room right behind the front porch, so I looked in the window to watch. She was playing away with her back to the window, and MaxieC and The Mrs. were in there, too. The Mrs. was facing the window, so I smiled.

She glared at me with the kind of glare you normally reserve for someone who has suggested maybe you should go run some simulations for Harry, or that your truck was noisy and slow, or that she traded your dog for a dust ruffle and matching pillow shams, or that Bush lied and people died. I was surprised by this, and I did what any husband does when his wife gives him this look.

I froze like a deer in headlights.

Then I started through the list. All you married guys know what I'm talking about. You all have a list in your head of the things that you do that cause your wife to look at you like that.

I'm not late.
It's not her birthday.
Or Valentine's Day.
Or the Week of Disappointment.
It's too early for PMS Weekend.
It's not our anniversary.
Not any of those other anniversaries we sometimes remember, like our first date.
I didn't forget to pick the kids up from anywhere.
I haven't been out drinking with the boys.
I didn't make fun of her in my blog last night.
I didn't hit on her best friend.
I didn't hit on any of her friends.
Or her sister.
Or anyone on the blog roll.
No strange woman left a comment on my blog.
Well, no strange woman other than her mother.

I don't know what it is. I'll go inside and pretend I didn't notice.

After I got my shoes and jacket off, I went to the piano room. The Mrs. snarled at me.

OK, that's going to be difficult to pretend not to notice.

She sent MaxieC to play with me. Shortly thereafter, HannahC started hollering how she wanted The Mrs. to go away and wanted Daddy instead.

The Mrs. arrived in the kitchen, took MaxieC, and sent me to deal with HannahC. I offered to get her a glass of wine.


A scotch?


A Yukon Jack?

"No. All alcohol makes me sick. I've stopped drinking."


Dear God in Heaven, The Mrs. has given up alcohol. I can't imagine a worse fate. For me.

But, at any rate, I've learned my lesson:

Don't come home from work early.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An obligatory post

Today, I'm sitting there in a meeting at work, only it wasn't at work, it was at a church, cuz our rented building at work doesn't have enough meeting rooms to hold what was going on this week, and I started to think about something work-related. I know, that comes as quite a shock to you, the regular readers of Me, CherkyB. "What?" you say to yourselves, moving your lips as you think, "CherkyB is thinking about something at work? Hmmm... I wonder if there's any more ice cream."

Well, I must add that it also came as a shock to my co-workers, as BimminyCwicket, who was presenting at the time, stopped everything he was doing, looked over at Me, CherkyB, and said, "Uh Oh. CherkyB looks bored."

Then Tinfoil chimes in, "Oh boy. You're going to make the blog tonight!"

So now, I suppose, I am obliged to write something about the incident. Especially since Tinfoil is so much more successful than I am that I am actually required to suck up to him all the time (along with MoodyT, StinkyJ, and JohnnyB). It's not optional. My job description includes, "and you have to suck up to all these more successful people in order to some day have a prayer of being successful yourself."

I am, unfortunately, an absolute disaster at the whole sucking-up thing. Mostly, I just succeed at toning down my abject disdain and confrontational attitude. A little bit. Sometimes. If I try really, really hard, and they're acting uncharacteristically non-moronic. Thus, I am forced to supplement my income though advertising revenue on the old blog.

So anyways, there you go Tinfoil. I'm banking this.

Monday, February 26, 2007

By the way

If you'd like to be included in the "cast of characters", or if you are already included but would like to modify either your bio or your picture, drop me a line. Please include the year, make, and model of vehicle you drive. I know I left a couple people out mainly because I couldn't decide what vehicle photo to randomly assign them.

Cast of Characters

Today I decided it'd be a nice feature to include a "cast of characters" reference program for you, my regular readers. This is because I get a lot of emails and IMs asking, "Who is such-and-such?" So I figure if I put it all together in one place, it'd save you all the trouble of having to track me down.

I wonder if I should give the cast a silly name, like Howard Stern has the Wack Pack. I supposed I could have the Cherky Pack, but that doesn't really rise to the level of quality you folks expect.

At first, I decided to post a picture of each person with their eyes blocked out Dirty Deeds style, and I snuck around work all day taking surprise photos of all my coworkers. But later, I figured people might get mad if I took pictures of them at work and then posted them. So I decided to simply post random pictures of cars for each person until that person gives me permission to post their blacked out photo.

I don't expect all that many to give me permission.

These are in alphabetical order, in case you feel the need to get all petty and hurt that someone came before you.

Bozzetto. Until very recently, Bozzetto was referred to as "CJ", which is his blog alias over at CJ's Blah. It's also his real life alias, making it no fun at all. Bozzetto and I go way back to the first project I worked on at The Company that wasn't cancelled (about 1996) back in Santa Clarabelle. But he fled town for Fort TomCollins right after that. It took another seven or so years for me to get run out of Santa Clarabelle.

The alias "Bozzetto", which is Italian for "crappy little design study," comes from this post over at Thoughts in the USA. Poor CJ was the only person with no real nickname, so I had to help him out a bit.

BrainkyP. BrainkyP is a fellow who is one of the three people on this list who are former bosses of mine back in Santa Clarabelle. He used to be a good kid, but he decided to dedicate himself to management about 4 years ago and became a complete management toady. I worked for him for a total of maybe six months, and he has the distinction of being the manager who officially drove me out of the state so he could replace me with my lower-paid and more easily controlled understudy. BrainkyP is most famous for having a very large head in the literal, not figurative, sense. Oddly, his head is smaller than JohnnyB's, but JohnnyB is much larger overall which tends to mask the size of his head. He has the distinction of being the first person ever run out of Santa Clarabelle to Ft. TomCollins, and then being the first person to come running back.

The name BrainkyP comes from the classic method we used to use back in Santa Clarabelle of taking someone's first name with a "y" on the end and the first initial of their last name and using that as a nickname, provided that the first initial of the last name ended with the "eeee" vowel sound. (As an aside, if your name didn't fit this format, you could swap around first and last names to try to make it fit. Hence, "CherkyB".) This is a slight twist on that as we had a wacky British dude in the group for a number of years who used to mispronounce BrainkyP's first name as "Brainco," so the "i" got added.

Cavitation. You may also know him as "Rob" from Cavagnaro Blogger. He is kind of a coworker of mine out here in Ft. TomCollins, though we don't quite exactly work on the same project. He also originates from Santa Clarabelle, though I did not know him when he was there. We mostly gravitated towards one another through the natural pull of being malcontents.

I suppose we could have called him "RobbyC", but it doesn't really fit. I named him Cavitation as it is loosely like Cavagnaro, and it also refers to the way a high-powered rifle bullet kills you. A much cooler definition than problems boats have with their propellers.

Ellie (aka The Sister). Ellie is The Mrs.'s sweet little sister. She lives back in Barfalo because she never quite managed to break the apron strings from Manly Lesbian, their mother. Ellie shows up a lot more frequently in the blog than you'd expect given that we never see her, but she's a more frequent commenter. Ellie had a nasty breakup with a boyfriend who used his secret blogs to pick up chicks to cheat on her with, the story of which has now led The Mrs. to obsess about every time any woman leaves a comment on any of my blogs. Especially some woman The Mrs. has never heard of. I, however, used my now-defunct super-secret blog to post things too stupid to post on any of my regular blogs that I just had to get out nonetheless. Definitely no chick-picking-up going on over there. As part of her rebound, Ellie decided to see if blogging would be cathartic. It wasn't. Her blog made it just 4 days and six posts, which is like some kind of record. Spankolio made it only six posts as well, but he at least took 6 weeks to do it. Ellie is currently obsessing about her eBay rating and her new(ish) boyfriend "The Locksmith".

Ellie gets her name from taking part of her first name and pretending that's her real name.

The Hamburgler. A coworker I met in Ft. TomCollins. He's one of the few who got run out of Zena Folsom, CA, not Santa Clarabelle. Most people never leave Zena Folsom. Mainly because the majority of people there are in prison. He's a regular at Fat Camp, where he gets extremely drunk on about a half a beer and starts to provoke me. He is generally the best entertainment Fat Camp has going for it, so if he can't make it, we usually cancel.

He is called "The Hamburgler" because his last name means "a bent or curved implement, piece, appendage, etc." No wait. Wrong definition. His last name means "a dishonest person, esp. a sharper, swindler, or thief." I didn't think "Nixon" was a very good nickname, so I named him after the next-most-famous swindler.

JohnnyB. The second person on the list with the honor of being my former boss, though the only one of the three I was only on loan to, JohnnyB is the famous poet-in-residence at The JohnnyB. Sometimes, we all get confused and refer to him as "The JohnnyB," but this is technically incorrect. JohnnyB remains back in Santa Clarabelle, where they have yet to run him out of town despite years of trying. He is most famous for his French Canadian Lumberjack impression, which is dead-nuts on. So much so that we often forget he is actually just an Anglo Canadian Lumberjack.

JohnnyB got his nickname name through the first name with a "y" plus first initial of last name method.

Manly Lesbian, aka Fat Moother, aka Fat Moother-in-Law. Manly Lesbian is the latest fake name of CherkyB's mother-in-law. She likes to make up new names every time she leaves a comment. She is neither manly nor a lesbian, as far as anyone knows. After burying all her husbands and many of her boyfriends, all without much in-depth investigation from the authorities, she has settled into a life of spinsterhood with her cats. Manly Lesbian raised her older daughter from a young age to expect to some day be the bride of CherkyB, and this remains one of her most controversial acts.

Manly Lesbian is the only person on the list today who gave herself her own nickname. Generally, that is against the rules, but CherkyB has learned that no good ever comes of nitpicking the mother-in-law.

MoodyT. MoodyT, like BrainkyP, was run out of Santa Clarabelle to Ft. TomCollins at one of the earliest possible times, though he has never looked back. I knew him back in Santa Clarabelle, though, oddly, he did not know me. A regular at Fat Camp, he serves as our moderator, frequently stepping in when the discussion between The Hamburgler and Me, CherkyB gets too heated. His favorite drink is something called, "I'll have what he just ordered." He enjoys snowboarding and mountain biking, and if you're interested, ladies, he's still single.

MoodyT is the only person on this list who was named by CJ. It's a fairly recent name which was bestowed upon him on account of he can be a bit moody. Prior to that, he was known by the standard first name with a "y" and last initial.

MoustachioP. Another California ex-pat who got run out of either Santa Clarabelle or Zena Folsom, depending on whose version of the story you remember. Prior to my arrival in Ft. TomCollins, MoustachioP was the resident angry guy. However, MoodyT spent all the time between when I accepted the Ft. TomCollins offer and when I arrived telling everyone that didn't know me that, "He's a lot like MoustachioP, only without the sunny disposition."

MoustachioP got his nickname because he has a mustache and his last name begins with "P", and it has kind of a mafia strongman feel to it.

NavieA-B. As of this writing, the only one on the list whom I have never met. You may know her as "Nava" from Thoughts in the USA. NavieA-B is the long-suffering wife of JohnnyB, which is how she came to be known to Me, CherkyB. She is an artist whose two favorite pass-times are artsy-fartsy things and pointing out the silly things her husband does. NavieA-B, being Israeli, can kill you with her bare hands. Only one hand if you're a scrawny electrical engineer like half the people on this list. So try not to poke fun at her art by doing anything like saying that the definition of a "bozzetto" is "crappy little design study." [Update: NavieA-B is claiming to not know how to kill you with her bare hands. Only with a rifle. Go ahead and poke fun of her art.]

NavieA-B got her nickname through the standard method, only with an "ie" instead of a "y" because she's a woman, and with an "A-B" since she has one of those wacky hyphenated last names.

Rico. Yet another person who fled California for Ft. TomCollins, Rico is a bit of an enigma. As a fat camp regular, he spends much of his time policing other people's discussions for chances to utter his favorite saying, "Don't be a racist, man. It's not cool." He gets very defensive if someone says the same thing to him.

Rico got his name due to the unusual circumstances that through various machinations of marriage and the legal system, he ended up with a very East-coast white bread first name and a very Mexican last name. So he got a kinda East coasty Mexicany nickname.

StinkyJ. The last of my former bosses back in Santa Clarabelle on the list, he is the one I also worked for for the least amount of time. He is perhaps most famous for giving pep talks to teams about how great things are looking right before The Company decides to cancel a project or lay half of the team off. It's quite a joke now such that pep talks are generally requested when we've gotten wind of a major disruption. His famous, "Maybe you can go run some simulations for Harry," speech is often credited with sealing the deal for my move to Ft. TomCollins, though it was not actually responsible for it. It was the heavy recruitment by Tinfoil and MoodyT that did it. Those lying bastards.

StinkyJ gets his nickname because for years they used to call him "Stick Boy" and then just "Stick," and someone else at work morphed that into "Stinky," and his first name begins with "J". So StickyJ it is.

Tinfoil. A fellow who people used to curse continuously back in Santa Clarabelle when I was working for JohnnyB. For years I only knew him as, "F-ing Rxyz Ryxz...." But it turns out he has an infectious enthusiasm for his work, like he really cares, and on occasion this even rubs off on me. It's a bizarre thing and doesn't last long, but there it is. He recruited me to Ft. TomCollins primarily to kill a particular feature in a particular design, and, as fate would have it, my entire career now rests upon me successfully delivering this feature. Not kidding on that. My entire career rests on making happen the thing I was recruited to kill. Tinfoil is a bit of a farm-boy rube, but in a good way. I learned the other day that he owns his own skid loader, and I'm trying to figure out exactly the right bribe to get him to teach me how to drive it. I figure beer will probably work.

He got the nickname "Tinfoil" because his initials are RJR, which makes you think of R J Reynolds, which makes you think of Reynolds Wrap, which makes you think of tinfoil. It's a good name cuz when he starts to act all kooky we can make tinfoil hat jokes.

El Torito. El Torito, like CJ, also worked on my first not-canceled project at The Company. For them, it was their first project. For me, my second. So we go way back. He, also like CJ, fled Santa Clarabelle for the refuge of Ft. TomCollins right after that project. Though, to be fair, The Company was backing up dump trucks full of cash to anyone who was willing to move at that time. He now sits diagonally across the hall from my cube, so I can rain abuse down upon him at virtually any time. He and BrainkyP have a longstanding feud because of a party where BrainkyP got drunk and danced on El Torito's pool table, knocking the slates all out of alignment. That was about six years ago, and El Torito has steadfastly refused to get the pool table fixed since then, just on principle. So he no longer plays pool. I started a collection to pay for the slate realignment, but people lost interest after I collected about $2.

El Torito gets his name because his first name sounds like "Ferdinand" which makes you think of Ferdinand the Bull, and the bull is "el toro" in Spanish, which in turn makes you think of the chain of Mexican restaurants called El Torito.

WoodyWoody. Of all the people in the cast, WoodyWoody is the one who gives me hope. Hope that I'll live at least another 5 years despite very little upkeep. And, as I always say, even false hope is better than no hope at all. WoodyWoody works for The Company back in Santa Clarabelle. He and I worked closely on a big gigantic mess on a particular project for a number of months a couple projects ago, and we discovered the similarities in our outlooks on life and recreational hobbies, though he is steadfastly a Tanqueray man while I tend more towards Bombay Sapphire.

WoodyWoody gets his name from the fact that his real last name sounds a lot like "WoodyWoody" if you say it quickly.

Why, Oh Why

is AdSense running eating disorder ads on Me, CherkyB? Is it because I talked too much about Fat Camp?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I woke up this morning

but I didn't get myself a beer.

I did, however, reflect on how short the weekend seemed and how much work I had to do at work today, and how I really didn't want to go to work. I even lamented how I hadn't had a chance to read the Sunday comics yesterday. Then I went out to get the newspaper.

We had two newspapers. One of the utility companies out here gives us a free Fri-Sun subscription of the The People's Rocky Mountain Pravda News, and we subscribe to The Fort TomCollins Colorodoan. Coloradoan, oddly enough, means "Red Diaper Doper Baby" in Spanish. I thought to myself, "Self, The Mrs. must have missed one of the papers yesterday when she brought them in."

When I got back to the kitchen, I opened up one paper and saw that it was the Sunday edition. "Yup. The Mrs. missed the paper yesterday." Then I opened up the other, and it was also the Sunday edition. Then I pondered the unponderable. Could it be? Could it really be? Could today only be Sunday and not Monday?

Shee-it. It sure enough was. I put the old brain back in neutral, and made some coffee.

Nothing of great import happened today, except I wanted to go to Target to get 4 things for myself, and I ended up having to take the whole fambly, spend nearly an hour in the store, and fill the cart up to overflowing. Then we had to hit the pet store. Then Old Navy. Then the Carter's outlet at the outlet mall. Then MickeyD's. Then back to the outlet mall to the Osh Kosh outlet.

The accomplishment for the day was that The Mrs. managed to "save" over $300 at Osh Kosh by spending only about $150. She was so proud of this accomplishment that she had to call her mother immediately upon arrival back at home to brag about it.

This was like one of those moments when you realize your life has devolved into a cheesy sit-com. Though, quite honestly, Married with Children was more groundbreaking than cheesy.

And now, for your moment of Zen. I call this one, "What I saw when I went to throw something out in the garbage can in my bar, and I don't know why."

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Thy name is "church musical".

I just got back from a 3 hour church youth group musical production of Narnia. As far as church youth group musical productions go, it was quite good. But it was three hours. And a musical. And it was at a church, which meant there was no pre-ordering drinks for intermission.

The Mrs. made me take HannahC. She was going to take her, but HannahC decided I was her favorite today. I tried rolling up a magazine and swatting her with it, but it didn't work. I still remained her favorite. I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Now, to "unwind", I'll either be watching Ran or Apocalypse Now Redux.

Friday, February 23, 2007

No One Appreciates My Art

You know, I work hard at my impression of a generic blogger, but it doesn't seem like my audience appreciates it. Take last night's post as an example. I put an amazing amount of effort into constructing two perfect paragraphs. Let me reprint the first one for you:
Tonight was supposed to be fat camp but one of the non-fat camper dumbasses scheduled a poker night on top of it even though poker night is always supposed to be Wednesdays not Thursdays, so I took a survey of who the turncoats were, and MoodyT and Rico and Seiborg decided to go to poker cuz they're a bunch of lousy bastards, and Cavitation (who sucks) decided he was going to stay home with the chillens to let Big Red go to the airport and pick up one of her friends for her trip out of town tomorrow, and Bozzetto said he had clearance to go which is strange cuz he's only allowed out once a month and tonight was his anniversary, and El Torito can't go out since he's on a no-alcohol diet Dr's orders, but The Hamburgler was up for it, except he wanted to maybe hunt for cougars instead cuz he's kind of given up on the prospects of any decent woman ever talking to him and it's been a Long Long Time, though not for her, if you get my drift.
Besides the witty, but not too witty, prose, what is special about that paragraph? Anyone? Anyone? [By the way, this poll lets you vote for as many of the choices as you think are appropriate. I did that since, technically, they are all correct answers.]

What is so damned special about that paragraph?
It's more entertaining than a month of posts at CJ's Blah.
It's the first time we've come across a character named, "Bozzetto."
It makes my stupid head hurt. More than usual, I mean.
When I read it, it was as if CherkyB had a model of my brain that had been typing it for him.
It was one sentence. That's right. One mother-fucking long sentence.
Free polls from

My life is a circus

Or, at least, it was from 5:30 until 6:45 tonight. We all went to the Russian American Kids Circus, which is a circus where all the performers are supposed to be between the ages of 6 and 16, except there was one little dude who couldn't have been older than 4, and there was an old dude who was probably the trainer.

I managed to get in about 5 quick naps, but every time I really got into the sleeping groove, either HannahC poked me or there was noisy applause.

The nerve.

It wasn't really what you might think of when you think of circus. It was on a stage at the local theater, and it was mainly juggling, unicycle riding, and that kind of acrobatic stuff. The children did well, and I believed it reinforced HannahC's dream to become a circus performer.

Bozzetto and I were discussing the terrifying ordeal that Cavitation is going through now, taking care of his small childrens for four straight days while his wife takes a vacation without him, and we ended up having a discussion about how impractical it would be to kill your co-workers. Bozzetto kept claiming he had absolutely no ill-feelings towards any of his co-workers and, despite my Linda Tripp-like prompting, was unable to name any current co-workers that he felt needed a good killing.

Note to The Hamburgler: You're off the hook.

He did, however, note that roughly 6 years ago (right around the time of his wedding), when he, The JohnnyB, Seiborg, and I were all working in the same room (the only time in history we have ended up working on the same project, much less working in the same room (and The JohnnyB was our boss at the time, something for which I have to this day never forgiven him) (and MoodyT was also on that project, though he worked days and we worked nights, IIRC) (hell, even Tinfoil and MoustachioP and Rico and El Torito were on it, though mostly in a different state)), there was one particular person he thought might possibly could have used a good killing. I think there was a fairly broad consensus at the time that this dear fellow could have used a bit of killing, so The JohnnyB assigned me to babysit him so he wouldn't damage the rest of the team, which is really the source of my lack of forgiveness for The JohnnyB. Eventually the fellow was given a "different assignment", and then I just had to babysit someone who was merely incompetent.

I'm not sure what it is about my personality that would make The JohnnyB think I was a good babysitter. Maybe he just wanted me to antagonize these guys until they quit (one did, one didn't). Maybe he'll leave a comment to explain it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

Or at least what passes for paradise around here.

Yesterday, I decided to investigate applying one of the "new" templates from "new Blogger" to Me, CherkyB. That way, you'd get a hierarchical archive list as well as the ability to view blogs by their "labels", like you see over at The JohnnyB. Mainly, I am unhappy with the continuously-growing length of the archive, but it would be nice to be able to use the labels (like "poop blogging" and "barf blogging") to sort through posts. Right now, with my original blogger template, I can apply labels but not actually do anything with them.

First, I had checked with Cavitation to see if he had ever gotten the adsense tracking code working, and I learned he had not. I tried to help him fix that on his blog, but failed. The new-style template was very different.

So, rather than trusting blogger to have made the migration path seamless and simply clicking the "apply new template" button, I created a whole new blog and tried to recreate the customization I had done to this site to see if it would work and to see if I could get the adsense tracking code working.

Man, did that ever take forever. Just getting the adsense tracking code working took close to two hours of goofing around. I still don't know why it didn't work right, as the syntax was not technically illegal as far as I can tell, but it kept failing the syntax checker. New templates use something called "xhtml" instead of regular "html", and they have different rules.

Then, I tried to get stuff placed where it was on my old blog. The Accuweather thing took me another hour to figure out as it required me to create a new widget template that did not indent everything by 13 pixels. (Interestingly, I didn't save that template for whatever reason and tried out a thinner accuweather picture instead, which looks like crap.)

Wow. This post really sucks. I'll get to the point: I had more fun doing this last night than I have had in the last three months of work.

Now, to liven it up, I'll go back into the mundane yet profanity-laced blog style that I've been working on since here.

Tonight was supposed to be fat camp but one of the non-fat camper dumbasses scheduled a poker night on top of it even though poker night is always supposed to be Wednesdays not Thursdays, so I took a survey of who the turncoats were, and MoodyT and Rico and Seiborg decided to go to poker cuz they're a bunch of lousy bastards, and Cavitation (who sucks) decided he was going to stay home with the chillens to let Big Red go to the airport and pick up one of her friends for her trip out of town tomorrow, and Bozzetto said he had clearance to go which is strange cuz he's only allowed out once a month and tonight was his anniversary, and El Torito can't go out since he's on a no-alcohol diet Dr's orders, but The Hamburgler was up for it, except he wanted to maybe hunt for cougars instead cuz he's kind of given up on the prospects of any decent woman ever talking to him and it's been a Long Long Time, though not for her, if you get my drift.

So, I said to myself, "Self, do you really want Mrs. Bozzetto blaming you for taking her husband out drinking on their anniversary even though she said it was OK (which we all know is a trap), and then the two of you sit there and watch The Hamburgler get rip-roaring stinking drunk on one beer cuz of what a lightweight he is and have to listen to him go on about how he could have any woman in the place as long as she was either fat or older than 50, but that's OK cuz that's what he likes, but he's not going to cuz he doesn't want to make the married guys uncomfortable because of all the action he's getting that we're not?"

The answer was no.

So I canceled.

I'm pretty sure I need a new set of friends.

But then again, I'm not all that likable, so I have to take what I can get.

A Correction

Tinfoil IMed me today to assert that he did not complain about my truck being too loud and slow. In fact, his claim is that only El Torito complained, which might make some sense because El Torito is a cranky old man who drives only expensive, German vehicles. But I distinctly remember at least Rico piling on a bit, so I'm not going to issue any kind of blanket retraction.

I will say, though, that it would have been odd for Tinfoil to complain about my truck given the fact that he's a farm-boy bumpkin and thus has a unique appreciation for loud, slow trucks.

Yee Haw!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Question

Is calling someone a "mouth breather" still considered an insult? I called someone that today, and he didn't understand.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

And the point is whaaaaa?

A lot of times, I feel rather meaningful pressure to write something substantive here on a near-daily basis. Is it, as I discussed earlier on my super-secret blog, because I need to feel like I've made a difference in the world, something The Cavitation Engineer accused me of last week? No, I think it's really because I have very high standards when it comes to entertainment.

Now, when "next blog" surfing, I note that very few people seem to have any standards whatsoever. They blather on about mundanity in a remarkably mundane fashion, only with bad grammar. Like reading a logbook entry. A weB LOGbook entry.

So, tonight, I am going to try my best to replicate that boring, emotionless style that is apparently so popular in this medium. If you find anything not boring or not emotionless in the remainder of this post, I want you to leave me a comment noting it so that I can perfect this style.

Today was double-punch day at Johnny Carino's. Me, CJ, Rico, El Torito, and Tinfoil all went. We love double-punch day because you get two punches (double-punches!) instead of just one on your frequent diner card. Once you get five punches, you get a free lunch. Both me and El Torito got free lunches. We also got two punches on new cards, which you aren't supposed to get no punches at all if you got a free lunch so we're like total scammers.


If we keep that up, we can get a free lunch like every two weeks or some shit. I never did too good at math so I'm not exactly sure.

On the way home, the guys complained that my truck was too loud and slow. Them are fighting words, but I let it slide cuz I'm the new nice Me, CherkyB. What I should of said was its only slow cuz of your big fat lard butthead asses weighing it down and probably going over my 1200 pound payload limit with all the shit for brains you have in your lard ass heads you fuckers get out and walk back while I put it in 4WD and run your stupid lard asses over with my mud tires and make splatters on my rocker panels you dumb bastard fucks.

But what I said was yeah, and I get 12mpg, too. And then I showed them on the overhead computer thing that if you push a couple buttons on shows you how many mpg your getting and how many miles you can go before you run outta gas and some other shit I can't remember like the temperature and north or south or east or west and some other shit too that I can't remember exactly.

Then I worked the rest of the day and nothing exciting happened at all. It was like totally boring.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bad Doggie

FreddyC has learned that he can jump the fence. This is particularly true because of the snow drift up against the front fence that has now become hard-pack because of all the melting/freezing cycles. This reduces the effective height of the fence by 1'. Both yesterday and today, I had to chase after him as he jumped the fence to go "play" with dogs that were being walked by in the street, which is maybe 100 ft. from the fence.

Of course, FreddyC has some dominance issues, and he can never "play" with an unfamiliar dog without it turning into is snarling, snapping session. So, this is really annoying. This morning, he was out and he ran to the front of the fence and started barking. The Mrs. went out onto the back deck and started calling him.

I put my boots on.

He hopped the fence just as I hit the snow, so I had to go tearing off after him through the snow, jumping over two fences. All in my bathrobe and pajamas. When I got to the street, FreddyC was a little confused as he knew the guy walking the dog as well as the little girl with him (a friend of HannahC's), but he didn't know the dog. So these people were saying, "Hi Freddy," while he was trying to decide if he should attack their dog or not.

He decided in the affirmative, but I was already there, and I grabbed his collar.

I decided to buy one of those "invisible" fences with the buried wire. I did a little online research, went to Petsmart, and came home with one. It was a combo electric fence and handheld "trainer" remote. I opened it up, began reading the directions, and after about 20 minutes, I packed it right back up and took it back to the store.

Wow, electric fences are a pain in the butt. The need to make a complete loop around the yard is tough enough, but the thing that really took the cake was that this one also said that all metal dog tags needed to be removed from the dog before putting on the training collar. Riiiight. I have a dog that jumps fences, and this thing tells me I should remove all his ID.

I decided to just skip the fence part of it and go with a remote-controlled training collar. We'd teach him to stay back from the fence, and then if he "forgot", we could hit him with a little reminder jolt from across the yard or in family room.

Well, I went to five different pet stores, and every one was sold out of any decent model. Finally, I ended up at Jax Outdoor Gear, cuz the last pet shop was quite close to there, and I figured an outdoor gear place might have a good training collar for the bird dogs.

I was right.

So now begins the long process of trying to train the dog not to jump the fence to attack other dogs. In the mean time, I got out my beloved snowblower and took the snow down to the grass in a 6 foot wide strip along the fence in the front where he has jumped two days in a row. So at least I'll be back to full height fence in the front. I couldn't get back to the back fence to do it, though. The drifts were too deep and the ground to soft. Plus, there's a plant bed back there that is about 9" high that he likes to jump from. I shoveled that out as best as I could, but I'll probably have to put some mesh extensions up there. A number of the houses here have them, since they only allow about a 40" high fence.

Stupid dog. All day I obsessed about this. I'm still obsessing. So obsessed have I been, that it has put me completely off my liquor.

Though, speaking of liquor, it turns out Lincoln triumphed over Washington, and the liquor stores in Colorado are open on Presidents' Day. I managed to swing by my favorite store to replenish my Jack Daniels supply and also pick up a sixer of Moose Drool. I like this liquor store cuz they have a frequent-buyer's program where you earn store credit somewhere between 5%-8% of your purchases, depending on how long you let it ride. I let it ride quite a bit, and I had enough credit to walk out of that store with a 1.75L of JD and the Moose Drool without having to pay one penny.

Plus, MaxieC got a free Hershey's Kiss.

I wonder

Why is it that if it is The Mrs.'s turn to get up early, MaxieC sleep in until 7:30, but if it's my turn, he gets up at 6:30?

It can't be that I'm more fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, Good Grief

Today, we tried to go for another bike ride. This time with the whole fambly. Like all things that involve the whole family, this started out fine and then went right straight to Hell without passing Go and without collecting $200. See, both childrens wanted to ride in the trailer. This is a very tight squeeze, especially considering HannahC travels with an entourage of stuffed animals and snacks. But we gave it a shot.

We got MaxieC all strapped in nice and comfy, then we went to install HannahC. There was barely enough width for the two of them, and MaxieC started hollering immediately that HannahC was touching him. It was her shoulder touching his, but this did not matter to him. It might as well have been her poking him in the nose for all his protestations.

Well, while this was going on, it was discovered that one of the clips for the second safety harness was missing. We had used that clip just yesterday, so I knew it had to be around. We started rooting through the trailer. Nothing. Removed the childrens, still nothing, though now The Mrs. was preoccupied with "keeping an eye on them." (Which is code for "yelling at them".) I turned the thing upside down and shook it. Nothing. Looked all over the driveway, in the garage, in the closet where HannahC had hung up her jacket after yesterday's ride. Still nothing.

OK, HannahC, you will be riding your bike instead of riding in the trailer.

What's that? Now this means a wardrobe change? Sheesh.

She disappears inside the house. We wait. And wait. And wait. I remove MaxieC from the trailer so he can ride his scooter around. Still no sign of HannahC. The Mrs. goes in to investigate.

She comes out angry. Which, by itself, is not altogether that noteworthy.

The report is that HannahC couldn't get her dress unbuttoned, so she just stood there, perplexed. (I'm wondering if I need to get my money back from the super-genius certification place, except I know that I also behave like this at times, so it's a sure sign of super-geniusitude.) Also, somehow, HannahC has managed to undo all the clips on her bike helmet in the process, thus negating the professional adjustments that had gone on at the bike store yesterday.

Eventually MissC came back out, and I futzed with her bike helmet for a minute or two and got it back to being pretty well adjusted. If only I had the magic futz that could make Me, CherkyB pretty well adjusted...

I stuffed MaxieC back into the trailer, and we were off. Went all around the neighborhood. Saw all the houses that were sale yesterday, and I swear one that was for sale today and not yesterday. I decided to ride through one of the little, melting snowdrifts that was 2" deep, and I almost wiped out. Ended up sideswiping a bush, and then I got hollered at because I was hot dogging with the precious little boy in the trailer. The precious little boy who promptly fell asleep right after that.

When we returned (after HannahC got tired - she did quite well considering she has a single speed 16" bike and we were on full-sized mountain bikes with more than 20 gears), I took the tractor out for some glamor shots. I needed a few more shots for the big giant snowblower post that is, from what I hear, my reason for existence in the world. Oh wait, I was supposed to save that story for my super-secret blog. Nevermind.

I've been rationing my Jack Daniel's. I keep forgetting to go buy more. I will run out tonight. I wonder if liquor stores will be closed for Presidents' Day tomorrow. I don't think Abraham Lincoln would have wanted liquor stores closed on his day. He was a partier. But George Washington was a bit of a moralizing fuddy-duddy.

You wanna hear a funny story? Earlier this week, I'm at work, and I realize my underwear is falling down inside my pants. Now, this is a very strange thing, to have your underwear so loose that it is actually falling down inside your pants. It sure as hell wasn't because I've lost so much weight.

So I investigate. Hmmm. These are red, plaid boxers very similar to a pair I have, only these are brighter red. They're also 2" larger in the waist than I would buy. These are not my boxers.

This was something unexpected. Ponder that, if you will. You got up in the morning, put on underwear from your underwear drawer, and then later, at work, discovered it was not your underwear. This is not something you probably have a plan all worked out for in your mind. I thought quite a bit about it.

I figured the only logical explanation was that The Mrs. was having an affair with someone 2" bigger around the waist than I, and that she had accidentally mixed his laundry in with mine. I pondered whether I should run straight home to catch them in the act and thus be able to return the boxers to their rightful owner. But, I decided that this would be a lot of effort, and I'd already worn the underwear for 6 hours, so whatever horrible disease I could catch from them I already had. I completed my day at work.

When I got home, I found The Mrs. and said in a very accusatory tone, "I have a question for you. Whose underwear am I wearing?"

She said, "Shouldn't you be telling me the answer to that?"

Now, looking back on that response, I'm pretty sure she just gave me permission to wear her underwear. I'll try out that theory at a later date.

Oh, and now I'm out of Jack Daniel's.

But, no matter how hard I pressed, she kept sticking with the, "I'm not having an affair, and I don't know whose boxers those are," answer. We've decided that they probably belong to my father, who along with my mother had been visiting for two weeks right before this happened and they had done a lot of laundry. He also happens to be about 2" larger around the waist than I.

So, PopsC, if you lost a pair of red plaid boxers, they were here, and I threw them out.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Day of Almosts

I had a good day today. Almost. It started out like any other day, with MaxieC getting up way too early (6:38am) and it being my day to get up with him. But I had Big Plans for the day. Yes, today was the day that I was going to brave The Home Depot.

See, I really hate The Home Depot. It goes back to San Schmose where the local Home Depot angered me immensely every time I went there. Once I move to Ft. TomCollins, we thankfully had Lowe's, and I spent most of my time there (or at Ace Hardware, if I just need something small, since Ace is only 2 miles away and has free popcorn and peanuts for the kiddies). But I drained my Lowe's and Ace gift cards already, and I had a full one for The Home Depot, plus I was looking for something only The Home Depot carries: bulk pack light bulbs.

I read a while back that the number one thing you can do to prevent crime is to leave your porch light on all night. I've done this ever since. The new house here, however, has five lights on that circuit. One is on the porch, and four are across the front of the garage. I end up replacing a bulb about every three weeks on average, and I'm always out of bulbs. So I decided to stock up.

I went to the HD in Loverlyland, since the one in Ft. TomCollins is always a lot more crowded, and they're both about the same drive time away. Of course, they only carry bulk pack lightbulbs in 25W vanity mirror and 60W normal varieties, and I needed 100W. But they did have Phillips 100W light bulbs in four-packs for slightly over $1. I stocked up.

We got a few other things as well. On the way to the checkout, I saw they had an actual checkout line open with no waiting, and I said, "Oh good. Let's use the normal checkout." But HannahC slapped me down on that. She insists on using the self-checkout because it's fun.

The self-checkout at The Home Depot doesn't work. I don't know why. The one at Lowe's works fine. So does the one at King Stupors. But I have used the self-checkout at about five different Home Depots, and they all suck. I think they have the weight sensitivity set too high. You spend half your time with it complaining that either you've not put the item into the bagging area, or you've put an unexpected object there. Today was no different. We bought 11 items. We needed employee intervention 5 times because it disagreed with the weight of the item. It probably at least quadrupled our checkout time. As soon as this gift card is used up, I am going back to my policy of never shopping at The Home Depot.

As we left The Home Depot, I noted there was a bicycle shop right next to it. I noted to The Mrs. that I thought this was the bicycle shop MoodyT had told me was the best one in the area.


When we got home, The Mrs. decided it was such a nice day (being 41 degrees and not windy or raining or snowing), that The Childrens should play outside. HannahC began playing on her scooter, and I noticed her bike helmet was sitting way too high and back on her head. She told me The Mrs. had messed up the adjustment because she had not liked the way I had adjusted it. Shortly thereafter, The Childrens decided they wanted to go for a bike ride. But to them, a "bike ride" means riding in the bike trailer whilst Daddy pulls them.

The Mrs., naturally, was all for this.

So we pulled out the trailer, which is no small task given The Mrs.'s insistence that we park so far back in the garage that the door just barely misses the back of the winivan, and thus we cannot easily get any of the stuff in the garage in or out through the only clear door. A quick survey of the situation notes that we have a flat tire. Out here, there are these thistle weeds that stab your tires all the time, and there were a number of thistles stuck into the tire. I didn't have a spare tube.

The Mrs. noted the irony of how less than an hour earlier, we were driving by the best bike store in the area.

Well, we decided to head off the the bike store to pick up some new tubes and check on HannahC's helmet (which we had just purchased maybe 2 months ago) right after lunch. The Mrs. then also sprung on me that HannahC's ice skates were too small, despite the fact that they were fine when we bought them a mere three weeks ago. So we had to go to the skate store, too.

MaxieC made me pull him around in the wagon while HannahC rode along on her bike during the time The Mrs. made lunch. I ate not, as I had eaten a very large breakfast less than two hours prior. The Mrs. eats by the clock, not by her stomach.

We hit a bike store first, though not the one from earlier as it was very much out of the way form the skate store. The guy there messed around with HannahC's helmet and got it adjusted quite well, and he declared we did not need a new helmet, and in fact, she had room to grow.

Hurray! The helmet lasts more than two months! We bought some tubes and some locks, so they still made quite a hefty sum off us.

Then it was off to the skate store. The guy there diagnosed that the skate toes needed to be "punched", which apparently means stretched and softened. He claimed all ice skates will be uncomfortable when new if this is not done, and if we had bought them there instead of a Dick's, it would have been done before we left. So, $10 later, HannahC's brand spanking new skates now fit her again. Wonderful. Dodged another bullet there.

Got home, MaxieC was asleep. The Mrs. put him to bed. HannahC and I changed the tube for the bike trailer. Then I got my bike down and noted there were numerous thistles in both my ties. I pulled them out one by one, and, of course, when I removed one of the ones in the front tire, air started rushing out with a giant hiss. Dammit.

So, now I had to change that tube, too. I always have spare tubes for my bike, so at least this didn't mean a trip to the store. I've decided to buy nothing but self-sealing tubes from now on given the level of thistle in my neighborhood.

Finally, finally, finally, HannahC and I got to go on the bike ride. MaxieC was still asleep, and The Mrs. had to stay home with him. So we lost half our participants and about three hours between when we decided to go for a bike ride and when we actually got to go.

In other words, it was a pretty normal Saturday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bercomac Snow Blower

A review and installation walk-through of my Berco 40" Compact model snow thrower.

Lately (maybe because the whole country practically is having a blizzard this week), I've been getting a lot of search engine hits to the Me, CherkyB looking for information on Berco (Bercomac) Snow Blowers. I understand this, as before I got mine, I spent a huge amount of time on the web looking for the same info, and there wasn't a whole lot of it. Most of these hit the My Beloved post, where I ramble on about whatever for quite a long time before posting some pictures of the assembly. No one has yet hit the action shots in Beloved, probably because there is no text that a search engine would find interesting in that post.

So, humanitarian that I am, I put together this grand, unified guide to the Berco snow thrower. I hope that some folks find it helpful. I wish I had found something like this before I bought mine.

First some details of my setup. I have a 2006 Husqvarna YTH20F42T with the 20HP Kohler Courage engine. Depending on where you look on the tractor and paperwork, it is sometimes also referred to as an LOYTH20F42T. As best as I can tell, the "LO" means that it is specially packed for Lowe's, and this means it comes with a manual that says, "Contact Lowe's for all your parts and service needs," all over it, but other than that the tractor is unchanged. The standard Berco subframe kit for the '06 YTH20F42T worked fine.

I purchased my blower setup from Mac Equipment in Loveland, CO, which is the nearest Bercomac dealer according to the manufacturer's website. This was a special-order, and it took 12 days to arrive (10 business days). Being special-order, I paid list price for everything. I'm not sure if a place that does more mail-order/internet business like Jim's Repair would have a better price. I decided to buy locally. Oddly, the local place not only charged me sales tax but also charged me for shipping (to the tune of $195 - tough to get a good deal on a special order), so I'm betting Jim's would have been somewhat cheaper.

Here's what I got:
  • 40" Compact Snowblower [QBM700255-2] ($1349)
  • Subframe [BM700413-2] ($190)
  • Compact Drive Mechanism [BM700414-1] ($169)
  • Chute Deflector Kit [BM700239-0] ($65)
  • Rear Counter Weights (comes with mounting hardware) [BM700246-5] ($275)
  • 28x8-8 Tire Chains [BM102896] ($88)
I debated a while between the Compact model and the Northeast model, but settled on the Compact. The differences between the two models appear to be just two. First, the Compact is 40" wide and the Northeast is either 44" or 48", depending on which you buy. Second, the auger on the Compact is driven by a chain from the side, whereas the auger is driven by a gearbox from the center on the Northeast model. If there are more differences, I could not discern them from the specifications on the web. The Northeast model is a few hundred dollars more expensive than the Compact, and I couldn't see any need for it over the Compact for the relatively infrequent blizzards we have here in the front range. If you live somewhere with regular, heavy snowfall (in the Northeast, perhaps), it may be worth it for you.

Now on to the assembly. Right up front let me tell you that this seems intimidating at first given the sheer number of parts and the complexity of the diagrams, but after completing it, I can look back and say it was very straight-forward. It's literally just installing bolts.

The first step was to assemble the subframe. This is a couple of thick hunks of metal that sister to the frame rails to add additional strength. Very cool. It's also the only part of the blower assembly that is "permanently" attached (it's only bolted on, so you can remove it if you really want to spend an hour or so doing it). Everything else pops right off with little levers or cotter pins so that the changeover to mowing in the spring is pretty easy.

The directions were pretty good, but the diagrams were too small to really read, so I spent a bunch of time figuring out exactly what I was supposed to do. Here's my take on it:

There are a LOT of parts that come with the subframe assembly. This is because this assembly is designed to fit every tractor made by Husqvarna's parent company (Husqvarna, Poulan, and Yard Man?) plus a couple others. You are going to have parts left over. A frighteningly lot of parts. Mostly, it'll be bolts. The subframe assembly directions boil down to putting a bolt through every hole in the subframe rail that lines up with a hole in your tractor frame rail. The diagram maps the holes in the subframe to a particular kind of bolt, and there are many holes so close to one another that it is very hard to follow the map. In general, pick the bolt that fits. You have two diameters, two lengths, and if the hole is square, you use a self-tapping machine screw instead of a bolt.

A couple things I wish had been written differently in the directions. First, the subframe assembly instructions say, "You do not need to remove the mower to complete this assembly." What they should have said was, "Do not remove the mower until you complete this assembly." See, there are a couple steps that say things like, "Use the lowest position that does not interfere with the drive belt or mower deck," except I had already removed the mower since I knew I was going to have to in order to complete the blower install, and nothing ever told me not to. In particular, there is a cross-member that joins the left and right frame rails and becomes a mounting point for the drive mechanism that has many, many optional positions. Luckily, they list the recommended positions for a few different kinds of tractors, and mine was on the list, so I didn't have to put the mower back on.

Then, there is the matter of shims. The kit comes with a few shims to use in case your tractor's frame rail is not completely flat. My right one was flat, but the left one was not. These shims are, unfortunately, not described until you get to the end of the subframe rail installation instructions and it kind of mentions an "Oh, by the way, if an hour back you mounted the subframe rail and noted it wasn't completely flat against the frame rail, you should have used these shims." Argh! I had to partially remove the left rail to add in the shim.

The same kind of thing happened with the heat shield. There is a heat shield right up front under the nose of the tractor, and I had to remove it to get my hands in there to bolt on the subframe rails. When I was done with the installation of the subframe rails, I went to put it back and found it no longer fit back in because of interference from the hinged blower mount that was now right under it. I found that if I loosened up a bunch of the subframe bolts, I could just squeeze it back in , but then I couldn't get to the nuts to hold them when I re-tightened the bolts. I screwed around with this for literally a half-hour before I kinda-sorta got it in place and decided to give up. Then, a couple steps later, the directions note that you might not be able to reinstall your heat shield, but not to worry, a new heat shield that will fit is supplied to replace the old one in this case.

Where was that two pages ago! Here's a photo of the replacement heat shield. This was taken after I had completed the install of everything, so there's a little more stuff than would be there after just the subframe install, but you can see how it might be tough to wedge the original heat shield in there with all that stuff underneath it. In particular, the original heat shield required you to tilt the front down to clip the back in, and then bring up the front to screw it on. The tilt-down is darn near impossible here. (For all these photos, you can click on them to get the "full-size" image.)

Here is the right frame rail - the very first thing you install if following the directions. This side also has the lifting mechanism, of which that big arched piece of black metal is part. It transfers the motion from the lever arm to the front lift bracket. If you look closely, you will see that some of the bolts have the head end out, and some have the nut end out. The directions say to always put the nut on the inside, but I just couldn't fit in there to do that properly on some of the bolts. Nothing rubs or scrapes, so I assume this will be just fine.

Here's a picture of the left subframe rail, which I did second, and thus was easier to do. It's that shiny black thing in the front, as opposed to the dusty black frame rail behind it.

This closeup of the left frame rail illustrates a couple of the points I made earlier. First, you can see I have one bolt put in with the nut on the outside. Second, you can see the shim I needed on this side. It's the shiny piece of metal sandwiched between the black subframe rail and the black frame rail and running directly underneath the yellow oil drain cap. There's a metal plate welded to the bottom half of the left frame rail that does not exist on the right, thus the shim is needed here.

Underneath, you have to remove the mowing deck and then attach this blower power takeoff. This is held in with a couple big posts and two cotter pins, so it drops right out in the spring when it is time to put the mower back on.

Here's a shot of the drive assembly with the belt running forward to the blower assembly. That curved bar running up the right side of the photo is the lifting lever. You may note how there are a lot of cotter pins in view - those are all you have to remove to take everything off in the spring.

One note I might add is that I have an electric power takeoff. The power drive assembly just pops right in if you have an electric PTO. If you have a manual one (like you were a sucker and bought the exact same tractor from Sears as a Craftsman product, only with a manual PTO instead of an electric one, and you paid a couple hundred dollars more for it to boot), there were a number of additional steps involved that dealt with assuring proper alignment and adjustment of the clutch cable.

Here's a look down at the drive mechanism of the blower itself, looking down in front of the nose of the tractor (the thing on the right side of the photo). I've removed the cover plate, which is held in place by one nut with a big knob on it so it doesn't require a wrench. You see the drive belt come in from the top right, go over an idler pulley, under the auger drive pulley, then it does a 90 degree bend to go over the impeller drive pulley, then back through two idlers. That black post running up from the auger drive pulley goes to the side of the auger cage where it drives the chain. I assume that would not be there in a Northeast model, as they drive the auger from the center.

A couple other things to note in the above photo. There are two springs visible. The top one is the drive belt tensioning spring. It is engaged by flipping the lever whose handle is vertical just to the left of it. The cover plate locks that handle in place. The lower spring is a new feature, and it is a lift assist spring. It helps reduce the effort required to lift the blower off the ground using the lift arm. The effort is quite low, though I have not honestly tried it without the spring to see how much a difference it makes.

Here's the side view of the hookup, this time with the cover plate installed. That little red tab is the latch that keeps the blower attached to the mount. There's one on the other side, too.

Now we're all hooked up except for the rear counterweights and the tire chains. This is about 5 hours into the install. It doesn't seem like it should have taken that long, but it did. The parts packages contained all the parts for many different tractor models, so you always had boatloads more parts than you used for each step. This caused me to have to go back and recheck the directions every 30 seconds, cuz I really don't like finishing something and having about 50% of the parts still sitting there, unused. If I were to do it again on the same tractor, I could probably get to this point in 2 hours instead of five.

Here's a picture of the remote chute deflector kit. It consists of a 5-position handle that mounts to the side of the post on which the chute rotation crank mounts, a cable (very much like a bicycle brake cable), and a cable mount for the chute. This is without a doubt an excellent value in an upgrade. $65 is nothing compared to the total cost of this thing, and I can't imagine living without the ability to set the chute height from the driver's seat. Without this kit, you get two hand-nuts that you have to go loosen, adjust the height, and re-tighten out there at the business end of the chute. I also didn't think it would be worth it to spend the few hundred bucks for the electric chute kit (which gives you electric height and rotation). After using the manual version a bit, I still think the electric kit is not worth it.

OK, on to the rear counterweight kit. This was one of the hardest steps, as it turns out, as my tractor did not have all the holes needed in the rear frame to mount this. So I had to drill a couple of them, which meant I had to take off the rear wheels to get the drill in. Then, the stupid weight lockdown bar was a little teeny bit too short, and we screwed around with this for like a half-hour before deciding to just drill out the cotter pin holes a little bigger so that they'd clear the mounting brackets. That took all of 30 seconds and solved the problem. Wish we'd thought of that first.

In theory, the nice thing about these rear counterweights is that having them hang off the back like that gives you an effective 25% more weight than if you used wheel weights.

My only concern here is that, while I can easily remove the weights by removing one cotter pin, the mounting bracket is not as easily removed. I'm wondering if it will interfere with the control lever for my broadcast fertilizer spreader. I'll update this when I try it out. [Update: the mounting bracket did not interfere with the lever on the spreader. The weights and weight bar would have if I had not removed them, though. Removal is one cotter pin - no big deal.]

[Years later update: It turns out that I when I drilled the holes for the mounting bolts, I didn't quite get the two brackets at the same angle. This small misalignment has made it more difficult than it should be to slide the locking bar through the weights each fall, but it;s nothing a little grease and a 10lbs sledge hammer can't handle.

Also, I finally broke down and bought a bagging kit this year. These brackets do prevent you from being able to install the bagger. I have found that I can just remove the lower bolt from each bracket (which is the easier bolt to get to), and then swing the bracket arms down 90 degrees so that they are at the sides of the tractor frame, and they clear the bagger just fine.]

I took it for a spin where I attacked a couple of the snow drifts next to the driveway. It did pretty well, though I managed to break one of the tire chains. I felt some resistance while I was just driving (dry pavement, blower not engaged), so I gave it a big load of gas. Hee hee. Took a few minutes to put the chain back together. I think it had stretched and got caught up on something. The chains are supposed to stretch a whole bunches when they are new. What I can say is that this thing really throws the snow far. I had to aim it downward to keep it under 20'.

Now, this was pretty old snow (about a month), so the bottom couple inches was basically ice. The blower skids right up over that. It had no problem with the compacted and icy drifts, but it didn't get the very bottom layer. This is pretty standard with a blower. There is no real way to force it down like there would be on a snow blade. I guess the lesson here is to not let your snow turn to ice before getting the blower out.

I got some nice, fresh snow a couple weeks later (only about 2"), and it did a great job on that.

Oh my!

Cavitation has of late begun to fancy himself a moovie critic. Now, there's nothing exactly wrong with that, other than it means you've pretty much given up on your own creativity, and I've been letting it slide given the "new Me, CherkyB," who is a Nice Guy™. Today, he graced us with his top ten moovies of all time. Now, I was all set to IM him about how he has odd taste in moovies for a married man, but it looks to me like AdSense has beaten me to the punch.

You can't argue with context-sensitive advertising:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Stop Judging Me!

First, it was the paper towel dispensers at my old site in Santa Clarabelle that got replaced with those "automatic sensor" electronic dispensers. Try as I might, I could not ever get a paper towel after that. But, I could wipe my hand on my pants as a workaround.

Now, my new site in Fort TomCollins has replaced all the soap dispensers with automatic sensor electronic dispensers. I can't get soap anymore, and wiping my hands on my pants doesn't help. I have to try all three of them multiple times until one eventually judges me to have sufficient humanity to be allowed a squirt of soap.

I'm tired of my humanity being judged every time I want to wash my hands.

On the plus side, the automatic flush urinals never fail to sense my humanity. You know what they say - Cold hands, warm...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wow wow

I just took a swig of a drink that actually was so, um, unexpected that it made my teeth chatter. That's never happened before. It's two parts dark rum, one part triple sec, and one part lime juice. It's based on the recipe for a Jacqueline, but I got bored about 2/3 of the way through. So I skipped the powdered sugar and the shaking over cracked ice and just served it on the rocks.

I was lamenting to CJ today about how The Childrens bedtime schedule of late has prevented me from following rule #2 of blogging, "never blog sober," and this was affecting the quality of my posts. Heck I even had my first meta-post a couple days back, where all I did was post a link to a Google video of a TV show.

I've also been breaking rule #1, "always blog angry," for no good reason. I think I have plenty to be angry about in my life, but I can't seem to muster the anger. I've even gone soft on the Canadians, having taken to drinking Crown Royal and, of course, having purchased a French Canadian snowblower that sits in the garage completely unused and thus is a monument to wasted potential - a real metaphor for the majority of Canada.

So I look to my blogroll for inspiration. NavieA-B is usually great at getting me all wound up, what with all her complaints that no one comments on her artwork, and then her confrontationalism when someone does, but of course she's on vacation. The JohnnyB's political blog, filled with its unrepentant leftist nuttiness, can also be helpful, but he's also on vacation with his wife. Blog of the Week Rhonda's Blog is mostly heartfelt reflections on the little joys of life of late, which is hard to make hay out of without looking like an a-hole, and how many times can you make fun of someone for not having signed up for AdSense despite having more daily hits than the rest of us put together? Cavitation has pretty much stopped trying and has been phoning in his posts from a backlog of pre-written, completely uninspiring posts about his family and bad moovies, though we did learn today that he sometimes confuses his wife with Jenna Jameson, which is hard to do given they don't really look much like each other at all from what I can tell. Though I've never met either of them in person, so maybe they look like sisters in real life. CJ has given up blogging, only every now and then he falls off the wagon. And, of course, Ellie, after a promising start where she posted a risqué photo of herself followed quickly by a picture of her sitting under a noose, has also given up blogging, though not sporadically. So, not only do I have very little inspiration left, but none of my blogrollers are even any help. They don't even give me enough material to take little potshots at them just to stay in shape. I don't even have a cat to post funny pictures of on Fridays.

So I guess I'm on my own. It's like my honeymoon all over again, as they say.

Interestingly, despite both NavieA-B and The JohnnyB being on vacation, my daily pageviews haven't dropped off all that much. However, my advertising revenue is down about 70%. I thus conclude that there is a total of three people clicking on my ads, and two of them are on vacation. Oddly, substantially more people claim to me to be clicking on my ads. I know now they are a big pack of liars. Not surprising, given the kind of people who are naturally drawn to someone like me. I just have to add "liars" to the list of outcasts, malcontents, losers, and in-laws.

I really don't like abalone sushi. Really. Never had any other kind of abalone.

It is snowing. I want you all to pray that there is enough accumulation that I get to use my beloved snowblower tomorrow. Except most of you are a bunch of godless communists, except for Rhonda who apparently has a bible study group that has devolved into some kind of railing-against-the-patriarchy self-help coffee klatch, kinda like if Kathy Lee joined the cast of The View.

Hmmm...I guess I can bring myself to take potshots at reflections on the little joys of life after all. You should all make sure you run over to Rhonda's Blog to let her know how you think I'm an a-hole for saying that. And make sure you click on her ads while you're there. We're not blogging for for our health here, and the Blog of the Week title usually carries with is a Cherkylanche of advertising revenue.

And maybe NavieA-B, who being Israeli one might assume has some sort of religion other than godless communism. In fact, the Israelis are pioneers in the field of godful communism. I'm sure that will lead to their eventual ruin. In the word of Ronald Reagan, "Communism only works in Heaven, where they don't need it, and in Hell, where they already have it."

So, if by chance, you are reading this and are neither godless nor communist, please pray that we have 2-3" of snowfall accumulation overnight. That's at the high end of the forecast, so it will only take a very small miracle. Not even big enough to qualify towards sainthood.

I won't hold my breath.

Monday, February 12, 2007

On a Scale of One to Ten

Tonight during dinner, I axed The Mrs., "On a scale of one to ten with one being incredibly disappointing and ten being world-record disappointing, how would you rate your birthday?"

Her reply? "About an eight."

Then she followed it with, "I had a pretty good birthday." Hmmm...

At this point HannahC jumped in to emphasize how the ten end was the bad end, and blah blah blah. The Mrs. then said, "It wouldn't be on that scale."

Clearly, she doesn't listen to me when I yap. I get that a lot, so I'm used to it.

CJ told me a very funny story today on the way to lunch, but I'm not allowed to repeat it. Your loss. Then he asked me how old HannahC was, did some math, and challenged that The Mrs. turned 19 yesterday. Well, I would point out that I mentioned here that I was selected by her mother to be The Mrs.'s husband back when she was 12.

Plus, that's an official photo from the al Reuters wire service taken by a local stringer in the field. I have no reason to disbelieve its veracity.

So there.