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Friday the 13th
We rode the tandem to work today and had the afternoon off, so as I gathered up Donna to go change for the ride home, I overheard Trina, another planner in the cubicle behind her, say to Ian, “You show me yours and Iíll show you mine.”
Now, taken out of context in an office environment, you just might wonder what was going on there…
Fridays at ASCO for lunch we get Mexican brought in. We donít have a cafeteria, but the sister of a woman who works on a Assembly line fixes the food for delivery to the Valve Store(R). It started small, just the folks that work on her line, but once word got out how good the food is, especially the green chile sauce, it has branched out to all around the plant.
Us office types give our order to Ian, one of the Assembly Engineers, who gathers the money and gives the order sheet to the woman. I was kind of bummed that I missed out on the Mexican this week as one of the offerings was a burrito with white rice and the green chile sauce on the side and this is my favorite. Apparently Trina is fond of the sauce as well, because her container was not full to the top. She was complaining to Ian about the quantity of it and he must have been dismissive of her concern. So that is why she said, “You show me yours and Iíll show you mine.”
Monday the 27th
We had breakfast at DD this morning and after walking out on Saturday morning because no one wanted to wait on us in a timely manner we were glad to see the little older woman behind the counter. She, unlike most of the younger kids that man the register, can enter our highly complex order* without hunting for several seconds looking for the right button to push. Not only that, she seemed to be the only person in the store and we got our food and drinks in a more timely fashion than usual.
On her badge, there was a label, right under her name with her title, SHEFT LEADER.
*Small Coffee, cream & sugar
Small hot Chocolate, no whipped cream
Coffee Cake Muffin
Plain Bagel, toasted with butter
A Tale of Four Circle Ks
Saturday the 10th
Today was the monthly MMC breakfast run and our destination was the same place as it has been for the last two Marchís, the North Augusta Optimist Club Pancake Breakfast at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
The event organizer zipped off an email yesterday to remind everyone of the event and she listed the meeting location as “at the Circle K at exit 5.” That very same email said we would depart from there at 8 AM sharp.
When Donna and I arrived at Exit 5 we noticed that there was a Circle K  just past the Interstate on the northeast side, but it looked a little hard to get to and there were no Miatas visible. We were about 15 minutes early for the departure time, so we passed right by to grab a geocache that was just up the road. As we turned down the little road to get the cache we realized there was a Circle K  right at the corner. No Miatas there either.
We found the cache and after signing the log we looked into Circle K  again, it was now 5 minutes before the planned departure and there were still no Miatas there. Donna wondered out loud that our event planner must have meant Exit #1 as that is where we had met the last two years. We decided that if there were no Miatas at Circle K  we would just head on to the church via Exit #1.
Just about then we noticed a Circle K  on the northwest side of the Interstate and there were two Miatas there. We pulled in. As the six of us chatted while waiting for our event organizer to lead us to the church we all wondered about the number of Circle K gas stations here. We werenít too concerned as our leader was slightly late last year, so maybe she would be this year too. At 8:05, with our stomachs growling in hunger, we all decided to do what Donna and I were going to do before we stumbled on them, go to the church via I-20 Exit #1
As we passed by the previous yearís meeting spot, Circle K  there were no Miatas there either. When we arrived at the church, there was our event leader and one other Miata Club person waiting for us. They had met at Circle K  and by 10 after eight when no one else had shown, they drove to the church.
The event has been on the Club calendar since the January planning meeting and it has always listed the meeting place as the Circle K gas station off I-20 Exit #1 on Martintown Rd. Our group of six didnít read the Club Calendar because of the email reminder. The person who did meet at the correct Circle K didnít read the Calendar or the email either, she just went to where we had met before.
Anyway, allís well that ended well. We did get together, have some conversation, some good eats and the cost went to a good cause.
Thursday the 19th
We stopped at the bank on the way home to deposit some checks and get a bit of cash back. One of our co-workers is turning 60 this weekend and we thought it would be a cool thing to get 60 quarters, 60 dimes, 60 nickels and 60 pennies, place them in a small Mason jar to give him. We deposited a nice round number, the majority of the money, and got $40.63 cash back. Of that, we wanted the sixty of each coin thing.
The two tellers up front were busy, but the woman handling the drive-up said sheíd take care of us. We explained what we wanted and Donna asked how much all those coins would be worth, the teller replied $24. (This should have been our first clue as to what we were up against, its $24.60.) She brought over the quarters first; a $10 roll with 23 more loose ones and off she went to get the next denomination. A roll of dimes and 10 more. Good. We gave her back the 3 extra quarters. The next trip back she brought us a roll of nickels and ten extra. Um, wait a minute; we need ten more nickels, thatís only 50 of them. The second to last trip back she brought the 10 nickels, a roll of pennies and 10 extra pennies. Pheewww, right. The final trip she brought us 3 pennies and the bills, which she started counting out for us beginning with the singles, $25.63, $26.63, $27.63, and five makes thirty-two sixty-three and ten makes…wait, wait, thatís not right. We tell her she just owes us sixteen dollars more, finally we get a single, a five, a ten and exit the bank.
Did I forget mention that there was a gap of about 2 minutes between each trip to the counter to bring us money? It was no wonder the fellow next to us wanted to close out his safety deposit box, Iím betting he is starting to keep his important stuff in a Chock Full oí Nuts coffee can under his porch.
Saturday the 19th
While I was standing around waiting to talk to someone before being allowed to drive BMWs and its competitors, I got into a little conversation with a gentleman who was standing there. He was casually well dressed and I assumed a salesman just standing around waiting for the low hanging fruit of customers falling out of the new 3 Series after the drive.
We chatted a bit about cars with their rapidly expanding use of technology, especially BMWs. We then traded push button start/proximity key fob stories. Mine was about getting out of the car and “locking” it by pushing the button on the door handle, being greeted by a long loud chime and not being bothered by it. It wasnít until a couple of days later that I learned that the sound was indicating that the car was *not* locked. Turns out that you can not lock the car with a fob inside the vehicle. Mine was in my pocket, but Donnaís was in her purse which we were trying to lock in the trunk.
His story involved a friend who showed him how easy it was to start his new car, just get in and push the button. His friend then let him get in the car and push the button. Of course it wouldnít start, his friend was standing outside a few feet from the car. Ha, ha.
After driving all the cars I had to fill out a little survey. I thought it was going to be about which car I preferred and why, but it was mostly about my satisfaction on how the event was run. Every question got high marks except the last; it asked did I enjoy meeting the Olympic athlete? I had to respond that he wasnít there when we were there. So I asked the girl giving me the survey who was our athlete, she said, “Larry Myricks, former Olympic long jumper.” I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no clue who that was.
This morning while reading the paper I noticed a small photo and article about the BMW event. There in the photo was the guy I was chatting with and, you guessed it, he was identified as one Larry Myricks.
Knowing what I know now, I kind of wish I could get another chance at that conversation…
Saturday the 23rd
The Emperorís new shocks are just what his subjects needed. The last few months his majesty had a tendency to wander in his lane. I tried to tighten things up by adjusting the Koni Sport shocks firmer, but that just ended up making the car bouncy. We picked up the car on Tuesday, didnít drive it on Wednesday, but Thursday and then again Friday we did. On both days, me first, then Donna, noticed a kind of metallic rattle from the left rear when hitting sharp bumps. Wondering if maybe someone didnít tighten something up during the shock change, I decided to check it out today.
First thing I did was put the front of the car on jack stands. Front? Yeah, I also needed to change out that burnt out fog light bulb. And while it can be done while lying on your back under the car, but it is much easier to jack it up and take off the tires. Even though only one was out I opted to change them both because with my luck if I did just one, the other would fail within week. Seriously Sylvania, fifty-four bucks for a pair of SilverStar Ultra H1 bulbs?!? I went with $7.75 ea Plain Jane H1.
With the front done I jacked up the back end and pulled both of those tires. A visual and shake check revealed nothing loose or out of place under there, so it was time to check in the trunk. My first thought was to just flat out empty everything out of the trunk and take the car for a spin to see if the noise remained. As I pulled out the faux carpet covering the spare I noticed something, a 3/8 drive, 14mm deep socket sitting on top of the rim of the spare tire. That just might be it. Just in case I hunted around for anything else that didnít belong and found nothing. Buttoned everything back up and did a quick run around the block running over every imperfection and manhole cover. Didnít hear a rattle. Big test will be the next time we go over some railroad tracks.
I guess Iíll give Steve a call on Monday and see if he wants his socket back.
Welcome to Friday Harbor
Monday the 2nd
Today was a travel day. Brother Scott and family were headed back to Snohomish while Donna and I were headed to the San Juan Islands.
We drove the 141 kilometers from Colquitlam, BC to Anacortes, WA and got in line for the 2 oíclock ferry to Friday Harbor. We were towards the end of lane 6 and we waited while they were loaded lanes 1, 2 & 3 (4 and 5 were empty.) Watching all those cars drive on we were kind of worried we wouldnít get on board and have to wait until 4:45 for the next ferry. Donna got out of the car to go ask the ticket seller lady if we would get on the current ferry. She asked Donna if we got a ticket of a number, “A ticket,” replied Donna. “Youíre getting on this ferry,” came the reply. See, fortunately for us, the M/V Yakima holds up to 114 cars.
Because we had a late start (about 10:00AM, which seems to be the typical Northwest start time, both American and Canadian) we planned on eating on the ferry. Definitely not haute cuisine, but it would have to do. I opted for a sausage dog and Donna was in a quandary as what to get until she spotted soup pots on the other side of the serving line. She noticed they had one of her favorites, split pea soup, and asked me to pass her a small paper bowl that was located on my side of the line. I lobbed one to her, but it bounced right off her hand and landed smack inside the middle of the clam chowder tureen. Ooops.
Donna snatched the bowl out quickly, but the cashier sprang into action, she commanded the woman next to Donna to close the lid on the Clam Chowder and shouted to the kitchen, “We need another Clam Chowder on the line!” all the while giving Donna and I a withering look. Fortunately she only charged us for the single cup of soup and not a whole pot of the stuff.
Saturday the 18th
Last Sunday after we had returned from a bike ride I was sitting peacefully on the living room floor watching Sports Center while I stopped sweating when I heard a scream from Donna in the kitchen. Thinking it was just a visit from another Palmetto Bug, AKA Giant Flyiní Cockroach, I hurried into the kitchen with a rolled up magazine from the coffee table in my hand for a weapon. It wasnít a bug, but a quickly forming puddle in front of the fridge.
I hightailed it out the front door and shut off the water to the house. This wasnít the first time, nor even the second time this kitchen appliance has decided to water the floor. We soaked up the small lake with some towels and I pulled the refrigerator out from the wall. I went outside, turned the water on part way and ran back inside to see where it was leaking. It wasnít coming from the inlet line right at the back of the fridge where it had the last two times, but it was coming from somewhere near the front. Back outside to turn off the water, return inside to look under the front. It looked like the water was coming from the back of the cylindrical water filter that is impossible to reach unless you can turn the refrigerator on its side (which I had no intention of trying.)
A plastic water line comes up through the floor with no shut off valve and attaches to the refrigerator using a 1/4″ Brass Compression Union, so we agreed the easiest thing to do would be to cap one end of the union and live with ice cube trays. Home Depot is only mile away so I drive over and look in the plumbing aisle and they have a 10í row of hooks filled with 1/4″ plumbing fittings. There is one hook that is empty leaving a glaring blank spot. Yup, that is where the 1/4″ ends caps should be.
Two miles down the road was Lowes and they had plenty of caps. I wrapped some teflon tape around the threads and tightened up the cap. Outside, water on, inside and inspect the capped union. It was dripping pretty good into a bowl we had placed to catch the water. Outside, water off, back inside to unscrew the cap, wrap more tape and tighten the cap down again. Outside, water on, back inside. Drip, drip, drip, %$@*&. Outside, water off, back inside. Upon inspection I noticed the cap was butting right up against the cent hex portion of the union. That has got to be why it is leaking. I dig into the miscellaneous plumbing bits draw and come up with a chrome union that has a slightly longer distance between the end of the threads and the hex portion. Problem solved…or so I thought.
Wrapped the threads with teflon tape and tightened the cap as well as I could and there was just a touch of daylight between the cap and the hex. Outside, water on, inside and there is still a drip, drip, drip coming from the connection. Plan C is hatched. We have a few pieces of rubber diaphragm from some discarded ASCO valves that we had around for who knows what. I could cut a small diameter circle that just fits inside the cap and tighten the union up against that. Thatís gotta work. Button everything up, go outside, turn on the water, come back inside to…drip, drip, drip.
At this point Donna and I discuss leaving a 5-gallon bucket next to the refrigerator to dangle the dripping water line into that could be emptied once or twice a week. I say let me try one last thing. Outside, water off, inside. I go back to my plumbing spare parts draw and get one of those white plastic compression rings. I remove the rubber diaphragm piece and put in the ring. This time I donít tighten the cap Ďtil I canít turn the wrench any more, instead I give it about 3 turns and stop. Outside, water on, inside. SUCCESS, NO DRIPPING.
As Iím buttoning everything up, I trace out the waterlines under the fridge and notice that after the union the hose went to the leaking filter fixture, then out of the filter and into the back of a single inlet valve with 2 outlets, one to the in-fridge water dispenser and the other to the ice maker. This gets me thinking, why donít I just bypass the filter, that way we still can have a working ice maker. But the plastic 1/4 line going into the valve doesnít have any screw type connections, just a plastic collar. I Google search the interwebs and find out this is some sort of quick connect mechanism. Cool.
So I get out an X-acto knife and blithely chop off the union that I have spent the last hour and a half trying to, and finally succeeding to, stop dripping. I pull on the collar, pull out the line from the filter, push the plastic inlet hose in to the valve, go outside, turn on the water, return to the back of the refrigerator and no drips.
Monday the 10th
Late afternoon as I sat in my chair in front of the computer screen I could feel myself getting sleepy, I could use a little caffeine. I had two options, bottle of Coca-Cola or a cup of coffee. The Coke was to much fluid with too little caffeine, so coffee it will be. Now I had two more options, coffee from the machine for a quarter or a 50¢ premium cup of joe from the Keurig in the mail room. I thought it would be nice to go for the slightly better K-cup coffee. This created still another set of two options, I could get change for a buck to pay for the coffee or I could just stiff the company as the Keurig setup is on the honor system.
Iím too honest for my own good sometimes, so I headed to the change machine in the cafeteria. I selected my crispest dollar bill because sometimes these machines can be finicky. I feed it in and it got spit back out. I unfolded the 1/16″ turned down corner and tried again. It came back. I swapped which end of the bill that went in first and it came right back out again. I decided to try a different bill, one slightly more wrinkled, the machine clunked and whirred and sounded like it was going to work. It did. A shiny gold dollar coin dropped into the output dish. WTF!
I had two options, I could go get 4 quarters from accounting for the dollar coin to get that cup of coffee or I could forget about the whole thing and go back to my desk. I went back to my desk, as I was now wide awake after my walk up front and failed attempt to get a couple of quarters.
Tuesday the 23rd
There is a new pizza place in town and we were excited to eat there, but our excitement was tempered some after our first visit.
We were pulling back into Aiken after our trip the Florida a couple weeks ago when I noticed that the long rumored wood fired pizza place was actually open. We took a sharp left turn into the parking lot. The place was sparsely, but tastefully, filled in with 5 booths along the window and 6 tables between the booths and the open kitchen. We stood in front of the entry area where the cash register was and waited to be seated. The girl behind the counter motioned us forward and explained we ordered there, paid, and then the food was brought to you. You want a drink? “Chose from these fine beverages,” as she sweeps her hand, Price Is Right style, across an array of Coca-cola products. I select a Coke Zero and Donna declines any, and asks for water. We are handed styrofoam cups and instructed where to get ice. It was right over along the side where you also get your silverware.
The pizza was great and worth the hassle. Sort of.
Turns out they had just opened their doors for a soft opening a mere 4 days before. Hopefully some of the rough edges of their service would get smoothed out as they get more experienced.
Well, we wanted pizza tonight, but werenít real confident that they had worked out all the kinks, so I was sent over to pick up a pie to go. They did have a working soda fountain machine, so you get a wider selection of soft drinks and you donít have to scoop ice out of a metal pitcher with a red solo cup. There are now four young girls working there instead of one, but the whole enter, stand around near the door while looking at the menu before ordering and shuffling off to a table thing still exists.
Unfortunately the greatness of a wood-fired oven baked pizza when placed in a cardboard box and driven 1.7 miles is severely diminished. Fortunately, it is still better than the frozen take home or chain delivered version. Barely.
Oh, You Temptress
Wednesday the 14th
Got a letter in the mail the other day from my old friends at SiriusXM. They are turning on my satellite radio for 2 weeks starting today, running until the 27th. Hoping that if I like it I will renew for 6 months for the low sum of $25 (of course that doesnít include taxes and fees) They are also they are hoping that after the six months you will forget to call and cancel and the price will automatically jump to the regular price of $15+ a month.
Iím not really tempted as all they have to offer me is the one channel in their line-up I did like, The Coffee House. Sorry Ms. XM Iím already married to the lovely and eclectic RadioParadise and Iím quite happy. I will probably listen in for the fortnight though; a guy can listen, right?
Saturday the 22nd
Last year after Christmas we picked out our Christmas cards for this year, sue us, weíre frugal. We found them at Kroger and there were 4 different sized cards in each box all with the same style. Donna sat down as she does every year to write out the cards and I place the stickers and stamps on each envelope.
Turns out there is a minimum size envelope that can be run through the automated sorter machines at Post Offices and one of the four sizes we mailed was too small. So over the last 4 days, we have gotten your cards returned to us with various notes attached on the envelopes from “This is too small and undeliverable” to “Additional 20Ę postage required.”
Instead of trusting the additional 20Ę we opted to buy regular stamps and place your cards in regular sized envelopes, so sorry for the lateness of our Christmas greetings.
We got back 9 cards and we think there was a total of 10 of the small sized envelopes. The missing one might have gone to Canada where we hope the natural politeness of the Canadians applies to their postal service and it will get delivered anyway. If it ends up going to somewhere in America, someone on our list will be greeted by a USPS delivery person ransoming the Christmas card for 20Ę