OK, we are back home and I’ve about finished up the second course of steroids. As a favor to you I posted a picture from the trip everyday because everyone knows a picture is worth a thousands words. As a favor to me I didn’t have to try and tamp down the verbiage. And as a favor to my editor who would have had to make it intelligible.
Regular posting will continue tomorrow. I’ve got a nice one about our welcome home, what our best moments were on the trip and one about our biggest disappointment. Maybe I’ll go back and add a story about each day under the picture of the day or maybe I’ll add them as I go along. Oh, and it is time for a garage flooring update.
We have found coach seat nirvana for our flights of 4–1/2 to 5–1/2 hours over to Seattle, a Boeing 767–300. Its two — three — two seating gives us ample opportunity to not have to climb over anybody to get up and stretch or take a nature break1As they say. Plus no possibility of a drunk napping on my shoulder during the flight. Both our flights out and back went un-bumpily smooth and 10 — 20 minutes quicker than advertised. No unruly kids ahead or behind and no crying babies anywhere.
We got back to ATL, ate a quick dinner at the terminal, collected our car and were on the road east by 8:00 PM. This, it turns out is the only time I have ever seen the bottom southeast quadrant of the I-285 beltway uncrowded. It was eerily empty. Even the normal 2-mile back up to transition to I-20 was wide open. There was more traffic near Washington Road in Augusta when we got there at 10:30 than around Atlanta…
When we go away for a week or more vacation we lock the thermostat to 77 or 78 so as not waste all that effort cooling the whole house down for the silk plants. When I took off the hold, I could hear the condenser kick on. The temp said it was 79, and I thought to myself, “That’s going to take a while to get down to comfortable.” As we went about our typical unloading of the car, tossing stuff in the laundry hamper, checking mail, staring into our empty refrigerator, we realized there was no cold air coming out from the vents.
Opened the bedroom window and could see/hear compressor running. Shut off thermostat. Reset, even though it wasn’t tripped, the A/C breaker. Turned the thermostat back on, the compressor came on, but still no air.
It was still 79° in the hall and the humidity was at 98.9%, we were in for a long night. We took cold showers, turned on all the ceiling fans to high and went to bed. I did eventually fell asleep, but poor Donna tossed and turned almost all night. At 5:00 I woke, found her in the other bedroom and said, “Hey, lets bike ride to Ridgecrest for breakfast, at least start the day right.”
By 2:00 PM we had cold air coming from the vents for about the cost of one of our round trip tickets to Seattle, but worth every penny of it.
Tomorrow is the last dose of the second course of steroids and I handled it real well over vacation and the first day at work, but for some reason, reason ran off the rails today and continues unabated into the weeds tonight.
I am not allowed to change this pattern! I’ve just spent the last 3 hours playing around with various patterns for the garage floor tiles. Any number of checkerboards, stripes, diagonals and at least twice randomly selecting colors then randomly selecting squares…
The right hand side is 2-wide carpet tile aisle that interlocks with the regular tiles (it is there because that is the path by the car to the laundry room.) The other 2-wide outside areas are the regular coin tiles in Graphite which is similar in color to the carpet. The center section is 4 x 4 checkerboard squares of Alloy & Royal Blue grated flow tiles for drainage.
When I started this quest I started at Garage Flooring Inc. because they at least were up front on their prices compared to RaceDeck & Swisstrax. I asked for some samples so I could see what these things looked like. They sent me three 3″ square pieces of tiles in the colors and styles I asked for. I played with patterns and colors and even ordered another set of 3 sample pieces.
For fun I went to the other two competitors and designed a similar floor and asked for quotes. Swisstrax’s cost was like 3 times the cost of Garage Flooring Inc., they are obviously aiming at the Porsche & Ferrari markets, not Miata owners.
Racedeck came back about 25% more than the Garage Flooring Inc. Hmmm. These folks also had something that intrigued me, a tile that interlocked with the typical plastic tiles, but had a covering of commercial grade carpet on top. Because our laundry room is in the back of the garage we have a rug runner along side the car to walk back and forth, this might be a nice alternative to putting that runner back over the top of the tiles. I asked for three different samples, including one of the carpet tiles.
They sent me 3 full size tiles! No bitty pieces for them and they got my request right the first time. And if you look above you can see that the underside of the full RaceDeck tile is much more substantial looking than the smaller Garage Flooring Inc. piece. So I placed an order. Estimated delivery date 7/20.
We had a Masters Miata Club event today, an actual road rally1 put together by a member, we couldn’t show up in a dirty car, so last night I gave the CTBNL a sponge bath in the garage using the bottle of cleaner and microfiber towels I got from CroftGateUSA.
The rally finished up at a Sonic over in Georgia and in back of the parking lot there was a group of Navy JROTC kids from a local high school holding a charity car wash. Hey, we need one of those for the Motoring Challenge. So while waiting on the rest of the entrants to finish the rally and arrive at Sonic, I pulled the car over and let them have at it.
Donna and I read the rally instructions when they were first posted on the Club website. We then read them again last night when I printed out a copy for us to put on our clipboard. We were ready.
At the Rally start point we had 8 Miatas, seven that were going to “compete” and our Rally Masters David & Ellie Brock. There were 4 cars from the Masters Miata Club (Donna and I, Don & Kay Boltz, Teri & John Bozzarello and Mike & Shirley Dyer) and 3 cars from elsewhere who found out about the fun from Facebook. There was a couple from Asheville, one from the Atlanta area and a father/daughter pair from Lexington.
David asked for a volunteer that was familiar with Rallying to go first because even though they had rechecked the course just the day before, you never know, something could have changed and this way the first out could call back and some adjustment for mileage might be made. Seeing as Donna and I had done most every rally John and Jackie Nichols ever put on for the Club before, had done a couple put on by the Miata Club of America back when that organization existed and had even designed one for our Club back in the 90’s, we opted to go first. We were ready.
When we have run rallies in the past, because the real pressure is all on the navigator we have been swapping responsibilities back and forth, for this one I was going to navigate and she would drive. I snapped my smart phone into the Garmin GPS mount (go figure, it fit perfectly), attached it to the windshield and started the Google Driving App. We rolled to the start line and were handed the cue sheet:
1. Set trip odometer to zero.
2. [odometer and driver] (odometer must be legible)
6. L (Off course clue: T)
9. Horse barn
10. R (Off course clue: T)
11. [navigator and fisherman]
Donna reset the trip odometer and then we had to be reminded by Ellie that the next thing we needed to do was take a picture (that’s what the bracketed phrases meant.) This should have been our first clue we might be just a little over confident about how ready we were. There was no time component, so we gathered ourselves and because Cue #3 was N, I told Donna to turn right out of Gregs Gas Plus and we were off. Cue #4 was R, so 100 yards later we turned right on Gregory Lake Road.
The next one was a plus followed by an L, so I said our next instruction is to look for a cross street and turn left on to it.1 After our left turn we started looking for the number 2880, but the house numbers were in the 1900s. It didn’t feel like the right road either, too narrow and the map showed it looped almost right back to Gregory Lake Road. We had traveled a mile and a half and were already off course.
We get back onto Gregory Lake and look for the next cross street. There it is, turn left and the first thing we see is a “look out for tractors” sign. Tractor, that starts with a T, does that mean we are still not on course? I tell Donna to press on. Maybe we’ll see 2880. We don’t, but the next cue is L so I instruct Donna to take the next left. And I start looking for a horse barn. We don’t see a barn by the time we get to a T in the road. Nice navigating Brian, where the heck are we?
I look a little further down the cues and see #11 and just know because of where we are and where we started the fisherman in the picture is the sign in front of Old McDonalds Fish Camp, so I tell Donna to turn right. She takes my picture in front of the sign. Alright, now we are cooking. From here I kept us on course by luck and familiarity with the area for the next couple of cues. But one too many critical words on Donna’s driving forced us to swap seats not long after we didn’t find the next required picture.2
With Donna now navigating we stayed on course for about the next 20 cues and gathered the next 4 photos before we missed a cue and actually hit one of the off course markers several miles down the road. Thankfully Cue #39 was a set of coordinates which we knew we could type into the Garmin GPS and find. This let us get the next picture, so we were starting feel good again. It didn’t last long though as we never found Cue #40, never saw the off course marker and drove and drove until we ended up in downtown Harlem, GA.
At this point we had now been on the road for 2 hours and had traveled around 75 miles and knew we were way off course. Reading through the rest of the cue sheet we saw numbers #52 [car and windmill] & #54 ‘continue to the Sonic Drive In’ and used our area knowledge to use the GPS to take us to the Sonic on Washington Road in Evans.
We were the 4th car to arrive at the ending spot. We ended up getting 7 of the 9 required photos and drove 94.8 miles instead of the 54.2 of a clean run, so I think the number 4 is probably the order we finished in too. The couple from Asheville nailed the thing getting all nine photos while traveling less than a mile more than a perfect run taking home a nice set of engraved glasses.
But how we did was secondary to having a beautiful sunny day to drive around on nice two lane back roads of the CSRA in a Miata. If the Brocks decide to do this again, in spite of the low Club turnout, we will be sure to be there and hopefully do better.
A coworker has had this Fiata for a few months now, but over this last weekend she did a little customization, this cool retro side stripe. They sell several versions of something like this for Miatas, but I think they only look really good on the first generation cars because of its flat sides, but no so much on my generation.
Believe it or not this is not a grayscale image. Her car is a dark gray, the stripe light gray, with the tires, wheels and pavement in various monochromatic shades…
The President of the company is going to be visiting the Valve Store in early August and apparently he is a big proponent of 5S. So much so that he is almost militant about it. So a few months back they forwarded a PowerPoint presentation about how we can prepare our cubicles so as to look nice and neat and orderly. But very few individuals actually took it as to mean the letter of the law. My cubical neighbor to the rear was one of them1, so not to be outdone, I did too2. This morning with the visit closer on the horizon the PowerPoint presentation was re-emailed to every one. There were just 2 items I still needed to address, so I undertook them this morning.
The first was removing the white cardboard pieces I had strategically placed in the A/C vents to keep the cold air from blowing on my neck and the second was removing the boxes under my desk, one of which was my paper recycling one. With that gone I wondered how I should handling that usual gathering of no longer need paper pile. So I emailed my immediate supervisor:
In the past I kept an old box that the reams of paper come in under my desk where I would toss waste paper for recycling. I’d empty it every month or whenever it got fairly full. On the second page (which is numbered 43) of the 5S rules you forwarded4 yesterday, bullet point #6 says “No boxes, parts, etc. “stored” under the desktop, drawers, etc.”, so I have tossed my recycling box in a gray recycling cart on the Assembly floor.
I figure I have three options on what to do with paper that needs to be recycled:
- Just toss it in the trash.
- Put in a pile on the desktop (space is not an issue for this) and each day on the way out the door throw it in the big blue bin.
- Spend $8 on a dedicated recycle “waste” basket from Staples.
What is your opinion on my best way to recycle paper under our 5S rules?
When his answer back was that he was going to check with the big boss about buying everyone a blue wastebasket, I wrote back saying that not to worry about that as my letter was sort of tongue in cheek and that I was planning on doing #2. And that actually I was going to take the whole Lean thing even further by instead of waiting until the end of the day, because the large department blue recycling can was right next to the printer, I would dump my paper to be recycled every time I went over to pick up my freshly minted future recycling.
They showed up at lunchtime yesterday. Donna called me at work and asked if I’d come home and move them into the garage. So I did. They had to go in the laundry room for now because that was the only place those big ol’ boxes would fit and not be in the way.
Last night we went to Home Depot and bought the landscaping fabric for underneath the tiles and I’m hoping to put them down on Sunday, but I have a couple of other things on my honey-do list that have to be done first.
- First thing I need to do is cut up the long pieces of junky press wood I used to test my 1/2″ is enough to get over my personal speed bump theory and put it in the outside trash can.
- Second on the list is to hook up our new garden hose reel for the backyard.
About a week ago in the middle of the night I heard a loud thump outside the bedroom. My first thought was a a tree branch falling and hitting the roof, but in the morning I looked on the front roof and ground under neath it and found nothing. I went around back and looked over the deck area and on the deck and found nothing. Walked around the gable end of the screened porch and because of the angle and trees I couldn’t see the roof, but when I looked down I saw what was left of the garden hose reel that was attached to the wall. The back and one side were still up, but the other side and the 150′ of hose on the reel was on the ground. I guess 25 years is the lifespan of a plastic wall mounted hose reel.
This morning started with a little event that I wrangled up from within the MMC. Something that started with a video a member posted on the Club site and another member mentioned to me that it would be cool if we could do something like that within the Club. We got all four generations of the Miata together and each one of the owners got to drive each others cars, so that when we were finished we had driven all four models.
This afternoon I started on some valances for the garage and finished about 9:00 PM tonight. A co-worker who does woodworking for fun and profit made the valances for me out of some 1/4″ plywood he had laying around earlier in the week. I started by painting the bare wood with some left over white paint and with Donna’s help picked out about a half dozen old maps to cover them with. She also helped me hang them because there was no way I could hold up a 5′ long valance and somehow reach both ends to screw them into the garage wall.
Tomorrow, the floor.
Putting down the tiles only took about 2 hours. Would have been about 30 minutes shorter too if I didn’t have to trim 10 of the carpet tiles to fit around the stairs and the legs holding up the cabinets. Overall it took about 4 hours from start to finish when factoring in taking a bunch of stuff out of the garage to clean up the floor, lay down the landscape fabric, move stuff back in and clean up afterwards.
I have been planning on taking this photo for the Moss Motoring Challenge of the CTBNL next to this Fiat 124 Spider for several months now and this morning my co-worker was early enough, and I was early enough and we both had our tops up, so that I could get an uncluttered photograph of the 2 of our cars.
Two hours later at my morning walk this is what that corner of the lot looked like:
If you have ever watched Ask This Old House you will have seen a segment they call appropriately, What Is It? One of the four hosts brings out some sort of oddity and asks the other three, “What is it?” They then, in their best To Tell The Truth manner pretend they know what it is and spin a yarn, only to be told what it actually is at the end.
Mazda USA every year gives out something they call a Zoom Zoom Box that is loaded with various Mazda branded items (pens, keychains, hats, t-shirts, etc.) to Miata Clubs around the country to give the items away as prizes or door prizes for an event they have planned. This year the MMC received such a box, and the officers divided up the content and passed out a small bag with some items in them out to all the members. One of the items that was given to us was the thing you see in the above picture. It is made from some sort of rubbery material and the back is covered by a piece of peel and stick adhesive. There are also 4 tiny holes in the back through the adhesive and material. I have no idea what this is.
If I was a host on Ask This Old House and was handed this item I would say, “I know exactly what this is, it is a replica of a small auto trash bag for your 1/4 scale replica Mazda made from Lego blocks.”
What would you say it is? Leave me your answer in the comments.
Remember last Friday when I said I had two things on my honey-do list before I put down the garage floor tiles? The tiles were installed on Sunday and those two items are done, but for the life of me I can’t remember what day I did them. Might have been Saturday afternoon or heck even Monday after work, I do remember it was during the day.
I don’t have my own little shop to work in, so I often do little projects either in the driveway or on the back deck. For cutting up that junk wood, the deck was used, because this way I could lay the long pieces of wood on the seat that runs around half the deck, stick the wood out about a foot, step on it and use the circular saw to cut segments off the the end.
The 12 feet of junk wood from behind the plant started life as a box top, so along with the 1/2 thick pieces I needed for my test, there was a border of 1″ x 3″ wood strips as support that had nails spaced about 4 to 5 inches all around. Rather than try and remove the approximate hundredty-million twisted nails from the 24′ of wood, I just hammered the bent ends down flat. Because of the nails I had to cut the 1″ x 3″ wood into about 60 pieces total.
After a little while I got a nice rhythm going; cut a couple pieces, release pressure on my foot, slide the board forward, repeat until done. About halfway through cutting up the second 6′ piece of wood a very large black bug dive-bombed by the front of my face and angled down towards my right hand. I let go of the trigger on the saw and dropped it to the deck.
There was a female cicada trying to mate with still spinning blade. After a few seconds the insect realized its mistake and flew back whence it came. I finished that board and started on the third 6′ piece and wouldn’t you know, my horny cicada took another shot at the saw. I dropped it on the deck again. This time when the bug flew back into its tree, I went inside the house and got my can of Raid Wasp & Hornet spray for the next time.
Sure enough, as I was finishing cutting the third piece, my love struck bug returned. I dropped the saw, grabbed the can and fired off a stream of insecticide at her. I’m not sure if I hit the cicada with any of the stream or she finally learned that the sound of a circular saw rhythmically cutting 1″ x 3″ pieces of wood was not a male of her species, but I cut the full 6′ length of the last piece without a return fly-ins.
the city, not the country