Dr. Grimm, Mowing, Gas Lines, Golf, Painting, Cats, etc …

I want to thank all three of you who check in every day and see if I’m still ticking. I appreciate it. Knowing you do gives me an incentive to honor your quest for useless information. The last few days have been difficult which is why I haven’t been around much.

It started with the tooth Dr. Grimm ripped out of my head. At the time, it didn’t hurt at all. It didn’t even hurt bad the next day, but as the week progressed it hurt more and more until I was on the verge of a migraine all the time. Not quite there, mind you, but close, and I knew it was coming from the area of the tooth I gave up for adoption.

Actually, I didn’t do that. The tooth is laying calmly on my computer desk inside a sandwich bag. One of these days I’ll hide it under my pillow and see if there really is a tooth fairy. That would be a dumb thing to do, however, because I’d only get a quarter, or maybe a $1 and, with its gold crown, that thing cost me about $900. Maybe I’ll put it up for sale on eBay so some person, who has a tooth fetish, can get me my money back.

Anyway, the pain was getting worse each day and finally Diane’d had enough and forced me to call Dr. Grimm so he could check it out. Being a good husband, I did as she ‘suggested’, and got an appointment for the same day. That was yesterday. We had a nice visit during which he told me the extraction site looked excellent, and everything was healing nicely. As for the pain, he suggested face and neck massage to relax the muscles in my jaw, which he could see were clenching and unclenching, something I wasn’t aware of. And, he gave me a script for cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer. Since I had a vague memory of taking this before, for back spasms, I thought, “Why not?”

I related all of this to Diane upon my return and she asked if I had the prescription. I didn’t. It was folded neatly inside my iPad, which I take everywhere with me, except golfing. I don’t take it golfing. Perhaps I should. It might like it.

So, she sent me back to town to do four things …

  1. Drop my script at Rite Aid
  2. Go to Safeway and get bananas
  3. Go to Taco Bell and get us lunch
  4. Go back to Rite Aid and pick up my drugs
  5. Go home

OK – that’s five things. I added #5 because I think it should be included on all lists for trips as an indication that one is actually allowed to do that. Go home, that is. Sometimes people are allowed to do that and it would be nice to know. It’s not a given, you know.

When I got home, Diane immediately made me eat something so I could take one, which I did. I waited for a few minutes for something to happen, but it didn’t, so I got some wrenches, went outside, and climbed under the ’79 Winnebago to see if I could determine if the fuel tank switch functioned. Now you’re shaking your heads, I know, wondering what I was thinking, and how could Diane allow me to do that while under the influence. Well, after I took the pill, she left, so I mowed the yard. All of it.

OK – now I’m getting confused. I know I did both of those things yesterday, but don’t recall the sequence. Now I think I mowed first, THEN worked under the Winnebago. No, it was the Winnebago, first, then the lawn. That’s because she returned from a trip to ‘someplace’ while I was working under the RV, and asked me how it was going. I was almost finished putting the fuel line all back together, knowing the fuel transfer switch was working properly, and that gas was coming down the line from the aux tank. I know the latter because I blew into the line and gas came spurting back at me, soaking my jeans. But the electric fuel pump still wouldn’t pump the gas, so I’ve got to figure something else out. I figure the electric pump is better at pushing gas than pulling it when it isn’t primed.

After that, I started mowing the yard, at Diane’s request, then she left to take her Mom, Jean, to the store. When she returned the lawn was done and I watched her make an attempt to back the Buick into the garage so it would be easier to empty the goods …

No … I think the store trip was today. Yesterday, after the pill took effect, I just kinda layed around doing nothing, and the pain subsided a great deal. Then I went to bed.

Yes, the store was today. I think. No, I golfed this morning. Had to’ve been yesterday. Diane will clear this up, I’m sure. We also applied another coat of paint to our hall, and the cats started migrating back to their proper place in the display cabinet.

There was a report on the evening news about two fans who wrote a letter to the editor of a (the?) San Francisco newspaper complaining about the noise level at the Seahawks home game against the 49ers, and various ways NFL management could deal with excessive noise. There’s speculation that the letter may have been submitted as satire, giving the 49ers (Jean’s favorite team, by the way – not Diane’s Mom, Jean, but the other one) another reason for losing the game 29-3.

I figure it was a good way to get people’s minds off all the flooding, misery, killings, and wrecks going on in other parts of the country.

Since it was San Francisco, it also made me think of Kathie’s impending trip to that fine city to search for a new elbow. We hope she finds a good one.

l took another pill about 1/2 hour ago and itsssß staringot make me wooosie. Did you knøw thæt if ÿøü hołd dowń a lėttęr on your keeybord you get some îńtëréštïñg čhøīçêś fõr åłtérñātę łëttèrś?????????????

1968 Chevy Truck, Electricity, Spaghetti, and Soccer

Today I spent a lot of hours on the old pickup truck. Here’s what it looked like before I started.


It actually looked the same once I was done, but it’s now turned around, pointing to the right. I don’t remember when I took this picture, but the truck just never changes.

Today, my efforts were focused on just getting the starter to function correctly. Before I got into it too far, I decided to just remove the starter and take it back to NAPA for a test. You see, it functions OK for about 2 seconds, then the Bendix just quits and the starter keeps spinning. If the Bendix gives up, everyone in the entire world knows that means the little gear on the end of it isn’t going to turn the big gear on the engine. All those people also know that if the engine doesn’t rotate, it’s not going to start. As I said, however, the little gear engages the big gear for about 2 seconds before it quits, allowing the starter to spin wildly out of control, consuming massive amounts of energy, until you release the key. So, the Bendix was suspect.

The guy at NAPA, Dave, I think his name was, happily took the starter to the tester, strapped it down with a bungee cord and applied power to it. The Bendix kicked out like it’s supposed to and it remained out the entire time power was supplied, so it was deemed to be working just fine. No amount of whining on my part could convince Dave that his test was a no-load effort. So, I took the starter back to the truck and took a critical look at the wires and noticed that they probably weren’t in the best shape ever. They do, however, conduct electricity and they aren’t shorted to ground. “Shorted,” for those who may not be familiar with this term, means the wires are short enough that the electricity can’t reach the ground. That’s true.

It was a perplexing situation, for sure. I turn the key, the engine would turn for a couple of seconds, then the Bendix would disengage. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to just eliminate as many connections as I could between the starter, the battery. That meant bypassing the ignition, the little switch that makes sure it’s in Park, and the one behind the fuse box that goes through the firewall. It’s a purple wire, and purple wires don’t go through a fuse so it isn’t really connected to the fuse box so it can go directly out through the wall into the engine compartment.

Whether or not you want to know, here’s how I did all of that.

First, I went into the newest of the old RVs we have, and retrieved a push button switch that I previously had installed in it because the ignition switch quit functioning for the part that sent power to the starter. But, the button kept fall off, and getting in the way, so I removed it and now all I have to do to start it is turn the key on and hold two wires together until it fires up. Probably not the best solution, but it works quite well.

Taking the switch to the pickup, I first found a likely hole on the left side of the dash into which the switch would fit. I found the perfect place, but before securing it, I had to make sure it worked like I wanted.

It just occurred to me that I should give everyone a little refresher course on basic electricity, even though everyone in the entire world already knows this stuff, and I probably should have done it sooner. Better late than never, and doing it will help me get it straight in my head.

First Rule – there are two types of electrical current – AC and DC. Both of them require copious amounts of electrons which are the little critters that make you jiggle all over when you happen to touch a bare wire that’s connected to a power source. They literally ‘fly’ through your body and the jiggling you experience is caused by all the cells in your body dodging left and right, trying to get out of their way. Got it? It’s not a good thing to do, touching a bare wire. Exciting, yes, but still not a good thing to do.

AC is Alternating Current – that means the electricity is created by exciting a bunch of electrons with a generator that causes the current to go up and down, up and down, like a yo-yo, until all the electrons in the wires develop a bi-polar disorder and they don’t know which way they’re going. To them, it’s back and forth, back and forth in the wires, going through stoves, air conditioners, washers, dryers, refrigerators, light bulbs, and, once in a while, a warm body.  Behind pretty much every wall in your house there are wires jam-packed with excited electrons that are just waiting for the chance to go somewhere else. The preferred destination of every one of them is ALWAYS the shortest path to ground. Yes, to ground. Like the dirt you dig in when planting flowers that will die unless you water them. Or a garden you plant that the deer just love. That ground. That’s because the ultimate desire of every electron in this ‘circuit’ is to return to its source, as in the other side of the motor that excited them so much. To do this they must use the earth because the power companies chose this manner in order to save money on wire. By stuffing a huge wire into the ground and connecting it to one side of their generator, and just providing one wire from the generator to a house, the house must also be connected to ground, to complete the circuit, allowing the electrons a way to get home, they save an absolute ton of money. Sounds kind of lame, I know, but it works.

DC is Direct Current – that means the electricity flows only in one direction so all the electrons have a sense of purpose, all moving together from the positive side of their source, back to the negative side. You are familiar with this type of power in the form of batteries. The kind the run your cell phone, portable radios, iPods, flash lights, and your vehicles. The complexity of today’s vehicles is mind-boggling compared to what I was dealing with today, but the concept is still the same. The battery sends power, if it’s charged, to the parts that are connected to ground. In the case of a vehicle, however, ‘ground’ is any metal surface on it, especially the engine. In the case of my truck, the negative side of the battery is bolted directly to the engine block. The positive side is bolted directly to the starter. Now reading this, you may think that the starter should be spinning all the time, but it doesn’t. That’s because those who build vehicles use trickery on the electrons to make them stand around for long periods of time before ‘closing’ a circuit, by means of a switch or, perhaps, a key. A key! You turn it clockwise, and things happen. Lights dance around on your dash-board and the  ‘system’, your vehicle’s computer, goes through the same kind of start-up routine your home computer does, but different. If you watch the lights and gauges, they all do the same routine when you turn the key “ON”. Then the system waits. The electrons have been given a glimpse of the excitement to come, and are all crowing up to various switches, waiting to explode down their assigned wires when a circuit is ‘closed’ with the flip of a switch. When you turn the key a little bit further, you engage the starter. Although the starter is connected directly to the positive side of the battery (at least in my truck it’s a direct connect because in 1968 things were simple) the starter doesn’t spin, and the Bendix doesn’t engage, because it’s waiting for you to turn that key a little bit further, allowing electrons to rush to the Bendix which closes contacts that allow all the electrons in the BIG wire on the starter to engage the Bendix and spin the starter motor. When you hear the motor start, you release the key and it magically goes back to the “ON” position.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes! I was eliminating the various connectors between the battery and the small wire to the starter, the one that closes the contacts that allow power to be consumed by the starter motor. What I did was connect one wire from the fuse box, that only has voltage when the key is ON, to one side of my push button switch. I know, I probably told you it went behind the fuse box earlier, and it does, and it’s purple, but the power is connected to it via the ignition switch, not the fuse box. Since I removed the ignition switch from the equation, I needed a new power source, but one that was only available when the key is turned ON. I used a big red wire which is probably illegal in someway, but I did it anyway. I didn’t have a purple one.

From the other side of the push button switch I ran one wire, with no connectors, through the firewall, directly to the little wire connector on the starter. Now all that was between the starter and success was one little switch.

Before doing that, however, I hooked it all up to the starter, which I jammed under the right front tire, to make sure the push button did the trick. Everything sounded like it worked OK, but I couldn’t really see it because once wires were connected to the push button, I bolted it into the nifty hole I found on the left side of the dash. I layed down on the seat and pushed the button with my left foot, but I still couldn’t see the starter, I could only hear it. It sounded just like it did when Dave checked it at NAPA, so I figured everything was good to go. Here’s how I did it …


Reinstalling the starter is a whole other story so I’ll just skip that part and get right to the meat of this story and tell you that absolutely nothing changed. All that work, and the Bendix still released after only a couple of seconds.

I was all pumped up for a successful ending, and nothing had changed. I even stopped in the middle of all that to eat a spaghetti lunch, that Diane fixed for me, with half a loaf of baguette bread, my favorite. I was READY.

I knew, however, that repeated attempts to start the engine in this manner would ultimately work. The engine does start, but it takes a while.

Tomorrow I think I’ll drive the truck down to NAPA and invite Dave out to start it for me and see what he thinks.

To end the day Diane and I went to the High School to watch the JV soccer team, the one Lydia is on, play against Aloha High School. Aloha won 2-0. Both teams had lots of kicks at the net, but only Aloha’s went in. It’s still a very confusing game, to me, with the referees blowing their whistles in a seemly random manner and making odd gestures with their arms and hands to identify the infraction as if everyone in the crowd knows exactly what’s on his mind. I guess I’m going to have to study this a little more closely. Maybe get some pictures from the internet that shows me what those gestures actually mean.

Now it’s 2222, swear to God, and time for me to go to bed. I’ve got a big day ahead of me tomorrow because I have to make sure the newest old RV starts, then take it down to get gas so we can go to the beach on Thursday.

If it doesn’t start I may have to run some more wires, or get a lawyer.

Oh. This is all the ‘stuff’ I had left over when I was done with NOT accomplishing a single useful thing today …


Dog Bites, Rugs, Dentists, & All My Children

Diane’s had enough of Panzee biting on her tail, and said she’s getting to smell pretty bad. I suggested that it would be OK to take her to the dog groomer because Ozzie gets to go about once a month. Panzee has never been so I think it’s about time. Now, however, we need to wait for her tail to heal where she’s removed all of the hair from about a 4-inch patch. In an attempt to help her out a little, before we realized she’d ripped all the hair out, we gave her Benadryl because the vet said we could. That was information for Ziva, but it works for Panzee, too. That seemed to help a little with the incessant biting and chewing. Then came the odor of blood, which Diane can smell, but I can’t. Luckily, Jeff and his friend, Marc, came by so we had extra hands to find out what was going on. I tried to look, by myself, but Panzee reminded me that she’s got really big teeth and she’s not afraid to use them. There was no touching the tail. No way. It took 220 lbs of Jeff laying on her to keep her from biting me. Instead she nipped at Jeff’s cheek a few times which was just fine with me. She didn’t break the skin so we know it was just warning nips.

With all the manhandling, the tail was accessible so Diane squeezed about half a tube of antibiotic salve on the wound then we put down some gauze and wrapped it up with paper tape. When it was all done it looked like Panzee had a scrunchie on her tail. She didn’t seem to mind, once we let her go, but last night, after everyone went to sleep, she slipped it off the wound so she could lick it. We switched from Benadryl to aspirin yesterday to help her with the pain. That’s OK, too. I checked. Since she relocated the scrunchie we decided to get her to the vet for a professional decision about how to proceed. I’m guessing she’s going to wind up with one of those Elizabethan collars. She’ll hate that.

Yesterday we unrolled the ‘new’ 9×12 carpet Diane got that I don’t think I’ve mentioned. It’s mostly purple and is for the living room. We unrolled it in the garage then she made me vacuum it 15 times – on each side! That’s true. With the good side down to start, I ran the vacuum over the back to knock as much dirt loose as I could. When I folded back one side there was an incredible amount of fine dust on the floor. I vacuumed that up, unfolded the part I’d originally folded, then folded over the other end and repeated the process. I did that 15 times before there was no evidence of dust. I did this in lieu of shampooing it which, it turns out, was a stellar idea because it would have just coalesced into mud, I’m sure. Before the last go round with the vac we replaced the bag. I’m here to tell you that it was super full and weighed more than any vacuum cleaner bag I’ve ever had the pleasure of changing. I bet it was 10 lbs, a testament to our eBay vacuum.

Now the rug is rolled up and stored in Lydia’s room until we decide if we want to move furniture around in the living room again. Right now there’s a large plastic matt on the floor, the kind people put outside their Winnebago’s to keep as much dirt out of the rig as possible. It’s mostly purple, too.

This morning I had my scheduled cleaning appointment at the dentist. After my hygienist, Cheryl, was done I talked with Dr. Grimm and arranged to have one of my teeth pulled. It’s one I never use so I decided to get rid of it. That’s going to happen in September. I figure by then I’ll be able to save enough money to have it done.

At lunch I read my book, on my iPad, like normal, and Diane was watching All My Children on Hulu, on her iPad. She uses headphones while watching All My Children so it won’t annoy me. Then all the sudden she started shouting out random letters, and various cast names which concerned me. I watched for a while and figured out that she was answering questions that were being shown on the screen. She finally realized that I was perplexed with her tourettes-like behavior and started answering the questions silently, occasionally pumping a fist in the air to indicate a correct answer. After that it was much easier to concentrate on my book. After she was done she removed her earphones and asked me a question. I shouted the answer. She smiled, an indication that I wasn’t in trouble for being rude, that she understood that I was merely replicating the manner in which she was spouting her answers to her quiz. Then all was quiet. Lunch was done and it was time for me to get back to work.

At the bathroom, on which I’ve been working forever, I managed to get the new valve installed and one of the four exits connected to the tub filler spout thing. Jennifer was my guiding light, keeping me focused to get that far. I’m using PEX to connect it instead of using copper tubing. PEX is much simpler. There’s no danger of getting burned and I already had the tubing. Just needed to get the connections. Right now I’m three connectors shy of success. ACE didn’t have the ones I thought I needed so I just purchased some that I randomly removed from the racks. Tomorrow I’ll take back the ones I didn’t use and see if they have the ones I really need. I’ll figure it out, one way or another.

Now dinner is done and I’m sitting in the Man Room with Lydia and Jeran who are watching Merlin on Netflix. Diane and Jennifer are at either Safeway or Fred Meyer, cruising the isles, shopping for things to eat.

It’s a good day to be me.