30 April 2009

Stage Two

The next part of our journey took us from Green Cove Springs, where the hospital is, to Jacksonville to the eldest daughter's house. We were planning on only staying a day or so and continuing up the coast, stopping off to see the wife's aunt in uncle in south Georgia, but we have been extended due to automobile issues. Nothing serious, in fact it's kind of good news.

My daughter had a Taurus that was having overheating problems and she was finally told the head gaskets were blown. She didn't have the money to fix it, she had another car, so she gave the car to me. The plan was to borrow a truck to tow it back to NC with and fix it there. Today I took a real good look at it.

The overheating problem was caused by the plastic expansion tank being cracked, the crack would open under pressure and vent all the water out and the car would overheat. The last time it happened the daughter shut the car off and had it towed to my son-in-law's job, where he took it to the mechanic who told them the engine was damaged.

I checked the engine oil, and there was no milk in it, which indicates the engine doesn't have any problems after all. I found another expansion tank at the junkyard for five bucks, the only one that was there out of about a dozen cars, so I'm thinking this is a common problem.

I would have put it in already, but on the way home from the junkyard the Pontiac started heating up. It turns out the radiator fan went bad on me, so I had to replace that before I went any farther. Thankfully it wasn't a difficult or costly fix.

Tomorrow I will put the expansion tank in, fill the radiator, start the car and let it idle for a half-hour or so and see if it overheats again. After that I will check the oil problem again. If there aren't any problems I will have about fifteen dollars in the car, five for the expansion tank and ten for the coolant.

I'm guessing that the car will idle fine in the hot Florida sun for a half hour with the AC on without overheating, I will see no bubbles in the expansion tank after I top off the coolant, the car will not blow white smoke from the tailpipes (both daughter and SIL tell me the car never did smoke), and afterwards the oil will be water-free.

If that is the case, I will feel bad for taking the car, and in fact I have already told them they can have it back if it's OK, but they will not hear of it. So if it checks out I'll get the plates for it just before we come back down to bring the wife back to stay with Pop after her treatments and I'll drive it back up north.

It will be a good replacement for the Pontiac which is showing it's age. The wife wants to keep the Pontiac for her every day car and save the Taurus for road trips since it's bigger (we have been taking the Aries station wagon for that purpose, but it has a broken air conditioner).

It will need a battery (because the one that was in it is now in the daughter's other car) and a full set of tires to pass inspection, but otherwise it's in good shape all around. I have a handful of cosmetic things to fix in the interior, one small dent near the gas fill door, and it needs hubcaps. I'm thinking trim rings and moon caps since it's a white car, that way I can watch the other drivers on the road freak out at me when they think it's an unmarked police car.

Of course that gives me a total of five cars after the old pickup gets put back together (including the one that my youngest daughter is driving). Funny thing is, they all have their niches. The Rampage is my daily driver, the Aries is my camping and fishing car (that's the one the youngest daughter is driving), the Pontiac is my wife's car, and the old truck has earned it's keep even if it never moves another inch. The Taurus will be the spare vehicle/family outing car.

Since the Rampage can fill the camping and fishing role (as long as it's just Christopher and me), and since the youngest daughter has driven the Aries fifteen of the eighteen months I have owned it, I might as well just sign the damn thing over to her. She can sell her Topaz since it has just been sitting all this time (it needs a tire to pass inspection, but why bother when she's driving Dad's car?).

So that's it for the saga of Things With Wheels...until next time. And my "next car" was a Ford this time, so the Big Three will be represented in my driveway (two Dodges, a Pontiac and a Chevrolet from GM, and a Taurus from Ford). I wonder if I will ever own a new car? Maybe someone will take all my old ones for a trade-in.

In real news Arlen Sphincter has finally come out of the closet. It's about time.

28 April 2009

Stage One

I arrived at my Florida destination this morning just in time for SWMBO and Pop to go to the VA, get his eye looked at (the post op looks good, the cataract surgery was a success for the left eye, right eye happens in about a month) and go see MIL at the hospital.

Tomorrow we will go see MIL, I have to check the daughter's car out, and then we will start our meandering journey back home. We're planning a coastal trip rather than an I-95 one, it should be much more restful this way.

Of course today I got a message saying my photos from the Roanoke trip are in. I'll try to get some posted at the end of the week, along with any that I take this week that catches my fancy.

The news stories of the day are SWINE FLU PANDEMIC!!! and the idiotic trip of Air Farce One over New Yawk City.

First, less than 100 cases of swine flu in a nation of 300 million is not yet a cause for widespread panic. As I watched the news I was struck by the obvious attempts of the "reporters" to create a big issue (and thus a big news story) out of it, and the experts were all making variations on the "it's a cause for concern but not alarm" theme.

It's more severe in Mexico and overseas, which says a lot for both our standard of living and also for our much-maligned medical care system. Wash your hands and get a shot if you are in the at-risk demographic, other than that I've heard TheraFlu does wonders.

Second, Bambi claims he knew nothing about his airplane being used for a photo shoot. I'm not convinced. The "American Idol" president didn't know anything about a photo shoot involving the aircraft that becomes Air Force One when he's aboard, right. Pull the other one, it's got bells.

Be that as it may, the brain child that cooked up this idea needs to find new employment and the pilots that flew the mission rather than saying "Hey, this is a REALLY DUMB idea" need to be re-assigned to the "rubber dogsqueeze to Hong Kong" route.

26 April 2009

A Slight Delay

I was going to post some pictures of the Roanoke trip, but unfortunately the film didn't show when it was supposed to. So, it will have to wait a while.

Next week will be busy, I'll be heading off to Florida Monday evening to pick up the wife and we're going to take our time getting back. It should be a nice relaxing ride.

MIL is not doing well, and Pop is having a hard time coming to grips with that. Not surprising since they have been together for 56 years.

Light posting next week due to the trip.

19 April 2009

The Week In Review

It was a busy week.

My sister recently moved from an apartment to a townhouse, and in the process her dining room table became surplus. My wife wanted it, so arrangements were made to pick it up. Of course this was before the whole incident with the mother in law.

Anyway, on Thursday the three boys and I went to Roanoke to get the table and see Sister's new digs.

If you ever get a chance to travel four hours with three boys ages 4, 6, and 9, I highly recommend that you slit your wrists instead.

But, travel aside, we had a good time in Roanoke. I left my digital camera, so I bought a cheapie from Wallyworld only to find out that the reason it was so cheap is that it had no internal memory. I would have known that if I had read the package.

Fortunately I bought a couple of one-time use cameras as well, so pictures and a full write-up will be forthcoming when the pics are developed.

And, once I got the SD card installed into the new digital it was OK. Not great, but OK. I'll end up using it when we take our camping and fishing trips, that way the more expensive camera won't be at risk.

I also found someone that will actually do the body work on my old 62 Chevy C-10 instead of just talking about it. I really can't afford it, but at the price he quoted I can't pass it up either, and he takes payments, so it's all good.

He took the cab away today and he will come back for the rest a bit at a time as he has the time and I have the cash. It will be good to see Old Frank back in one piece again.

16 April 2009

Scenes Of The Lunatic Fringe

Sorry for the blurriness on some - OK, most - of the images, I really need to invest in a tripod. Click on any picture for an expanded view (necessary to read some of the signs).

The crowds packed the west lawn of the building in the area designated for the rally. I hesitate to call it a protest given the orderliness of the crowds.

The point of posting this particular picture is to show how the police, while present, weren't required for crowd control. More than one person walked up to them to thank them for their service and shake their hands. At first they seemed surprised, I don't think they expected that from the right-wing extremist whack jobs the DHS told them to be looking out for. At the end, while everyone was heading to their cars, the police blocked off a single street to allow the crowds to cross without having to fight traffic. Once clear of that single street, however, the crowds stayed on the sidewalks and obeyed traffic signs on their way to the parking lots. Not your typical protest as carried out by typical protesters, but that's the way we like it.

The Gadsden flag was in evidence all through the crowd. This particular flag was flown by the street, and given the enthusiastic honking of the motorists driving by, was well received.

Russ. Just Russ says they were there, but I didn't see any cameras or reporters myself. I didn't see any mention on the local stations during the eleven o'clock news, either, but I wasn't really watching closely. I did see the Fayetteville rally coverage on the "local" all-news-all-the-time channel, so at least someone was paying attention somewhere.

This was a family event, and there were plenty of kids about. Some of the older ones had their own signs, most of them along the "hey, that's MY money you're taking!" variety.

Makes me want to cry too, kid. At least you're getting a ride out of the deal. For now at least. Later on you can carry me, 'kay?

Nice thought there. History, failure to learn, failure to learn from.

The crowds were well behaved and orderly throughout the event. No one strayed into the streets to block traffic, something that seemed to be well appreciated by both law enforcement officers and passing motorists.

There were slightly more than a pathetic dozen people present, and of all the American flags at the scene not a single one was even so much as smoldering.

Someone should probably keep an eye on this radical extremist.

This one too.

Strangely enough, PETA was not there to highlight the plight of this poor, helpless animal. Won't someone please help?

15 April 2009

Raleigh Tax Day Tea Party

The Tax Day Tea Party in Raleigh kicked off at 6:30, but I didn't get there until a bit after seven.

According to Russ. Just Russ the crowds had started gathering by 5:30, in plenty of time for the start.

Some items to note here, the crowds were polite
and no one was confrontational, the police were
there but looked awfully bored (just the way we like them), and no one that I know of got hauled away in chains.

This stands in stark contrast to Tom Tancredo's experience in Chapel Hill with the UNC students.

I didn't see any news coverage, but Russ has a picture on his post that shows a news van present.

Through the whole thing the honks of the cars driving by were constant. Even if they didn't have the time to attend, it seems the denizens of Raleigh were generally supportive of the event.

One of the things that really surprised me were the number of kids at the rally, not only those who were being carried but also those who were old enough to seem to know what was going on. Most of them carried signs, as you can see by the two young ladies in the tree.

The event was scheduled to go until 8:30, but at eight o clock the last of the speakers finished, led the crowd (badly) in a rendition of America the Beautiful, and everyone went peacefully to their cars.

14 April 2009


Apparently you don't actually need SEALs, all you really need are dolphins.

Who knew?

Fake Turkey

Link to Hot Air, HT to Ace O' Spades.

New Link

Not because of a hope to take advantage of Rule Number 2, I just dig the dude's writing.

Like I said before, the links are for my convenience (mostly so I can find these places again) but if you enjoy them, all the better.


Since I'm now a paid media shill (thanks Annie!) I was watching Fox News just now as they discussed the tea parties tomorrow. I must say that the leftists are making some pretty funny points.

First, the accusation that these are not "grass roots" but are being paid for and organized by, among others, Freedom Works. According to Freedom Works, they have helped with getting the necessary permits, but have paid for nothing, and would love to be able to claim credit for the whole Tax Day Tea Party phenomenon, but unfortunately can't.

(Note to self, rant for another day: why the hell do we need permits to exercise the first amendment right to peaceably assemble? Tie this in with the permits required to exercise the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.)

This is funny because no one complains when groups like ANSWER pay for and organize leftist protests, even going so far as to bus people in and pay them for their time to get them to protest, but if the right wing organizations just help with permits it's suddenly a huge problem. Hypocrisy, thy name is leftist asshat.

Next, the guest lefty "questions the timing" since Bush ran up gazillion dollar deficits year after year and the Right barely noticed. Apparently he hasn't been paying attention. Not surprising since the people on the Right have jobs, and so we don't usually have time for protests (and the ones we do have don't get the media coverage).

We just vote. Or not, as the case may be. Ask all those free-spending Republicans why they aren't in office any more. Actually, don't, because they think they just weren't successful appealing to the center. The real reason is, if we want politicians who spend like Democrats, we will just elect a bunch of Democrats. Or do nothing to prevent them from being elected, which amounts to the same thing.

But speaking of the huge Bush deficits, I would like you to direct your attention to this chart, which has been helpfully provided on several blogs:

Take a look at the actual deficits from 2004-2007. Although you wouldn't have known it from the regular mainstream media or from the leftist that was the guest on this Fox News segment, the deficits were trending towards the zero mark, not increasing. When the bailouts and other government interference bills were passed in 2008 there was much squawking by the right side of the political spectrum, but the squawking went unnoticed (apparently because there were no staged protests with anti-Bush content, so the MSM ignored it).

So, the last Bush deficit in 2008 ends up being 450 billion, and the first projected Obama deficit is going to be over 1.6 trillion. That seems to be a good reason to have an anti-tax rally.

I would also like to direct your attention to the 2002-2003 time span in the above graph. This is when the Republicans began to spend like Democrats, which ended badly for them. When President Bush finally found his veto pen things started to go in the right direction, but it was a too-little-too-late deal.

The "Most Ethical Congress Evah!" was elected in 2006 and took power in 2007. 2007 went pretty well, but 2008 is when things really started to go sideways. This ended badly for John McCain, as you might remember. Obama campaigned on reducing the deficit, reminding the voting public at every available opportunity that the Republican congress run amok had spent us all into the poorhouse.

A Democrat congress running amok will, on the other hand, spend us into peace and unimaginable prosperity. This will be the first time in history that spending will lead to untold riches, but the Obamiester is a lightworker, after all.

Make fun of us "teabaggers" if you wish, but we are hoping that our government will pay attention. That is why we are doing this, not to overthrow the government, not to topple the Obama administration, and certainly not for the spots on the six o'clock news.

See you at the tea party!

13 April 2009

Tea Party

The Raleigh Tax Day Tea Party is April 15th at the state capitol building on Wilmington Street from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.

I'll be there with my Simon Jester shirt on.

See you there!

12 April 2009

Happy Easter

2000 years ago (give or take) Humanity was saved.

This afternoon Captain Phillips was.

Three pirates dead, one in custody, the good Captain and crew safe and soon to be reunited, and all is well with the world.

Happy Easter everyone.

09 April 2009

On The Home Front

Mother in law is improving. She's still on the vent, but today she's being moved to a long-care hospital that specializes in respiratory therapy.

The wife is staying while I head back up north for the weekend. I'll come back after Easter to bring her car back to her, and I'll bring the youngest son and youngest daughter with me.

It looks like the wife will be here for 3 or 4 weeks, then she will have to come back home for a chemo treatment, a week to recover from that, and then right back down again.

When mother gets out of the hospital we will make plans to move them closer to the Refuge. That way we won't have to scramble if something new comes up. I know that will be better for the wife's peace of mind.

Following Up

The Maersk ship Alabama is now underway minus her skipper.

Her skipper is being held hostage by four pirates in the ship's disabled lifeboat.

The crew had bartered to exchange one of the pirates for the captain. The crew turned over the pirate, and the pirates reneged on their side of the deal.

(Cue Johnny Depp's character Captain Jack Sparrow saying "Pirate...")

Now the USS Bainbridge is on scene and the US Navy has taken over negotiations. My opinion is that their negotiating team should be US Navy SEALs*, but they have sent for FBI negotiators.

Maybe one of them will be Lon Horiuchi.

*Update - did I call that one or what?

Official US Navy photo

08 April 2009

06 April 2009

Four Possible Future Darwin Awards

So, there are four guys wandering around the Texas countryside killing dogs, just for fun.

They motor up to this guy's house and kill his dog.

This guy takes offense at his dog being killed, so he chases the punks down and holds them for the Texas Rangers.

The four punks talk smack to him, saying they are going to hunt him down and kill him because he turned them in to the police.

Good luck with that. Have your life insurance policies paid up to date before you try it.

I notice two things, first that they got awfully brave when the Texas Rangers came along to rescue them, second that the Rangers knew immediately who they were talking to.

I'm guessing that the four punks wouldn't be missed much.

A Brief Interruption

Blogging will be light for the next few days.

My mother-in-law has been in the hospital for the past few weeks, and Saturday she went on a ventilator. As soon as SWMBO found out about it she loaded the car up and we went to the in-laws, that very night.

Mother has been having heart problems, which has lead to muscle weakness, and one day she fell and Pop was unable to get her back up. She's been in the hospital ever since, she's been depressed and that doesn't help. I think she's just sick and down and feeling useless, like no one needs her any more, so that's why the depression.

The good news is that her arrival seems to have done wonders for her mother, Mom was awake and waiting for us last night when we got to the hospital. We had visited earlier in the day but she was asleep and only woke up just before we left. I don't think it had quite dawned on her that we were here until later, so she was ready for us when we got back.

Pop is totally lost without her but he's putting on a good front. Wife and daughter cleaned up his house for him, wife promised mother to look after him for a while. I'm hoping that seeing wife gives mother a bit of heart and will speed her recovery.

It is quite likely that I will end up leaving wife here for a while and come back for her later. It will be hectic around the Refuge with her gone, but I think we can manage, and I think she will be of more use here until mother gets to feeling better.

Long term plans are to get them closer to the Refuge so that wife can look in on them every day. Pop says he doesn't want to deal with the snow, but he also agrees that maybe it's time, and the wife is not in an accommodating mood just now. They have resisted moving closer so far, using the excuses of the weather and that they don't want to "be a burden" on us (the wife is an only child), but wife has just about had it with excuses I think.

I don't know what the problem is with being a burden. That's why I had children, I fully intend to be a burden to all of them. Payback and all that. I might even live long enough to be a burden to my grandchildren, it all depends on how ornery I get to feeling.

Eldest daughter, on the other hand, has strictly forbidden either one of us from ever getting old. How are we going to be a burden if we do that, I'd like to know?

Anyway, light if at all, yadda yadda. Whadda ya want fer nothin?

03 April 2009

You Don't Professionalize

Until you nationalize!

This is what happens when you have an organization that has authority without accountability.

This is also what happens when technology gets to the tipping point where it is no longer controllable by such organizations. Hilarity often ensues when the would be subjects refuse to act like subjects. This, by the way, is what's known as A Good Thing.

On a side note, any time I hear variations on the theme "if you have nothing to hide" it sets my teeth on edge. I don't have anything to hide, no, but I still don't want you pawing through my underwear drawer without a warrant. It's all about the whole freedom thing, you see.

Freedom is a scary thing. It requires you to make decisions, and to live or die by those decisions. Slavery is decidedly safer, but I'd rather be free if it's all the same to you.

And even if it's not all the same to you.

HT to Six Meat Buffet.

For those of you who would take issue with the statement that slavery is decidedly safer, when you are a slave you are a commodity, an investment, and only idiots would intentionally abuse their investments. And idiots don't get to keep their investments very long.


I'm trying some new colors here at the Refuge. I like the black background, but it sometimes makes the script somewhat difficult to read. So, I've lightened the script, and I'm toying with changing background colors, maybe in something red.

Let me know what you think.

Give Me A Tall Ship

Looks like a good time to get that boat you have always wanted.

Not such a good time to get rid of one, though. It's definitely a buyer's market.

HT to Boortz.

01 April 2009

April Fools

DJ sucks.

So does Bob.

And BoBo takes one for the team.

Happy April First.

And You Expected Something Different, Perhaps?

Take Ceaser's coin,
pay Ceaser's price.
GM is now Obama's beyotch, and they have the nerve to be surprised. Chrysler is the redheaded stepchild, and no one is surprised. Looks like Ford had the better idea after all.
hard place==>