Monday, September 18, 2017

Music Therapy, part 2

Hey.  I just discovered Beck last night.  We're watching season 4 of the Blacklist, and they always do these sentimental video montages with cool music.  I did a shazam search and the song was Say Goodbye, by Beck.  I vaguely remember Seth being into them when we were students in dental school.  Just think about how it is to get songs these days:  You rewind the tv, start up your Shazam app, and then find it on youtube for free.  Amazing.  Kids these days will never know what it's like to not have instant access to cool songs.

I remember calling up the radio station in high school and singing songs just so they could identify them.  Then you had to purchase the whole disc when there were only one or two good songs on it.  Once I called Joe Everton and played the song on the piano and he identified it as Mungo Jerry's In the Summertime. 

So anyway, I'm listening to this jam by Beck in my Sony headphones.  It's a mostly acoustic song with a strong bass, lullaby-like vocals, and mad guitar/banjo riffs.  Also, I read some article on how people process music differently.  The summary was dumbed down too much and I didn't feel like reading the whole article, but I already knew that.  It was just interesting that they wrote a whole paper on it.  I really like my music.  Yesterday I recorded a new jam on the piano.  Yeah, my piano.

I also need to talk about my work situation.  I have a pretty sweet gig.  I work enough to make adequate money for my lifestyle, but I work little enough to enjoy my hobbies.  Making things last and fixing up old things is pretty much my bread and butter.  We had over for din din yesterday a family from church.  The dad is about my age and was talking about having to work in a situation similar to my Vacaville gig.  He talked about the stress and how he realized it was the environment, not him.   We realized we had a lot in common with our upbringing and love languages.  He was like, "My twin!"  Yes.  Even he admits that it's silly that he needs validation.  I feel like it's lame that I need it, but I need it just the same.  On the mission I used to write myself letters about how good I was.  Lame, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Then we were talking about people who were upside down in their mortgages and how the spouse was out of work and all the stress that causes.  Indeed, we have it pretty good.

Now I'm twenty years older than the missionaries in our ward.  I wonder if they look at me and think, "Man, that guy's old."  I like my calling.  I feel like I'm good at it.  Some of the leaders tell me they enjoyed music time, so that's nice.  Yesterday we did the activity from Camille's primary ideas.  That's where I get almost all of my material.  We were doing #89, The Priesthood is Restored.  We hadn't sung it previously, so after the first round of me holding out my left hand to encourage them to sing through and my right hand keeping the beat, we decided to throw a contest of who could hold out the last note the longest.  I told them to take a big breath after the 2nd to last line and then just hold it out.  I did it, too.  The group said that Tyler won, and I don't know whether he cheated or not, but he was pretty stoked.  The kids had a great time.  I don't like afternoon church, though.  The only good thing about it is that I can prepare in the morning.  The bad thing is that I take my naps in the afternoon.  Either I fall asleep in sacrament meeting or I am exhausted all of church.

My back hurts less.  It is still weak, but at least I don't have pain all day.

Okay, that's all for now.  Yay for Beck!  Cool.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Do it yourself

The CM400 has had a bead problem on the rear tire ever since it went on.  Now that I'm into restoring the IS300, I am less interested in keeping the old motorcycle.  But I can't get rid of it knowing that it has this problem.  After work yesterday, I went to Ron's house and used his tools to remove the tire.  

The problem was obvious: so much corrosion of the rim made an uneven surface that the tire couldn't seal.  Ron's son was doing some maintenance on his car and seemed to struggle with it, so Ron said, "Did you ask him (Danny) why he's doing this, rather than pay someone?"  

I said, "First, I enjoy it.  Second, it's cost prohibitive to pay someone."  Ron talked about the labor rates at the dealership and I chimed in, "Plus, they put on the lowest-paid, least-experienced tech."  

If I had done this tire mounting process myself, I would have recognized this problem.  I am disappointed at the technician who did this original install.  A phone call would be nice, like, "This rim has some damage.  I can try to clean it up but it might not hold air."  There.  Honest and diligent.

But such was not the case.  I had to do it myself.  I took some 100 grit sandpaper and removed the loose oxidation.  The surface of the metal was still pitted, so I put on some JB weld.  After it sets, I'll sand it down.  I would like to save the $25 mounting fee by doing it myself but it was a lot of work.  Imagine a bike tire requiring 10 times the muscle to lever it off.

Taken with the ELPH Powershot S400

Remember the guy who tried to trade in his Porsche and it had depreciated so much that he decided to just keep it?  Well, the trade-in offer was actually 9000.  Then he told me the sunroof doesn't work and the dealership quoted him $3-4000.  I said, "What is wrong with the sunroof?"  Maybe it's just a fuse.  But he didn't want to bother with it.

I finally sold the old IS300 wheels.  I didn't get very much for them but the interest was so low that I was just about ready to post them for free.  Remember, they were my discards.  The guy sent me a text of how he sanded and painted them and now they look nice.  I also sold my old 28-135 lens, did I tell you that?  Again, I didn't get much, but it was a win-win.  The buyer was happy that I'd taken good care of it, and I have my nicer 24-105 lens and don't use the 28-135 anymore.

Maybe I'll do the wheel bearing this week.  Oh, I think the van's air conditioner compressor may be on its way out.  It is getting noisy.  If it fails, it will be the first engine accessory to fail.  I think that's pretty good:  Almost 190k miles and the engine is all original.  Except for the spark plugs.  With the Riv, I had to put on three alternators, three starters, three fuel pumps, at least one water pump, and that's just the stuff I can remember.

I'm glad the weather is cooling off.  It seemed like we had an unusually hot summer.  I love the summer but I was over the heat.  The kids play out in the street with the neighbors and it's enjoyable.  I don't mind when Mister rides his balance bike in the street with other kids.  When he's alone, I'm worried he'll just cruise down the driveway right into the street and get hit by our crazy speeding neighbor who ran over our ramps a few years ago.

Okay, that's all for now.  Do it yourself.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Only a Lexus

Heidi volunteered at school today to do art in Tyler's class.  I watched Missy and she was fussy.  In fact, when she's awake with me, she fusses.  Then Heidi went to work and I was just about to lose it because of all the chaos at home.  I put the fussy Hanna in the baby bjorn to watch some youtube videos.

This selfie was taken with my old Canon Powershot S400, similar to the one I had in dental school.  Of all my point and shoot cameras, it has been my favorite.

Anyway, Missy calmed down and I watched this video on the Lexus LC500.  The guy kept talking about how people want to show off their BMW's or Mercedes and this is "only a Lexus."  It is complete and utter rubbish because Lexus are the finest automobiles that money can buy.  No Mercedes, Porsche, BMW can log the kind of miles that Lexus logs in such a quiet, comfortable platform.  Mercedes feel clunky.  They rattle a lot.  The trim feels like cheap blow-molded plastic.  BMW are like driving a go-kart in which you feel every imperfection in the road.  They're noisy.  They are difficult to work on.  Porsche have problems with nearly every component that it becomes cost-prohibitive to own one.  Maybe I didn't tell you about my patient who has a 1998 Carrera 911 that he wanted to trade in.  He told me about the $20,000 he'd spent on repairs to the engine and transmission.  It had 60k miles.  He paid a hundred grand for it when new and they were going to offer $12k.  That is a huge depreciation.  Even though it is cheap, it is not a good deal because you might as well buy a discontinued outhouse with the holding tank full of crap.

It's not just that Lexus vehicles last a long time.  It's the whole experience.  The door handles are solid with the right feel.  The ignition switch and turn signal cam have the right feel.  The wiper switch feels right.  The climate control buttons are nice, non-distracting, and functional.

I need to record my "I hate to dive" song to put on youtube but I've been waiting for it to be quiet.  Now that Missy is sleeping, maybe I can do that.  But watch, once I get up, she'll wake up.  Wish me luck.  Okay, bye.

Get your money's worth

Scott, yesterday, asked when I was going to get my money's worth out of the VFR since I only ride her on Mondays.

I said, "I already got my money's worth."  He raised his eyebrows and asked how.

"I paid $1750 for the VFR.  That means I either had to ride her a little less than two years or log 17,500 miles.  I bought her with 60k miles and now I have 93k.  So I got my money's worth about two years ago, but that assumes a depreciation to zero and I could probably sell her for more than I initially paid."

I'm sure a lot of people think these parameters are rubbish, and that's okay.  But when your vehicles, that you buy on the cheap, log the kinds of miles ours do, then you can write the book on the cost/value curve.  My neighbor showed me the new tires he got and how much he paid.  I told him I was happy for him and refrained from telling him that he got ripped off.  He could have gotten another 40k miles out of his old tires, but it's too late for that.  The wife was excited about not having to buy brand name tires, thus saving some money, but we have different views on how to save money.  I tried a lower-tiered tire on the van and hated it.  The Lexus's tires are way cheap, and I can tell, but I could still drive the March Creek road at 40 over.  The van couldn't even do it at the speed limit with those Hankooks.

I did my first Monday in Walnut Creek yesterday.  I started at 7 and had to leave at 6.  That's when traffic is real thick, so I took Marsh Creek and then split the lanes all the way up Ygnacio.  I am glad to be able to work at the level I expect at a comfortable pace.

Okay, time for a nappity nap.  Bye.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Lexus IS300 as my insurance policy

I'm really enjoying the IS300.  I got the good wheel put on the good rim, but they mounted it backwards!  It's a directional tire.  Last night I took it to pack meeting with Tyler and Parker.  The right rear seems to have a whine, so I wanted to rule out that it was the backwards tire.  Today I had a longer lunch, so I swapped the right rear and left rear tires.  The whine is still there on the right rear, so I thought about doing the wheel bearing.

But then I think, "Heidi doesn't notice it or even care, so why jump into it?  I could go like this for years."  I don't like it, though.  Fortunately, the rest of the bearings seem to be intact and all the shocks are good.  It's unlikely that the rear end is bad because I think it would sound different when cornering.

I don't know how to tell you why it's satisfying to keep old things nice as opposed to buying new nice things.  It just is.  I like my GS400 more than the IS, but the IS is a perfect project.

I've actually been thinking again about selling the CM400.  Compared to the IS300, the desirability is way less.  I am not going to have it painted all fancy and make a "Wolverine bike," as Scott calls them.


Whoops, started this post yesterday at work and got sidetracked. 

I got the 70-200L ii 2.8 IS lens yesterday!  The craigslist seller worked in Livermore but lived in Stockton, and I was trying to schedule a late morning rendezvous.  Then he volunteered to come to Brentwood, so we met right at the office during my work hours.  Slick. 

I paid cash, his full asking price.  When I travel for a craigslist ad, I feel I have more bargaining power because my time is on the line.  But now, I felt my bargaining power was significantly reduced.  Even still, I was real happy with it.  I did some shots of the kids and you can see their eyelashes real clearly.  Yes!  I'll have to post some pictures to Heidi's blog when I get home.

Also I had a conversation with a lady about living in California and how she "can't get ahead."  I don't even know what that means.  Maybe just another way of keeping up with the Joneses, or, in this case, beating them.  It was interesting.  I know I go through phases where I'm insecure about my position in society.  Right now, I feel secure with where I am.  I am not intimidated by people with huge homes, brand new cars, or whatever.  Maybe it's because those things don't matter to me.  Even if I had more money, I would not get a bigger home or more expensive car because they wouldn't make me any happier. 

Okay, that's all for now. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Partial Successes

Hey.  Gotta write about some things:  Some failures and some successes.

1.  Got the GS400 smogged and I paid my renewal.  Nice  (If this computer had emoji's I'd add a happy face).
2.  Got the IS300's good tire put on the good rim and mounted back on the car.  Cool.
3.  Swam at the gym.  Finally I'm not in that much pain and I had a good workout.  Yeah.
4.  Put a new flush valve on the crappy Mansfield toilet and now it doesn't run all the time.

Now for the failures:  E-maxx's ESC seems to have failed!  Blast.  We were driving the cars in Fairfield right next to the Jelly Belly factory.  Tyler's battery ran dead and he was driving Kira's car, which has a faulty on/off switch.  I had on E-maxx's radio and suddenly E-maxx became non-responsive.  Today I troubleshot it.  It's not the switch.  I am going to have to send in the ESC because you can't get a new one for under $200.  Man!  Said with an exasperating tone.

Next, I was burned out from the kids today.  I feel like my upper body isn't aligned with my lower and I spent a lot of my time just trying to get out of pain.  As such, my patience for the kids is lower.  I was tired of telling Parker to quit destroying the train yard.

Then Heidi went to work and took Scott, Kira, and Blake in the IS300.  Mister cried for the first hour, non-stop.  He hasn't been sleeping well because he lost his baba.  Like, he'll go down at 9:30 and wake up at six with no nap all day.  You'd think he would eventually crash and burn, but no.  Finally, he cries himself to sleep.  Cool!  Well, he woke up after about twenty minutes and cried some more.  Then Hanna woke up.  I fed her, burped her, changed her, and she just kinda fussed all night.  I was burned out.  Heidi is grateful that I see what she does all day.  I don't like being a stay-at-home parent.  I like working at the office.  Tuesdays are not my days off.  They're just the days I don't see patients, but they're more work.

But now, to close this post, I gotta write about my lens.  The moon was a gnarley pink tonight. I put on the 75-300 lens and mounted the camera to the tripod to photograph it.  It didn't turn out too good, so I put on my new 24-105 and took this at f5.6, 25 seconds:

It looks like a shot out of some resort, except instead of a beachfront, it's pavement.  Still, a cool shot.  I really gotta get that 70-200L ii 2.8.

I gotta talk about Lexuses some more.  I am really enjoying the IS300.  I call it my insurance policy against insanity.  I stopped awaiting Heidi's approval on my car projects and she's learned that I'm going to go ahead, whether she likes them or not, because it's all in the name of mental health.  Today I even thought about buying a PIONEER head unit to install and then wiring it up for a sub.  Not because I need it, or even that I would use it that much, but because it would be a fun project.  Isn't that why people do their hobbies?  Because they're fun?  Yes.  I don't understand why people fish or golf or hunt, but those are their hobbies and I have mine.

Chelle texted to see what I thought about her oil change place recommending new transmission fluid and [fuel injector service].  I said, "Is the check engine light on?  Are you getting bad fuel economy?  Why have they recommended these things?"  Turns out the check engine light is on.  I just assume that everyone has their own code reader and can get the codes, look them up online, and then troubleshoot accordingly.  But that's just me.  I don't know whether transmission service would be good because on older ones, part of the build-up in the fluid keeps things intact.  I've heard of several accounts of new fluid rendering useless an old transmission.  However, the Honda automatic transmissions are notorious for failing at 100k because they use a clutch-type system for 3rd gear which breaks down over time.  The fluid becomes clogged and catastrophic failure ensues.  I don't know how many miles Chelle's Odyssey has but I'm sure it's less than the Sienna's 188k.

Okay, time for beddy-by.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Welcome back, IS300!

Today we got back the IS300.  I'm pretty stoked about it.





And a shot of my two Lexuses.

The IS300 still needs work.  Although it's fully legal and operable, it is not up to my level.  I got some new used rims on craigslist.  The junkyard delivered them for a reasonable fee and I was pleased.  At least one of my current wheels is bent, so hopefully with the newer rims, it'll drive smoother.  There seems to be some drivetrain noise and it seems consistent with the bearings, so I will probably replace them, along with the lower ball joints and the junkyard control arm on the left.

Today I replaced the air filter.  It needs a new cabin air filter, too.  213,569.  Okay, gotta jet.