Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Can't Get It Out Of My Head

I like vacations.  There are times when I can’t stop thinking about them.  Dreaming about them.  At least when they include a destination I’ve been to and enjoyed.  But it’s still not so much the destination as the feelings it evokes.  I see a picture of a lake and I remember being there.  Relaxed, feeling the warmth of the sun, the rolling of the waves.  Being with family under the best of circumstances.  I do sometimes wish I could take more people.  I like my little clan of three, but I think I like the idea of including others in the dream, if the dream is even sharable.  “Bank job in the city.”  Not far from where I am.  Accounting job in the city.  Not much space for the creative mind.  Where does the soul hide while on the clock?  And you can’t just move there.  Because it’s not the destination.  Can you move to a feeling?  Does an ideal have boundaries you can permanently cross into?  I open the gates and cross the threshold only to exit what I had just entered.  It’s a curtain, a veil, a fleeting memory, a dying dream.  But still a picture brings me back.  The clock is ticking.  It’s punched.  I step out the door and am turned around, back at the clock, again and again and again.
I really like vacations.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


I did it.  There's no one else to blame but me.  No one forced me to do it.  No one even asked me to do it.  I am willingly confessing that in the fall of 2001 I bought a 2000 Chevy Malibu.  Now some would say it was a wise decision.  I bought it used, and now it's the spring of 2014 and I'm still driving it.  I admit that my car and I have been in a long relationship, but it's also been an abusive relationship.  It began with a melted intake manifold gasket causing oil to leak into my cooling system.  I had that one fixed twice.  There was the faulty emergency signal switch.  They recalled a LOT of cars to fix that one.  Pretty much every VIN number that wasn't on my car.  Then, of course, the passenger side window switch stopped working, and then the driver's side window switch.  Oh yeah, and when the battery was disconnected to change the thermostat, which was changed 3 or 4 times, then the radio stopped working due to a security system password I didn't know was needed when I bought the car.  After a lot of unsuccessful guesses I took it to a dealership and they made a phone call and got it working, but they wouldn't give me the code.  So it went out again and I took it to the dealership again, and thankfully the third time I found the code on the internet and was able to disable the radio security system (it's not that great of a radio anyway).

There was the time the wheels were really noisy and I thought perhaps it was the tread, but instead it was the bearings.  No big deal... Just another $450 in repairs.  And the transmission slipping as the speedometer dropped to zero while driving and jumping all over the place as the car jumped into gear.  That was a Transmission Speed Sensor problem.  Oh yeah, and the fuel pump went out.  Had help with that one.  Didn't want any explosions or anything.  Needed shocks and struts and coil springs.  The upper radiator hose has needed replaced a few times as it's really close to the exhaust manifold.  Had to change the coolant reservoir and the washer fluid reservoir due to cracking, and the washer fluid pump.  The driver's seat broke.  I guess I should have read the weight restrictions in the owner's manual.  The accelerator cable broke on a busy road one day.  The gas pedal no longer worked which can be kind of scary with cars all around you.

Back to the cooling system, the heater core hoses sprung a leak, and the lower coolant reservoir hose, and the water pump, and the radiator (that was fun), and the lower radiator hose and the transmission coolant line because the clamp and the line were installed touching each other so that neither could be disconnected.  Two idler pulleys went out as well as the tensioner pulley.  It's needed 3 or 4 belts which are fun on a malibu, where you actually have to jack up the engine and remove engine mount bolts to get a belt on.  The starter went out not too long ago - that was $300-ish.

Oh, and last but not least, the GM Passlock Security System.  So one very cold day you're driving down the road and every sensor light comes on and I smelled a little bit of a burning smell also and the car decides to shut down.  It did it on a turn so I'm thinking short in the system somewhere.  I have it towed and they say it starts, but they try to diagnose it for 4 days and find nothing.  So I take it back and break down again.  And after awhile it starts and I make it another 1/2 mile.  Breakdown after breakdown.  Back to a garage who can't diagnose it either.  Finally after reading about the Passlock problem on the internet I suggest to the garage they add weight to my key.  They did and it shut down.  The repair cost was $600, which I didn't have, so I had someone follow me and I drove it home.  What I realized is that the ignition switch was more sensitive in extremely cold weather.  I found a solution on the internet to override the passlock system's ability to shut down the fuel pump and I guess it worked because it hasn't shut down since.

GM has since recalled a lot of cars due to this problem and it's a big controversy.  I couldn't help but notice they haven't recalled one Malibu.  Do a search for "Chevy Malibu Passlock Problem" and you'll get more than 20,000 results with YouTube videos on doing the repair and car sites describing the "common" issue and a lot of people wondering why there were no recalls or class-action lawsuits.  The non-existent Malibu recalls sound like a convenient oversight to me.  Where are the congressmen on this one?

There have been other repairs I've had to do that I'll spare you the details of.  What it all comes down to is - my Malibu has put me through a lot, but we will be divorced before the year is over.  Or perhaps the better way to put it is that I will be widowed before the year is over.  The paint is peeling.  The exhaust is getting louder with every passing week.  The repair budget is exhausted.  No more oil changes.  No more tune-ups.  It's going to the scrap yard so no one else has to suffer it's wrath.

So, it's time to start shopping around.  Hopefully this time I'll have better luck.  I thought maybe Chevy has improved since then, but they just recalled some current year models, so I'm not so sure.  Are there any good ones left out there?  What IS a good one these days?  I don't know, but there's got to be something better than this.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sociable Unsociable

The other day I started to think about writing a blog again, so I went to my blog site and was rudely redirected to another website wanting me to download Flash Player.  Well, most of us know that Flash Player can  be bad news especially when you're randomly getting redirected to it, so I was kind of concerned.  So I tried again, and tried on other web browsers.  It did the same thing on Chrome, IE, Firefox, Opera and Seamonkey, and I noticed every time the web page address was different.  So I did some research on these redirects and it looked like a backdoor trojan or some other type of virus, so I tried scan after scan, and went to my favorite site when such troubles happen,, and by the time I was done trying to remove the thing that no program seemed to find, I had used at least 9 programs (6 of them being new downloads) to no avail.  So I started researching again, after a couple sleepless nights, and I found a ray of hope that said the Sociable gadget was hijacking blogs.  So I went back to the blog and clicked stop about 50 times as the web browser tried to load another page and I finally gave up and it loaded a page with the Google Chrome logo saying it prevented me from going to a suspicious site on "the next page" and it conveniently provided a link I could click on to avoid going to the site.  How generous!  The Google Chrome warning by the way was from another website address.  So after I figured out how to edit the blog without being redirected I finally removed the gadget and the problem was fixed!

You've got to wonder why such a screwed up gadget wouldn't be removed by  I am glad to finally know it wasn't my computer that had the problem, though if I had ever clicked on any of the links or redirected pages I probably would have a bad virus.  Hopefully if there's anyone else out there with the problem this blog points you in the right direction.  But if not, at least I've finally written another blog, and hopefully I will finally get some sleep!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Duck Dynasty

I've been watching reruns of Duck Dynasty (on A&E), one of my favorite new shows.  Some people can't understand why I like it so much.  I tell them that every 30 seconds they say something that you could put on a t-shirt and sell, and I guess that's my new criteria for a great show.  Anyway, don't take my word for it.  Just check out these few quotes I found online, plus some I managed to write down while watching (with a touch of paraphrasing due to having misplaced my short term memory):

When I was in the military and we played basketball, we played barefoot on gravel.  We didn't even have a ball. Try trying to steal a ball that's not there. Ridiculous!

I am the MacGyver of cooking. If you bring me a piece of bread, cabbage, coconut, mustard greens, pigs feet, pine cones, and a woodpecker; I'll make you a good chicken pot pie.
First it's pretty tires. Next it's pretty guns. Then the next thing you know, you're shaving your beard and wearing capri pants.
Whether you're talking about bees, dogs, or women, pain can come upon you quickly from either of them.

She may be an ugly woman but if she cooks squirrel and dumplins, that's the woman you go after.

The holy grail of duck calls... when you blow it it will literally fall out of the sky.

You're not a proper woman unless you own a goat or two.
When you don't know what you're doing it's best to do it quickly.
There's nothing worse than waking up and realizing you're in your brother's urine.
Willie is as wound up as a coon dog trying to pass a peach seed.
There's a thin line between insanity and coping with your daughter dating.
That's all I'll share for now.  But I enjoy the show so much I've shopped for duck calls.  I guess just so I can say I have one.  But I didn't actually buy one so instead I just tell people I've shopped for one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pictures from the West Side

It's been a year since I took these pictures.  I don't have a great camera, but these I like quite a bit, so I thought I'd share...

Here you can see a small natural pond of water had developed on the side of a dune.  I liked the contrast of the green, the blue, and the tan sand.

To me this is just a perfect picture of nature's beauty.  The colors of the tree on the left almost seem unreal...

I took this picture from shore, but I think the angle makes it look more like it was taken from a boat.  I like the angle, the reflection of the sun on the water, and most of all the way the clouds appear to be swirling around the sun.  It almost looks like the sun is exploding...


This is the first of some sunset pictures I took in which I captured the little light I had just right and was able to finally do justice to a beautiful sunset.  The reflection shows on the water so much so that on some (that I did not include) it's hard to see where the horizon begins.  Usually the pictures look nothing like what I see in real person, but these were pretty close...

At one point I was hoping the people would move out of the picture, but in the end I liked the shadows against the colors...

This last picture was taken while slowly leaving the beach, from my car window.  It created a kind of a neon effect that I definitely liked, but didn't expect.

I also had some pictures showing a blue sunset saturating the sky and the water, and some nice river photos.  To keep with the nature theme I opted not to include a BEAUTIFUL picture of a large barbecue pork sandwich.  I'm sure to get special requests on that one.  Hopefully you enjoyed the ones I did share...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Still Here, or Looking to Tell Manolin about Rayleigh Scattering

When I was a little kid I always asked a lot of questions, mostly of my parents.  Answers were few and far between, and I eventually got the hint that they didn't think my questions were serious.  They also might have been too hard to answer.  But these are the days of the internet, when there are answers to every question, and some of them actually right.  For example, now I'm thinking up a random question: "Do fish have allergies?"  To my surprise others have been wondering this, and apparently fish can be allergic to soy, wheat, processed foods and bloodworms.  This might not be correct, but in the internet age do we really care?

So when I was a little kid my favorite question was "Why is the Sky Blue?"  No one ever answered that question, and so I had to go the next 30 years or so wondering.  I believe a college teacher once said it had to do with light refracting off dust particles in the atmosphere, whatever that means.  However, the amazing internet told me it was "Rayleigh scattering", which is defined like this: "The blue color of the sky is due to Rayleigh scattering. As light moves through the atmosphere, most of the longer wavelengths pass straight through. Little of the red, orange and yellow light is affected by the air.  However, much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by the gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions. It gets scattered all around the sky. Whichever direction you look, some of this scattered blue light reaches you. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue (

So, when I had to come up with a name to write a blog under, using Rayleigh Scattering seemed to both keep a bit of anonymity, and for me it expresses the idea that I want to both seek the answer to questions and provide the answer whenever I can.  There is a curiosity I had as a kid that was sincere and much of that stayed with me.  I see the same thing in my child now.  I wish I had a recorder when he talks to me sometimes.  I can't believe such a young boy can think the thoughts he thinks because in many ways they seem more profound than those of adults I know.

When creating this blog I called it "Looking for Manolin", and this was a reference to the young character in the book "The Old Man and the Sea", which was probably my favorite book read in my youth.  For some reason the story always stayed with me.  The old man was somewhat of a mentor to Manolin, who came to care deeply for the old man.  Some of their experiences together were an image of what I want to have with my son.  "Looking for Manolin" was a way of saying looking for someone to mentor, or looking for someone who would appreciate what I have to offer.  Someone who I live on through long after I'm gone. 

This is also my son for me.  I'm looking for him, though he's here.  I'm looking for someone who wants to be with me and learn from me.  Someone who will ask me why the sky is blue, and I will answer.  In a non-religious sense, someone like that is, just as Manolin was for the old man, a kind of salvation.  Our life is resurrected in another.  Which is also interesting to me because Manolin is a spanish word that comes from the word Emmanuel, which means Messiah, or Christ.

It's hard to live up to names like these when you consider the thought I put into them, but it helps when no one knows what the names mean.  I guess I thought that if a blog is going to be worthwhile then it needs to have some significance.  It's very easy to fall short of that, whether in what I write or in the absence of writing, but that's o.k., because me writing regularly was always going to be an uphill battle.  I don't like failure, but if I was afraid of it I wouldn't have started this in the first place.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


So I just read the blog by an older, skinnier, and shorter version of me (read blog here) about the difficulties of working on something you are not particularly qualified to work on.  The attempt to do these things usually always come down to money ("usually always" is one of my favorite phrases).

This sentence begins the third paragraph of this blog.  The second paragraph is the one that used to exist until I realized there are legal ramifications of giving details of working on things you are not particulary qualified to work on (see this blog for more on this topic).

So, I'm just writing to share pretty much nothing about my life, which is that I am the guy that everyone thinks knows how to do everything because I do so many different things.  I tend to question those complimenting me on this, because to me everyone can do most everything if they put their mind to it, and I just tend to try. 

I tend to think of the professionals as those with "know-how".  They know what they are doing.  I'm just the one who reads about things, asks questions whenever possible, or falls asleep at night imaging different scenarios or angles, all in the attempt of solving a problem and fixing something.

But then, in the process of writing this blog, I look up the definition of "know-how", not to know what it means, but to see if it is a hyphenated word or not.  The first definition is what I expected: "The knowledge and skill required to do something correctly."  But below that was an "informal" definition, which was: ingenuity, aptitude, or skill".  I guess I do have "know-how", because what I think what I use to get things done is ingenuity.  I think skill is what I develop in the process of doing it.

With that said, I must say that I'm developing many more skills than I actually desire to have.  Patience is one of them, though patience and procrastination usually go hand in hand.  And as for the blog written by the older, skinnier, and shorter version of me (notice I didn't say "smarter"), all I've got to say is, I've been there and done that many times.  I've dropped all the things you can drop and ran into all the obstacles you can run into.  I have several new tools from my last attempt to fix a car, I once damaged my headlights just trying to change the bulb (I even had to buy a special tool to change the tail lights on one of my vehicles), and occasionally I've had to commit the cardinal sin of taking my vehicle to those with more know-how.

I may have more than you and someone else may have more than us, but this blog is just my attempt to welcome you to the club that many act as if I occupy alone - the club of know-how.