Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Old Man Winter can be a real wise guy..

This photo is from about 1pm today. As of yesterday evening the driveway was completely clear as were the cars. This was only the beginning though - by the time it stopped the snow was about up to my bumper.

Not only did we get around 12 inches of snow, but it was the heavy wet snow. This would have been great news if I was 10 yrs old because you can have great snowball fights as well as make snow forts and what not. 20+ years later and it's the kind that I dread. When you have to shovel a driveway 3 cars long it'll break your back. Thankfully Razor hooks me up with his snow blower so it isn't as bad.
Digging out the car was real fun - I really like rear wheel drive cars, but in the winter they're somewhat of a pain. My car has a pretty sophisiticated traction control system that was a $2000 option when the car was new (me=3rd owner) but it only really has an effect when you're moving. If you stop in snow like this, you sink, and then you're stuck - just like any other large RWD sedan. The tradeoff is how the car drives, but even so, I think my next car will be front wheel drive.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bike show is almost here!

That's right- the Motorcycle show is just around the corner for us Chicago folks. The general consensus is that the show gets worse and worse every year.. that might be true in the sense of good deals to be had, but it's always cool to check out what the manufacturers have to offer.
With the explosion of custom bike builders, there is always a ton of that stuff to see - and honestly it all starts to look the same. It's still cool to check out the details and craftsmanship of these bikes even though many are not very road worthy.
The show gives me an opportunity to sit on many bikes that aren't within my price range- which pretty much is all of them... haha. A new bike won't be happening for a while, but it's cool to check out the bikes without having a salesman pestering you. Most of the time at the dealers the bikes are in tight rows so you can't even sit on them if you wanted to. It's fun sitting on anything from a $20,000 Goldwing to a $2000 mini dirtbike.
Maybe the good deals are few and far between - but for a motorcycle enthusiast like me in the middle of winter, this show is the perfect "fix" since I haven't ridden in over 3 months.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wait a minute......

I was walking out of the office building near the loading dock and I happen to notice our large dumpster. Those are blue bins used to recycle paper within the office. They've all been replaced with a more rugged model for disposing of secure documents.

I thought to myself - "couldn't they have recycled these?"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Let there be heat!

Big news! I'm a proud new father. I'm still getting used to that title - even typing that last sentence was strange. My wife and I have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. I will be starting a blog for her once I come up with a title for it.

She was born Wednesday the 28th of November, right on the due date. We all went home on the following Sunday. My wife was getting a little paranoid thinking the house was too cold for the baby. We usually keep the house at about 68 degrees so I bumped the thermostat up to 70 in hopes that would do the trick.

About an hour later I was sweating bullets. I convinced my wife that it truly wasn't that cold in the house so she let me turn it back down to 68.

Later that evening the temp dropped considerably and the winds really picked up. I checked the theromostat and it said the house was 65! WTF? It was set to 68 but allowed the temp to drop that much. After horsing with it a little, it still wouldn't kick in.

I reset the main power switch on the furnace and then upped the temp again - it then kicked on. Success! Oh wait, lets not pat ourselves on the back too quick. I could hear things spin up, and the gas clicked on with a hiss, but did not ignite. Wha?? Turned the power back off and pulled the front panel off. I had a problem last winter where the flame wouldn't stay ignited - and the culprit was the flame sensor. A quick cleaning with steel wool did the trick. This time it wouldn't even light up.

I popped off the ignitor and it didn't look too bad, but I could see a tiny crack in the element. I remember they should glow bright orange (hot!) when working correctly. I forced the furnace to kick on again, but this thing wasn't doing squat. I jumped on the internet and found that it doesn't take much for these to fail - even a little discoloration is a sign of failure.

Well this should be an easy fix right? Not at 9:15pm on a Sunday night.... everything is closed.

After three stops I got the part. Home Depot doesn't sell any of this stuff & Ace has a limited selection. I guess Ace IS the place with the helpful hardware man - the guy told me where I could get the parts and even drew me a map to find it. Millers Heating & Cooling in Grayslake hooked me up with the parts I needed. I got the new ignitor as well as a replacement flame sensor for about $70.

Here is a pic of the failed ignitor and the old flame sensor.

About 30 mins later I was home, and the parts were installed. Let there be heat bitches!!

I can't even imagine how much a service call would have cost... I would have kicked myself to watch a technician replace this simple part!

P.S. - I forgot to mention this and I feel like a jackass. I had emailed Sean about my problem with the furnace after 10pm - without even hesitating he was ready to offer up a heater for me to use. He had emailed and called back just before 11pm saying I could come and grab it if need be. Sean - thanks for looking out for me and my family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Membership has it's price

I purchased a used 1999 Lexus LS400 two years ago and it's been great. In fact, it's the nicest car I've owned even though I got it with well over 100k miles on it. I've taken it in for oil changes at the dealer where the previous owner took it and time and time again they tell me the car needs nothing. That was soon to end.

This time they tell me I need new brakes all around and the back ones have 1000 miles left. Wow, these guys must be good if they can give an estimate like that! Actually my wife took the car so I'm sure they said that to freak her out so she would agree to the work. Oh yeah, this could be done for the tune of $1250. Ouch!

Then they tell us we need to get the trans fluid, the coolant and the differential fluid flushed - for a mere $550 more. In my best Dr. Evil voice...."riiiiiiiiiiight."

I can do all this work done myself for considerably less - for about 20% of the stealer's estimate.

That same day I took the wife's car to get the oil changed and while wasting time I look around on the used car lot. Then I come across this car:

This is a 2005 Lexus LS430 with the sport package - the next car I'd like to own. I actually like this color a lot mainly because it's not as common as the silver/black/white/gold I usually see.
So I'm peering through the window and the car beeps as if someone unlocked it. I backed off because I thought the porter was going to move the car. He tosses me the keys and tells me to take a look since he's just moving cars around. Pfft - heck, can't say no to that! I got in the car, turned the key and the mirrors unfolded themselves as the steering wheel moved into position. I fired up the engine so I could play around with the gadgets. This thing had everything from navigation, heated/cooled seats, and even the electric sunshade on the back window. Nice - I could get used to this... but it wouldn't be today. As I handed the keys back to the porter he told me "you should buy it, you look good in it!"
If it was only that simple.......

The end is here........

The end of the riding season that is. A few weeks back was unseasonably warm and I took advantage of it. My uncle met up with us and Rich and I took him on a nice loop through some back roads of Northern IL and Southern WI. Of course a ride wouldn't be complete without a good, inexpensive lunch. That's where Halftime in Johnsburg comes in - 1/2 price pizza on Sunday... aw yeah. We did a little more riding, afterwards, but my uncle wanted to be back for the Bears game. All in all, it was a great way to end the season.

A few somewhat warm days have come and gone since, but with my work schedule it's been tough to take advantage of them. Kudos to Sean for bundling up and commuting in the chilly weather. Been there, done that... I got nothing to prove. Hehehe...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let the record show...

...that Harley riders are bigger pussies than scooter riders. Yes I said it.

This pic was taken from yesterday morning. The temps were in the 50s, it was cloudy, and rain was on the way. Did it stop me from taking a little spin? Hell no!

These 5 or 6 scooters all rolled in for breakfast - most of them were probably 30 yrs old or more. I have to give those guys a big thumbs up.

Yeah -it was a crappy morning but I had to get out. I wasn't the only one, probably a dozen or more people showed up.. and only one of them was a Harley. We all know what that bike's owner had planned for the day - cleanin chrome!

Season ain't over yet!!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's always something....

In hopes that the rain might hold off for tomorrow morning, I figured I'd get the bike ready for a little ride. The temps have dropped significantly in the last week so it's time to make the switch to the taller windscreen for the remainder of the season.

My fuel guage light has been burned out and it can't be accessed w/o removing the windscreen - so I guess here's my chance to take care of it.

Having never ventured in this area of the bike I didn't know if this job was going to be a simple one or a PITA. I took a look and voila - one simple screw and the guage cup pops off. I knew having those stubby screwdrivers would come in handy one day.

Pulled the bulb holder out and popped out the bulb... dang, this sucker is tiny! Hmmm - it's barely 9pm - Walmart is open so I hopped in the car in search for the bulb. Bahh.. of course they don't have it. Everywhere else is closed.. oh well.

Everything was buttoned back up thinking the morning ride will happen.. but I think Mother Nature has other plans.