This morning, I left the house and it was raining, wet and crappy, and the temperature was dropping steadily. The weather dudes were making dire predictions that we’d see anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow by tomorrow morning.

This evening, I left work and it was raining, wet and crappy, and cold to boot, and the weather dudes had backed off, saying 1-2 inches in the immediate Detroit area and maybe a bit more up towards Flint. Oh, and it won’t turn into snow until tomorrow afternoon… maybe.

If we get more than a dusting at this point, I’m going to be surprised.

Now watch the storm make a right turn and blast us…

Meanwhile, the truck needs balljoints. $752 is the estimate. 4 hours per side. Lovely. Not something I want to do in my driveway, in any event.



Frustrated. Work stuff. Nothing I did. Nothing my boss did. Just the customer of our customer wanting to make fairly major changes. After we’d tooled castings.


Fix it tomorrow…

Scooterbird is on my shoulder preening the small hairs on my neck and tickling me in the process. At least he’s not pulling on them.

New Printer

It’s here, and installed, our new Samsung CLP-300N networked color laser printer (purchased from on about the 2nd day they were available for sale — Friday last week). Installation was straightforward up to the point where the Samsung installation CD caused a most peculiar Blue Screen Of Death situation on my computer that wouldn’t go away until I used WinXP’s restore function to restore things back to the most recent saved, stable formation. Which happened to be last Sunday evening before I’d updated IE to IE7 and a couple other Microsloth updates…

I cleaned it up and downloaded the latest driver installation package from and… it crashed the computer the same way. Blargh.

Anyway… I was able to restore the computer, and back-door the installation of the driver off the CD without using the autorun function by installing the printer via the network and, well, it all works nicely. Then I redid all the update stuff I had done on Sunday.

You can be sure that Samsung will be getting an earful from me tomorrow. They, of course, weren’t open tonight when I called.

The thing is, aside from the installation hassle, this printer is *exactly* what we wanted: small (it’s billed as the smallest color laser printer on the market, and I can believe that), quiet, very good resolution and print speed, network card built in, and not terribly expensive.

So… frustration to satisfaction. But I’m still going to raise hell with Samsung’s customer service, because I’m SURE this will happen to someone else who does not have my, um, well, persistence (I *know* I’m smarter than the damn machine) combined with a better-than-average set of engineering/troubleshooting skills to allow me the lateral-thinking agility to get around the problem.

My motivation? K has a report for one of her school classes due soon and needs to be able to print. Our old printer was on its last toner legs, and we couldn’t justify dropping another $60 for a new cartridge when we knew this one was coming. So I *had* to make it work. Tonight.

Ahh, well, it’s sitting there, functional, and that’s what matters.


No post yesterday. I made it through the workday on about 3 hours of sleep without biting anyone’s head off, went home, had the lovely dinner K prepared for me, did the dishes, read the paper, took the trash to the curb, and managed to stay awake long enough to watch CSI:Miami (last new episode of sweeps) and not quite enough of the 11:00 news to catch the weather forecast. As I’d set the sleep timer on the bedroom TV, and K was already solidly unconscious, not a major problem.

Today, though, I made it out to the prototype casting shop that’s doing some pretty tricky work for me on a very tight timeline and not only did I get to inspect the tools for all three parts, but I was able to actually hold in my hands the first parts cast of two of the three part numbers. Whoo-hoo! I love it when a plan comes together.

As background, there are a bunch of specialized shops around the Detroit area that do different kinds of automotive parts — this one does casting tooling and machinery, for both prototype and production, as well as small-run castings from their on-site foundry and small-run machining of those castings. About 3 years ago, I went to them with a very tricky job and no time to do it in, and they pulled off nothing short of a miracle for the roughly 150% expediting charges we gladly passed on to our customer: I gave them CAD models of the casting, which was pretty complicated and had 7 internal cores, and I handed finished, assembled, and tested parts to my customer 23 days later.

So when this job came my way, they were my first choice. And to have the first castings done now and being able to see what we have created is wonderful.

Note that I’m not saying WHAT these things are, or what they’re used for, or who my customer is. Don’t ask, ’cause I won’t tell.

Clean Truck

Leviathan, my beloved Ford F350 Crew Cab, Short Bed, 2WD, single-rear-wheel (not dually), turbodiesel pickup, got a bath today, along with a full interior cleanout. K attacked the passenger side dash, where her shoe scuffs were, with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and it was good. The Magic Eraser did a nice job getting grime out of all the graining in the interior plastics. The glass was cleaned, inside and out. Vacuumed the interior. Hit several places with touch-up paint. He’s looking mighty fine now.

With 198,000 miles on the odo, Leviathan will soon be receiving a major PM (preventative maintenance): front ball joints, probably brakes, certainly hoses, coolant, trans fluid, FEAD belt, and I’ve got to get new tires before winter gets serious. He’s my daily driver in addition to performing Tow Beast (license plate, in fact, reads TWBEAST ’cause someone already had LVIATHN — we’re limited to seven characters) duties.

It was a good day for this — we hit around 60F, something of a rarity this time of year.

Tomorrow — back to work. Whoo.


The morning started off early… beer bottles hurled well into our yard courtesy of the frat-house-for-community-college-flunk-outs next door. I placed them on one of the “official” residents’ truck. They had their little house band playing loudly at 11:45 last night, too. The bottles are Warning #2 (they’ve already gotten a verbal from me about past-midnight drum solos). Next time? Police. And, as the stepfather of a high-school-age girl, I can’t WAIT to find out how many underage girls they’re having over there (there’s some history there as well).

At the very least, they can be nailed for number of non-related adults living under one roof — there are several “guest” vehicles that are over there EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

The current occupants are renting from the owner, who is currently on a training rotation in California. No, not military: CVS Drugstores. *HE* also hosted regular parties with underage girls, although he did keep the debris out of our yard after a single word from me.

I don’t want to be the crusty-old-fart neighbor, particularly since I’m not even 40, but there are some rules for polite society, and drum solos after midnight and tossing empties into the neighbors yard aren’t in keeping with them.

I miss the previous owner. She was a nice lady, about the same age as K and me, with dogs (a black lab and a Weimeraner).

Anyway, we got up and made it to our favorite neighborhood breakfast spot for a tasty breakfast (it takes “fresh-squeezed orange juice”, whispered into her ear, to get Miss E up that early on a weekend), then a few errands, and then back to the house. Cleaned the oven. Okay, well, the oven cleaned itself quite nicely, actually, although we did have to open the windows because it got HOT and a wee bit fumy and Scooterbird doesn’t like fumes. Lunch of Thanksgiving leftovers. My dressing was better today — not as dry. Turkey was still wonderful. Gave our shredder a workout. I rearranged the shelves on the Jerker — I like the result. Not only did I get the printer down where we’d like it to be, but I made access to the corner of the room where our DVDs and CDs are stored much easier.

You see, we have this little tiny house. Two bedrooms. One bath. A tick over 800 square feet in total. No basement. It literally was built as a vacation cottage back in 1947 when this area was the middle of freakin’ nowhere and folks from Detroit and the close-in suburbs came out here to Oakland County’s “lake district” on the weekends to relax on the water — quite a bit less expensively than being on the Detroit River or Lake St. Clair or one of the other Great Lakes. Now? Well, there’s a house going up behind us on a lot that was purchased, with the original house, from the original owner for $350,000. As a teardown. There’s a place on the next street over that we nicknamed Swamp Castle because, well, all the other kings said it was daft to build a castle in a swamp, but they built it anyway. And put a full basement under it. After spending 6 months driving pilings to bedrock, they dug a basement and put *4* sumps in it — they were pumping before they even started framing. See — the lake is maybe 18 inches below their finished grade… Swamp Castle’s price? $480,000, 3 years ago. Amazingly, it hasn’t sunk yet.

We’re not on the water, ourselves. But the folks who built this house sensibly put it on a slab, and then, quite unexpectedly, heated it with radiant hot water heat IN the slab. So we get toasty tile under our feet in the bathroom on cold mornings. Which is very nice.

But there’s not a lot of room here. We have a 10’x20′ storage locker with all the overflow from when K and I consolidated our households. Okay, some of that space is allotted to my ’65 Mustang that I hope to have a place to work on again someday not too far down the road. It’s a good little house. Emphasis on little. It also has a good little mortgage payment, which is far more important these days. 🙂

When we re-fi’d a couple years ago, we went fixed-rate. This has proven to be a smart move long-term. Friends who went variable have been scrambling to lock something in — and when they do, it’s higher than what we’ve got.

The Day After

Still beat.

Had coneys for lunch, as per family tradition. Not Tulsa-style, but Detroit-style because, well, I’m not in Tulsa.

K went shopping at 5 ayem. Got what she went for — and she had fun doing it. I didn’t even wake up.

Miss E had her 2nd day of work at her new job today. She’s working in a clothing shop that caters to, well, people her age, in a large outlet-type mall. She said it was crazy-busy. Not a surprise.

After coneys and a little bit of shopping (ordered a new color laser printer, a Samsung CLP-300N, which just became available, so I got cables and also a new UPS as the power switch on my trusty Isotel is starting to have an arcing problem on startup), came home and cleaned all the leaves off the roof and out of the gutters. This is something I do from the roof as I can’t get a ladder by most of the gutters themselves due to shrubbery.

After dinner, I rearranged the CD and DVD towers and installed a new add-on shelf for our IKEA Jerker computer desk, which now holds the old printer until the new (larger) one comes to take its place. The (much larger than the Isotel) APC UPS now occupies the space formerly occupied by the printer. I relocated the outrigger “phone” shelf down a bit lower and the printer shelf is up high — which I’m probably going to have to change around again. Why? We’d like the printer lower — but I have to swap the new shelf for the old one the CPU is residing on (which has a different mounting scheme), so I can get the bolts into available holes.

If you have never seen a Jerker computer desk, it’s a delightfully modular setup. But you have to have access for bolts, and if a shelf or the desk part is in the way, you can’t mount the outrigger shelf there. Not to worry, I’ll figure it out. I *think* I’m smarter than furniture. 🙂