Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trips to the Hardware Store

Having a second home that you do not regularly live in can be a problem, because you are not there as things happen. And when we arrived here yesterday, it was obvious we did have a problem.

When I pushed the garage door remote, nothing happened. I had to get out and open the front door of the house with a key. Pushing the inside button on the garage did nothing to open the door either.

The breakers in the electric box were partially tripped, and almost every ground fault outlet in the house was tripped. Usually that means we have had a lightning strike. And so we have.

I have spent the last day fixing the electric system here in the house. Doug of Doug and JoAnn’s Living our Dream says that you can tell the size of a problem by how many trips it takes into town, to go to the hardware store. This will take several before it is over.

Our neighbor says he lost both of his TV’s and his computer about two weeks ago, which must be the time we had the problem as well.

We got all the breakers reset and found ground faults that have been toasted, most notably the fault in the cord on the remote boat lift out on our dock. The lightning fractured the case. But it seems to have been sacrificial, as the electronic computerized brain of the lift went into a reset mode and reinitialized itself, when I restored power to it. It seems to work fine.

But all the wiring between the dock and the house must have been fried. There is power to the top of the wires, but none at the bottom. The first trip to Lowe’s was to purchase a new corded ground fault and some additional drop cord. Another 50 feet of 14 gauge to add onto the 100 feet I already had. That is the power for the dock now.

I have rolls of wire back at KC so the next time I come down, I will be armed with the entire electrical kit to rewire. Trouble is that the conduit is buried and will need to dug up and replaced, along with the seven wires that are inside. It is about 50 feet long on the shore and at least another 50 feet once you get out over the water. I am hoping this second part is OK, but have not had power in the first half to check out the second part.

The first trip to the hardware store was only $70 to get the drop cord and the corded ground fault. This along with some conduit and PVC glue and a few fittings, but that is just the initial trip.

Oh and by the way, I did get the battery installed into the boat, and that part went fine. The Honda outboard started right off and the test trip went without a hitch, so something was OK. LoL

We have to get wound up tomorrow and head back to KC later in the day, as I have an appointment with the Doctor on Friday morning. I have not been in for most of the winter, and they get grumpy on the diabetic thing if they haven’t seen you in a while.

So that’s the news from Lake Ozark.

Retired Rod

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Headed To the Lake

Why is it that when you declare that we are leaving for a few days, then all the stuff that you should have gotten accomplished seems to flash into your mind before you can leave?

That is how this morning went. Oh I need to pay this bill, and I forgot to pack up the computer last night. And what about setting up all those medications that I have to take every day. We didn’t get away until 10:30. Rather slow for just packing our suit cases in the trunk.

And then we had to stop at a license bureau in Belton, that I normally use for the Missouri tags, and purchase the pontoon boat tag. $100 for three years. Not so bad in the off years though, lol.

But the place was packed and I stood in line for another half an hour. Loyce made the best out of this delay, as she shopped the antique stores in the downtown business area.

Belton is an old railroad stop, and they have numerous old train engines and cars on the tracks as displays. And this has attracted the antique shops, and then the fabric shops, and you understand. Something to do while waiting for the license to be issued.

Our drive was quiet uneventful, for the entire three hour duration. We have been over it time and time again, and as Al Bossence of the Bayfield Bunch said a day or so ago, you get to the point where you as so accustomed to the surroundings that you no longer see them. And that is how our Missouri drive has become.

We arrived here and loaded all the stuff into the house. And then declared we were going to town. Since Loyce hasn’t been here with me for several of the trips over the winter, she had to see all the changes that have been made.

They remodeled Wal Mart, with many new grocery and frozen cases and a new liquor store. This made our old store look and feel a lot like the newer stores in bigger cities. The Osage Beach Wal Mart was one of the very first super centers that redefined the stores in the 1990s, but it is really old now and needed this face lift. We have a grand opening scheduled for tomorrow.

We might go if we really need something, but otherwise no.

We are here to clean and get the boat ready to go out on the water. That will require some power washing and some warm weather, but the forecast is not in our favor. Perhaps I will brave the cold and get some of it done all the same.

Time will tell.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another oil change and battery

Is it winter again? The dark ominous clouds hung over our skies all day as it became cooler and cooler in the afternoon. The windy, rainy mist seemed to blow right thru my jacket, and the car is a grimy mess.

It's in the mid 40's tonight, and I was forced to start the heat pump as I feel an icicle growing on my nose. But hey, buck up it is almost May 1st.

I spent the day in the garage changing the oil on the BMW. It is an 05 and now out of warranty so that means service is insanely expensive, and I'm retired and capable.....

It takes a special paper filter that goes into a permanent canister. Chevy had those back in the 50's, but I digress. It cost $20 for this little cartridge and is only available at a dealer. The car requires 9 quarts of synthetic oil at $6 a quart from Wal Mart. So if your calculating, were up to $74. They get $150 at the dealership so this is a deal.

Of course nothing on the car is made so a mere mortal mechanic can work on it. The drain plug is an 8mm stud bolt, like a big allen wrench. The smaller plug in the bottom of the filter canister is a 6 mm stud bolt. And the canister comes lose with a 24 mm socket. Tools we would all have right off. Not.

This afternoon I went back over to Sam's Club and bought another battery, this time for the pontoon boat.

We plan to head out to the Lake of the Ozarks in the morning and do some spring cleaning on the fishing cabin. Hopefully pressure washing the boat and its big cover in the process. That is if it is above freezing!

We'll blog from there once we arrive.

Retired Rod

Monday, April 27, 2009

Storms and a Battery

As I write this the thunder is rattling and the lightning is flashing.  I have watched the radar screen for several hours, as the worst of the storm has danced about ten miles to our West.  The storm has tracked to the Northeast passing by, but not visiting.

The weatherman on the TV explained that the storm would eventually track East as well as North and cover KC.  That is now happening.

They think this will be a rain event causing a torrent of water, passing slowly thru the night.  While we had 80’s and horrible humidity during the day, tomorrow will be mid 50s and drier.  Lets hope no more wind and tornados for a while.

I made up for all the activity on Saturday by passing a quiet day here today.  Going only to Sam’s Club to buy Loyce a battery for her Ford Escape SUV.  Although it is labeled a 2005, we purchased the vehicle in the summer of 2004, and we still  have the original battery.  When we got home from Texas this spring, it was mostly flat, and did not want to take a charge initially.

As those things go for us, even though I got it to work after a while, it will leave her on a rock somewhere.  Murphy’s law will make it in a bad part of town, so she had a nice new one installed by her husband this afternoon.

I seem to be able to bury myself in blogs and forums, and passed the afternoon with the computer, after falling asleep once, or was it twice?

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Trip to Des Moines

I did have a very nice time going to Des Moines yesterday. It was a little hard rising at 4AM, but I made do. Years ago I did this all the time, when we were headed out on audits, but it is a memory that I really do not cherish.

When I left KC, it was in the 70's but arrival in Des Moines was 46 and cold rain. I had no idea that the weather was that volatile. My little spring coat was not up to the task.

The hamfest was filled with at least 300 folks by my estimation, and it seemed as though I knew at least half of them. As I walked around the room, it was old home week. Such fun with so many people to say hello to, and so little time to get it done.

I handed off the utility trailer to Larry, a friend from Greenfield. We disconnected it from my truck and I pulled away. He backed into the parking spot that I formarly had, and we reconnected the trailer to his truck. He was now parked in, instead of me, as cars had taken all the spots around the trailer. I hope he got out ok.

I went to Francie's, a bar that we all hang out in, out by the DSM airport. They had several tables pushed together, and hams were joining and leaving the group as they completed their meal. The talk was lively, and some good natured teasing was always in the wind.

After that group broke up at around 2PM, I went to go find my fatherinlaw Leroy. He has recently moved into the medical wing of the Wesley Methodist home. He had been in the Hospital for a few days, but you know they won't leave you in there for long.

I had a really nice visit with him and the facility was really nice. His spirits were up and I think he is on the mend. Perhaps that will limit his stay, and allow him to go back to his home. He is in his 90's and has to be careful of catching colds.

So that was the Des Moines jaunt, and you have read below, how KC was getting along when I got back.

Retired Rod

Tornado touches down West of KC!

As I was coming back into the Kansas City area, I drove thru a huge thunderstorm.  It was complete with dime size hail and rain at about 5 inches per hour.  Stopped the traffic on I 35 almost cold in its tracks.

Oh boy I wonder what is South of here?  So as I got closer, I changed the ham radio to the 146.82 repeater.  And yes there was a storm net going on and spotters were activated.  They use local repeaters in each area of town and then one guy reports back to Sky Warn net control on the area wide .82.  This keeps the traffic down on this main large repeater that covers the entire area.

It has several receivers that are connected to the transmitter site downtown.  So no matter where you are in town, a local receiver connects you back to the transmitter with a phone line.

But the news was that tornados were touching down in the Eudora, Linnwood area.  This is between Lawrence and Lenexa.  And not nearly far enough away to give us comfort.

The chopper video of the damage after the fact shows several barns and a house or two that were nothing but rubble. 

There was a race going at the KC Speedway at the time (truck series) and the tornado was headed right for the track. They called that instantly, and folks were sheltered under the stands.  The storm raised back into the clouds and did not cause damage at the speedway.  But it did pass right over the track.

I had planned upon writing about the many friends I had seen in Des Moines,  and the day’s fun, but with the repeaters going full tilt, somehow that seems a little small.

I’m really killed after being up  since 4 AM and driving 400 miles, so perhaps I’ll get back at it tomorrow.

Retired Rod

PS: As the hams reported the touchdown, within moments, the weather service announced the Tornado Warning.  They can see the conditions are right on the radar, but it requires eyes on the ground to know what is really happening.  The radio operators are a major source of information for the weather bureau.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Headed to Des Moines for a big Saturday

I am writing this on Friday evening, before going to the Johnson County Kansas ham meeting that is to start here in another hour. We have two club meetings a month, but I spaced off the second friday, so this is the fourth Friday. We will go to godfathers for pizza.

Nothing to report here as I have only taken on bike ride over to the bank to make a deposit, and went to Wal Mart to buy 8 12 packs of pop for the Dayton trip in May.

I am leaving at about 5 AM with the truck and the utility trailer to go to a hamfest in Des Moines. I will leave the trailer with the Iowa hams in order for them to pack up their stuff in a leisurely fashion and be ready to go on May 13. I'll probably go on the 12th to get up there before they leave. Ohio is an all day drive from Des Moines. But at least this year gas isn't $4 a gallon like last year.

So blogs might be sparse this weekend until I get back here late tomorrow night. It will be a big day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

First Service and Bean Soup.

Today was service the motor bike day.  Well I drove it up to the cycle shop and watched as they serviced the bike.  It holds .9 of a liter of oil.  Yah like nine tenths.  But if you change it you only get out .8 so that is what you put back in.  More than likely I could have done this myself, but I chose to watch them this first time.

The tricky and nasty part is that the rear axle oil must be changed, and it is 80/90 weight oil like in a differential on a car.  You take out a plug on the bottom of the drive, and it comes out, ever so slooooowly.  I wanted to see how they put the fluid back in and that was interesting.

They had a pint oil bottle with a cap that had a tubing fitting in it.  Over the fitting they had installed a length of tubing that was almost like fish aquarium tubing.  It was small enough to poke into the upper bolt hole in the axle housing.

With a measuring cup they measured out .19 liters of gear lube and then poured it into the cut out bottom of the bottle with the tube in the top.  They had wired up the bottle, upside down to the rack on the back of the bike.  This allowed  it to ever so slowly run down into the housing.

My turning signal switch has been working erratically and I asked them to look into that as well.  I was amazed to find that they had one in stock.  They disassembled the instrument housing and changed out the entire switch assembly.  That would be under warranty.

The price for almost one liter of oil and labor was $34.95.  With tax, it was almost forty.  These jobs seem labor intensive, and require tricks of the trade, that are not immediately obvious.   That is what you are paying for, the knowledge and experience to do the job quickly.  I would have fooled around all day and never got that thick oil into the transaxle.  And it was $10.95 a  pint.  No 500 ml, I’ll never get used to this metric thing.

From there I rode to the local harbor freight to get a tire wrench, and check if they sold spare tires for the utility trailer.  They did, but not the right size.  So I went to the local Tractor Supply.  They had exactly the right size tire mounted on the right rim.  It was ten percent off too.  With tax though it came to $120.

I had to go park the cycle and go back with the truck to pick that up, as the tire is a 15 inch and as big as most car tires.

This is dragging out too long, but this afternoon we had the leftover ham bone from Easter, so we made bean soup out of a bag of mixed beans and lentils.  I think the package boasted 12 different beans.  That was tasty!  Loyce made corn bread and it was hot out of the oven.

I rode off into the park South of town during the evening hours, to enjoy the warm temperatures we had built during the day.  We had to use the AC for a little while at the house this afternoon, but it is too cool off some in the next few days.

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A summer day and a new evergreen.

My goodness we made it up to 78 degrees today!  It felt like summer!  Reminded me of going over into Phoenix with Rob and Sissy to get the new batteries for their Freightliner giant class C!  It was in the high 80’s that day

I just went back and looked, that was March 3rd.  Big mistake leaving Arizona, they do not appreciate what they have out there in the way of weather.

This morning the lawn irrigation guy came and started the watering system for this year.  It must now be summer for him to do that, right?  We only lost one rotating head due to freezing, but I just can’t wait to see how much that will cost.  They test the backflow valves to make sure that yard water can not flow into the public fresh water system.  He had several gauges hooked up to test the pressure in each of the backflow chambers. Then he went around the yard and adjusted each nozzle to spray its intended area.  Finally he reprogrammed the main brain to a spring program, and discussed how to change the program as summer progressed.  He was quite thorough.

Then I went to get a new evergreen from the nursery.  What I didn’t know was that there was a wire cage still in the ground that was around the old root ball.  So as I tried to dig the hole out for the new tree, I kept tangling the shovel in this wire.  It took me forever to get this old wire out of the ground and the tree into the hole.If I had to make a living doing these things, we’d starve.

I needed more mulch, and Wal Mart was a zoo, so that killed another hour.  When Loyce came home I was sitting in a lawn chair almost dead.  I have more yard duties, but they will have to wait for another day.

Tonight, one of our ham friend’s wife has passed her first ham test and received her call sign.  She was able to check into their community’s local emergency net with her call for the first time, so we discussed and congratulated her on the accomplishment using Skype.  Way to go Betty!!!!!

Now all of a sudden I’m rubbing my eyes.  Why am I so tired?

Retired Rod

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fertilizer and Sweet Potato Fries

This was a day of work.  Work here at the sticks and bricks house.  Seems like there is never any end to the little jobs that are included with home ownership.

Today was yard work.  I went to Wal Mart, and bought a bag of weed and feed fertilizer.  It was a store brand that was ten bucks cheaper than Scotts.  It was still almost forty bucks for a 48 pounder.  Scotts is over a dollar a pound.  That would be 2,000 a ton.  Wow that is horrible.  But enough, I can’t do anything about it, so just go spread it on the lawn.  Which I did.

Last summer the bag worms attacked our evergreens in the front of the house.  They killed off a tall spike spruce before I caught on to what was happening.  I went and bought a big bottle of Sevin spray and me and the worms had a war.  Killed em off, yes I did, but not until they wiped out the evergreen on the West side of the drive.

Today I removed this dead tree, with the help of a chain and the hitch ball on the back of the truck.  I went to Lowe’s and purchased a digging bar, which is about a 30 pound cold rolled steel bar with a smashed spade end and nail head on top.  Looks like a six foot giant nail.  With that I was able to loosen the dirt around and more importantly under the root ball.

With some judicious pulling with the truck and then more use of the digging bar and about an hour, the tree was gone.

In the afternoon it was time to retrieve our utility trailer from the storage lot.  Its still over in the lot with all the nails, but now it is in our driveway.  This needs to be cleaned some as we will be using it to go to Dayton, Ohio to the Hamfest next month.

I am attending the Des Moines Radio Amateur Association hamfest this Sunday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  The trailer will go with me to Iowa so the folks up there can begin to load it in preparation for Dayton.

By having it up there three weeks early, perhaps the loading will be more leisurely and items will not be overlooked that need to find a new home in other Ham’s garages.

Tonight we went back to Fuddruckers, and I can report that the Overland Park restaurant does indeed have sweet potato fries.  This is the first that I have enjoyed them since we were in Mesa, Arizona.  I was having withdrawal symptoms, but my belt was getting along all right without them.

Not an overly exciting day but man we seem to have our share of work here.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wasting time on YoVille

Today was set up face book day, as I was offered friendship from more folks than I could believe. It’s amazing how many folks that know folks that know you, and folks that you read their blogs and so forth, that we all set up today. Jo Wishnie warned that it could become addictive. Is that ever an understatement.

Tonight, we were on skype and playing YoVille as we joined the same server so we could see each other, and I went to the factory and got a pay check that I didn’t have to pay for with paypal. Still do not understand the paypal part.

But enough of the facebook, surely I did something else today. It was sunny and in the mid 60’s during the day, but the wind blew like crazy. I went out on the motor bike and the wind about blew me over.

I was working on the dining canopies that we will use in Dayton next month. I had a broken rib in the top that holds up the canvas. I tried to find a piece of fiberglass rod over at Lowe’s but the only thing that came close was a plant stick, and when I cut it it was hollow steel painted with rubberized green paint.

I did get it put into the canopy, and it set up normally. I loaded a bunch of the stuff that we need, to take over to the utility trailer, so it will go to Des Moines this weekend. They will be able to load the things they want for Dayton in the next three weeks, without it being a last minute deal. That will be cool.

I went over to a more distant Wal Mart this evening, and the wind again blew so hard that it slowed the bike and tested the little engine against the load of me and the wind. It had all it could handle LoL. That late in the day, it was down right cold, so the bike found itself put in the shed for the night.

Loyce worked in our basement, going thru her backlog of sewing supplies. She is still down there as I write this, and its bed time. But we have no appointments for tomorrow.

Another tedious day here in KC.

Retired Rod

Monday, April 20, 2009

Face Book

I joined Face Book this afternoon. I have no idea how it works, but I did find a bunch of folks that I know. But I have only had the nerve to ask five or so of them to be a connected friend.

I was trying to link this blog into the face book site, and did manage to add it to the info about me page. I put it on the wall, so that folks that happen to be in my main page will know about the blog.

I went into YoVille for a brief look around, and added a couple of folks as friends there. I got to a part where they wanted to charge me real money for some of their play money for the game. That would be a stretch! Do people really need to play the game so bad that they pay for play money?

Again I don’t understand what it is all about, but when they ask for my PayPal account, I didn’t stay around long enough to find out any more.

Today we continued to take care of and play with the grand daughter, until after noon. Then Loyce went out on one of her shopping trips. That gave me some bike riding time!

It was only in the high 50’s and the cold seeped right thru that new jacket, until I came back and put the winter liner inside. That made it warm, but with the rainy and wet overcast day, I only did some short errands and came home.

That was when I became bored and joined FaceBook, and now it is past midnight. Computers are like that, they seem to waste my time.

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hambash and a granddaughter

I say its going to be a short post and then proceed to write a book, but after getting up at 6 AM this morning this is going to be short.

It rained all morning while going to, and during the show. I wore the big brimmed Tilley hat and said "Rain, what rain?" But I was wet, walking around the show. I saw many folks that I only see once a year or even less, but like RVing you just pickup where you last left off.

I didn't buy anything except some callsign cards in the business card size. We call them eyeball cards as we give them out when we are talking to each other face to face. My old ones are still from Des Moines. I may redesign them and order a second set, as RV eyeball cards for the wife and I when we meet folks on the road.

The rest of the day was spent here at the house with the four year old grand daughter. We played and took naps, and went to Chuck E Cheese again.

This time I have wised up, and declared we are not eating the pizza at CEC, only playing the games. We left and went to Godfathers, which has a pizza with substantially more toppings and better quality too. That will help me with the GERD that will come later tonight.

It rained all day, and the scooter hid in the garage. Lightening is happening as I type right now, and its after midnight.

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grand Daughter and a jacket

Just a short post tonight, as I will get up tomorrow at 0600 for the Hambash here in Kansas City. It is in the Ararat Shrine over on the Missouri side East of downtown. They will take over the whole building with flea market tables and vendor booths.

I truck load of Des Moines hams are to leave in the wee hours of the morning, in order to be here by 8 AM. This should be a good time!

Today was uneventful, except that we had the youngest grand daughter for the day. She really like coming to grandma's house. Well, grandpa too but he makes her eat her peas, before she can have ice cream, so he isn't nearly as special.

I took off on the scooter and went to the dealer for a couple of hours mid day. They had ordered a mesh three season jacket for me in the giant economy size! I went to get it, and stopped by at several stores on the way. The jacket has some armour padded forearms and elbows, should those areas of your body inadvertantly come in contact with the road.

The entire jacket is made of a ripstop mesh fabric, with removable interior liners, that take it from winter to summer. I'm sure you will have to keep moving right along to wear it in the heat of a Kansas day. But we shall learn about this as well.

Better go get some sleep!

Retired Rod

Friday, April 17, 2009

Remember if you fall over your disqualified!

That was a pleasant thought! After I had about six instructions as to what I was to accomplish in the motorcycle skills test, that bit about falling was the last thing I needed.

But I should start from yesterday when I was practicing going around the cones over in the church parking lot. I wasn’t having any particular difficulty, so this morning, I decided to go give the test a shot.

A kind of spur of the moment decision, that I never thought about all night, like I would have had I planned all along to go on Thursday. Its about 13 miles up to the test location, so I was quite tired when I got there. That didn’t help much.

Since there was no one around the cone course, I did a preliminary run thru the weave course and made it without any incidents. Well then, lets go get this out of the way!

The test was four separate parts, thru a forty foot set of four traffic cones. Set about 13 feet apart. They are spread about three feet wide. The first is a foot and a half right of center the second left and so forth. So you are forced to weave around the outside long way.

First you have to ride down the center really slow so as to take more than 10 seconds or 15 I’m not sure, but I went really slow and had to stay within the yellow lines in between the cones. Then the weave. Then accelerate to 15 mph and stop quickly. I didn’t go fast enough, the first time, but you get two tries at each element. Last was accelerate and stop with your front tire in a square box painted on the course. And just like that it was over.

On the way back to the office the officer told me had I failed, I could have paid another fee and taken it again. It was $20 to take it the first time, and $1.50 each time after that. So he said it isn’t that you are not going to pass, it just depends on how quickly you get the skills done so we know how much it is going to cost you. Very few folks go away without the license. (Unless you fall over, LOL.)

This time I had to surrender both the Instruction Permit and my Drivers License, as the new license that will be mailed to me is a Class CM. So I am back to the paper, just passed the test license, that I had a week ago when I passed the permit.

And I was so worried that this would be excessively hard. Now I can take passengers and ride at night. But not Loyce, she said there was no way she would ride on that thing! OK dear!

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mowing and a Membership

Today it was time to mow the yard for the first time in the 2009 mowing season.  That is another official indication that spring is really here.  The sun was shining and it was only cool, not cold.

The lawn boy mower that I use as a trimmer and tight spot mower had no gas in it at all.  I must have run it dry last fall.  And of course, there was little or no gas in the mixed can either, so the first trip was to the gas station to mix oil in the gas for all the two cycle stuff around here.

But the mower started and I mowed all the trim work without a problem.  Then on to the John Deere rider.  The battery was so flat that it didn’t even click.  Bad sign!  I hooked up the charger, and it wouldn’t crank even with the boost set at 55 amps.  I set it back on 10 amps and went inside to have a soda.  Read a few web sites and generally chilled out.

When I went back out in a half hour, it cranked sort of slowly, but finally fired and we were off and running.  Another half hour and the job was done.  The charger went back on the mower at 2 amps for over night.

After lunch, I cleaned up and decided to go to Sam’s Club to renew a membership.  After talking to son Chris, I decided to get on with his business membership as that has better hours and is five bucks cheaper.  I rode the bike over.

Like all things go, he had given me his member number, but I lost it somehow in the bike ride over.  It took the lady what seemed like forever to find his account without the number.  Eventually she got the card issued.  So I shopped the Sam’s Club.  Nothing has changed since I was a member ten years ago.  Except the prices, LoL.  Maybe it should be Crying out loud!

I bought nothing, so we will see if I use this as a money saving deal or if I wasted $35.  Time will decide this. I do need batteries this spring and thought they sold Interstate like they did in Phoenix.  But with new card in hand, went to the battery display and found that they were a cheaper brand.  Now I really thought I wasted the $35.

On the ride back to the house, I was hit in the neck by a bug.  Eating bugs is a normal part of motorcycling, but this bug turned out to be a bee!  And he was unhappy about me running into him.  Sooooooo he stung me on the neck.  Man I was on fire, riding at 40 miles an hour.  I turned into the closest parking lot, and fished the bug out of my helmet strap.  Stomped him good too.

I came home and put benadryl ointment on the sting, once I got the stinger pulled out.  Its six hours later right now, but I can still feel the venom in my neck.  Maybe some more ointment before bed.  What I won’t do in the name of fun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to the DMV

Taxes mailed. Well with a federal extension, because I always wait for the last revised tax notices. I get these amended 1099's clear up into mid summer. Extend, pay up and file once when it is right. The IRS does better when it doesn't have to change anything.

Mid morning I went to another favorite place, the DMV. Need that motor cycle plate! And of course the paperwork was wrong. The sales tax rate was increased on the first of April and the store charged me the old rate. We got that corrected by having the store redo the paperwork and fax it to me at the DMV.

They have a fax machine out in the middle of the waiting area for the public to get faxes on, so they can straighten stuff out without going to the distant office to get it fixed. But I had to call and explain the problem and wait for them to get it right. Thank goodness for cell phones.

We had 60 degrees this afternoon, so I went to the big park South of our house, and rode the bike all thru the place. Most of this is slow riding, and that is necessary practice for the skills test. I did go over and watch a fellow take the skills test about noon so I would know what to expect when I get the courage up.

Tonight I have spent a bit of time with a ham friend from Central Missouri. We got together on the phone and then moved to Skype. He does Ubuntu Linux on one of his computers so we were teaching each other tricks.

Tonight is to be warmer, if you can call 40 warm. But atleast it is not freezing. With warm though, it is supposed to start raining. Makes the grass grow, but is hard on the bike time. Maybe I will get the lawnmower started and mow off the weeds!

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cold Rain and the Taxes

Brandy the dog awoke this morning at first light.  She must be able to still see some light, as she is waking up at dawn and that is earlier as the days get longer.  She yips and yaps to have us come let her out.

So that duty befell me today in a cold rain and fog.  The thermometer was in the brisk early forties.  I found the winter coat before taking her out.

Once up, I decided that I should get to work on that tax return again, and that was pretty much the whole day.  Loyce made busy in her sewing room, knowing to leave the “bear” alone while he was tax grumpy.  But I now have the beginnings of a completed return and the estimates done.  Maybe by tomorrow I’ll put some stamps on some of it.

Tonight Chris and Melissa came by for a belated Easter dinner.  We had some of the ham from yesterday, with cheesy potatoes.  More fruit ambrosia, with strawberries and grapes.  This is mostly too sweet for the diabetes, but I ate it anyway.  Its natural and not white sugar.  More pills to counter it.

Claire played with all the toys and the toy kitchen that we have here in the hearth room.  All the girls like to come to grandma’s, cause she has the neatest toys!

Tonight it is to go below freezing again!  What have we done wrong to old man winter? 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter!

We had Ben, Danielle and the grandkids over here for a Ham sandwich lunch. I cooked the ham in the church roaster for about 2 hours this morning, and we had warm sandwiches. Good!

We decided that a full blown meal was way too much work, so potato salad and green bean casserole were on the menu as they are fairly easy too.

With that out of the way the kids chowed down the Easter Basket candy. They could barely eat a spoonful of potato salad, it tastes yucky. But candy by the handful was right up their alley.

This afternoon , I became glued to the Masters tournament and spent the rest of the day watching thru the sudden death playoff.

Tonight was more work on the tax forms, and then a recap of the blogs. Where did the day go?

It is 41 and raining here tonight. Cold for this far into spring, and it seems to never warm up. We should have stayed in Texas longer!

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More of the Same

Chris and his family are out camping, as a last hurrah before he leaves on a new job that he can't say much about. So today we have no grand kids. Ben and his gang are hanging around home playing with a new to them bike for Ema.

Cici and Loyce hung around the kitchen most of the morning, and discussed the possibilities for the upcoming wedding of Cici's daughter, our niece, Lindsay. She will be married on October 3rd, in Prairie du Chien, Wisc.

With all that discussion, I was only about half engaged, reading the internet at the same time, until I decided it was time to get the new motor bike out. Loyce had asked that I go and get a ham for tomorrow. A good project for the bike, a one item grocery list!

I am only a partially seasoned, veteran cycle rider, since it has been about 15 years ago that I rode the old Honda Helix that I inherited from my dad. I kept that bike when we still had his house, as I had no place to garage it. Once we sold his house, the bike had to go, and I was out of the business.

So I am doing close by neighborhood rides to get back in the groove. I have to pass the Kansas skills test in order to get a full license, and that will release me to ride with a passenger and at night. Going after a ham is just right as practice. The ham rode in the under seat box right on top of the engine, on the way back. Cooked to perfection from the heat of the engine, LOL. Not what Loyce had in mind!

Later in the day I rode back to the dealership to go get a windscreen for my helmet. It is about 13 miles each way to old downtown Overland Park, on mostly 45 MPH city corridor streets. The traffic is quite heavy on Saturday so you need all of your witts about you. But I am getting my old skill back.

It was up to 60 this afternoon, and that is not too warm at 45 or 50 MPH. I am still using a winter jacket for these runs, but surely look out of place, when I arrive somewhere. Of course the kids are riding with light weight coats, but their heating system must work better than mine.

The Kansas City suburbs is not a good place to relearn motorbike skills as the drivers are finatics. But if I take it to Mesa next winter, that will not be any easier, so deal with it. I find that younger men will look at the bike with interest, like they would like to own one and then pull right out in front of you anyway.

This afternoon, I had some high school aged guys pull up along side me and snort their mustang ford's V8 engine, making fun of the little motor bike. They think it is a moped, and are alarmed when it will keep right up with their car. I followed them for several miles, and finally they sped off at speeds way in excess of city limits, you know, just to show me they were more manly! Right.

Everyone have a Happy Easter, hunting eggs and baskets and the like. But take a moment to reflect on the religious nature of the day and be thankful for our many blessings.

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cici comes to visit

Just a short post for today, as I spent the day rummaging thru piles of papers saved from the entire year, as I prepare to do income taxes, or at least enough of them to get an extension.

The trick with that is you have to pay all the money, with the extension. So how do you pay the money, unless you do the return to know how much? And then why not just go ahead and file the return, since you have it done. But there will be last minute changes, and they always come in the mail on April 25, or something like that.

I got a revised 1099 in July last year. What are these folks thinking?

Today Loyce's sister Cici came to visit us here in KC, so they spent the afternoon going to local Quilt stores.

We went to dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse, and I got a particularly bad piece of meat. Mostly fat and sinew, yuck!

Tonight we just hung out till bed time. But we haven't seen her since Thanksgiving, so that was fun!

Retired Rod

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cool day in KC

I read about 100 degree heat from Texas, and big wind.  But today in KC, we were lucky to make 53.  It started to rain in the morning, but then that gave way to wind.  The wind blew all afternoon, and then gave way back to rain.

This was more of a spring rain, as it was accompanied with wind and lightening.  So today I was working on the income taxes, and hanging around the house.  Research on the computer for tax rules and by mid afternoon, I went shopping for some gloves to ride the bike with.

I didn’t find anything that I liked, as all the gloves are put away for the summer.  No one uses gloves this time of year, except the cotton kind to plant your garden with.

So I ended up at the local Harley Davidson shop, who had exactly what I wanted, but they had HD emblems all over them, which made them insanely expensive.  That is like a cult following,  drink the coolaide and be cool.  Now give us all your money.  I bought them all the same.

Feeling guilty, I came back home and talked to a friend in Des Moines on Skype.  That has killed the evening, and I now wonder where the day went. 

It is still in the 50’s outside and the rain continues.  Darned global warming!

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bureaucrats / Bike

Tuesday I got brave enough to go take the motorcycle written test. It is only 25 questions, but is hyped as being off the wall. Well yes, some of the questions are not worded the same as they are in the book, and you have to think about it a bit to come up with the same result as what you read, but for the most part, it is common sense.

I went early and there were only a few folks in line, I got right in. Took the test and missed one. I knew I didn’t have the right answer, but after looking at it for a while, I said “oh well, I’ll just have to miss that one.” And I did.

That gave me an instruction permit for a M class license. Had my mug shot, and I was on my way. They give you a paper license and the real thing gets mailed in a couple of days. I have to take the driver skills test within six months.

Well, that seemed easy enough, so I decided to go brave more bureaucracy, and get the highway patrol inspection on the Camry that was purchased in Arizona. We were worried that the tint on the windows would be too dark for Kansas. Its really dark for the Arizona desert summer. The guy seemed not to notice the tint at all. Well hey, were two for two.

So then we might as well go up to the License Bureau and see about the plate. I still had the old one from the Corolla. That didn’t go quite as well. We were forced to pay sales tax in Arizona. Something about a reciprocal agreement.

The short version was that Kansas has never heard of a reciprocal agreement and I was to pay the tax again. They even went so far as to calculate the tax here in Kansas on the full amount I paid in Arizona, including the Az sales tax. Tax on tax.

I screamed for a supervisor. Well that got some attention, and I suggested that I would have a lawyer look into the situation. Now it seems, that I get credit for the tax paid in Az. But that it was not as much as Kansas, and I owed the difference. Again they were calculating tax on tax. Plus I owed license from the date I purchased the car in February, even though I had paid for a 90 day temp tag in Az. And the car had never been in Kansas. Also I didn’t get any refund on the Corolla either. I had paid $1,300 for the sales tax and the license in October for it.

After a bunch of arguing, I got out of the place with the same tag that was on the Corolla, and a registration, and it only cost $259 more (the first figure they told me was $1,700). The renewal is in June, and it will be over $300 then as well.

Do not move to Kansas, unless you are forced to. Kansas City on the Kansas side, pays all the taxes that run the entire state. Our license fees are triple the other counties, and our property taxes are over the roof.

You get so you know it is going to be this way, and you learn not to get steamed. I did sit here and unwind for several hours. Just put it behind you.

In that time, I decided that I was going to purchase the step thru Kymco Scooter that I had looked at twice. If I could make a deal.

Since I was in the fighting mood, why not go fight that one out as well. As it turned out, it wasn’t a fight at all. They had a special going on where they paid your sales tax for you if you paid the sticker price. And he even threw in a discount on the helmet. Sold.


Today I went and rode it home. It was only in the 40’s when I left the store on it. Yesterday was in the thirties, and I didn’t go with my long johns on, so it sat at the store overnight.

I plan to take this camping as another toy, to pass the time, since we are not doing anything else. LoL. It is a 200S, but only has 161cc’s. It will go faster than I plan to ride it, but will easily keep up with the traffic here in KC.. This is a must, as otherwise you will get run over.

I do not know how I plan to take this along, but I was really wanting one this winter when we were in Phoenix. Many of the folks in the RV park had them and they were buzzing all over. I on the other hand, was sitting in a recliner nursing a broken rib.

I hope to mount it on the back of the RV on a rack, but more time will be needed to research that opportunity. By the way, Loyce thinks I am nuts with this one, and shook her head at me. Perhaps, but I am not getting any younger.

Retired Rod (My apologies for such a long post)

If you need a list of RV Blogs try this one!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lake House Pic’s

Brenda Brown requested pictures of the lake. I really don’t have many that are new or good. I guess I haven’t stopped and taken pics, because we see it all the time.

I took a lot of pictures as the house was being built, mostly to remember the things that needed to be changed. But this was the day we closed in April 2003.


From the hill behind the house, it looks like a one story deal, but it goes down the hill toward the lake and has a second story underneath.


This was the dock the week it arrived from the builder. The other docks around it are not in the picture yet so we must have got ours first. We later had rock spread on the grounds behind the house.


This is from the hill behind the road in front of the house. We are on a cove that is off of the main channel.


This is from out in the lake as we were coming home on the pontoon. Ours is the second one on the left. Green Shingles.


This is as we got closer on the boat. Ours in the center. Our dock is the one on the right that doesn’t have a boat in it since we were driving it to take this picture.


It seems like it is always cloudy in the spring, and these were all taken in the spring but not in the same year.

Sunrise from our deck in the spring, I used this picture as a blog header for a while last year. The tree was almost dead, and has since been removed.


I seem to not have a single picture of the inside. Since this is a lake place, we haven’t spent oodles of money on lavish furnishings for the inside. The grandkids will swim in the lake ( Osage River, think river water), and then be right inside plopped down on the leather sofa playpit. If we did spend a fortune, it wouldn’t last long. So we have serviceable furnishings.


This was taken right after we moved in and didn’t have any pictures on the walls .

But at least this will give a picture of what I do not do too good of job describing when we go to the fishing cabin. LoL.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Basket Ball Blues

What happened to the Michigan State that beat all the number one seeds? I went to Iowa, and since it is a big ten school, I would have to root for M State. But they were not even close to being up to the task tonight.

Since moving to Kansas three years ago, all we ever hear is Kansas U, and everyone is against Roy Williams since he promised not to leave, and then bolted for UNC. So there are no parties in Kansas tonight. They had their big year last year!

We spent 10 hours last night below freezing, which makes the trip to the Lake very much needed. Tonight is to be even colder. The forecast is for a low of 24. This is April?

Today I went to the car wash with the SUV and the Camry. I spent some time with the towel in the garage detailing, but the 37 degree temps got too me rather quickly.

Tonight the heat pump is droning on and on. It will change over to the gas heat, once we go below 30 degrees, and we are almost there right now.

Tomorrow it should begin to warm up, I HOPE!

Retired Rod

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ooops, that's too COLD!

This year seems to be the winter that wouldn't end. When I left the Lake place last Wednesday, it was in the high 60's and mostly sunny, and I thought spring was finally here. It was now April, and it never is too cold once we make April. So I switched off the electric heat. No sense letting that run now that it is warm. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wrong.

As I have been watching the forecast for our area here in KC and Lake Ozark, I have noted that it may get back down to freezing for brief periods at night, but nothing serious, still OK with the heat off.

They keep revising the forecast. To get colder each night! So tonight it is to be 29, and then back up into the 30's for tomorrow. But,,,,,,, Tomorrow night, it is to be 21 at the lake for most of the night. Oooops, that's too cold to take a chance on no heat with the water turned on in the house.

So at about noon today, I loaded up the car and headed back to the Lake home, to turn on the heat again. Ah hind sight, it is always 20/20. It rained and was about 36 all day long. I drove the SUV that I store for the winter every year, and got it totally grimy dirty. It hadn't been started since last November, but I had charged the battery every now and then, so It started right up.

It ran somewhat sluggish at first, but I didn't push it too hard. After about 5o miles, it got into the grove and began to purr right along. It is a V8 and they are much smoother than the smaller engines we typically drive now days.

Once at the lake, I set the heat and dug thru the storage to find an item or two that we needed in KC. I had thought I would stay overnight, but it was only 3:45. What the heck, I'll be back by 7:30. So off I went on the return trip.

I was back here by 7:15 even with a gas stop over in Missouri for the ten cent cheaper gas. One does not drive by cheap Mo. gas, and then buy higher taxed Kansas gas! Your tank is always full when you cross into Kansas, that's the rule when you live here, LoL.

So after driving seven hours, we went to Fuddruckers since I hadn't been there since San Antonio. Loyce didn't ride along today, so I had to go pick her up first, and low and behold, they were out of Sweet Potato fries. So was San Antonio two weeks ago. Next time I am going to call ahead to see if they are out. I shouldn't go as often as I do, so perhaps it is good that they run out.

Retired Rod

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Traded Grand Kids/Chuck E Cheese

We spent the day with Claire in the morning, but she woke up with a cough, so we sent her home with her folks.  She was not up to her normal self, and had to forego a planned trip to her Great Grandma’s birthday party, and she was bummed.

Then about mid morning, our oldest Grandson, Caden arrived about the time that Claire was leaving.  We hung around some with the younger son Ben and he left about noon. 

Since we had missed Caden’s birthday, we went shopping for a new Star Wars toy set and a basket ball.  He had to pick this stuff out by himself, and had the hardest time deciding in the toy section of Target, what he really wanted.

Tonight, we went to Chuck E Cheese for games and pizza.  We took our neighbors six year old Michael as well.  We had two first graders running around with grand dads unlimited quarter supply.

The pizza in this place is expensive, and barely rates at about a par with a Cici’s pizza buffet.  Baaaaaad!

We did go to another quilt shop, in uptown old Overland Park.   This is like a farmer’s market and antique shop downtown. While Loyce was spending her time in the shop, Caden and I were over in the Scooter Shop on the next block.

Camping would be all kinds of fun with a little 150 cc scooter to buzz around in wouldn’t you think?

Retired Rod

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mexican Food and New Recliners

Its late and the day is gone, and I am not sure where it went to.  I hate it when that happens.  Surely it must have been more important than that.

We were up at the stroke of 8:15 because the dog was whining in the kitchen.  She is blind and wanders aimlessly so we have to tie her in the kitchen to help her find her bed and water dish.  She never messes on the floor, unless she has bad owners that forget that she has to go out.

So when it is time for that trip, she whines at us.  Hey I got to go.  Depending on the morning, she might decide that is 6 AM, and other times it will be 9.

By mid morning, Chris our oldest son brought Clair over to stay the day.  We were solving all the worlds problems, and decided to go over to Belton, Missouri for some Mexican lunch at Mi Pueblito.  We spent a lot of time there last summer when we were running the used car lot.

The place has really authentic food, but is not the very cleanest joint around.  But the sun was out and we took the Camry to get better gas mileage than one of the trucks, and off we went.

They have a luncheon Chimichanga that is popular in our family for about 6 bucks.  What’s not to like about that?  Once stuffed with Frijoles, we returned and everyone went their separate way.

Grandma and Claire for a nap, Chris to parts unknown, and I was off to Nebraska Furniture Mart in the West Side of KC, Kansas. 

I have two older recliners here in the family room, and they have been repaired repeatedly.  They are made by Lane, and came with a 5 year warranty.  They began to fall apart at about 5 and a half.  The mechanisms seem to sheer bolts with my fat carcass loaded on top of them.  Now if only I could lose about a 100 or more.

So since that is not going to happen anytime soon, I went and purchased 2 new chairs. (lazy Boy, lifetime warranty) I waited in line to pick them up at the warehouse on the back of the store, and was home around 5.

I wanted a swivel base on one of the chairs, but they didn’t have time to install it at the store.  Traffic was backed up for about a block for pickups.

So I grabbed the extra base and said I’d do it.  Mistake!

With the chairs unloaded and inside the house, I started on the base, only to find that it is installed with Torx screws.  They were so tight that I couldn’t move them with a normal screw driver, and had to go to Lowes for hardened bits to go in a quarter inch socket.

About an hour and a half later with skinned knuckles and only one bolt sheered, the base is on.  I’ll spare you the intense nasty words used during the process.  No wonder they kind of looked at me when I said I’ll do it. They knew all along I would have trouble.

So now I am sitting in the new chair with the swivel base, and wondering why it is so close to midnight.

Retired Rod

Friday, April 3, 2009

Turbo Tax and the Cable Company

I spent the morning trying to get turbo tax to load on my laptop PC. It would error out at exactly the same place each time, without the slightest bit of information about what it encountered as an error. Bummer.

It had installed a new service pak of dot net from Microsoft on my hard drive first, and I suspected that that installation was the problem, so I un installed it and then started over. The disk installed it again and wanted to reboot. This time I took over and turned the computer off entirely and then cold started the reboot. The Turbo Tax went right on that time and started itself and asked for last years file.

By that time, I was tired of fighting and decided to not go any farther into frustration. So I began paying some more bills that were due. And that caused more frustration, when I realized that the monthly cable bill was $177. That includes the land line telephone and the internet, but still that seems outrageous.

So with several calls to the Customer Service people, we decided to take back all the HD boxes that they rent you every month, and only receive basic cable TV. We slowed down the internet bandwidth and killed HBO. Even after all that, it is still over $100 a month. I put antennas on the main set and we are getting our HD signal right out of the air. It is just as good as the cable, and is free. I do think we will miss some of the digital tier stuff, but how much should monthly cable be worth?

So after driving the boxes back to the cable office, it was time to go to Grandson Caden's First Grade music class show at the grade school. All the kids had a two line part, and each one used the microphone and did his bit. The words were up on the screen so you could follow along. But this also showed if the lines were not right too. After each group of kids, they then did a song together with all four classes in unison. Lasted about 45 minutes, and the teacher never once said one thing to any of the kids. They were just on their own to go thru it all. First graders mind you, I was impressed.

We then had a late supper at Cici's Cafe, a place fashioned after a restaurant in New Orleans. I had a salsbury steak with onion creamsauce mushroom gravey. With mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Do I look fatter? I feel fatter after that.

Retired Rod

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back to KC

Nothing glamorous about working to clean up the leaves and chop off the grass clump in the front of the lake place, but then I went there to get some things done.

I was down on the dock, and looked over the very dirty pontoon boat, but it was barely in the 50's so getting all wet washing things wasn't in the cards for today. The automatic boat lift had everything full of air and floating nicely. That item is peace of mind!

At about 1 I locked up the house and drove back to KC. Takes 3 1/2 hours so I was home before 5.

I took a longer way back home, just to drive thru some of the Missouri towns that I haven't been in for over 6 months. That included Sedalia where the Escapee Escapade is to be held this May. Sedalia is home to the Missouri State Fair, and I would assume many of those facilities will be used by the SKP's this spring.

Tonight I am surfing the web and reading blogs. But then that would be every night. I never seem to watch any TV lately, too busy checking out all the real life events of my fellow blogers.

Retired Rod

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bagnell Dam from the Osage River Side


They started building the Bagnell Dam on August 6, 1929. It was completed in April of 1931. This is the Osage River, and the Lake was to be called Osage Lake or Reservoir, but the people called it the Lake of the Ozarks. So after the Missouri general assembly tried to name it Lake Benton after one of the senators, the folks kept calling it the Lake of the Ozarks.

Back in 1931 this hydroelectric plant had to be state of the art. But today, the area is a tourist destination, with a lake that reaches up river for 90 miles. We have over 1,000 miles of shoreline and somewhere around 70,000 homes that are along the shoreline.

The dam still produces 215 Megawatts at maximum capacity, and saves over a million barrels of oil a year, if that power was generated from oil. It is still a small fry on the power grid today, but AmerenUE continues to operate the dam, so something is still right about the facility.

We first came here in 1974 when our younger son was one year old. We had a “fold down” camper that we pulled with our chevy car in those years. Of course that would be a “pop up” trailer today. Times do change. But we have been at this RV thing for a few years anyway.

As one thing led to another, and we transitioned from trailers to motorhomes and then to a condo, we have been in this area for every summer since that time. Today, I call our place a fishing cabin, but it has four bedrooms. We need those bedrooms when all the families and grandkids come, and still some are sleeping on the sofa sleepers.

So with this season’s opening of our lake place, we will mark 36 years of hanging around this lake. That doesn’t seem possible, but then we aren’t spring chickens anymore either.

Retired Rod