Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ups and Downs

I bought the Stanza. It is older, and has some issues. The transmission, which was somewhat recently replaced, was not behaving well. That was the most annoying problem. Also, I was getting only 14 mpg. That was truly annoying since it's a 4 cylinder. I was about to park it to use only as spare transportation, but decided to run it through a quick-lube place and see if they found any fluids low, etc. After an oil change and a new air filter, the car runs really well again. I was low on gas, so I was going to get gas at Sam's when I was there, but they had the pumps blocked off. I looked and still had some gas according to the gage, so I decided that I'd just stop at the station on the highway home. Well, on the interstate I ran out of gas. The gage is very sensitive, it gets close to E and it stops. I called Oddball, and he answered the phone saying "I hope you aren't calling to tell me you are stranded by the side of the road in the Stanza", and I said, "well...." He was still at work, so I called Mom, and she said she'd be right down with some gas. It was raining and I was about 2 miles from a station. I decided to try to get the car rolling a bit to get further away from traffic (which you basically can't do in an automatic transmission car). I started it and it sputtered. I figured out that you can't start it while it's in any gear but park (give me my manual transmission!), so put it in park and hoped I could shift fast enough to move some. I started it, and it wouldn't go into reverse. After a bit I realized I need my foot on the brake to be able to shift out of park (grrrr), and then also realized that the motor was still running. I put it into drive, and managed to drive it to the gas station. I called mom and told her not to come. So, from now on I don't let it get below 1/4 tank. Also, after driving approximately 50 miles after the service of 228 miles on the tank of gas, I got 19 mpg. So, maybe the gas mileage will go back up to where it needs to be. The joys of older cars. It is fun to drive a car again, though, except for the automatic transmission.

I haven't done anything about selling the house yet this week. I am catching up on other things. I already have 2 days of the 3 day weekend booked doing things elsewhere. Saturday I need to be up at James Cave to help with some trash removal. The rotten wooden stairs were taken out of a section of the cave, and there is a major push to bring the wood out to a dumpster. Lots of folks who haven't shown up for a trip in ages (like me) will be there, so it should be fun. Then on Sunday there is a push to finish wiring the hotel where Phreaknic is held. When we finish all the rooms will have hardwired network connections along with wifi. It will be a good time to bond with the computer geeks a bit. When it rains it pours. I don't do anything socially for months, then this all happens in the same weekend.

I am working on myself this week. I say I'm on an 8-week self improvement plan to be stunningly perfect by Phreaknic. Well, there are a lot of loose ends in many areas that I'd like to have tied up by the end of October, so this is a good excuse.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Update

The transmission is fixed, at no charge. The guy at Grahams Transmission said that it had a burr on 4th gear. That's the only gear that didn't work by the time I got to his shop. He took it for a drive and 'knocked the burr off' and it goes into all gears now. I think it's something floating around in the transmission, but I'll accept gratefully that all gears currently work. Bill got the Saab fixed for me to borrow, so now they have an extra car for whatever they need it for. Nancye is pleased. And, I'm going to buy oddball's Stanza to have as a back up for when the truck needs work done again. So he's happy. All in all a good ending for the day that started out looking so bleak.

I'm still decompressing. I should take a load of things over to the new house. I say I want to 'get moving'. I'm also lazy. We'll see which wins.


All of the deals on the house have fallen through. The lady who was trying to arrange financing has disappeared, apparently couldn't get the money. The couple who looked last Friday seemed to like it, but found nit-picky things wrong. I think my realtor saying I was firm at a price I'm not firm on scared them away. I wish I could get him to just shut up. :) I replaced the weed-eater that I broke getting the yard ready last Thursday. It cost over $100. sigh. It is the only one that I've had that actually does what I need, and the new yard will be the same way, so I went ahead and bought it.

Then last evening the Universe smacked me again telling me I need to get a move on (literally). The transmission went out in my truck. I have 3 gears left out of 5, sometimes. I am arranging to borrow a car from a friend. Her husband has declared the car unsafe to drive at this point (a recent issue in the plan), and he is going to see if the mechanic can fix it today so I can borrow it. It might be able to be bought if I want after driving it. It is an older Saab. Another friend offered to sell me his Stanza. It has some issues, but is currently running. If I can borrow the one car while I get the truck running again, I'm not sure which of the cars I'll buy, but most likely I'll buy one or the other since the truck has 268K miles on it. I need backup transportation.

Once I get me and the house cleaned up this morning I'll baby the truck into the transmission place and see how much this will cost me. I'm hoping for under $700. We'll see. If I remembered the name of the place so I could call them it would be good, but I can't. All in all, this will cost me around $1,000 no matter what. I took today off work to figure something out. To rent a car I'm looking at $200/wk at least. That's why just buying an older car makes some sense, even though I'm broke.

Ok, ok, I'm getting the message, Universe. I need to sell this house no matter what and get back to where I have some money to fix things that are breaking.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


The people who looked at the house last night apparently like it. They were here till after 8pm. Their realtor told my realtor that she had shown them a bunch of stuff in the past 2 months, and this is the first one they have really liked. So, hopefully today they will make an offer. My realtor kinda led them to believe that I'm less willing to negotiate than I really am. I think it is no accident that the ones who have seriously followed up on the place are the ones I talked to first...

Decided not to go to the Huntsville hamfest since I busted the weed-eater on Thursday working on getting the yard looking good. I have to replace it, and that will be $80 or so. It is hot again, so not a lot of work will get done this weekend, I'm thinking, but I may try to pack up some more things. Mostly I'm just waiting.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The realtor called me yesterday and someone wants to see the house Friday evening. I will spend tonight finishing up the cleaning, and then find something to do after work tomorrow. Who knows. My life is on hold waiting on a phone call. Either the one that says 'I have a written offer for your house near what you are asking' or the one from a contracting company that says 'I have a job you might be interested in'. So, anyway, I'll get the house as presentable as possible tonight and hope for the best.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Middle of the week

I have the blahs. The weather is cooler, but not enough to inspire me to do anything after work to move along towards any of my goals. I am having anxiety attacks most mornings before work. This job is not hitting me in my strong suits in many ways. The technical work is fine, but I hate having others arrange my day and I don't find out what I'll be doing till that morning, even what county I'll be in or what time I might get off work. I keep saying that I want to move before getting into serious job hunting, but I get anxious about actually making a move on that, too. It did occur to me that I could at least call one of the bottom feeding brokers to see how they work, to see if they will be an option or not. Some loose ends are slowly getting tied up, but I'm feeling stuck.

I am also realizing how many areas I feel uneducated in. I went in to a used book store yesterday, and just looking around made me realize that I could spend most of my time in study and just scratch the surface of what I feel I should know. History, politics of the world, cooking, literature of the rest of the world - saw a couple of books on the literature of Japan... - and that is just a sampling of the liberal arts side.

There is a hamfest in Huntsville on Saturday. I am thinking of driving down for it. I am also thinking 'I should stay home and work on the houses...' but I always think that and I am also saying I need to get out and do more fun things. Some of the guys I talk to in the chat room will be there. Still haven't decided. And, the KY state fair is going on now, starts tomorrow. I try to get up there one day while Nancye is working her facepainting booth there. Last year I made it on the last day of the fair. I was also thinking of going up there either Saturday or Sunday. I may just decide when I get out of bed on Saturday what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Projects

I am still thinking about how to structure my University unschool. Discussion on the chat room this morning about authors has me reminded that it has been years (decades?) since I read fiction books. My taste ran to non-fiction, mostly technical stuff, early on and I never went back. So, I am excluded from any discussions about modern writers. I was thinking that a place to start might be the NY Times bestseller list, starting at the bottom. I am a fast reader, so it might work. The other might be to ask friends what they are reading. Still pondering.

One of my favorite authors was Collette. She was a French author at the turn of the century or so. Unfortunately, the quality of the translation affects the version you read. The older translations that the Bloomington, IN library had were wonderful, written in that same turn of the century style. The newer paperback anthology of her work that I got a few years ago doesn't resonate with the romanticism of the earlier works. One danger in reading too much of her is that I have become like a character in one of her novels, choosing to live alone rather than give in to society's demands. Also, like one of her female characters, I tend to notice 'young male bodies' a lot...

Sunday, August 13, 2006


With the weather cooler I finally got some things done today. I mowed the yard, did some weed-eating, did laundry, and am doing the dishes. I put the dishes into the dishwasher all week, and then do them by hand on the weekend. Just don't like automatic dishwashers. I am almost ready for the week to begin again tomorrow. Oh, I also cleaned a lot of the CSA vegetables out and took them to the compost pile. I can not keep up with them, and after the chigger incident I didn't want to go back to the compost pile till I had mowed the grass down.

I am also feeling better in general, less like a slug. I'm doing some back stretches, and eating better, and generally waking up. I was ready for that weather to break.

I spent a lot of the day reading Heather's blogs. I have some mixed feelings about some of the things I read, in both her and her mom's blogs. Then again, they didn't write them just to have me sit in judgment of their decisions. I am trying to learn from them, take what I think will work for me, see the possible downsides to some of the things I think I might want to do from others who are actually doing them. Lots to think about.


There were storms that finally broke the heat wave. Hopefully it is now cooler for the rest of the season, not just a few days. It actually feels like autumn out there, damp and cool. It is before noon, and I have mowed the front and most of the back yard. I had put the battery charger for the weed-eater out of sight for the open house, and couldn't find it for quite awhile this morning. Finally found it, and so the battery is charging. I can't get the tractor over large parts of the yard, and use the weed-eater more like a small lawnmower. If I keep chipping away at it the yard will start looking better. I still haven't touched the yard at the new house, but all in good time...

The lady still wants to buy this house, but the latest is that it will take at least 2 weeks to get the financing together. Well, the realtor's contract is up at the end of the month, and I will start calling the 'we buy ugly houses' folks. I will honor his contract if she comes through before I sell it to someone else, but I'm not going to extend his contract again.

On a different subject, I have been pondering a few things. This is always dangerous. I feel a certain lack of knowledge in many areas. The one that crystallized this is my lack of advanced math skills. I was/am afraid of math because of having a math teacher in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades that I hated. One of the problems with going to such a small school is that he was the only game in town as far as math went. So, as soon as Algebra 1 was done, so was I. In college I took the technology track so that I didn't have to take the more difficult math classes. I still passed 2 semesters of calculus, barely. Hanging with the geeks, it is an area that I am reminded at times of how much I don't know.

Along with this train of thought I remembered Heather, from Peace and Carrots farm. She was homeschooled through high school, and when it was time she decided to do the unschooled thing with college, and started her own college, ORION. That is: Outdoor Recreation Institute of New England. The link to her school is here: . The information is a bit outdated since her mom sold the farm in Vermont, the Heather is an interesting person. When she needs something, she figures out how to make it or go do it. I haven't caught up with her adventures lately, but she was building her own cabin, built her own kayak, was rebuilding a van, etc. She also set out to do a long distance hike, which I intend to read about in her journal soon. It is at:

So, what does this have to do with my lack of math knowledge? Well, I started thinking about what my own personal university would look like. What the curriculum would be, what the responsibilities and requirements are. There would need to be structure, or it would end up looking like my current life, with bunches of holes still showing in my blanket of knowledge. So, I am mentally working on what the University of Gaelio will be. Stay tuned. Oh, yeah, I'm sure it will have a home improvement track in it as well as the math...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Round

The update on the house is that I have gotten a verbal offer from the ones who looked at it a couple of weeks ago. Waiting on that to become a written offer. I told them that the offer was in the realm of what I would accept. Then last night the realtor called and another realtor wants to show the place this morning at 9. It occurred to me around 7 that I'm not usually gone by 9. So, I'm gonna hurry up and get ready for work and start the process of final cleanup. I may be still doing that when they arrive, but better that than still printing out my calls as I usually am.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I feel like I am truly on the cusp of change. Part of it is that I am nearing that fork that will determine my health for the latter part of my life. I need to get my act together, and soon. I also need to move out of this rut I'm in. Time to either move into the new house or get rid of it. Whatever way selling this current house goes next week, if she buys it or not, it is going to be sold by the end of September. I will call the 'we buy ugly houses' folks if necessary.

It is also time to seek out some more friends. I need to find folks to hang with occasionally. I was talking to someone from the geek group last night on the computer and he made a comment that had me wondering 'why am I even trying to talk to this guy?' I have made some friends in the group and I'll try hard to hang on to them. I'm not going to boycott any meetings or anything, but I need to find more folks who enjoy the things I do, and then I need to start getting out and doing more enjoyable things. I also need to start enjoying the process of converting the new house. This geek group of folks aren't into a lot of home remodeling, which is fine. There are those who are and I need to find someone who enjoys talking about the process and such to help me stay motivated. As the geek group moves into the house buying stages of their lives, they will change, too.

That said, I will now get up, eat some breakfast, get dressed and start the process of engaging in my life again.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Intereresting Site

I got this link from a caver message board I visit. It talks about the fact that hearing at high frequencies drops off with age, and that high frequency tones can be used to either repel younger folks from areas they congregate or as teenage cellphone ringtones that adults can't hear. I checked my hearing using my laptop, and I can't hear above 13KHz. I'm sure it's because of the darn laptop speakers...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quick News

The realtor called me this morning. As it happened the phone rang just as a co-worker asked if I'd sold my house yet. I looked at the caller ID and say "Maybe..." and was laughing when I answered. Turned out the realtor wanted to show the house at 6 this evening. Well, I had left the house in sort of clean shape, but there was cat food on the kitchen floor, the cat box hadn't been scooped, and I have these CSA vegetables all over my counters. In other words, not too bad but not really show ready. But, I don't say no, so I warned him and said go ahead. Well, seems that she (it's a mother and 2 children) loved the house and wants it. The realtor is having his financial guy work with her before they even make an offer. I may know by Wednesday if she will be able to afford the house or not. I know what I am willing to settle for. I am not counting on any money till we actually close. This means that when I move into the new house it will be in about the same shape it is now. Which is to say, not considered exactly livable by anyone but me who is used to camping.

Oh, and an update on Chiggers. I went out and did some study on the internet, and found out that I knew nothing right about chiggers. First off, they are a mite, and the larval stage is what causes the problems. They have 6 legs and are related to spiders. They DO NOT burrow into the skin. In fact by the time the itching starts they are usually long gone. Seems that the showers I was taking was the most helpful part of my regime. The nail polish was noted as possibly easing some of the itching, and it was also noted that clear polish works fine. I have heard that some folks tell those who don't know any better 'oh, it has to be red polish, the brightest you can find, something in the dye...' then laugh as the poor person not only itches but also is covered by splotches of red nail polish. My own bites seem to be increasing daily, and covering more of my body. Luckily they don't itch much during the day. When the itching gets too bad for me to stand at night I put on lots of lotion hoping the oil in the lotion will block some of the air and make the itching stop. My studies said that this could go on for over a week. sigh.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm done with August

Actually I'm done with summer. We need a hard freeze. Now. I walked some things down to the compost pile Monday afternoon. Ok, I haven't mowed the yard for a couple of weeks and it shows, but the grass is still pretty short. Well, I apparently walked through a chigger nest. So, My feet, ankles, and some points north (don't ask) are now itchy. I have pulled out the nail polish, and am taking lots o showers. But, I guess for a few days more I'll just scratch. Then walking to my truck yesterday morning to go to work I walked through a spider web. TOO MANY BUGS OUT THERE.