Thursday, July 31, 2008

Have you met Tux?

Okay, so after kicking and screaming about having to learn Linux at work I have decided to go completely the other way with this one. Life for me is like that. I hate change and I will fight every bit of it until finally I get so irritated that I cave in and accept it.
Over the past several days my bosses and I have been going around and around. I personally think I have made the best points about not learning linux because we don't support linux users in any way, and I'm not the network administrator so I don't have to take care of the servers. When I made this point, like a 2 year old my boss simply said "okay, now we support linux. Learn it. "
I'm not saying that Microsoft has written the best operating system ever. Hardly even functional at times, but I am used to it and I am comfortable with it. I know, get out of your comfort zone Matt. I'm getting there. I have been researching the different distrabutions of Linux and I must say that what I'm finding is very helpful.
I'm going to be getting an old server out of storage and building a linux machine out of it. If all goes well, I may be converting my house computer over as well. I'll keep you all posted on how this goes. Any opinions, feel free to share. I may not comment back but I do read the comments you leave.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What a beautiful day

As a child living in Seattle, I never really paid much attention to the fact that it was raining most of the year. After living in Walla Walla and visiting Seattle (even moving back for a stint) I see now how beautiful the weather is there. Sure, it rains sometimes but there is beauty to be found in rain. Like green grass that you don't have to water. And all the trees. Really, if you take the traffic away, it's beautiful.
Today in Walla Walla is like most summer days in Seattle. It's only 79 so far (it's almost 5pm) and there is a light breeze. The sun is fading between clouds so there is a lot of blue sky but it's not blinding. It's just plain beautiful.
I hope all of you are having a better day than I am because then I will know that you're all happy and content.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Well, that was a close one. Thursday, Dena and I were going to go to my sisters house. When I got into Dena's car, I noticed one of those "we missed you" post it's from the Post Office. So I looked at it and it was for me regarding a certified letter. I don't know how many certified letters you all have received in your lives, but they are never good news. NEVER!
I had just heard that the person that traded me the truck for the Bronco had been arrested. I don't know all the details, nor do I want to bore all of you with them, but he was driving the Bronco when he was arrested. So while talking to my Dad I put two and two together and figured the certified letter had something to do with the Bronco. My guess, it was impounded and the person hadn't switched it into his name.
Okay, I know. You are thinking that I'm the dummy for not filing my release of interest form. And you're right. I'm the dummy. In Washington, the release of interest form is easy to remember because it's on the title. In Oregon it's not so easy. You have to either go into a DMV office or you have to go online. I think there may be one on the back of the registration too, but I didn't keep that.
Anyway, on Friday I got the letter and sure enough, it was from a towing company in Elk WA north of Spokane (sorry Dad, it was Elk, not Elm). The balance due at the bottom is $638.00 and rising. The daily cost is $39. I didn't know the Bronco took up that much space, but oh well, it's not really my place to tell them they are ripping people off. :-)
The date of the letter is July 14th so by my calculations the balance is up to $1,184.00 and rising. I reluctantly called the number on the bottom of the letter hoping to at least be able to stop the rising cost. I was ready to admit to being a dummy and be done with it. Sure, you can still auction it off, I don't want it. Anyway, I called their office and spoke to a very nice woman named Linda. She explained (in great detail I might add) how the guys brother had called claiming to have the title so she already knew it wasn't my rig anymore. She also said that because I live in Oregon she didn't want to fight out of state to get the money from me knowing that it wasn't my rig anymore. She's just going to hold on to it and auction it off for whatever she can get out of it and cut her losses on it. She did suggest that I file the release of interest form in the future if I should sell a car though.
For those of you in the Elk, WA area that may need towing service you should call R&B Towing South at 509-292-5075. They really are very nice, polite and professional. And, if you're looking for a spare vehicle, they have a 1989 Ford Bronco that is stronger than I ever gave it credit for that has a very strong rebuilt transmission in it. The action is August 31st at 12:00pm.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's time to rant

Most of you know that I work for an internet company. I manage the technical support staff, and most of the time I do the exact same thing they do. I answer the phone and help people with their internet related issues. Also, most days I'm perfectly content doing this. Then there are days like yesterday and today.
I have a few questions. Don't feel obligated to answer them, they are rhetorical questions. Just little things that I ponder from time to time.
Why is it that when the internet isn't working because we have a server or service down, people don't get upset, but if they make a simple mistake that prevents them from getting online, they yell at the technician like we caused their stupidity? :-)

Do fish get thirsty?

When there is a network outage, why is it the first person to call wants to talk about the outage for an hour while they can hear the phones ringing in the back ground?

When a person calls tech support, isn't it because they can't figure out the issue at hand? I can't tell you how many times I have asked a customer to do something, only to have them come back at me with "that's not going to fix this, I've been fixing computers for 3000 years..."! Blah blah blah. Countless times after hearing that statement, I hear this one: "oh, hmm. It seems to be working now..." Yeah, because I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

Did you know that computer illiterate senior citizens are easier to deal with than people in their 20's?

So today we had an outage if you couldn't figure that out on your own. It lasted about 6 hours. We took about 9 billion calls before lunch. Each call lasted an average of 30 seconds. Yeah, I know, the math doesn't work there. It's been a very busy day, and I was looking very forward to going to lunch. I was going to get out of the building, go buy a pop and maybe go get a hair cut. I left the office and drove over and got a pop. Then I drove up Main Street in Walla Walla on my way to get my hair cut. I heard someone yell so I looked over and saw a friend of mine that I used to work with and decided to stop and talk rather than get my hair cut. (Priorities).
Anyway, we're standing there talking and I look over and notice my tire is almost flat. Hmm, bummer. So I cut my visit short and headed up to Les Schwabs. Turns out the valve stem was leaking. They replaced it and I was off on my happy way again. I looked at the clock and my lunch break was just about over. Nice. Didn't get to relax at all really. I did stop for about 5 minutes to talk to a friend, but that was it. Didn't even have time to eat. Oh well, back at it again.
As I type this up the office is pretty dead now. All systems are back up and other than the occasional slow person that didn't call in this morning and hasn't tried connecting since then calling in, it's pretty calm. Being able to rant a little I feel much better though.
Oh, I just remembered. The truck is being a butt again. Yesterday I got in it to drive it to get a tool and just to make sure it was still in running order and it wouldn't start. I opened the hood and the positive battery cable was smoking. Yes, smoking. I know. Not a good thing I'm sure. It had melted the bolt-on terminal end and had started to melt through the negative cable (they touch but I never thought about it being bad because they are both covered). Yeah, so needless to say I need new battery cables. The saga continues.
I hope you all have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. I plan to. My children will be joining us for the weekend and I'm looking forward to my parents visiting next week from Seattle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Does your body get in the way?

Last weekend I decided that I was going to look the truck over and find out why it wouldn't stay in 4-wheel drive that fateful day a couple weeks back. I pulled it over to the shop, removed the shift boot and found my problem.
The 4-wheel drive shifter was hitting the body of the truck before it was going into 4-low. That would explain why the front wheels weren't turning... :-)
Well, I'm happy to say that after about a half hour with a jig saw (and safety goggles that make me look like a mad scientist) the truck now goes all the way into 4-low. Had I really thought about it while we were up in the mountains, I probably could have saved us some time by fixing this on the trail.
Oh well. Lessons learned. At least the truck was still intact when I went up to get it. Now I just need to do a little dent pulling (Dena found a few trees) and some welding (cheaper than buying lockers) and try it out again. :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The flood recedes

Apparently the reason the truck wouldn't start up again when we were stuck in the mountains a week ago was because the carburetor was flooded out. Sitting in the mountains for a week must have given it time for the carb to drain. From the looks of things it was draining out on the intake through the accellerator pump. Here's the kicker though, I got in it with a fresh battery and it fired right up. No, I'm not kidding. Turned the key for half a second and it fired. The truck was sitting at over a 50 degree angle for over a week and it simply fired right up. I can hear my father now: "Damn Chevy". :-)
A great deal of the snow had melted over the week between getting stuck and getting out. There was still a fair amount up there though. I blew the tire off the bead twice coming down and had to be pulled out of a couple of nasty spots. When I made it out of the deep stuff I looked under the front of my truck and there was snow packed in my suspension so much you couldn't see the suspension. Kept the engine nice and cool though.
So we got out of the snow and a couple of the other guys were taking goat trails off the main road. I walked up a hill to watch them try and articulate up a steep hill, with a "V" notch at the top. The thing that made it difficult was the tree running down the center of the "V" notch. Two of my buddies made it over it, and the third busted an axle. So we all sat around telling jokes and playing around while he pulled his front axle apart. He would have just driven home, but with all the broken pieces in the housing, he couldn't steer.
All in all it took about 11 hours to go up and get my truck down. Later that night I had the guys come over and we sat around the fire pit in the back yard drinking beer and listening to music.
In a few weeks I should have the truck back up and running the way it's supposed to be. I'm going to replace the carburetor rather than rebuild the POS that's on there. Then, we'll take it up and break it again. That's kind of the name of the game though. At least it's not my daily driver... :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Trial and error... err fail.

I don't know about all of my family and friends, but Sunday was a very long day. So long in fact that it lasted well into Monday. Okay, I'll tell the story. It could be a long one though. I hope you have some time.
As you can see by the pictures at the top, we ran into some snow. But what you are looking at is not anything really. it's only about two and a half feet deep in the drifts. It got much worse. But lets not jump the gun here. I'd have more pictures buy the battery on my phone died.
Sunday started off as normally as most. We had a 4-wheeling trip planned all week. My friend Erik stopped by at 9:45 am to wake me up and make sure we were going. I got up, got ready and then got the truck fired up. We all met at another friends house around 11. By noon we were on our way.
We drove up Lincton Mountain Road. It's mostly compact dirt, rock (not to be mistaken for gravel) and a few puddles. Nothing major. On this road I found that the suspension in my truck is very stiff. Dena found out too. The glove box door fell off onto her feet.
We were almost to the end of that road, which intersects with Oregon Highway 204 / Weston Elgin Highway (going up to Spout Springs for you skiers) and the lead vehicle pulled over. Like cattle we all stop. It seems that the custom shock mounts on Brian's 4-runner weren't welded on very well and had just snapped off. Since Brian didn't weld them we couldn't give him to hard a time.
So Brian took the shocks the rest of the way off and we all continued on our merry little way. We got on the highway and drove to Skyline Ridge Road. This is the road that you take to get to Jubilee Lake. We came around one corner and there was a snow drift that was still taking up half the road way and went straight up the cliff side. I wish I would have snapped a picture of this thing. It was incredible.
Anyway, we got to the lake and walked around a little bit. We let the dogs cool off in the water and the kids play around. After about 20 minutes it was time to keep going. So we all jumped back in our rigs and headed out. We continued on Skyline. Not very far from the entrance to the lake is where those pictures were taken. In the first picture you can see the ruts I dug when I got stuck going into it. This is where we learned about the first problem my truck currently has.
It seems that my truck does not like to stay in 4-wheel drive. This could be a problem, but like the rednecks we are, we decided to chance it.
After I got pulled out of the first little hole I had dug (I was pulled about 8 feet) we unhooked from the other truck and I learned something else about my truck. It needs a carburetor. BAD! Just to add a note here for anyone not paying attention, I have only had this truck for a couple of days at this point and I hadn't really driven it at all (you know, to my defense). Anyway, I found out that it has a Holly Carburetor on it. Anyone that knows old Holly's knows right now what my truck was doing. Every time I stepped on the gas the truck would back fire, and nine times out of ten it would then die. Getting it out of that first patch of snow took some work, but we got it.
On up the trail we went. We drove up the road a little further and came to a clearing in the trees where all the snow had melted off. That's when Brian's 4-runner and Erik's Toyota pickup went off the road. They drove up the embankment (2 feet straight up) and up the hill. The hill is about 100 to 150 yards long and is about a 30 degree angle. Not really all that bad for most rigs. Mine on the other hand had to cough and spit and sputter it's way up because the carb was flooding out horribly. Not to worry, this isn't the first POS I've driven. I made it up the hill. I had to go around the embankment, but I made it up the hill. Up on top it was a muddy soupy mix of dried grasses, snow clumps and clay. It's fun. But I'm looking at a hill that is well over 45 degrees straight up. It's not long but it's steep. I know my truck is not going to do this. I had pretty much had enough already so I got in with Erik, and his wife Chandi got in with Dena. Let me just make this clear right now: Dena can drive. She made that truck do things it never should have done. It was a beautiful sight to watch.
Anyway, Dena and Chandi tried at this hill several times, but the carb would just flood out and they would die, or they'd get just to the top and lose power. So they went off to play. They didn't make it very far and I heard the truck die. After about 5 minutes I see they are still sitting there so I walked over to see what was up. You could tell they had been trying to start the rig because it just smelled flooded. But there was something else in there. A stale plastic smell. I looked a little closer and called Erik over. We opened the hood, sure enough the damn thing is on fire. Erik is yelling at the girls to get out of the truck and he's telling me to get the air cleaner off. It was happening a lot quicker than it needed to, to be honest with you. It's a carb fire. Sure, you need to get it put out, but come on. What is it going to spread to in a 79 Chevy? Everything under there is metal.
Anyway, the air cleaner came flying off (by the way, I have one of the longest air cleaner studs I have ever seen. It took forever to get the wing nut off) and flames "whoosh" are about 2 feet high. Erik and I are throwing snowballs down the carb to get the fire out because the one tool we forgot was the fire extinquisher. The snow has melted enough to be covered in dirt and pine needles. Just what I want going down the intake. But I suppose it's better than the alternative.
After the fire was out we all kind of sat around looking at the truck. No noticable damage, other than the lingering pine needles hanging out of the carb. Dena started appologizing. Like it was her fault the truck caught on fire. We all calmed her down, and sat around laughing about it. The kids and Erik all had a snow ball fight as we let the truck sit. About 30 minutes later, and about 4 tries we started the truck back up. Yes, it fired back up. This thing is a die hard truck. I'm sure the plugs are fouled, I know the carb is shot and the 4wheel drive keeps kicking out.
So I ask everyone, can we turn around and head back the way we came? I know what is wrong with the truck and I'd like to get it home to fix it. Nope. Not gonna happen. Everyone takes off. I would have just turned around myself, but I know there was one spot where I'm going to get stuck and there would be no one there to pull me out.
So we continue on. I let the girls continue to drive it. Oh, we adjusted the idle up a bit so it wouldn't die so easily. Anyway, the girls are having a ball in it. Any time it died they just turned the key (didn't give it any gas) and continued on their merry way. About a mile or less beyond the scene of the fire :-) they blew a bead on the tire. So we dig out the front tire, and set the bead (ether is wonderful for this, but having onboard air like my friends helps much more) and continued on. A short time later, same bead blew again. Reset and go again...
Then the snow started to get deeper, and deeper and deeper. By 10:30pm the truck was stuck against a tree and Dena was getting frustrated with it. To be honest, I had past frustration and I was into aggrivation. The drifts were sloping across the road and I was not having a good time anymore.
After getting stuck twice in a row Dena decided it was time to let Chandi drive. A short time later (not sure how as Erik and I were having trouble in his Toyota pickup) the truck ended up at the bottom of a 10' snow drift. Again, the 4wheel drive wasn't working and they slid down it. While trying to tug them out the truck died and wouldn't restart. Erik tried and tried and it just wouldn't start. My suggestion at this point was to leave it. Dena and I had to work the next morning and it was already very late.
Erik put the jumper cables on it to charge the battery sometime around 11:30. I'm not sure when but at some point while waiting I fell asleep. It was late, I was tired and cranky. I woke up a very short time later to Dena poking me in the arm saying choice words. She gets rather worked up quickly when she's tired. Anyway, I guess Erik had tried starting it again and it wouldn't start. So the decision was made to leave it up there.
Shortly after leaving it, Brian blew a bead on his truck. This night is just getting better and better. His front end was burried. But we all pitched in and dug it out and reset the bead.
Things finally started looking better. The snow was going away, the rigs were moving faster (anything beyond stuck is an improvement) and I could see an end to this experience.
And then Mother Nature, or Karma (as I like to call it) threw in another wrench. Across the road, with no way around it, was a 20-24" thick tree. I think it was a Tamarack, but at this point I didn't care. It was just after 2 in the morning.
Erik got out the chain saw and started cutting, but we had dulled the blade getting rid of a fallen tree earlier that we thought my truck was hung up on. Dirt and rocks have a tendancy to do that to a chain saw blade. So one and a half tanks of gas and three quarters of the tree later, the chain saw BREAKS IN HALF! No, I"m not kidding. The rubber bushing that connects the two parts of the chainsaw busted right in half. The bar on the saw is not as thick as the tree so we really don't know how far through it we are, but we know it's not all the way. After a few minutes of standing around thinking "what now" we decided we would take a chance and strap a truck to it and pull. If we are through it enough it will snap, and if not, we'll be leaving another rig up there. Luckily (and much to my surprise) we were more than three quarters of the way through it. It snapped and we pulled it out of the way.
Down the road a bit further there was another tree down, but we were able to go around that one.
Dena got home shortly before I did. When I got home she met me on the back steps and said "our day only gets better" and took me by the hand. She led me inside where a 25-30" patch of the lath and plaster from our ceiling had fallen down. It just fell down. It wasn't wet, it just decided to drop. Jarrett was home when it happened said that a small piece fell, and then the rest of it all came down about 30 minutes later.
As you can all see, it was a very long day. And for those wondering, yes I did make it to work on time Monday. I came in, worked until I new we had enough coverage and then left. I left here at 10am, got home at 10:25 and was asleep by 10:30. 24 hours to the minute after we left the day before.
A word to the wise, and a lesson learned the hard way I suppose. I hope you have all enjoyed reading about it, because I'm fairly certain you wouldn't have had much fun with us. :-)
More next time.