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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Its been a good year...?

The year in review:

On Christmas Evening 2014 we returned home from my in laws to find our freezer broken and our cherished stock of cranberry sauce (being saved for next Thanksgiving) about to spoil. This required an emergency midnight run back to Keuka lake with our foodstuffs.  Then I had to fix the freezer over the holiday.

We made the decision to go with a high deductible health plan so we could use some specific health care providers.  

Dishwasher broke, 2 weeks later the microwave broke.  I had to replace them both. (This might have happened last year..its all kind of running together)

The kitchen faucet started raining water into the basement. Delta faucet replaced the parts with defective ones from China. After hours on the phone and 5 different overnight deliveries I had a working kitchen faucet again.

About half a dozen shut off valves all started leaking and had to be replaced.

I literally replaced every valve and hose under the kitchen sink before it was dry again.

The garage roof sprung a leak and had to be replaced ($1600).

I jumped into Keuka Lake with my eye glasses on and they promptly ended up in the deep where they could not be found. Replacements cost $550. Had to wear my prescription sunglasses at work for two weeks. I was stylish.

There is a water theme here.

The riding mower blew a head gasket and turned into a bug fogging machine.

5 days before departing on our dream trip to Alaska I ruptured my Achilles tendon and had to have it surgically repaired. Alaska vacation cancelled. The decision to get the high deductible health plan now hurts worse than the Achilles injury.

and on Thanksgiving day we found out the frozen cranberry sauce had spoiled.

Now why do you say has it been a good year...

My mom graciously bought us a new riding mower, We can now mow the grass in half the time and it looks twice as good. The reduction in carbon emissions earned me citation from the G6.

My new eyeglasses are fantastic. I was struggling with my old ones in seeing the golf ball at address. I got specific  HD golf lenses and it took strokes off my golf score.

The week we were supposed to be in Alaska had terrible weather and we would not have been able to do any of the activities we planned. We did got a full refund and are going next year.

I have a much quieter and cleaner dishwasher, better microwave (Although the convection oven combined feature is making the RQ yell OWTH at General Electric.)

Brad made fresh better cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and we enjoyed it immensly.

Turning negatives into positives is what it is all about...You have two choices
1) Complain about your misfortune and be miserable.
2) Do something about it and figure out how to turn it around.  In every negtive is an opportunity to be miserable or to be innovative.

...but the best part of the year is we are all healthy and happy, we acquired a new family member (Dude Ranch) and we count our blessings every day.

Here's hoping 2016 brings a healed Achilles, a thrilling Alaska adventure and no more new family least until I say so.! 

Back to the future

I have been a little sheltered the past 5 years. I have not done much traveling and am activities are generally limited to driving to work, working and returning home. I don't listen or watch the news regularly nor do I incessantly stare at my phone.  I was absolutely shocked when I took a trip to Switzerland via Toronto and I must have looked like I had just arrived from 1982. A few of the surprises.

Toronto has a toll road which monitors your usage by taking a picture of your license plate and sending you a bill. I still have not received the bill but I was in a rental car, so we will see if it gets back to me.

When I arrived at the Toronto Airport parking garage I saw a line of Teslas plugged into chargers while their owners traveled. They also provide valet service at the departure drop off and wash your car and store it in a nice glass enclosed area.

At the gate lounge area the usual uncomfortable airport seats were replaced by couches and arm chairs each with its own iPad for you to use. You could order food on the iPad and they would bring it to you. 10 minutes before my departure the iPad in front of me told me so and asked if I would ilke coffee or Tea before I got on the plane. Presumably it didnt know that would make me want to pee and that is not an urge I want to have when sitting in the center row in economy.

Apparently airlines have stopped serving anything resembling edible food during flights and economy seating has been reduced to less leg room than my knees need to not impale into the seat back in front of me.

Upon arriving in Zurich I was chauffeured to my meeting by a self driving car. I looked at the driver in horror as he had his hands off the wheel and foot off the gas and brake while we were traveling 100 kph in rush hour traffic.

The hotel elevator required I wave my room key in front of a little panel to activate it. Then the room door, lacking any kind of slot for the key required a similar wave in front of the knob. Then upon entering the room the room key had to be inserted in a slot to activate the light and climate control.  It was a miracle I made it into the room at all.

Everything is automated from ordering lunch at a restaurant to getting your boarding pass and submitting customs documents. Old people are standing at the kiosks yelling for help. "Miss, Miss where am I supposed to stick this form?"

Which begs the question. Why is technology putting hurdles in front of me that I am instinctively supposed to know how to over come?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How many characters from this Blog does it take to change a lightbulb

Two and a half. Portman (Presently Handicapped counts as 1/2). Lil B and the RQ.

Somehow Saturn designed the Aura starting with the headlamp bulb and then assembled the rest of the car around it. Requiring the removal of 25 fasteners, the bumper, the wheel well liner and parts of the under body to access a part which requires replacement every 3 years!

This process requires removal of hidden bolts, special tools and quite a bit of patience and force. Muscles were pulled, Tears were shed, smells were spread, Swear words were sworn. After 6 hours of labor and using most of my pneumatic and power tools we managed to successfully change exactly one headlight bulb. No wonder car dealers charge $200 for this service!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Jordon Spieths Caddy better be careful

He is starting to look like the homeless guy Happy Gilmore turned into his caddy.
The resemblance is uncanny.

With the $2.15 million he made this year he can buy a lot of disposable razor blades.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Crap..I did it again

This time I was only playing tennis. Snapped the Achilles, made a loud popping sound. My tennis partner was nice enough to pick me up off the court and drive me to the ER. I kid you not when I showed up all they asked was my name and date of birth and told me to take a seat.  No insurance card no other information. "We have everything on file" they said. I wonder if they have a frequent flyer program?

GPS palooza

When Portman gets into a project. He really gets into a project. A desire to integrate an old Garmin GPS into an old car started an Odyssey worthy of an engineer who doesn't get his hands on stuff anymore but sits in meetings listening to Yentas Kibitz.  This post is going to require a judaic dictionary I am afraid.

The task at hand was to fix the annoying tendency of my GPS suction cup mount to come unconnected from the windshield at the worst possible moment and to eliminate the obtrusive power cord from sullying the usual sleek appearance of my simulated (ie plastic) walnut dash.

A few YouTube videos later I had my idea.

Voila. A completely integrated semi permanent GPS mount with the wiring hidden behind the dash. It detaches easily and turns on and off automatically with the car ignition. Cost $10. I had to consult the internet for how to disassemble the dashboard. Its very simple but requires inside knowledge of a secret place you press on the dash and utter a secret phrase such as arrrggghhh while you exert incredible force on your dashboard until just when you think you are going to break the thing in two it relents and separates itself from the connected part.

Then I remembered the GPS came with lifetime maps. Onto the computer. I connected the thing and a few downloads and Garmin help sites later and I have the latest maps stored on the GPS.

But wait..there's more. While searching for how to update the GPS I found a web site with street maps available for free. Garmin charges $79 for the things. I have a bike GPS which has non detailed maps and I wanted to update it and wouldn't you believe there is an organization which produces bike specific GPS maps which they will build for you. A few giga bytes of downloaded data later and I have detailed maps on my bike GPS for, you guessed it, free.

But why stop there. I also found a free app for my smartphone which has GPS maps which do not require a data connection. Perfect for that trip to Denali National Park where GPS service is non existent.  I will be hiking right past those iPhone sissys as they search for a data connection  and wonder why they cant find their way off the tour bus.

So now I have a GPS in my car on my bike and in my pocket. The only way I can get lost is in my own thoughts as the Yentas drone on.....

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Thats Do it Yourself, for those of you accustomed to repairing things with the Universal Tool (A credit Card).  I think it fair to say if it leaks, stinks, squeaks or sticks Portman gets busy. 

Leaks: Recently the connection to my hot water heater was dripping slowly. This is akin to Chinese water torture for Portman. A few trips to home depot and $20 in the swear jar later and its fixed! 
My outside faucet has been dripping for 18 years (since I bought the house). Despite the drip being no worse, Somehow, just recently it became imperative I get it fixed. I bought the replacement valve 15 years ago and never installed it. Hardest part of the job was getting over the procrastination. 

Stinks: My kitchen and bathroom faucets started emitting a foul odor when first run after about a day of non-use. After 4 months of fiddling with the water treatment system it turned out the problem was in the feed lines right at the faucet. The fix was to soak the hose in a Chlorine solution. Who knew! The fix for Portman still cannot be found.

Squeaks: My prize road bike started developing this creaking noise when pedaling hard. After replacing the chain, the bottom bracket and re-greasing and torquing every bolt I could find... The problem was in two tiny screws which hold the derailleur hanger on. They were loose. It took no more than a quarter of a wrench turn and about 2 minutes to finally fix. I needed the new chain and Bottom Bracket anyway..  Little B has been racking up the miles lately. As for Donald he has been racking up with miles with his lips!
Squeaks (or makes annoying noises constantly)

Friday, July 17, 2015

It been a long time

Its been a long time since I have made the face. Six years removed from my last triathlon I returned to making the face last weekend. As you can see I have not lost the art of grimacing in competition.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pleasantville (revisted)

The RQ and I recently spent some time visiting a bedroom community south of Salt Lake City. The surrounding were idyllic, beautiful and pristine. Although walking around you get the feeling this is like Disney World with all the fun sucked out of it. This would be a great place to live until some guys wearing full face helmets in a little smart car pulled up next to you and gave you a quick injection to make you comply. We walked for 5 miles around the development and could not find a weed in a garden, a personal belonging on a porch or a nome in a yard. You get the feeling there is an even longer list of rules about your yard, what little there is of it. This is the polar opposite to some of the neighbor hoods in the finger lake region, who's properties seem to be in a perennial state of yard sale.

Long list of rules above. Who's making up these rules?

Man made river is 2 feet deep but its the looks that count.

 Not sure what these docks are for if no boats are allowed.
 Restrooms require a code for entry. If your from off the reservation I guess you just piss on the roses below. I read no rule about pissing on the roses.

Its all man made and the water is pumped and the the lawns are watered for your enjoyment.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Were Sorry

I have taken up a new hobby of Telemark skiing. Since I want to be as safe as possible I wanted releasable telemark bindings in the unlikely event I may fall. Turns out only one manufacture in the world makes such a device. The only place I could find them was in France. I was a little apprehensive about ordering something over the internet from Europe, paying in Euros and having it shipped from France. My apprehensions were unfounded. The company immediately shipped the bindings and it took 2 days to get them to Rochester. Then it took DHL 3 days to get them from the Rochester Airport to my house. What tripped them up was the shipper in France put Honeoye vs Honeoye Falls on the outside of the package (the zip code was correct). Never the less the delivery guy felt obliged to get in the face of and lecture the Red Queen on using the correct address. Like she has some control over this. Furious,  I called DHL customer service and they said quote "Were Sorry". When I pressed them about what they were going to do about it, they just said they are going to tell me "were sorry". That is not sufficient  I said, I want you to reprimand the delivery guy, refund my shipping Euros and offer me a free trip to Hawaii on the next cargo jet out of Rochester..and call me with a report on the resulting shame bestowed upon the Rochester DHL staff. The customer service person proceeded to tell me that they could not make outgoing calls from the service center.. and once again they were sorry. "Off with their heads"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Three Fifty Eight Low

This time they got the spelling right
As avid followers of this blog you will know, Buttery Sticks has been featured frequently in blog posts. Its not that we are biased in any way, but he has just created the most interesting and funny moments in our lives that we just have to celebrate them by making them public. Passing out in our kitchen Buttery Drip, inventor of the famous "Purple Drank", Winning the Ivy League indoor mile championship Face Full of Celebration, getting 'chicked' at his first pro 5K Buttery Sticks Gets Chicked (Portman took a beating from Mrs P for that post. Once again we apologize). Having his name mispelled You Made it to the Bigs.  Well, The Stick has done it again. Running his first sub 4 mile at the BU Valentine Invite. He not only beat 4 minutes, but shattered it by 1.75 seconds. Running what was referred to by Lil B as "a three fifty eight low". This makes him one of only 439 Americans to ever accomplish the sub 4 mile.  History of US sub four minute milers. Pretty rarefied air.  Great Job Buttery Sticks! Now go get some purple drank so you don't pass out again.
How to Make The Face would like to congratulate Carrot Chopper for her Oscar nomination of best director in the category "Best animated short featuring a flatulent clothespin" for "Portman the Movie". We wish her luck on Sunday.

Friday, February 13, 2015

You made it to the Bigs

You finally made it to the Big Time!  You have been dreaming about this your whole life. The anticipation is palpable...and they misspell your name.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

These guys are good

This guy hits it a mile...

This guy has a case full of trophies..
This guy has magic wands in his bag

...and this guy goes to strip clubs, gets falling down drunk, is picked up off the street by homeless people, then lies about it!