Friday, March 28, 2008

Mr. Fix-It (Part 1)

So being a home owner is not all it's cracked up to be. Things break, and they need to be fixed.

A week or so ago, we had a string of bad luck… I don’t usually believe in such things, but it really seemed like Murphy’s law was really doing a number on us. One such incident happened as I was doing the laundry.

I was about to transfer what I thought were dry clothes to a clothes basket. Upon opening the door, I found damp clothes. Now as I am advancing in my years, it’s not too uncommon for me to forget to turn the darn thing on. So I wasn’t too surprised by this. So I set it up, hit the on button and to much surprise it didn’t sound right.

I opened up the door and found the magical light turning on, not unlike the magic light in the refrigerator. I could feel that heat had been blowing in, but the drum just would NOT turn.
Instant visions of an expensive plumber’s-crack sporting repairman charging me an arm and a leg ran through my head. After beating my head against the stairs to get this vision OUT of my head, I was bound and determined to fix this beast myself.

My good friend Cliff consults with his good friend Lord Google on a regular basis for any number of issue. I followed his example and started out my quest to fix the unholy dryer.

I was not all that surprised to find a plethora of sites that assisted me in my quest. Several wanted to charge me for the information, but others like myself seemed to be generous enough to blog about such incidents.

I narrowed the problem down to either the belt ($20) that spins the dryer drum or the motor ($100) that drives it. With the way my luck had been running lately, the pessimistic side of me focused on the higher ticket/more complicated fix. I forced myself to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

In the searching for answers, I even found a video that told me how to A) open the dryer and B) Replace the belt or the motor. Of you are at all interested you can see that here as well:

So after following their simple instructions and popped open the dryer and noticed that there was no belt around the drum. I flashed my flashlight down to the bottom and was rewarded with the site of a frayed end of belt. SCORE!

I found that the dryer belt had been pretty much shredded into tiny little piece which now coated the entire motor. After cleaning this up with the new Dyson vacuum (Another blog in the works), I hastely found the nearest place that I could find a new belt. This was NOT an item carried at your local Home Depot.

Ffter calling around to several places it turned out the be a ($20) trip to the nearest SEARS repair center. I rushed back home to install the belt according to the YouTube video instructions.

All went off without a hitch, and I was able to dry all of our clothes again. I was pretty pleased that I didn’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have someone else repair this and make me endure the inevitable view of pants that won’t stay up… AUGH!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Back in they day, I used to be into computer video games. Not the Playstation style games so much, however recently the whole family has gotten into these, but those games actually played on a computer.

I really got into the first person shooter type games like Counterstrike, Medal of Honor, Rainbow Six, and other first-person-shooter games too numerous to mention... Also the Strategy games like Command and Conquer were some of my favorites...

Before we moved to New York, we used to have gatherings we several other couples in Lansing. We would all meet up at one particular friends house and have cookouts and have a great time. As the evening wore down, the guys would head into the basement with their laptops and the ladies would hang out upstairs doing whatever they do...

The children, at the time it was only Jonah for us, would all hang out and play between the Ladies upstairs and the guys downstairs.

As I mentioned before, whatever the ladies did up there, I have no idea. Speculation on my part would be folly, and quite frankly I've fried WAY too many brain cells trying to figure women out. I'm content knowing that I'll never really understand them completely. That's not a bad thing, it always keeps things interesting...

Anyway, Back to the geeks downstairs...

We would set up the laptops into a quick network and start shooting each other on numerous battlefields of one or another. Our game of choice at the time was Half Life: Counterstrike. One set of us would be on the team of terrorists while the other's played the part of Counter-terrorists. Essentially it's digital hide and seek combined with paintball. In this way there is little physical exertion other than finger movements and the occassional drink from a soda or beer. We also didn't have the sting of a paintball or the cleanup afterwards.

Those were the days...

That was long ago...

We have all now moved on to other locations of the country and have pretty much lost contact with one another. Some of us still keep in contact, but the days of the impromptu "Come over, bring some snacks and your laptop", have gone away.

Until a month or so ago...

My wife surprised me out of blue with a comment that threw me. She asked me if I had spoken with Pete lately. This led to, you should see about going online and playing some games again with him...

I was floored, "Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?" Came to mind, but was NOT spoken. Do not look a gift horse in the mouth, and do NOT try to read into the why's behind the statement. "Take it and RUN!" the emaciated gaming portion of my mind screamed.

I hid my excitement as I probed the situation carefully. I half expected her to laugh at me and call it a joke. But she was serious.

Within minutes I was contacting my old buddy Pete to find out what game they have been playing lately. Pete, being one of the founding members of 1776gamers, was the host for our gaming parties in the past. They had always been dedicated with Counterstrike and it's newer versions but had recently turend to Battlefield 2 and a specific modification of it called Project Reality.

In a word... Wow...

I've got to say this, the graphics are very good, the maps are huge, and there are lots of people able to play all at once. The best part is, the price is right. You can pick up the main game for $10 at Best Buy and the Project reality modification is free. No complaints from me!

This version of the game is rather unforgiving. You can't take all that much damage before your character is dead. This is all part of the idea of the reality project. They wanted to make it seem much more real. And they have achieved this very well.

So I am on the learning curve right now with this game, but enjoying it. I get to hang out with my old friend and am making some new ones as well. We meet up a couple times per week and shoot at one another, have a few laughs and stay up way past our bedtimes.

Pass the chips, grab a soda and join in the fun!

If you are curious about this game and it's modification, here's a video teaser to check out... WOW! Yeah, I guess I'm still a geek at heart... :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Parenting 101: Bed Time Stories...

Oooohhh, I have been tempted...

Do you ever get the feeling that your kids may be just a little too spoiled? Or maybe call it entitlement... Whatever you want to call it, sometimes they just think they deserve to have what they want and that's it. I suppose I was the same way as a child, as were pretty much all of us. It's not a fun part of parenting...

Who doesn't want to see their child happy and enjoying life? Of course we all want that. But does that give us the right to hand everything to them on a silver platter? Not really... I think we would be doing them a dis-service by not teaching them that earning those things that they would like is much better than just getting them outright.

Recently Webkins have been on the scene and are a constant source of the "can I have that one?"'s When several have been received as birthday or Christmas presents, they are enjoyed, but not to the extent as those that have been earned as a reward. There's no physical difference in one from the other, other than the obvious that it's a different animal. It's the psychological feeling of truelly earning something that makes it that more special. There's an emotional bond there that doesn't get created when the item is just thrown at them from one fo those "Can I Have That?" moments.

I Love my children. Eventhough today was one of those mornings where the daughter decided it was time to awake before dawn... In relation to yesterdays post, sometimes that little break we get at night doesn't necessarily get us as much sleep as we really need. Early morning's like today must be some kind of Murphy's-Law-like balancing to make me pay for having some adult time... *Sigh*

Another day, another ulser... Just kidding... :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Parenting 101: Bed time

In a way, Bed Time seems to be evening parole for parents.

Don't get me wrong... Children are a joy and a cherished commodity. However, after 12 to 14 hours of a child dominated day, a little break is also a cherished commodity. Call it Mommy/Daddy time, call it a respite, whatever. It's just nice to have a little down time for a while.

So what do those parents out there like to do during their break?

We like to take some time and veg out in front of the television to catch up on whatever shows may interest us. Some snacks, a little soda... And one or the other of usually falls asleep on the couch for a while. It's a system that we've been refining over the past few years...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ties to Home

Growing up in a touristy town in Michigan WAS pretty nice. At the time, I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now that I'm grown up and moved away to another State.

At the time, it was kind of a nuisance at times especially where it pertained to the traffic going in and out of the town. Frankenmuth, also known as Michigan's Little Bavaria, is a German themed town tied to actual German settlers who came to Michigan as Missionaries to teach the Native American's of the Lutheran religion.

The town has changed much over the years but it's still nice to visit home again. This past Christmas we made the long drive from Long Island to Michigan to visit our families. It's always an adventure packing the kids into the SUV. Whether it's a trip across country or just a short trip to the store there always something happening.

I've blogged about car trips before (Parenting 101: Driving), so I won't have to go into great detail on what usually occurs.

I was recently speaking with my brother who is the COO of the Bavarian Inn Lodge . We were catching up about family and of course business in Frankenmuth. Michigan currently has the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. This doesn't surprise me all that much with all of the motor companies pulling out of Michigan and moving to other locations, mostly out of the country... So the disposable income of Michiganders just isn't there for Frankemuth's tourism to thrive as much as they used to.

But business is business and they all must do what they can to survive. The Bavarian Inn Corporation recently came out with some new commercials to try to bring people to Frankenmuth. These are pretty catchy, and my kids keep saying "Again! Again!" When I play it back for them off YouTube.

So here, for your viewing enjoyment are the two new commercials they are currently using. If you have kids, they will probably enjoy these very much and much just chant "Again! Again!"

Have a great day!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Rebirth of 80's TV

Over the past several years, we have found some of the more popular TV shows from the 80’s moving to the big screen. I suppose it started with Starsky and Hutch, technically a late 70’s show, which led to the Dukes of Hazard and Miami Vice. Now these are coming back in the form of TV shows as well.

The Bionic Woman came back with a new face and spin on the Bionic Woman series which was technically a spinoff of the Six Million Dollar Man, one of my favorites as a kid. I believe the rebirth of this show was cancelled. I did have the opportunity to catch this show. It wasn’t too bad, but they really could have done more with the show than they had. The special effects were pretty cool, but the background plot was pretty thin. You just never got really invested in the characters.

Recently Knight Rider came back. They even brought David Hasselhoff back as the father of the new Knight Rider. Yes, it was a tad cheesy. It was essentially the worlds longest commercial for the Ford Mustang. If it didn’t feel like one giant commercial for Ford vehicles I think the show could come back as a pretty good series again.

So what’s going to be next? I’ve heard rumors of a Magnum PI movie. This has been a rumor for a while that has included George Clooney playing the part of Magnum PI. To be honest, I was always of a fan of the show. The cool thing about this show is that the characters were not just human, but the Ferrari took on a role in the show as well of the location. Beautiful Hawaii… My favorite place…

In the age of recycling and Going Green, I find it interesting that Hollywood is recycling these old shows bringing them new life again. So far they haven’t really hit all that well, but maybe they’ll get one right soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's been a year...

I can't believe that it's been a year, to the day, since I last blogged on anything... I'd like to say that I've been basking on the beaches to the right for the past year, but alas, nothing so posh...

A lot has been going on that has kept me from the daily blogging scene. I'll go into some of them in later posts, but for today I'd like to get this started with a Thank You for being patient during my hiatus.

As I mentioned before, much has happened in the past year. I've transitioned back into the roll of Stay at Home Dad for a while, the children are growing and changing on a daily basis and we've done more projects around that house that need to be reported on.

So there is much to get ready for if I want to get back into my daily blogging again. I have several topics already mapped out. I'm also looking into transitioning this blog into a new one. I'll keep you both posted... :)