Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pardon the Turkey

There's this tradition, a really dumb one if you ask me (which you didn't) where the president "pardons" a turkey or two during Thanksgiving.
I'm not really sure what that's supposed to imply, but it struck me funny just now as I read about it.

I kid you not, here is an excerpt from the CNN story. You can hit the title link to read the whole thing if you're so inclined.

Pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys heading to Disneyland

President Bush pardons the national Thanksgiving Turkey "Marshmallow" Tuesday."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush spared two turkeys from becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, the birds are going to Disneyland.

Thousands of people voted on the White House Web site to name the national turkey "Marshmallow" and an alternate called "Yam." At a ceremony Tuesday, Bush peered into Marshmallow's eyes, stroked its white fluffy feathers and patted its red head.

It goes on, but that's the cruxt.

It's too easy - Is Bush's new name Marshmallow?

Passage Link Wray 76

Guitar master Link Wray, the father of the power chord in rock 'n' roll who inspired such legends as Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and Pete Townshend, died Nov. 5 at his home in Copenhagen, his wife and son said on his website. Wray, who played in his trademark leather jacket, developed a style considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music. He is best known for his 1958 instrumental "Rumble," 1959 "Rawhide" and 1963 "Jack the Ripper." The power chord -- a thundering sound created by playing fifths (two notes five notes apart, often with the lower note doubled an octave above) -- became a favorite among rock players. "He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and 'Rumble,' I would have never picked up a guitar," Townshend wrote on one of Wray's albums. In 2002, Guitar World magazine elected Wray one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

They say that if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Link Wray never got too old.
I was lucky enough to see Link Wray in a club in Philly, 1999. I guess he was around 71 at the time. It was easily the loudest show I’ve ever seen, but damn – it was cool. He looked like a demon with long black hair – down his back to is waist. After the show, I went back stage and after he begged his overly possessive wife to let him sign some autographs, I was able to shake his hand and get the inside of a CD sleeve signed.

Yeah, for some things, I’m quite the fan boy.

Take care, Link.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The last week, when not working on Diamond Road or some AFM type thing, has been spent on the Hot Tub project. The hot tub project began when I found a Hot Springs hot tub on Craigslist at a price I couldn't resist. With the help of four able-bodied friends and a uhaul rental, we had grunted and groaned our way through picking it up and bringing it back here. We set it down behind the garage - a very unobtrusive place that had an old concrete slab. Perfect except for the fact that an avocado tree's roots had pushed up a part of it, preventing the tub from sitting level. I had thought about leveling it with pavers, but over the weekend I decided to dig under the slab in the hopes of getting leveling it. The hot tub sitting on the slab already, it’s a job I pondered a long time before starting. The first couple of shovels in, I felt good. A couple hours and a mountain of dirt, I was really questioning the sanity of what I had undertaken. I couldn’t help but feel like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape – tunneling under the slab. Eventually though, my digging seemed to have an effect as the guilty corner settled down and lined itself up with the rest, allowing the tub to sit right. I filled it with water, and was pleased to see that it’s only about half an inch deeper on one side than the other. Close enough.

Since the tub required a dedicated circuit, and this house is circuit-impaired to begin with, a friend of mine, experienced in the ways of electricity had put another circuit in the breaker box. Good for the backyard, good for the entire house. Thanks John!

Sunday was spent working on completing the electrical to the hot tub.
It began frustratingly as I attempted to push wire through a pipe in the crawl space to the circuit box. Finally, at my wits end, I called a contracting friend, who is one of my sailing mates for some advice. He dropped everything, came over, and with the expertise born of many a similar job (we pulled all the wires out of the pipe, then added the additional wire and pulled the whole bunch with a wire snake) were able to get a new circuit working. Thanks Dykeman!!
Wiring to and through the garage and to the back area went rel-a-tive-ly smoothly. Note the slight hesitation. There’s still work to be done -- but the end result was working electricity on a dedicated line with a GFI circuit. Ha!
Circuit was flipped, the GFI turned on and for the first time since that day of heavy lifting, a month and a half ago – the beast came awake.
It works! It’s alive. It’s alive.
It leaks.

Well, I knew it would leak. The previous owner told me it did. The pump needs to be rebuilt, which is easy enough. Ordered the parts last night. However, the second leak is a major leak and will be the bugger. As the tub ran, water started pouring out from beneath one corner. After careful peaking and poking, I pulled the redwood siding from that corner and ripped into the insulation beneath to reveal – solid, dry, piping, in other words, nothing. A second wet-test (hot tub owners may get the joke) revealed the leak to be from the other side. Unfortunately that other side is eight inches from the outer garage wall – which means that in addition to pulling more redwood siding off the tub and digging into that side’s insulation, I will also have to move the hot tub away from the garage to do the work. GRRR, cause it’s really, really heavy.

It appears to be a jet leak, meaning a replacement jet, and all sorts of pipe cutting, pvc sealant, etc. Overall, it’s a project for sure. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a sickeningly expensive part needed yet, and seeing the tub run was a thrill which has me looking forward to when it’s done – to that first soak. There is nothing so satisfying as a major DIY project successfully brought to completion. There is a side of me though that is having flashbacks to when I owned a Triumph Spitfire. It always seemed so full of promise, and one repair away from Nirvana. Next to that though, building a hot tub from scratch is a walk in the park. I’m guessing the tub will also be just a tad more reliable. Couldn’t be worse.


My VOIP journey seems to have successfully pulled up anchor, set the sails and shut off the motor. (any more sailing expressions and I should be keel hauled… DOH! What I’m talking about is my phone. We’ve been shifting to VOIP, and for the last few weeks, we’ve had both a landline and the packet8 VOIP thing going. The last couple of days, the phone rings have gotten strange – and then all calls started coming via our packet 8 line. However, I was still able to use the landline, and when doing a caller id check, it still registered my old number. This morning, the landline went dead. We are now officially a VOIP only house. It happened much faster than packet8 predicted, weeks faster, which is nice. It’s rare that a time estimate is wildly off IN your favor. When we had the landline concurrently with the packet8 we had the comfort of knowing we could use it if we needed it. Now though, we are entirely in the hands of new technology. For the first couple minutes of that realization, I truly felt like I was at sea when we cut the motors and are relying entirely on wind.

Ironically, as I write this, the internet has gone down. A late night hiccup, most likely. Hopefully. It is indeed an adventure.