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Displaying the first 10 blogs in the Stuff Archives, displayed in the order they were posted


England Summer 2023

(Posted 17:47:07 on 27th August 2023 by Rag)
Nothing really to this story, just some pictures and a video from the summer trip back to England. There was supposed to be two other videos, but William really didn't put any effort into taking them and, not surprisingly, they turned out terrible, so I haven't bothered keeping them.

A quick picture of Foxton Locks from a day trip. I believe it's still the most consecutive locks in the world. Unlikely to get beaten really as I don't think they're building that many canals and locks these days.

Quite pleased with this image as it was taken from a distance and through a window on my phone. None of which are recipes for a good photo. This is a green woodpecker that's very skittish. It's really hard to get close to this bird before it flies away and I managed to capture it. I did get one a few years ago, but only as it flew off.

The last is video of a shunt at Stibbington. I'd stopped by to look at the river Nene where I used to fish and they were moving some carriages about. The only amusing thing about the video is when the train driver sounded his horn, William jumped and I thought we were going to be one iPhone less than we started the trip with. Thankfully he held onto it and it didn't plunge into the murky depths of the river.

Handcycling Aftermath

(Posted 14:33:25 on 9th July 2023 by Rag)
I decided to have a cup of coffee when I got home. All was good until I got up to put the cup back on the side and I kind of expected more resistance when I put the cup down and the handle came off in my hand. I think it's probably time I got a new set of cups, but I really like these as they've big.

I'll give Owen credit for the best response which is - good job you didn't have a wank instead of a cup of coffee. Sound advice!


(Posted 18:33:27 on 8th July 2023 by Rag)
Alright, so I've decided I'm too fat and it doesn't seem to be going away so I need to do something about it. I've been looking at handcycles as I want to do something outside so I can get some fresh air at the same time. I'm going to get one, but in the meantime, I found an amazing organization, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), that has a lot of bicycles, handcycles and many other contraptions that you can use. I took William along with me to film this amazing shot. I wanted him to use one of the recumbent cycles, but he wasn't allowed to try one as he doesn't have a disability. I wanted him to try a regular pedaling one versus the handcycle I was using. Anyway, this is going to take some getting used to. My arms might be strong, but I'm completely knackered after a relatively short ride of a couple of miles.

Track and short video are below. I did have to swap handcycles mid way through as the first one got a puncture and I didn't want to finish the journey on the rim.


Let there be light

(Posted 17:14:48 on 8th July 2023 by Rag)
They say it's the terrible twos, but it appears William has pushed it to the teenage years before he's deciding to argue everything with me. So, I sent the truck in for a service and they came up with some things that needed doing to it, one of which was worded something like fix the rear stop light. I called them to ask what that meant and if it was just that they were going to change the bulb and they said yes. They wanted $90 to change the bulb, so I told them I was good and I'd do it myself. When William woke, I told him the good news - that he was going to get a lesson in vehicle maintenance and that he needed to change the bulb and clean the battery (corroded terminals). I told him to watch a YouTube video on how to change the bulb so he would know what tools to take and how to do it. He said he'd figure it out. I told him he wouldn't be able to figure it out and that he needed to watch a video. There was back and forth and then he asked what bulb it was. I told him it was the brake light and he then asked whether it was the front or the rear.

So yeah! I also told him it would take about an hour as it was the center brake light and it was more awkward to get to. He said it wouldn't take longer than 30 minutes. Two hours into it, he gave up.

I told Paul about this and let him know I'd sent him to the auto parts store to buy a front brake light bulb. He suggested I send him out for some spirit level bubbles and tartan paint at the same time. I think that's awful - I'd never make him out to be stupid. After giving up, he complained the tools were wrong. I agreed and sent him to the store to get a left handed screwdriver instead.

In fairness, it was a pain to do. There are stupid long bolts that you need to take a nut off through a hole. The first thing I had to do was to buy a long socket to fit the nut. Then you need to work as if you're some kind of keyhole surgeon. It's like trying to take a nut off through a letterbox for some unknown reason. When you finally locate the nut and get it off, it shoots into the hole and is lost forever. So I had to buy replacement nuts which we lost as well (they weren't the right ones anyway), then had to go back to the dealership to get the actual nuts which we did successfully replace by using Vaseline in the socket to get the nut to stick in there so it didn't ping out and get lost again.

If we take my bill rate into account and the time I spent on it, let alone the time William spent, I think it cost somewhere in the region of $5,000 to change this bulb, but on the bright side, I saved $90 +tax.

Pleasant Hill Scoot

(Posted 20:31:51 on 29th May 2023 by Rag)
Not intending to do a ton of these posts as they're pretty boring to say the least. Decided to take the scoot out round the neighborhood after falling off it twice this morning. Wanted to make sure it still worked fine and I wasn't going to continuously bounce on the floor every time I used it. Went for quite a long ride round the trails. Had to do a bit of street driving in Pleasant Hill to get back under the freeway which wasn't too bad. Pretty much nothing interesting happened, but I did have the camera on the right setting so it did do a full video which is crazy boring.

If you're really sad, here's the video of the Pleasant Hill loop.


What goes down ...

(Posted 16:07:37 on 28th May 2023 by Rag)
... usually costs me money, but in this case I'm sadly referring to Leicester who's run in the premiere league has come to an end. Being a Leicester fan, we're typically used to the yoyo nature of going up and down. We have a cycle where we come up, have a bit of success, lose some players, go down, rebuild, then come back up again. I have to be honest, going to many matches through the Martin O'Neil years, I thought that was the best I would ever see. We came up, won a couple of League Cups, had some decent runs in the League and that's really all you can hope for. This most recent run completely surpassed that with the premier league win and the FA cup win. It's been a truly amazing ride, but sadly it's at an end and we have to look to the Championship next season. Also, sadly is that it has all happened while I've been in the States, so I didn't get to go to any of the games, but it's still been phenomenal, regardless.

One thing I do look at is some of the similarities. Back with O'Neil, we lucked out with Tony Cottee who was at the end of his years and was outstanding for us. This time it's been (and still is) Jamie Vardy who has just been incredible. Still think he should have been given a better shot at the England role, but that's a whole other story. In the previous run we lost the likes of Heskey to Liverpool and recently we lost Kante to Chelsea. Exactly what I said above, but there's no mistaking - Football is big business, it's all about the money and the results so you can make more money from your merchandise etc. The reality is that we don't have the resources of the major teams, so we're always going to struggle to compete at the highest level which, does make that premier league title even sweeter and even more unbelievable. It's sad to see us drop down. I don't know how many seasons Vardy has left in him, but we will rebuild and we will be back. We will find the talent to fight again.

Forever Foxes!

Simply the Best

(Posted 18:53:08 on 24th May 2023 by Rag)
Being the hard core Heavy Metal and Punk fan that I am, it's not often that I branch out and go see other artists live, but one of those exceptions was to see Tina Turner on her 60th birthday tour at Wembley back in 2000. I just read the news about Tina's death at 83 and one thing I didn't realize is that this was her last tour of the UK and the subject of a documentary “One Last Time Live in Concert”. The thing is I would have gone to see her in July 2000 and then I moved to the States in January 2001 and the documentary wasn't released until later that year. I now feel compelled to watch the video to see if there's any footage of me on it which is highly unlikely given the concert was on the 15h and 16th of July with 80,000 fans there each day. Little old me was standing with my buddy Dave and his girlfriend Jana somewhere around the half way line I think. We'd have been drinking beer and I'm sure I had my back to that sound stand they have. I typically stand with my back to something so I can't get shoved in the back and fall over whether it be a pole or a sound stand or whatever happens to be there.

The concert was phenomenal and huge respect for Tina as an artist. I remember there being a flyover at one point - I'm going to say a Lancaster bomber with supporting Spitfires, but I could be wrong on that. I did a quick search and couldn't find it. Obviously remember all the songs, but the other thing was that my Tube broke down on the way home. I remember being relatively drunk by the end of it and was heading back on my own as was going in a different direction to Dave and Jana, but with 80,000 people there, in the same direction as many fans. The tube broke down and they had to put taxis on to ferry us home which, on the bright side, meant door to door service which is always appreciated after a few beers. I shared the taxi with 4 other people and just remember how happy everyone was and that nobody cared that we were waiting around for probably hours for a taxi. People just singing and talking about how good the show was. I can't remember what day I was there, whether it was the Saturday or the Sunday, but hey, I was there.

Tina RIP

More scoot scoot

(Posted 14:52:47 on 20th May 2023 by Rag)
Took the scooter out for another blast around the neighborhood. This time I added a GoPro for no reason whatsoever. It's actually positioned really well, but the bad news is that it was on time-lapse mode rather than video. Apparently if you hold the record button down too long it goes into time-lapse. It doesn't matter too much as I was going to speed up the video and cut out the boring bits ... which in this case is pretty much all of it, but there were a couple of things I was going to slow down. The biggest thing I'm noticing on the scooter is how badly positioned the buttons are to cross the road. They posts they are on are on the up bits of the pavement, so if you line up to be able to push the button, you're not lined up with the ramp bit that you need to drive down. Invariably this results in the need to move back and forth to line up properly. That's not a big deal unless the lights change right away as in that case, the bloody thing's beeping at you to cross the road and you're shuffling back and forth. The other thing again is how wobbly the sidewalk is when you go over someone's drive. They all seem to be badly angled and you end up having to lean away from the road a lot for fear of being tipped into the middle of it. There was also a bit of sidewalk that just ended abruptly with a wall and there was no off ramp so I had to reverse up the hill. I didn't carry on as there wasn't a sidewalk, but then when I cut down the next street, the same thing happened and I just thought bugger it and drove down the road.

If you're really sad, here's the video of the Larkey Park loop.


I'm a boy and I'm a man

(Posted 12:00:48 on 15th May 2023 by Rag)
Lines form on my face and my hands
Lines form on the left and right
I'm in the middle, the middle of life
I'm a boy and I'm a man

I'm eighteen and I like it

I have not, however, realized that I'm no longer 18. When I was 18, I bounced when I fell over. Nothing mattered and nothing's fragile. Unfortunately at 53, things start to hurt and ache a little more. Saturday evening, my wrist started to ache. Quite badly. Later, the right side of my neck went crazy stiff and then all the muscles across my right shoulder and down my right arm started to ache. What had caused this, I hear you say? Was it the three and a half hours spent fitting the tonneau cover on the truck? The cover that came with easy and simple 15 minute instructions. I think it took 15 minutes to figure out what we were supposed to do and then it got worse having to wrench things in place and having to file down the brackets that didn't fit and then needing a hammer to get them in place. The cover is now on, but it ain't coming off again. Actually, it will, but the brackets will be kind of hard to get off. Anyway, no, that wasn't the cause of my pain.

Having taken longer than expected to fit the cover, I decided not go to go out on Saturday. The plan was to take the scooter out to another of my old birding sites. As it was later and traffic builds up, we decided to do that on Sunday and leave earlier. Now, the scooter goes 12 mph which is not as fast as someone can sprint, but it would be hard for someone to hold up that pace when running for a long while. William decided to race me across the garage which was kind of fun. The only thing to note is that the brakes aren't great, but no incidents. Now, when I got out of the elevator, I thought it would be fun to race back to the apartment which is essentially down one corridor, then round the corner and down another corner. That corner is sort of two 45 degree turns versus on 90 degree turn - just the configuration of the building. I figured I could make the corner at 12 mph. I know the scooter isn't very stable, but I thought if I leaned, I could take the racing line and all would be well. Problem #1 came as I got closer to the corner and realized that if I leaned and took the racing line, I would have cracked my skull on the inside wall. So I didn't lean into the corner. Yeah, so as I turned the corner, the scooter tipped over and I didn't have the ability to brake. Now, here's where I wish William was videoing it as neither of us know how I actually made the corner. What I did was punched out at the wall I was heading into, hitting it with the palm of my hand, narrowly missing someone's door. That dropped me back onto all four wheels, but then it tipped again, so I repeated the process and somehow got round the corner without crashing. No idea if anyone was in either of the apartments, but nobody came out to see what was going on. There was definitely a dog in one of them as it wasn't best pleased with the loud bangs. I'm actually surprised I didn't punch through the wall. I guess the outer walls of the apartments are stronger than I thought.

Nothing hurt at the time. It wasn't until later in the evening that it started to take effect. I'm sure your thinking that was stupid. Maybe, but you've got to try these things. What was more stupid was trying it again the following day after we'd been out. Now, in fairness, I only hit the corner in second gear, so 7.5 mph instead of 12 mph. I also took the wet weather line rather than the racing line which allowed me to start wide and gave me room to lean in without cracking my skull on the inside wall. William did shout at me that I was an idiot and that I wouldn't make it, but he was wrong. I did make it. Huh! Today's generation too worried about things. Sometimes you just gotta try it out, even if you're an old fart.

Scoot scoot

(Posted 18:07:56 on 6th May 2023 by Rag)
Went out for a scoot on my scoot. The intent was to see if I could do a birding lap of Heather Farm, but it's really hard right now as everything sprouting and it's quite difficult to see through the foliage. In the end it just ended up being a quick blast which was still worthwhile as I wanted to see if the front right had indeed blown out or whether it was just low. It seemed fine. The scooter is quite unstable if you're going at full pelt when on pavements that aren't even (which is most of them). It's also particularly fun going up and down dips where driveways are. Wont be long before we have a major crash. Here's the Starbucks to Heather Farm run:


Displaying the first 10 blogs in the Stuff Archives, displayed in the order they were posted