Journal

Summer 2007

Friday, September 28th

It's been more work craziness. The project should be wrapping up but instead there are problems with the servers and challenges with the image that have meant some long days for me. With Sarah's car still not running I've had lots of opportunity to ride the bike, which has been good. I'm a little sick of the commute itself and wish I was riding somewhere more interesting. I've tried changing the way I take, but it's all pretty much the same and it's really a long ride.

Last weekend was our first off weekend in a long time. We went to the movies, checked out a really cool coffee shop not far from us, and mostly took it easy. This weekend we've got a party to go to on Saturday but it's otherwise looking fairly relaxed. I can use some downtime given the long hours I'm putting in at work.

Monday, September 17th

We got back from New York last night. It was a good trip, though we could have planned it better. We wound up spending way too much time going from train to train to plane to taxi to train to train to car and so on. We got to see Jeff and Shannon, saw some of the sights of Rhode Island, and then got to see Long Island and attended Sarah's brother Will's acceptance into the Merchant Marines. With Will attending the academy out there we'll be going back at some point and hopefully next time we'll be better organized.

I'm back at work now and back in the thick of the project work I talked about in my last entry. I think it is starting to come together but it seems like I'm always down to the wire at the end of a project getting things running. With some luck that so far has eluded me, this week will wrap up the largest part of my involvement and then it will start to settle down. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, September 5th

Journal entries haven't been as common as I'd like, but these things happen, I suppose. Work has been busy as we try to get everything ready for our project roll-out. A lot of the pieces of this very complex puzzle are on me, since I'm the one that dreamed up some of the more obscure portions of the design. It's coming along, but there has been a lot of testing, problem solving, and rushing to get everything to a state that others on the project can assist with testing it.

A week ago we went to Chad's wedding reception on Saturday and then to the Dunes with my Mom on Sunday. Monday I was really sick and slept the whole day. The rest of the week was the aforementioned business at work. This past weekend we went to Steve's LAN party on Saturday and played some Battlefield 2, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Supreme Commander. We got home around 6am, went to bed, then got up and went to Amy's wedding and reception. Monday was Labor Day and we mostly took it easy, though I spent some time trying to diagnose my earlier described bike charging problem. This left the bike in a partially disassembled state, and I didn't put it on the charger.

Yesterday I drove the car to work and then headed for Matt B's for some quality Axis and Allies time. My wheel bearing, which has been failing again, and which I made an appointment for tomorrow, decided it must be time to get really scary in that vibration-inducing way that feels like one of my wheels is an oval. I drove slowly all the way up to Milwaukee, and all the way back, getting home close to 2am. This morning I got up and, not wanting to take the car any further, reassembled the bike.

I made it several miles down Devon when it abruptly stalled and wouldn't start, reminding me that it really only works reliably when it is fully charged. After many fruitless attempts to pop-start it, I left the bike in a driveway and took a taxi home. I put the old battery on the charger and drove the car to work, enduring the sense of imminent failure it emanates. This afternoon, provided my car makes it home, Sarah will be driving me and the charged battery back to the bike so I can do a quick swap and ride the thing home.

As if all of this wasn't enough, Sarah's car is leaking power steering fluid like a sieve, requiring regular refills if you would rather turn than listen to a loud and tragic whining noise. My bicycle would be looking like a good option about now if it hadn't been stolen last year. Sarah has a bicycle, but her brother managed to break one of the pedals off, further underscoring the currently very bleak transportation landscape. Hopefully this is the low spot, and starting tomorrow when I take the car in things will start getting better.

Tuesday, August 21st

Back on the 6th I voiced a pessimistic view that the problems with the bike were likely not over since replacing the battery was easy, and as I have lamented many times things are always far more complicated than it seems like they should be. Unfortunately this proved correct in this case, and the new battery is not charging either, though it does last much longer. I can get by charging it with the charger, but I will definitely need to get it repaired if I don't want to be stranded.

Stranded is exactly what happened on Thursday when I was on my way home from work. The motor unexpectedly died on Devon, about two and a half miles from home and wouldn't start. The behavior was different than when it wouldn't start before, though it was a new battery. As a result I asked Sarah to come out with some gas in the event that was the problem, which it wasn't. I then tried pop-starting it, which I had done successfully with the old battery, and even got some help from a couple guys to push me, but it wouldn't stay started and the battery was clearly dead. So Sarah and I pushed the bike all the way home. In what I suppose is a positive sign the police stopped me after only a block and asked what I was doing pushing the bike and where I was going, but they let me go without too much interogation once it was clear I was the rightful owner.

This was my third long weekend in a row, which is good. Two weeks ago was a wedding, last weekend was camping, and this weekend was a wedding and camping. We drove down to Springfield on Saturday for Michelle and Sean's wedding, then Sunday continued south to Ferne Clyffe State Park. We were the only people camping in the whole walk-in campground since it was a Sunday, which was rather slick. It was a really nice site, and after we had camp set up we went hiking and rock climbing. There are a number of bluffs in the area, and while the signs along the rode and Google's directions were crappy, we eventually found both of the bluffs we wanted to climb and had a lot of fun.

Monday we struck camp and after determining there wasn't a lake in the area we could swim in and headed north. Along the way we diverted twenty miles from the freeway to go to a lake that did offer swimming, but we found it was fairly crappy and we didn't stay for very long. It was a long drive the rest of the way back, but it was a beautiful area and one of the best campsites I've had in a long time. The climbing could have been better since most of it was more for technical climbing, but we still found some challenging ascents and had a good time.

Monday, August 13th

It was a really good weekend. Friday Sarah and I packed up the car and drove down to Shades State Park in Indiana. Saturday we went hiking at Turkey Run and had a picnic lunch before going swimming. I haven't been to Turkey Run in ten years, and Sarah had never been there so we did some driving around the very rural area before getting directions at the "Gobbler's Knob Country Store" to a place where we could swim in the creek. Once there we had a lot of fun swinging on a rope into the creek as well as jumping from the covered bridge, which was under construction.

Sunday morning we had planned on going to the Inn for breakfast, but between the time difference and sleeping in we didn't make it, so we had muffins and tea before packing up and driving home. It was a great camping trip, with beautiful weather and a lot of fun. After we got back we watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of "Manos" The Hands of Fate which was every bit as terrible as we had heard. We went for a walk and played some Supreme Commander, finally giving up because neither we nor the computer had any chance of winning.

Monday, August 6th

Well I've been busy since my last post. Two weekends ago Sarah and I went gliding in Beloit. It was a lot of fun, and it was really cool to be up in the air and still able to see all around because of the canopy instead of tiny windows. This was our second attempt to go gliding, since two weekends previous we had driven up to Beloit only to find it was too windy. We did instruction, I took a bunch of pictures, Sarah got to fly her glider, and the time was logged in the event either of us ever wants a pilots license.

The next day Eriq and Mike and I rode our bikes all over Milwaukee looking at houses. I found that it takes a lot longer to get to Milwaukee when you don't take the freeway, so I got the bike out on the freeway for the first time as a result. On the way back I killed it at a light and it wouldn't start again. I wound up getting it pop-started, and made it home, but I was grateful when the new battery arrived. I installed that yesterday afternoon, and as much as I complain about things being overly complicated, this time it went very smoothly. The pessimistic side of me thinks that must mean that the problem isn't truly over, but time will tell.

This weekend we took off on Friday and went up to Madison for my cousin Nat's wedding to Erin. The ceremony and reception were both really nice and we had a family brunch on Saturday at Erin's mom's house in Stoughton. Sunday other than putting the battery in the bike I mostly took it easy, which was nice after a lot of driving and general business.

Wednesday, July 25th

Today I drove the bike to work for the second time. Yesterday morning it wouldn't start again because of the battery. I recharged it and took it out last night. I'm pretty sure the battery is just old, so I have a new one on order. I also ordered some new tires, since my current tires have some nasty rash on the sidewalls from one of the previous owners.

That, along with the money spent to change the oil and filter, the battery charger, the title, tax, and registration, the helmet, gloves, and the jacket have all combined to make the bike a pricy venture to date, but I think I'm at the end of the expensive stuff. The only things I can imagine needing yet are an air filter and possibly new spark plugs. The bike is running fine but the previous owners didn't give it the attention it was due, and I'm trying to get it back on the right track, so to speak.

Work has been busy as usual, though I at least feel like I'm making progress on some things, if not everything. I've got an impressiv elist of things to tackle right now but I think I'm doing all right as far as fending new things off. I'm also trying a new time tracking method that I hope I can use to track where my time is going and making sure it's going to the right things.

Mike, Eriq, and I have once again started working on real estate investment, with some tweaks to our previous plans. I'm working on getting financing, but I'm running into challenges trying to do it online. I'm going to break down and call someone tonight, but I'm a little irritated that the process can't be more automatic.

Monday, July 23rd

Ahhh, finally. After a much convoluted process, I went for a bike ride yesterday. Today I rode into work, and I'm loving it. The title issue was finally resolved by driving back down to Alsip this past Monday, where I bought the bike, to meet up with Jose and his girlfriend so that we could go to Currency Exchange. Jose filled out a form, then drove off to get it signed by Joseph, the guy on the title. When he got back from that I got my temp plate, finally making it legal for me to ride the bike. It rained for the next few days after I got my temps but Saturday I was ready to go, or so I thought.

The bike wouldn't start. It was out of gas, and in trying to start it I drained the battery. By the time I had gotten some gas, bought a charger, and then charged the bike, it was too late to go for a ride. I also decided I wanted to change the oil, since I didn't trust that Alvin or Jose had taken care of maintenance. Sunday I got the oil changed after a trip to Murray's and two trips to Auto Zone. Then I went for a ride. After two months, I went for a ride.

I have a bit to learn yet, obviously. I had some trouble getting off the line without killing the motor, I'm still working on cornering at speed, and I haven't been out on the freeway yet, but it still feels great. A few times I just grinned, realizing that I'm finally that guy on a motorcycle. I can't wait to go out riding with friends, though it will be a ride just to get up there. I should be getting my title in the mail in a few days, and I need to go back down to the Currency Exchange to get my plates when they come in. Lastly, I need to figure out how to prevent my right thumb from going numb.

Sunday, July 8th

Yesterday was good. We went to the beach by my condo and did some wading, swimming, sunning, and a little bit of frisbee. We got ice cream and came back, and then I rode my bike for the first time. I just went around the neighborhood, practiced signalling, which the bikes in motorcycle school didn't have, and in general got a bit more accustomed to the Suzuki. Jose called me back and I mailed him the old title. Hopefully the process will go smoothly and quickly, since I'm definitely ready to start riding.

Thursday, July 5th

I hit a snag with the motorcycle process. This morning I gathered together the paperwork I needed to take to the Secretary of State for getting the title transferred and the bike registered. In so doing I examined the title, an inspection I really should have done when I was buying the bike. So let me walk through this. I bought the bike from Alvin. Alvin never had legal title to the bike, because he was still paying it off after buying it from his friend Jose. I understood this when I bought the bike because Jose still had the title and we had to go meet him to get it. Unfortunately what I didn't realize was that Jose never had legal title either. He bought the bike from Joseph, whose name is on the title, and they filled out the transfer at the bottom, but Jose never went to the Secretary of State to get a new title.

So now I need to get a hold of Jose via Alvin and have him get the title transferred to his name, and then sign it over to me. I don't know how long this will take or how much convincing it will take to get Jose to do this, since he really doesn't have much incentive especially since he'll have to pay taxes on his original purchase. While he had plates to slap on presumably from his previous bike, I don't have that luxury. So I need to get this straightened out so that I can get plates. I should have questioned the title when I bought it, but I've never purchased privately before and I thought I could just fill out the reassignment section, which I now know is just for dealer use. So, the process goes on.

Tuesday, July 3rd

The motorcycle effort switched into high gear yesterday. After I passed the class on Sunday, I went to the Secretary of State (read: DMV) and got my M Class added to my drivers license. On the way home from work I bought a helmet, jacket, and gloves. Finally, I got insurance before going to bed. Insurance was a funny thing, since my first quote from Geico was $2300 (for a year) but I wound up getting it from Progressive for $270. That isn't for the same coverage, mind you, but I was still a little astonished by the actual difference. In any case, I've got to make one more trip back to the Secretary of State to get title, registration, and plates, and then I'm ready to go.

On the non-motorcycle related front, tomorrow is the Fourth, which is a Wednesday. We were planning on going down to the Dunes, but it's supposed to rain, so now I'm not sure what we're doing. I'm thinking about getting a mountain bike off of Craigslist, since it'd be a lot cheaper and still be a good bike most likely. I'm still not sure what I'm doing with my car, work is busy and I feel like I'm never going to get caught up, and this coming weekend is the first one in well over a month that we don't have advance plans. I think I need to take a couple days off just to try and get some stuff done. I have a long list of to-dos that I feel like progress is pretty slow on, and I want to get to a more stable point.