Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Everybody

Christmas Tree
My family's Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 

Category: Life

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Off with its hood!

I acquired some replacement parts from a local auto salvage operation, a.k.a. junkyard. Your object should be to not have parts in a junk yard be in better shape than the parts bolted to your car. That is not the case for my Intrepid currently, however. I had to partially remove the hood liner to disconnect the windshield wiper nozzles.

As the Red Queen says, "Off with its hood!" Or something like that. My car looks better now? Right now there's only one obviously damaged body part visible (the front left fender), where before there were five (the fender, the hood, the bumper cover, the headlight, and the cross member).

Again, to have your hood resting comfortably on the side of your car is probably not the best. Your car maintenance tools should probably not include a vise grip (even it's a great tool) and a hammer, either. To get the replacement hood on the car, I had to bend the mangled fender out of the way with the vise grip and bang away on it with the hammer some. I forgot to take a picture of the replacement hood in place, so that will have to wait for another day.

Your trunk should probably not have in it so many parts that belong on the front of the car. Mine does. In this picture you can see: the right (original) and left (replacement) headlamps; the radiator cooling fans; some pieces from the original hood, like the liner and the windshield washer nozzles and tubes; the old crossmember (it's almost all hidden though); and the replacement fender. The fender is going to be a bit difficult to replace. So far I have had pretty good luck with the repair. Hopefully that will continue.

Sunday, December 16, 2007 

Category: Life

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Car repair on the web

I just wanted to mention that my recent blog about my Dodge Intrepid is not the first car repair I have documented on the web. Heh. It's not even the first about a Dodge. I am almost certain that distinction belongs to the page below that I created on tripod.com circa 2003 and from which the above picture is taken. It documents a repair I made to the window regulator on a 1993 Dodge Dynasty (not my car). And that is not the first window repair I ever did--I fixed the window on my 1987 Pontiac Grand Am. Sadly, I do not think I have any pictures of that door torn apart. That window had a hand crank. You know, the motor on one of my windows in my Intrepid failed, too, but that was under warranty so I didn't have to fix that one! As a bonus for Hood alumni, the page below has pictures of the car parked in no less than three different parking lots at Hood. See if you can identify them . . . .

Warning: tripod.com has pop-up ads!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 

Category: Life

Monday, December 10, 2007

Smoke from house fire

I went to have lunch with my friend Dan at Cici's the day before yesterday, a.k.a. Saturday. While we were paying for lunch, a cashier pointed out the window at some smoke. When it started coming up again a second time, I went out to my car, got my camera, and took this picture. Dan and I tried to find what it was but couldn't, although we were close. I found out from the Herald-Mail that it was a house at 17521 York Road in Halfway. According to the fireman they spoke to, the fire probably started in a laundry room and spread to the second floor of the house. It's too bad the house burned down, but at least nobody was hurt.

P.S.: Once again, the dark smudge was not present in real life. I just got the camera back from warranty repair for the same problem. Hopefully it was dirt on the lens this time. We'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2007 

Category: Life

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Extraction Drill

If someone in the Fire Department offers to open your door for you, you might want to think twice . . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007 

Category: Life

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Battery Charger

Here is the battery charger, charging up the battery. After getting it charged up, there was some trouble getting the engine started. There wasn't gas for some reason, maybe because it hasn't been driven at all since the week after the accident. Once the gas got in there, then there was lots of smoke. But past that, after giving it some gas, everything seems to be running normally. I'd say I ran it for about 20 minutes. The power steering pump pulley seems to be working just fine. There are some other mechanical problems, but now it seems it will mostly be a matter of repairing the body damage.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 

Category: Life

Power Steering Pump Pulley Wheel Installation

This is what was left of the pulley wheel on the shaft of the power steering pump after the collision or thereabouts.

This piece of the wheel was caught by the splash guard at the bottom of the engine compartment . . . I do not know where the rest of the wheel is.

This is what the pulley wheel ought to look like. Notice especially that it happens to be in one piece, versus two.

The shiny spot is where the old wheel was and where the new wheel is to go.

Here is a much closer view. I really had to exert some force to get the old wheel off of the shaft. There were several loud popping noises during that process. I am hoping I didn't destroy anything in the process of removing it, but I won't really know that until I start the engine up, which I can't do right now because the battery is dead.

Here is the new pulley wheel installed in its proper place. The power steering pump pulley installer is still attached.

And here is the pulley in place, along with the accessory drive belt. This makes my engine look a lot more like the diagrams in my service manual. The belt drives the power steering pump and the alternator, which is why the battery has no charge left. So the next step is to charge the battery and see if something goes horribly wrong when I start the engine.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 

Category: Life

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Intrepid Part II

Remember my Intrepid? Here it is. You might notice the crossmember on top of the radiator is tilted up and to the left in this picture. That's not really the way it is supposed to look.

So, we get rid of that. I will need to get a new one of those, however, since it does convenient things like holding the hood down, holding the radiator in place, etc. With it gone, though, I'd say my car looks more or less like a normal Intrepid now! Except for that little ding on the front left fender (on the right side of the picture). It's a little hard to see in the picture, but eh . . . not so hard in real life.

Here again, this is mostly how things are supposed to look. Mostly. There is a small problem.

To get at that small problem, I had to take the radiator fan assembly out. Again. Sigh. I took it out last summer to replace the fan motors. It's horrid because the screws are nearly impossible to get to and you have to wrestle it out from where it sits. Or at least I do. I never wanted to take it out again. But out it had to come.

This is an extreme close-up of what should be a pulley wheel. It was once. Now I would say it most closely resembles the blade of a weed-whacker. I needed the room to pull this off and put a new one on. I really hope I do not have to pull anything else out. We'll see.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 

Category: Life

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Messiah Performance

This is a very blurry picture of the sixtieth performance of Handel's Messiah by the Hood College Choir and the U.S. Naval Academy Men's and Women's Glee Clubs at Hood College. No flash photography allowed plus my nerves equals blurry pictures, so this is the best of the lot. I took it while standing for the Hallelujah chorus. Standing for this chorus is a tradition that is over two hundred years old.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 

Category: Life


Why is my hard drive in the freezer? Supposedly freezing hard drives can help if they crash, which mine did last week. Fortunately, the drive did not totally fail and I think I've been able to get most of the data off of it. I put the drive in the freezer for a little over four hours. I'm not sure if it helped or not. I wasn't able to get at any more data than before, but maybe it helped to forestall its total demise. I also moved my computer into the garage, which was around 40 degrees, while I tried to get the data back.

Freezing drives was news to me. My friend Jeff told me about it last week when I told him my drive had crashed. I found plenty of people on the internet talking about it. I think this guy probably went too far.

In this picture, the drive on top of the case is the drive I bought two years ago to back up my data. I think the ideal time to do this would have been before my drive crashed, eh? The moral of the story is this: back up your data. But nobody ever does. Unfortunately, I backed up the failing data on the hard drive onto a Seagate FreeAgent external drive--which also failed. I'm not sure how much I lost from that. The moral of that story is: don't use Seagate FreeAgent drives to store anything important.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 

Category: Life

Friday, November 2, 2007


From the back, my car doesn't look too bad, eh?

From the left, still lookin' good.

From the front . . . err . . . not so much. This is some expensive blog content.

Yeah, this is kind of what happens when you try to drive under the traffic that is (suddenly) stopped in front of you. I did that last Friday night. The roads were wet. The guy in front of me locked up his brakes. I locked mine, but whereas his car stopped, mine did not. It just slid into and then under the back end of his car.

A close-up of the smashed headlamp.

Strangely enough, the gap between the fender and the front door is fine. It wasn't pushed back at all. The door opens and closes just fine.

This picture was taken by the insurance estimator. It's what the front of my car looks like right now.

And this is how I get around now. These are my feet. My car was officially totalled by my insurance company the day before yesterday. The other guy drove away. You never would have known his car was in an accident, but apparently, sight unseen, he still had $2,000 worth of damage to his vehicle. The estimate to fix my car was around $4,000. I'm not sure what I want to do now. I'll need to buy another car, but new, old, etc., I'm not sure. I will have to spend money and I hate to spend money. I will have to spend a lot of money and I really hate to spend a lot of money. We'll see.

Friday, November 02, 2007 

Category: Life

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seems like a good idea

And there you go.

I was wandering around downtown Hagerstown, waiting for my friend Jeff to show up for dinner. This little invitation was on the exterior of the now-defunct Snow White Grill.
Thursday, October 18, 2007 

Category: Life

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


You Are the Thumb

You're unique and flexible. And you defy any category.

Mentally strong and agile, you do things your own way. And you do them well.

You are a natural leader... but also truly a loner. You inspire many but connect with few.

You get along well with: The Middle Finger

Stay away from: The Pinky

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.

Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men

You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

You Are 4% Healthy

Your diet is freakishly unhealthy. It's amazing you're still alive!

Stop subsisting on white bread and candy - and consider eating a vegetable once and a while.

(I am 4% healthy because I am not a fan of french fries . . . Shoot 'Em Up did start me thinking about eating more carrots, though . . . .)

Your Animal Personality

Your Power Animal: Shark

Animal You Were in a Past Life: Polar Bear

You have a strong character - you are an aggressive, ambitious, go-getter.

You were born to lead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 

Category: Blogging

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Healthy Kids Day

These are just some pictures I took with my phone while I was volunteering for an event called Healthy Kids Day at the Hagerstown YMCA. In this picture is the ambulance I had at the event with some of the aforementioned healthy kids in the background.

Another picture of the ambulance with some of the equipment outside so that kids could inspect it up close. I decided to keep the IV kits and defibrillator out of reach.

Sunday, October 07, 2007 

Category: Life

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Brian and Natasha

My friends Brian and Natasha on their wedding day, which was, coincidentally, today.

Sunday, September 16, 2007 

Category: Life

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poolesville Day 2007

I was recently at the home of my good friends Jeff and Zoë Welsh in Poolesville for Poolesville Day 2007. They are not on MySpace, but they really do exist.

This is the street they shut down for it. For some reason, it looks less crowded in this picture than it seemed at the time.

I didn't take many pictures. This is the sign that announced Poolesville Day. The smudge is back. Maybe I fried my camera somehow. I had the same problem taking pictures of the birds with the same blue sky in the background.

I decided to alter the picture as best I could using Photo Editor to get rid of the smudge. Here's the result of that effort.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 

Category: Life

Go See Shoot 'Em Up

This movie was great. I liked it so much I created this graphic (from two pieces on the official movie web site) to put on my blog.

Go see this movie.

Category: Life

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Black Rock

So I think I've taken this picture before. This is where I start my walks up to the Appalachian Trail. I decided to walk up to the view at Black Rock on my birthday.

It's only been a year, so I hate to think I'm running out of material here. This picture seems vaguely familiar, too. I guess it's hard to see in this picture, but the trail winds up and to the left. It's kind of steep in places. For a trail, anyway.

This is the first in an inordinate number of pictures devoted to a toad I met on the trip up. This game is called spot the toad. Do you see him? I had a hard time finding him looking at the display on my camera. In the end I just pointed it where I thought he was. And, well, he was there, and is in this picture.

This is a closer look at the toad in the first picture.

Different picture. Same toad. Different location.

Once again, a closer look.

This time I think I was the one who moved.

And here is the toad, close-up.

OK, if you haven't been having much luck with spot the toad in the previous pictures, here is your chance.

Closer still.

And still closer. I thought the shadow to the left looked like the profile of a kids head in shadow. If you stare at it long enough, I think you'll see what I mean.

Wildlife abounds on my trip. I saw a good many of these caterpillars, but they were all dead. Except for this one. And it wasn't moving too fast. Now, it could be they weren't dead, they just looked that way. I think the normal life cycle of this bug has it dropping to the forest floor right about now. So the ones I saw may not have been dead, but they certainly were unlucky, then, because they were very exposed.

I believe this caterpillar is an orange-striped oakworm. Its diet consists mainly of--you guessed it--oak leaves. One article I read on the World Wide Web said that these things eat constantly. I might have to adopt it as a mascot.

This is the Pogo Campsite. Or more accurately, a sign declaring that the place I was standing was the Pogo Campsite. It is about half way on my trip to the Black Rock view. This camp site is on the Appalachian trail.

The aforementioned Black Rock view. A sign pointing out which way it is, that is.

This is a campfire at the view. It looks like a well constructed fire. The only problem being that people are not supposed to build fires here.

This is the view from Black Rock, starting at the extreme right.

A little to the left.

A little more.

More to the left.

Almost done going to the left.

OK. That's it. We're all the way to the left now. You can just make out the edge of the lake at Greenbrier.

I tried to take a better picture of the lake.

Looking (way) down, you can see rocks.

Lots of rocks.

Here is another rock. This one has my backpack on it. You may recognize my backpack from such earlier blog entries as: "Tubing on the Shenandoah."

The only cloud in the sky was a man-made contrail. The smudge was not present in real life.

I decided to lay down on one of the rocks to rest. That's when buzzards started to circle me. They are turkey buzzards. This is one flying with its wings in a characteristic V shape.

The wingspan on these birds is just about the same as I am tall, around six feet.

I managed to get a couple pictures that actually looked like the birds were flying. This is one of them.

A view of that bird in more detail.

Here's one sizing me up. I know what he was thinking. He was thinking "Man, I could eat for a week on that thing."

Now, I know these things only eat dead stuff, and I wasn't dead. But I wasn't sure they knew those two things. They can swoop down pretty fast and sometimes they were only 10 or 15 feet above my head, which is close enough, thanks. I think these things might get a little ahead of the game if I were close to expiring. At one point, I know I counted at least 8 of them, all waiting on me to die on the rocks (or get close enough). I made eye contact with a couple of them.

Sometimes scale is hard to judge in pictures. I took this picture from Black Rock. Near the center of this picture is a church.

A picture of the church using the zoom feature on my camera.

A picture of the tower of the church from the ground next to it.

And here is a picture of Black Rock from the ground next to the church. The rocks I was standing on are more or less straight up from the third fence post on the right.

Back up on the mountain, on my way down, I spotted this critter, a millipede.

I also saw this mushroom, which I thought looked like the star of life, so I took a picture of it. I wonder how it wound up this way, and if it is genetic. Somebody probably knows. I don't though.

That's it for my walk up to Black Rock. After a year of blogging away without putting myself in any entries, here's a picture of me. Sort of.

Thursday, September 06, 2007 

Category: Life