Saturday, July 25, 2009

This & That

This summer has been a little hectic on the home front, but it's getting back to normal. In the last couple of months...

-I went on my weeklong Boys' Trip.
-My brother-in-law came for a visit.
-The kids went to Texas with their mom.
-The kids then went to Colorado to visit a family friend.

My brother-in-law left a couple of days before the kids returned from Colorado, giving Mrs. Evan and I a precious couple of days' worth of peace and quiet.

When the kids got home, we chatted about their trip, and they asked me how things were while they were gone. A snippet of the conversation with my younger daughter...

"... [brother-in-law] left a couple of days ago, so [Mrs. Evan] and I had a couple of quiet days," I said.

Giving me a wry grin, my younger daughter asked "Don't you mean that you had a couple of days where you could be loud?" I'm sure you understand the reference she was making, and all I could do was grin.

"Huh," my older daughter asked? "Oh, that's gross. Dad, we don't need to know if you and [Mrs. Evan] were loud. We all burst out laughing.
Mrs. Evan and I were talking about the movie Say Anything... specifically the scene where Lloyd holds the stereo over his head outside of Diane's bedroom window, playing "In Your Eyes," by Peter Gabriel. I looked at Mrs. Evan and said "You know, the original wording of that song was "In Your Thighs," but Peter Gabriel figured that the song probably wouldn't get any airplay with that title, so he changed it. Apparently I was pretty convincing, because she actually bought it for a minute.
You may remember my post from last week, where I said that my friend Greg and I brought his Jeep back from the dead. He sent me an email a couple of days later, informing me that it's dead again. Apparently the fuel line is completely clogged. So we're going to spend some time dropping the fuel tank and thoroughly cleaning it. Then he's putting it up for sale. Rayray, interested in buying a Jeep??
I can't put it off any longer. I need a new roof on the house. Okay, I don't necessarily need the entire roof redone, but I need new shingles, and new soffit, fascia, drip edge and gutters on the rear of the house. The soffit and fascia are rotted. I've been putting it off for... well... too long. If it gets any worse, I'll be talking big bucks for repair. I've got the quote, I've got the loan approved. Now it's just a matter of signing the paperwork and letting the contractor do his job. I'm not wild about taking out another loan right now, but I can't put it off any longer.
I think I've pretty much caught you up. Guess that's all for now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Alive

(You're supposed to imagine the Weird Science theme song as you read the title.)

And no, I'm not talking about my old RROD Xbox. I gave up on that.

My friend Greg has a 1984 Jeep CJ7. He's had it for as long as I can remember... somewhere between 10 and 15 years. Over the years, I've put a lot of miles on that Jeep... one of my cars would break down and it would take me a couple of weeks to scrape together the money to fix it... during the interim, Greg would let me use his Jeep. I've grown kind of fond of that thing.

The thing is a beast... huge off-road tires, a Holley carb and intake... not designed for everyday driving, especially at highway speeds. Once you hit 50 mph or so, the front end gets a bit squirrely. Add in the notoriously short wheelbase of Jeeps, and you've got a recipe for disaster. Once you get the thing off-road though, it's probably the coolest thing I've ever driven.

One day a while back, the throttle cable broke. He parked the thing and said "I'll fix it." A week passed... a month... winter... the following spring... two years... five years. Yeah, the thing broke down over five years ago. During that time, it sat in his back yard, waiting patiently to be resurrected. The Jeep was fortunate enough to move with him to the new house.

It sat in his garage for what... eight months... staring him in the face. Eventually, Greg decided it was time to fix the Jeep. I was all over helping him out. Over the last couple of weekends, we put in a new throttle cable, changed the oil and antifreeze, cleaned the spark plugs and did a general tune-up. Greg expected that it would need the carb rebuilt, and I figured that ALL of the engine's seals had dried out.

Both of us figured that we had nothing to lose by trying to fire it up today. Who'd have thunk it!? It fired right off!! The gas was old, and we put a little bit of oil in the cylinders to minimize and block damage due to rust. We poured a little gas in the carb for good measure. We cranked it over and it fired up the first try!!

We spent the next 3o minutes road-testing it. Once we were satisfied, we gave her a real test. We beat the hell out of her, taking it through grass, mud bogs and woodland areas. She took everything we dished out as if she had never broken down. It was very satisfying bringing that thing back from the dead.

By the way... I want to thank Mrs. Evan for being understanding of my need for male bonding time, and my need to tinker with all things mechanical.

Monday, July 13, 2009



My Xbox 360 got the dreaded Red Ring of Death yesterday. I went out and bought a replacement Xbox 360 (arcade version), and will try to repair the old one over the next couple of days. I've read that the RRoD is primarily due to a heat issue. The old one is out of warranty, so I've got nothing to lose.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Plugging Someone Else's Music

Considering that Paulius lost a guitar, I think that he in particular will appreciate this story...

I ran across an article about a guy whose guitar was destroyed by United Airlines. He tried in vain to get them to fix it or reimburse him for the damage, but got nowhere. Eventually he wrote a song about it and posted it on YouTube. The song was posted two days ago and has received almost 600,000 hits! The story has been featured on the news and has become a public relations nightmare for United. Here's a link to the song... United Breaks Guitars.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New YouTube Video

My brother-in-law and I made a YouTube video. The premise is that God and Jesus start a video series to set the record straight about the Bible and other religious misconceptions. Here's a link to the video. I've got another couple episodes in the wings, so please let me know if you enjoyed this one.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Recipe

I've always been a fan of potato salad. Sure, I like some varieties better than others, but I can't really think of a potato salad that I don't like. Since I like to eat potato salad, it should logically follow that I like to make potato salad as well... especially since I enjoy cooking.

When I make my potato salad, I tend to refer to it as Kitchen Sink Potato Salad, because it's got a bit of everything in it. I usually make it once or twice per year, usually around now, because it requires a lot of fresh vegetables. Here's the basic recipe...

1 large carrot
2-3 scallion onions
1 celery stalk
2-3 medium sized dill pickles
3-4 radishes
1 small can chopped black olives
3 lbs. potatoes
4-6 hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup mustard

-Boil the eggs. While the eggs boil, cut the potatoes into large chunks. DO NOT PEEL THE POTATOES! (The eggs take roughly 15 minutes to boil)

-Once the eggs are finished, boil the potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop all of the vegetables and mix them together. This will allow the hard-boiled eggs enough time to cool, and give the potatoes sufficient time to cook. (30 minutes or so, for a loose estimate.)

-Once the veggies are chopped and mixed, the eggs should be cool enough to shell, chop and add to the chopped veggie concoction. I tend to discard one or two of the hard boiled egg yolks.

-Right about now, the potatoes should be sufficiently cooked. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water. Add the mustard and mayo to the chopped veggies and stir it all up. Salt and pepper to taste.

-Once the potatoes have sufficiently cooled, dump the potatoes into the chopped veggies and stir it all up. In order to prevent the stuff from turning into 'mashed potato salad,' I tend to use my hand for the final mixing. (Yes, I wash them first.)

THIS is my favorite way of preparing -- and eating -- potato salad.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Relax, You'll Live Longer

Today's post is directed at Sunny, but I hope that it'll make sense on a larger scale. I read her July 4 post and was struck by this little nugget...

Do you SEE now why I don't relax and enjoy life any more than I do????? The last time I let my guard down, I ended up with a 4AM visit from Kathy and her mom telling me my son was gone....this time it was an emergency C-Section when everything was going so smoothly.

Sunny, you've got to relax. Fortunately, Dr. Evan is here with some pop psychology that's going to change your life. This tough love is going to be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but you'll be a better person for it. (Holy sh!+. Was that an awesome string of cliches or what!?)

There are really two problems with constantly keeping your guard up and not relaxing. The first problem is that it's really bad for you. It's bad for you physically, and it's bad for you emotionally. Physically, constantly being on guard is stress. And I know that you've heard what constant stress can do to your body... high blood pressure, sleep problems, digestive problems. And guess what. At one point or another, you've posted about all of these these things. Your body is protesting against your constant state of alertness.

Psychologically, it's bad for you too. Constant stress wears out your brain, and you can't enjoy life. Have you ever noticed a dog that's constantly afraid? Head low, tail between it's legs, hunkered down, slinking from place to place, constantly tired from shaking? Just waiting for the next catastrophe to happen? I hate to tell you this Sunny, but when we're stressed, we aren't that much different from dogs.

Now comes the second problem with your 'constantly alert' mentality. It's the part that's more difficult to internalize, but you can't get past your current frame of mind until you understand this... your constant worrying won't change anything. Let me say this again, in the hope that you truly understand it. YOUR CONSTANT WORRYING WON'T CHANGE ANYTHING!

The way you phrased things in today's post led me to infer that, somewhere in the recesses of your mind, you believe that if you had kept your guard up, Marie's baby would have been delivered with no complications... that if you'd kept your guard up, that Clay would still be alive. This is what you seem to believe, but intellectually, you must realize that it can't possibly be true. If you had stayed at the hospital, the complications would have still occurred. Marie still would have had to go in for a C-section. The baby would still be fine. And, because a C-section is still an operation, you still would have missed the birth. Your state of mind had absolutely zero impact on the outcome of the situation.

Now... let me take this a step further. Not letting your guard down is actually detrimental to your ability to cope with stressful situations. Here's how it works. You spend all of this time stressed out... worrying about bad things that can happen... wearing out your body, mind and spirit. Just when you think that you have every possible solution for every conceivable tragedy, life throws you a curve ball. You're pissed at yourself for not being there... for not being ready for this unexpected event. You find a way to blame yourself. And you suffer as a result. Your blood pressure goes up. You lose sleep. You end up in the hospital sometimes. All over something you couldn't have possibly controlled.

This cycle should have happened enough times that I can impress this next bit upon you... A constant state of alertness on your part won't change the outcome. Life will surprise you. Allow me to suggest that you learn to relax, react, and keep things in perspective.

Let me use my brother as a(fictional but realistic) example. He's a bit of an obsessive-compulsive. He went on vacation once upon a time. The guy flew halfway across the country to go on a fishing expedition. At his first layover, he started wondering if he turned off the gas to the house before leaving. Being the obsessive-compulsive, he was so worried about the gas that he worried for a full day. He was so worried about it that he called my parents and asked them to drive to his house (two hours away) to verify that the gas was indeed turned off. It was. He relaxed, and the next day his son (who lives with his mom) was arrested for possession of marijuana.

The story above is fictional, but illustrates my point. If my brother had kept worrying, would that have prevented my nephew's arrest? Sunny, you need to relax. Enjoy life and go with the flow. Your constant worrying serves absolutely no purpose, other than stressing your body, which is detrimental to your health, and reduces your ability to cope and react when a real problem arises. Besides, life has repeatedly shown that it can surprise you despite your best efforts to plan for everything. Give it a rest. Give yourself a rest. Relax. If you follow this not-so-subtle, not-so-humble recommendation, you'll find yourself enjoying life more, and you'll see that you're more prepared for life's next curve ball.