Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Poor Sick Kid

My older daughter has been down for over a week... dizziness, nausea, and debilitating headaches. I took her back to the emergency room Friday night, where they gave her a CAT scan and ran a few tests. They said that there's nothing immediately life-threatening, which is good. But we're all getting frustrated at the glacial pace of things. We had an appointment with her family doctor today, but the doctor's office notified us that the doc is sick, so we had to reschedule.

The kid seems to be slowly improving, but damn... it's a bitch to watch your kid be sick. And I'll admit it... I'm not at my best when dealing with the medical bureaucracy.

Details on Fixing My Garage Door

As I mentioned in my last post, our garage door broke. Thanks to my friend Greg, we were able to get it completely fixed with just a few hours of work. It all started when the garage door opener died. The main drive sprocket shelled out, which meant that I had to buy a new garage door opener. I did some comparison shopping, and chose the Chamberlain 1/2 horsepower Whisper Drive garage door opener. After looking at the various models (belt drive, screw drive and chain drive) I selected the belt drive because it's supposed to be quietest, because it's supposed to be maintenance-free, and because the screw drive models reportedly fail to work in very cold weather. (My garage is heated, so that will probably never be an issue, but I didn't want to risk it.) I chose my specific model based on price, reviews, and local availability.

On Friday, I removed the old garage door opener, in preparation for installing the new one on Saturday. I figured that we could manually open and close the garage door in the interim. Unfortunately, when Mrs. Evan returned from her weekly grocery shopping on Saturday morning, the garage door had a major malfunction. The garage door cable slipped from its pulley on the right side, and at the same time, the tracks on the left twisted slightly, causing the garage door wheels to slide from the tracks. (Wow, she's one strong lady!) The top panel was hanging precariously. I was afraid that it would fall, which could injure someone and/or destroy the panel. I called Greg for assistance, and he came right over. Greg and I have done a lot of similar projects, and we've almost got telepathy when it comes to two-man jobs. Furthermore, with his engineering knowledge, I expected that he'd be able to help me get the garage door closed without any further damage.

I was right. We got the door closed. Next came the big decision... should we try to fix things ourselves, or should I let the pros handle it? Knowing that the door's torsion springs can cause severe injury if something goes wrong, I seriously considered letting the professionals fix the door. But a little internet research, coupled with my having seen a pro work on the torsion springs before, convinced me that we could fix things ourselves. It was the correct choice.
**NOTE: Please understand that playing with these springs can cause serious injury or death. If you're not confident in your abilities, don't do it! And also notice that I'm not giving you instructions on how to do this. In other words, if you do this yourself and end up hurt, it's your own damn fault. Don't come crying to me.

Using the internet instructions and my memory, we released the tension on the springs. We then reseated and adjusted the cable on the pulley and repaired the twisted track. The track was fixed by simply repairing a single support bracket. And re-tensioning the torsion springs was easy as well. Next came installing the new garage door opener. Now comes the part where I evaluate the Chamberlain 1/2 horsepower Whisper Drive garage door opener.

There are really two aspects to the evaluation... installing the opener, and how well it works. I'll start my evaluation with the summary. Both aspects met with or exceeded my expectations. Installing the opener went off without a hitch. It can be done with one person, but it certainly goes faster with two people. Also, realize that I didn't do a new installation. I re-used as many of the old parts as possible, so I didn't need to install the headers and sensors, or run the wiring. That took an hour or two off of my overall install time. The instructions were detailed and straight-forward. Installation and preliminary testing took roughly an hour. Fine adjustments took another 15 minutes or so. Finalization and clean-up took another 30 minutes

The opener works as I'd expect as well, but it's not quite as silent as I thought it would be. When I read the reviews, many people commented on the silence. Some even said "I can't even hear the opener... all I hear is the garage door on its tracks." That's not my experience. I was able to hear the motor. But it IS significantly quieter than my previous chain-driven model. I was able to hear the previous opener from about anywhere in the house. It wasn't annoyingly loud, but I was able to hear it. I can clearly hear the new opener's motor when I'm in the garage, but inside the house, all is silent. In fact, the sound of the car driving into the garage is now louder than the sound of the door opening.

Having had the device for less than a week, I can't speak for the long-term durability of the opener, but I am satisfied with how it performs thus far. And if you're deliberating whether to install the opener yourself or have the pros do it, I'd say do it yourself.

Oh yeah, I need to thank Mrs. Evan for being a real trooper. She was feeling a little under the weather, but she agreed to watch Greg's kids while we worked on the garage door.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Challenging Week

My kid's been home from school all week with chronic dizziness, nausea and headaches. The doctors have thus far failed to adequately diagnose her, but it appears to be nothing life-threatening. At least the blood tests and CAT scan look clean. Maybe an inner ear problem causing vertigo? Either way, after this long, she's really tired of being sick, and I'm more than just a little concerned.

Mrs. Evan has been feeling a little under the weather too. And she's such a trooper. The kid's feeling sick, so Mrs. Evan refuses to stop... it's more important for her to be there for the kid than it is for her to stop. I have to admit... I can relate to this.

The younger kid's being a trooper too. She was waaay worried about her sister; she's been very patient, understanding and kind to her sick sister.

To complicate matters a bit, I was kindly notified by Child Support Recovery that my ex wife has requested a child support review. UGH! The money aspect isn't really the primary issue from my perspective... But I'm not going to get into that.

And on the same day I found out about the child support crap, my garage door opener blew out. I was ready to buy a new one... I removed the old one last night. Mrs. Evan opened the door by hand today, and the shit fell off the tracks. Fortunately, I called my best-est friend, and he spent the day helping me put things back together. For $250 - including the new garage door opener - we got everything put back together and running smoother than ever.

Oh yeah... I also noticed that when my sick kid is feeling icky, she wants her boyfriend, not me. I'm a bit wistful about that, but I also get that it's part of growing up.

I'm a little drained after all of this activity... but wifey is sleeping after being sick all week... the older kid is still sick (today is day six), and the younger kid has a friend spending the night. I'll sleep in an hour or two.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Too Young for This Shit

Nostalgia: A longing for something past.

Ever since my miniature class reunion last month, I've been planning to break out my high school yearbook... to see who I remember, what I remember, and what I've forgotten. I finally did that today. While I was digging through my memorabilia, I also found an old letter from a high school teacher, an some commemorative yearbooks from the Marine Corps. The whole experience was a huge, wistful trip down memory lane.

The first thing I looked at was the letter, which was painful. Like I said in the last post, I had a lot of respect for the guy. The note was very personal, talking about some of his regrets, and the knowledge that I'll never speak to him was poignant.

My senior yearbook was a trip, but for significantly different reasons. I couldn't believe how many pictures were completely unfamiliar to me... especially considering that I went to school with these people for four years. And the stuff that was written. I was pretty selective about who wrote in my yearbook that year... I wanted to stick with people I'd remember, and who meant a lot to me during the year, as opposed to getting every Tom, Dick and Harry to write something meaningless. What struck me was how many of those signers I don't remember, and how the common theme was that I was a wild man who partied just a little bit too much. Man, I remember being a partier, but I didn't realize that I was such a wild child.

What REALLY kicked me in the ass though, was the military stuff. And they didn't really jog my memory directly... what they did was remind me of some significant aspects of my enlistment. For most people, the high school years are the golden years... the time filled with nostalgia. This wasn't the case with me. For me, my time as a Marine were, for lack of a better term, my formative years. They were my closest friends; this period brings back the most vivid nostalgic memories; this was the time that I came in to my own as a man.

These books in and of themselves weren't that vivid. But they brought back memories of my deployments, and of my time at the now-defunct MCAS Tustin. The nostalgia caused me to do an internet search on MCAS Tustin. Last time I visited California, I drove by the now-closed base. It brought back a flood of memories. I resolved to return again in the future, but to find a way to sneak on to the base and get some pictures. After my internet research, I realized that this would probably never happen... the city of Tustin has a massive development plan underway for the base, and by the time I get back out there, the place I remember will be completely non-existent. That hurt a lot.

I've always been the type of person who remembers the past, but looks forward. I recognize the need to preserve history, but I also enjoy the prospect of what the future holds. This trip down memory lane... the realization that some of MY history will soon cease to exist... the knowledge that I will never see many of these close friends again... that was painful. I'm too young for this shit.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Delay Has Ended

Delayed Gratification: Work and sacrifice now, with the anticipation of a greater reward in the end. The delay has ended, and now it's gratification time.

Back in August, my church adopted one of the homes hit by last year's flood. Four months of hard work will pay off this week, as we give the homeowner the key to her newly remodeled house. Due to other commitments, I haven't worked on the house for the last couple of weeks... the time when things really come together. But I did take the opportunity to walk through the nearly-finished house this morning. Though it's incredibly cold outside, I was warmed with the satisfaction of doing good for someone.

As I sit here, trying to channel my thoughts into coherent words, I completely fail. Four months... it seems like a long time. But compared to how long the homeowner has been without a house, it's not that long. It seems like we started the project ages ago, but when you consider that we've only worked weekends, it went by quickly.

Jeff and Julie, the true project leaders, were great. They devoted EVERY weekend -- and many weeknights -- to this renovation. They were the ones who worked with the bureaucracy to get us what we needed to get the home remodeled... the ones who were on site, without fail... the ones with the vision of the final outcome... the ones who put little touches on the house, like a Christmas wreath on the front door, and new wash cloths (wrapped in a purple bow) in the bathrooms...

Today, as I did a final walk through the house, before the homeowner moves back in, I heard from Jeff and Julie that the bureaucrats who doled out the money (and the restrictions) stated that our work and results were among the finest they had seen. Though I realize this may have been nothing but lip service, it was gratifying nonetheless. That, however, is nothing compared to the knowledge that I helped make a flooded house better than it was before the devastation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We had our first snowfall of the year. Most of the state is having a snow day. I took this picture earlier this morning. Notice how much snow is on the deck rail? And it's still snowing and blowing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I just used regular dish soap in the dishwasher.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a Good Day

It's a good day today. No reason, I'm just loving life.