January 24, 2013


I got nothing. My brain is fried.

Well that isn't exactly true. I have things, it is just that my brain is sort of full trying to learn on the fly at work. I am getting up earlier than my body is built for, and only see sunlight (what little there is) through the window at my office. When I get home each evening, I just don't have the mental space to write.

It feels a bit like an endless loop, this dark to dark routine, like the treadmill so hated by the runner. Much better to get outside where the random twists and turns keep your head up. With the days so short, I haven't been able to get out for a run during the week, and that isn't helping.

Each morning there is a new layer of frost on the windows. I had forgotten the many different textures of ice. Some days it slides right off like a light dusting, others I am going at it with an ax. A few mornings there was black ice, and the hill from the house was shut down. Luckily I remembered a back way out from my time running around with UPS.

Sierra wanders around the front yard while I thaw out the truck. With her fading sight, she jerks back when she moves from light to shadow, assuming the shadow means something is coming right at her. The other morning, the garbage truck pulled up, and the spinning yellow siren light had her flinching repeatedly. Some mornings are rougher than others.

I keep trying to tweak the routine to shave a minute here and there, but I think it will take longer days for me to get back out on the road. I did get out for a bike ride last weekend, though. I barely rode when I had endless sunshine and far more hours, but there I was pedaling in 30 degree weather. The tighter schedule may force me to make the time for a ride where I didn't before.

Weekends are going to start filling up with work as well, but I am going to do my best to grab the daylight when I can.

And write.

January 13, 2013

Ice scraper multi-tool

It has been cold. Not a Minnesota kinda cold, but still the kind of cold that makes you want to stay curled up in bed. There is a thermometer by the front door, and it read 26 degrees this morning. The grass crunched under Sierra's feet as she wandered around looking for her spot, and the truck was a block of ice.

The sheen of ice on all the windows adds ten minutes to my departure each morning, so I bought a cover for the windshield, and a plug-in heater to defrost the inside (my truck heater is terrible). The windshield cover is a shiny aluminum color, much like the cover I used to keep out the San Diego sun. So similar, and yet not at all the same.

The cover worked well, but the additional heater was pretty week. I would do better to plug in a cheap hair dryer, but the combination did save a little time and effort. I was headed off to watch the Seahawk game at a friend's house,and stopped by the library to drop off a book. When I went to leave, I didn't.

The key would not turn in the ignition. I had been worried about the engine turning over in the cold, but I couldn't even get to that point. I tried rocking the steering wheel back and forth, pulling the key out slightly to see if the tumblers would engage, staring angrily and gnashing my teeth, all to no avail.

After getting a ride home, and while watching the Seahawks fall tantalizingly short of winning, I searched for auto shops online. Before my drive from San Diego to Seattle, I joined AAA for a little automotive peace of mind. They would come tow my truck, but I needed to find a shop to tow it to. I found a couple close by, but of course none were open on a Sunday (much less playoff Sunday).

While I had the internet tubes up, I did a little surfing around to see if replacing a ignition cylinder was within my skill set. Previously, the internet has taught me how to fix a washer, take apart a dryer, replace a lock, snake a drain, and many other random projects around the house. From what I found, the first step in removing the lock cylinder is to turn it to the on position. That was out.

I kept surfing and found this video. It is only a minute long, but the gist of it is to put the key in the ignition, and then tap on the end of the key ten times with a rubber mallet, driving the key into the ignition. I didn't have a rubber mallet, so I used the ice scraper that has become all too handy lately. I hit it several times, tried the key, and nothing. I wasn't surprised, it did seem too simple.

So, I hit it a few more times just to be thorough, and I'll be damned, the key turned and the engine fired up. When people ask me to take a look at something that isn't working, I usually ask, "have you tried swearing or hitting it with a hammer?" Sometimes a hammer is the answer.

January 1, 2013

What a night for a sunrise

New Year's Eve was a quiet one as anticipated. I wasn't even sure I was going to stay up until midnight, but then the local coverage came on, and I stayed up to watch the Space Needle erupt in fireworks. It was a good show, but I was happy to watch it from the comfort of my couch.

This morning, there was an air of hangover in the house, but strangely it was the pets having a rough go of it. One had pooped the bed, and the other one hurled on the deck. Not sure what sort of partying they did after we went to bed, but they are getting too old to bounce back the next morning.

After feeding her breakfast, I let Sierra out front. The air was clean, and the sky clear of any clouds to blanket in any heat. The temperature gauge read 28 degrees, and rooftops and windshields were covered in a layer of clean, white frost. The grass crunched under the pooch's feet as she wandered around looking for the right place to mark her spot. The cold air knocked away the cobwebs of a short night of sleep, but it was nice not to wake up with a headache like so many past first day's of the year.

I waited until mid-day, and a temperature bump to 39 degrees, before lacing up my shoes for the first run of the year. It was still chilly, and I found myself running on the sunny side of the street to avoid the colder shade. I haven't been running much since the big weekend in November, and it was nice to be back out on the roads this morning.

Work is going to get much busier in the coming weeks. My boss joked that we should enjoy our last day off for the next four months (at least I hope he was joking). It is going to be harder to get out for a run, but I am going to try my best to sneak out when I can. It will likely mean running in the dark, on more nights of short sleep, so I am doubly glad I took it easy last night to enjoy the sunshine today.

What a night for a sunrise...