Friday, August 23, 2013


The other day I had an appointment with a new doctor who is a spinal specialist. It was a long appointment but the result was confirmation that there does appear to be a nerve coming out the side of the spine that is getting pinched/irritated once in a while. Some days it's fine. Others I could cry just sitting as motionless as possible. The drugs seem to be blocking the nerve receptors but I don't wanna live like this. So for now, I am going back for more physical therapy with a new therapist that this new doctor works with sometimes. He's going to use what's known as dry needling which I'm really excited about. From what little I know, it's similar to acupuncture. I'm also going back to get another Cortisone injection into the disc. We also talked about another, slightly more invasive idea, where they would go in and burn the outside of the nerve just a bit so it wouldn't be as sensitive but that's down the road. I'm still taking it easy but hoping the PT will do something this time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

So Long Orbea

The Orbea did not sell the first time I listed it on ebay. I had one local guy that called twice to set up times to come look at it but then never showed up. I turned right around and re-listed it on ebay and it sold Monday. I immediately sent the invoice to the buyer and heard nothing which is unusual. On Tuesday night I sent the buyer a message asking if they received the invoice. He said he had but that he wouldn't be paying for the bike until Friday. I've never had that happen before and now understand why some people mention payment within a specific time in their ad. Yesterday I got notification that the money had shown up in my Paypal account. So this morning, I got to work on boxing it up. Shipping bikes can be expensive. Even though the buyer paid for the estimated shipping, I knew I could make another 50ish by making the box as small as possible. 

I damn near took the whole bike apart. Here's the last peak at the bike. This thing is headed to California and it cost just under 70 bones to get it there. Kinda sad to see it go. So long.  

2002 Subaru Impreza Digital Clock Fix

Sometime last week while making my longer commute to my new job, I realized that the digital clock in the Subaru was no longer working. So today I decided to take a look at things. I didn't think it was a fuse issue because everything else is fine and I can't imagine there being a single fuse for that clock. I checked them all anyways because it's always a good starting point. In order to gain access to the wiring of the clock (which along with the connector, was the next best thing to look at) I needed to remove a few things. If you put the in dash cup holder in the open position, you will see 2 screws (one on each side) that need to be removed. Then you can just pull the cup holder all the way out. Then you need to remove the trim surround from the radio and HVAC controls (just the trim). If you don't have the right tool, you can make due by wrapping a shop rag around a flat blade screqdriver. The trim is held on by 4 fasteners (one at each corner). Next you'll want to remove the 2 vents and the trim piece that's connected to them. This piece is pretty stout so just grab it and pull. It's connected with the same type of fasteners as the radio surround. Before you remove the top surround/vents all the way, you will have to unplug the connector for the hazards. You're now looking at this. 

This is clock still held into its housing. You can see the 2 clips on the front of it. Just reach in underneath it (just above the HVAC tubes) and gently push these plastic pieces in while pushing up and this clock surround will pop up. Once the front is up, you can just pull the back up and other 2 fasteners will pop out. Unplug the clock and take it into the garage.

The clock is held into the housing by 4 connectors (2 on top and 2 on bottom). Use a really small flat blade screwdriver to gently pry these up. 2 are easy and the other 2 are more difficult to reach. Now you're looking at this. After looking at things, I could see that one piece (looks like some sort of diode or resistor) had broken loose from the board. Since it was obvious, I figured I'd start there. The piece can be seen in this picture and it's marked 510. I had done some research on this issue and found it be fairly common on the Bugeye Imprezas. Typically, the piece breaks loose on the left side as you're looking at it from this picture. Mine was broken on the right side. This is much harder to gain access to in order to fix.

In the above picture, you can see that in order to get the tip of my solder gun down in there, I decided to break the connector. This connector is one of the 2 that is more difficult to get to and the other 2 really appeared to do the brunt of the holding so I figured it would be fine. Below you can see the new solder on. I laid down a pretty fat bead on each side just for good measure. Then I went back out to the car and plugged it in, turned on the key and the clock worked fine.

These are the buttons that control the clock. There are 3 of each of these so be careful not to lose them. These go back in the clock housing first and then the clock gets re-connected.

Another shot showing the the connector that I broke in order to make getting in there easier.

All back together and functional. Make sure the buttons all work before putting the trim and cup holder back in. Done. Took about 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mavic Jacket Modification

I've had this Mavic rain jacket now for a little over a year. I used it mostly for when I rode the 2012 Colorado Trail Race. It is a wonderful piece of gear. I would wear it in a car wash. It keeps me dry and it breathes amazingly well. Now that I'm not riding as much, I only use it when I'm really hiking. It would be great to use for fly fishing but I prefer my Marmot Precip jacket for that as it is dark green and more camo. After this long, there is only one thing that I do not like about this jacket. The cuffs cinch with velcro. The "softer" portion of the velcro is sewed to the sleeve while what is normally the "rougher" portion is on this strap for lack of a better term. Really, the "velcro" on this strap is like rubber and the issue I've had with it is that it just plain stopped gripping so the cuffs of the sleeves end up not staying around the wrist where they really belong. They get in the way, are annoying and allow water to get in which, pretty much defeats the purpose of having good rain gear. 

So I got into my supplies and found some extra velcro. I made a template out of cardboard that was just a bit smaller than the strap. Then I flipped the template to make the velcro for the other sleeves strap. I got out my upholstery thread and a stout needle and went to work.

This is one side all finished. You really can't tell that anything has been done to the jacket at all and the fit is so much better now around the wrist.

Perhaps the only other issue that I have with this jacket is with the hood and this is more the reason why I probably don't use it while fishing. While cycling, the hood is great when you put it on and then put your helmet back on. The helmet keeps everything in place nicely and then you can still run your helmet light if you're like me and dumb enough to ride through the night in pouring rain. You're already wet so not much point in crawling into a bivy at that point. I personally like the hood on the Marmot jacket when I'm fishing because it stays in place a bit better without wearing a helmet and look pretty damn stupid wearing a helmet when fishing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My New Job

As you know, I do not discuss work here because I don't believe it's ethical. However, I'm going to make an exception tonight because today was my first day at my new district. First I'll give a bit of an intro about the district. It's huge. There are about 25,000 students district wide and about 3,000 employees. The district continues to expand rapidly. My school is 6-8 with 1,100 students and, based upon what I saw today, new students are still enrolling (about 100 new students in the last month). Originally, it's bread and butter was serving families of the Colorado Springs military.

The day consisted of a gathering of all newly hired employees (of which there were a bit over 200). We met in the auditorium of one of the schools (it's actually a Pre-K through 12 school and it is gorgeous and a really interesting layout/concept). We heard from the Superintendent as well as the President of the school board and some other folks. Then we were grouped and sent to breakout sessions where policies, procedures, and district philosophies were discussed. Ya know how sometimes you go to meetings and there's just a lot of fluff and not really any meaningful content (like a majority of the meetings at my previous district)? This was not like that at all. While there was a lot of information being thrown at us, it was all good and even with 13 years under my belt, I appreciated it and walked away with more knowledge.

They catered a delicious lunch for us and we all sat together at our own school tables. All building principals came over to join us and I just thought that was really special. We were released at 1:20 to go to our individual schools where we met further with our administration team. While we only met briefly, I know that this year is going to be special.

One statement that speakers kept coming back to was..."It is very difficult to get hired in this district and it would be considered a feather in ones cap to even get an interview through the screening process. You are all sitting here because you beat out, in some cases, as many as 100 other applicants and we felt that you were the most qualified to work with our students and we wanted YOU." This really hit me hard. The breakout sessions were so professional that I found myself inspired and actually questioning whether or not I deserve this. I know I do but even now, it's hard to find the right words to describe how I felt and still feel. The last 8 years has been extremely disappointing for me, professionally speaking. I NEVER looked forward to going back to work and it never had anything to do with students. I love teaching. The issue for me was, ultimately, not being treated like a professional.

I am so proud to be a staff member for this school district (statistically, one of the finest districts in the state). Initially I was slated to teach special education (mainly reading) at the seventh grade level. But my grade level administrator called an audible over the summer and moved me to 6th grade reading. She did this because the caseload is tougher from a behavior standpoint and she knew how much I love that piece. I am so thankful. I feel like Heather and I have had a bit of a rough road (not as a couple...we are very strong in that regard) but more so professionally. She now has a job that she loves and I see very good things happening at this job that will make me better and I am so ready for that challenge.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


About a month ago now I got another Cortisone injection for my neck issues. A few days later I told Heather that something went wrong. I just didn't feel as good as I had after that first injection. Sometimes the Cortisone doesn't take. I figured that was what happened. Then it got worse. My pain threshold is pretty high but things got really ugly earlier this week. I was sitting on the couch and went to look at one of the dogs to the right and heard something pop and was in immediate pain. Enough to almost bring me to tears. I toughed it out for 2 days thinking things would ease up as they usually do. They haven't. It's gotten worse. After 2 days I called my doctor and begged for some pain meds. He was going to give me Vicodin but I told him I needed something stronger. I was doubling up on those before and they did nothing. So I am on a new drug now called Gabapentin. I'm doubling up these along with muscle relaxers and...they do nothing. Today I couldn't drink out of a glass of water without flinching.

Several years ago when I was having all the teeth issues and getting shots before they worked, I had one shot where they hit the nerve dead on. The doctor told me that they actually try to hit that nerve but rarely ever do. When they do, the jolt is out of this world. When I sit here on the couch (or lay in bed, or stand) I am in constant pain but once in a while (like when drinking, or washing my face or moving in a certain way) I get that zing. I am almost positive that it's a nerve being pinched in my spine. By far, the worst pain I have ever experienced. In the last few days I am starting to have radiating pain down my right arm. I have a referral into an Orthopedic Surgeon and I'm hoping to hear from him soon. For the last 4 days I have sat on the couch or slept and tried to stay still. This sucks.

I have been doing a lot of research. Originally I was told that I had degenerative disc disease. This isn't really a disease and it's also not necessarily an issue that gets worse over time. I don't think this is what I have going on. After my research, I think I might have a herniated disc.

Public Service Announcement Regarding Gerber Knives

I'm a knife guy. I just like them. I probably have about 20 knives. Most of them are smaller pocket knives but I have several larger ones as well. About 3 years ago I was looking for a bigger knife and I kept coming back to the Gerber LMF2 model. It was burly and looked like it could do damn near anything. I bought one. It is my third Gerber knife. I have other knives from Case, Old Timer, Buck, Smith and Wesson, etc. but, after today, I am a Gerber guy. For life. Here's the story:

In the fall, there is a group of friends that I get together with (including my buddy Scott). We choose a remote place in the Rockies (different each year) and backpack in and fish these high altitude lakes for Greenbacks. I won't go into detail on how Scott has neglected to organize such a trip since our last one about 2 years ago. I bought this knife specifically for the trip before that one. I remember pulling it out (the knife that is) and seeing the looks on some the faces. I remember one person asking, "Why do you need a knife that big?" The answer is because it does a lot of different things very well and if the shit ever hits the fan, I want it with me. The following year we met again. The hike in was gorgeous but a storm was coming in and things were expected to get ugly. Not long after the sun went down and we were all shivering at about 11,000'. It started snowing. It was going to be a very cold night (well below freezing). We had some logs but nothing to split them with. Until I pulled out this baby. I used a rock and beat the piss out of the top, tip, and handle of the knife to get that wood split into kindling that would make starting a fire easier. In the process, I tore the rubber handle and cracked the resin underneath. The blade was fine and I've used it since then.  

Here's the damage. Not much really but I wanted to see if Gerber could repair it. I called them this morning and gave them the Readers Digest of this story. The conversation went a little like this:

Gerber: Yeah that resin handle should not have cracked on you and that rubber handle shouldn't have torn.
Me: Really? Because I beat the ever living shit out of it to make firewood. I abused this knife.
Gerber: You used the knife for it's intended purpose. We will replace that free of charge.
Me: That's wrong. I abused it and it broke and I am more than happy to pay for a repair.
Gerber: All of our knives are guaranteed this way. No questions asked.

So I'll box this up and send it their way and they will send me a brand new one. My next knife (and the ones after that) will all be from Gerber. I hear a lot of guys bitch about the quality of the steel used in Gerber knives and how they aren't able to hold an edge and this and that. I have never experienced this. This LMF2 will shave your arm after very little time spent sharpening it. I could cut down a mall tree in a survival situation and bring the blade right back with little effort. Maybe some folks aren't sharpening them correctly? Thank you Gerber.