Monday, September 30, 2013

It's ALIVE!!!

No, rest easy folks, I am NOT reanimating dead rats...they smell bad!  But this clip was the first thing that ran through my mind last night as we finally got the last puzzle problem #sns8*%$^@K#  issue solved on the tandem!

Yes, the build saga of our bike is drawing to a close.  Never before have either of us seen so many things go wrong with a simple (so we thought) bike build.  Yesterday it was the rear derailleur.  Brand new SRAM X9.  Would not, could not shift to the smallest cog without falling off to the inside against the spokes when going the other way.  That's officially a bad thing, folks.  DH beat his head (almost literally against the wall) trying to sort it out.  I called bike shops in search of an unobtainium bike tool.  Finally called the Mothership (the original Richardson Bike Mart).  One of their lead wrenches said he'd look at it for us.  We drove down....we were expecting to find the frame was bent, (bad) or the hanger crossthreaded (catastrophic).

Dreadlock Mike came out (yes that is his nickname), took one look at me holding the recumbent tandem and uttered a heart-breaking phrase, " You didn't tell me it was a recumbent tandem."  To which I replied, "You didn't ask."  Which at least elicited a smile from him.

About an hour later, Mike came back out to ask if we wanted to see what the problem was, since it wasn't the frame or the hanger. Whew!  It was a design issue with the SRAM part.  We watched Mike tear everything apart, and tried a couple solutions to no avail.  We were discouraged enough to consider scrapping the entire expensive new drivetrain, and  converting over to Shimano (yet more $$).  And then the idea we had all kicked around in other forms (a spacer) finally clicked for Mike.  He put two 1mm washers into play, one on the face of the cassette to space the back end out 1mm, and one on the derailleur bolt to space the derailleur away form the frame 1mm.  Suddenly everything lined up like it is supposed to.  Gears shifted.  Properly.  The Heavenly Choir began to sing!
It was ALIVE!

DH got the first ride on it last night, solo, just to start getting his seat position and bar position correct.  I stood around taking pics and video, grinning at last!  My seat position will be sorted out tonight, and we will at last get to take it out on it's maiden voyage.

Do me a favor though folks, pray that our maiden voyage doesn't end up like Titanic!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Random 5 Friday 09/27/13

Getting an early start on R5F this week.  If you see this in your blog preview mode, know that my post will likely change some during the week as more "stuff" happens.

1. Slowly, surely, Serenity is coming together.  DH wants to rename it PITA.  My renaming choice was Miss Moneypit.  Tuesday's goal for this project is to try to obtain teh paint code, to better match some touch up paint, and to see if the hub issue can be solved cheaply.

2.  Both DH and I have let our eating habits lapse a bit and the scale does not lie, sadly.  I am trying to regain control, and do a lot more of the Michael Pollan thing.

3.  Funny thing about #2 above, is that I have also been getting faster on the bike.  That is counterintuitive...

4.  Fall really is my favorite season I think.  Besides heralding the change in weather, Fall seems to feed the introvert in me, which I almost never let out...

5.  Some things I regret not learning (thus far) in life--how to play guitar, how to knit or crochet, and a working understanding of a foreign language.  How about you?  Do you have any regrets in life so far?  Things you wish you'd done or learned, but never took the time to pursue?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rats, rabbits, and parachuting spiders, oh my!

Goodness, I always knew there were rats in the neighborhood, but I did not expect to get seven eight of the vermin in the snap traps in one week. The dogs have been giving us fits, wanting to get out at all hours of the night and run the rats along the fence rails, chasing them all over, and trying to root around under the back deck to dig them out.  It's annoying and disrupts what little sleep I get, so it was time to wage war on the rats.  Snap traps are a lot safer with kids and pets around, than poisons, so we don't use poison in the back.  In case you're wondering I use these traps.  They work well.

Victor Quick Set Power Kill Rat Trap

I have also been seeing a lot of rabbits around lately.  Rather large ones, fat and healthy looking really.  I imagine they'd be tasty, if one was so inclined.  I've only ever hunted rabbits down as a kid when they were chomping on Mom's roses.  With the rotund rabbits around here, I am thinking the forecast of a harsh winter for the USA may be correct.

And today was parachuting spider day!  DH noted the hunks of spider web parachute floating on the wind today, especially as he was out riding his bike to work and back.  If you look around the trees, and on car antennas, you can see these long strands of spider web everywhere.  There's even a hunk of it globbed onto one of the van tires.  DH told me to watch out for the arachno-fallschirmjaegers and he was right--we saw them all over town.  I have not seen the spiders attached to these web-chutes, but maybe that's a good thing!  There's a video on youtube, showing these web-chutes.  You won't see any spiders on it, but if you hate arachnids, don't look at the suggested videos that youtube will offer up if you watch this clip.

Heck, we even made the Drudge Report and local media, with this! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Serenity...what is it?

Serenity:  The name of the space ship in a short-lived sci-fi show called Firefly. (We are all fans of Firefly here at Casa Monkeywrangler.)

Serenity:  noun.
The state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness. 

Serenity:  The name for our new Seavo tandem
This second reference was what we were aiming for, when we began the saga of our search for a tandem bike to acquire.  A chance to ride together, to pool our energies, improve cooperation and communication--all worthy goals. 

Alas, thus far this project has been anything but serene.  First, I missed out on the only two Seavo's for sale on the net, by a day each.  Then it was not possible to find a new-in-shop Seavo, anywhere I could think of, in the country.  Seems most shops will order you one and build it up, rather than use valuable floor space for a limited-market item.  I can understand that, but I don't have to like it.  So we did a test ride on a friend's Seavo.

Then, we ordered a frameset (FYI-a frameset is not the complete bike) through an area dealer.  Items we thought were included in the frameset, weren't.  Items that should've been in the box, weren't.  Another vendor shipped the wrong type of chain.  Anybody want some 10' of Fixie chain?  I can tell you who to call if you do!  I don't even have pictures of our bike yet...

We opted to source a nice set of wheels on the secondary market...unfortunately, the seller apparently had the rear one cobbled together out of a bunch of parts that do not play well together.  That took a couple days and many photos and phone calls to the hub manufacturer to sort out.  Thank you White Industries--you folks were great to work with!  Oh, and another $35 for the correct axle parts, and an as yet unknown amount for the LBS (Cadence Cyclery) to install it all and re-dish the wheel properly, plus installing the brakes, ensuring the magic smoke in the disc brakes doesn't escape.  It also cost us the money to get a spare new wheel that we knew would work, shipped overnight(Thank you Hostel Shoppe!).  That will eventually be our spare rear wheel, but for now it is our main.  

Yet, I guess things are looking up.  Things are coming together.  Once the wheel and brake issues are resolved, the rest of the build will be simple enough...provided the seat meshes arrive in the next day or so.  When we finally manage our 'maiden voyage' on Serenity (or as DH calls it PITA, or my alternate name, Miss Moneypit), I hope I will be able to relax and enjoy it for all the reasons we wanted a tandem in the first place.  And then I will probably have a stiff drink!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor. - Irish proverb

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
- Albert Camus

Autumn is the bite of the harvest apple.
- Christina Petrowsky

Autumn is the hush before winter. 
- French proverb

Wishing y'all a gorgeous, and thought-filled Autumn!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rain is a GOOD thing!

Well, the weather guessers were right for once!  I should've known, since the Silverado Sage was blooming all this week...we have gotten rain!  It did start late Thursday night, and by 11:00pm, we'd gotten a measured 1.25", and on Friday by 9am, another .5".  So we are almost to the 2" I was hoping for.  Yay!  And even better, it was supposed to continue to rain on and off all day Friday.  (Writing this Friday morning for posting on Saturday.)

Rain is a GOOD thing!

This is the official youtube video from Luke Bryan.  My Monkeys love to sing and dance along with this one.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Random 5 Friday 09/20/2013

This week's installment of Random 5 Fridays is upon us.  Yay!

1.  I enjoy R5F--it's quick and easy, I get to check out lots of other blogs, and see what my regulars are up to in a given week.

2.  We will be picking up our Seavo tomorrow.  I am excited!  It will be fun to ride with my DH again, rather than chasing after him on the bike.  And tandeming is such an exercise in cooperation and communication too.  Luckily this is not our first two-seater, so we know we are already compatible to it.

3.  I went rat-hunting last night, and had two in the traps by morning!  Yes, rats in suburbia...I hate 'em.  I'm going to re-bait the traps again tonight and see if I can catch a few more.  Usually after I kill about 4 or so, they move elsewhere for a season or two.  The traps are a lot safer than poisons, considering the dogs I have, and the neighborhood pets too.

4.  Rain.  We need some rain.  Maybe not quite as much as fast as Boulder got slammed with, but a good long moderate rain.  2" would help a lot.  Weather rumors have rain starting late Thursday night, and lots of rain today.  I sure hope so!

5.  I've been enjoying the garage purge.  Yes it is still ongoing, but progress is being made!  Many things have been gone the way of Ebay, others still have gone to the curb, only to magically disappear by morning into the curb-crawlers* trucks.  As long as it is out of MY house, I'm ok with it.

* curb crawler: One who drives around town on trash day, taking stuff out of your trash before the trash truck arrives.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A labor of love

What is a labor of love?  It is doing what your heart calls you to do. Sometimes it is loving the discarded of society, the unloveable, the sick, the crazy ones, and the abused ones.  For many good souls, that labor of love involves aiding one's Fellow Man.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves, as we are commanded to do.

For others, that calling was not for Man, but for the lesser beings of God's creation.  I know such a man.  One whose heart and soul have been torn by a dog.  A man whose life revolves around the kennel--not for breeding dogs, not for sale, but to house and love and care for the discarded dogs our society produces.

The life of a small scale rescue is driven by the dogs and their needs (though how anyone could think that 50 dogs is small scale is beyond me).  Food, housing, vet bills...working with the dogs, taming the wild ones, soothing the crazy ones, teaching the unlearned ones how to behave in the human world.  All this takes time, especially when someone has to hold down a regular job that pays the bills. 

And what bills!  I knew the vet bills would be large.  How could it not?  50 dogs require flea treatments, heart worm treatments, rabies shots, annual vaccinations against the myriad of canine diseases.  Even with the generous "rescue discounts" that some vets will offer, the bills are simply staggering.  Add to it the surgery some Rhodesian Ridgebacks require to repair (if possible) a genetic defect called Dermoid Sinus.  It all adds up, into the tens of thousands of dollars a year.

A typical day at the Ranch goes something like this--get up by 4am, turn out the 50+ dogs to do their business, clean out the kennel runs, fill the water buckets, bring in the dogs in feeding groups for their morning meals.  After everyone is done, run them all back outside for a couple hours outdoor time.  Then by noon, bring them all back inside, to avoid the heat of the day, do a poop patrol in the outdoor pens, grab some food for yourself and a short nap in the hot afternoon, because you will be up until around midnight, repeating the morning's routine for the night time feeding...oh and don't forget, answering emails, fund raising, vet visits, working with some of the dogs for one on one attention and get the idea.  Then there is also the general maintenance needed by any homeowner.  Oh and don't forget, you have a spouse to love and care about and care for, too...I don't know how they do it.

The goal of Rescue is to find the right home for the right dog.  This is often difficult.  People often balk at the adoption fees a rescue has to charge, just to cover their operating costs.  People often balk at the application process, which can seem invasive at times.  But they forget that some rescues will take that dog back, if you don't want it, can't care for it, divorce, whatever the reason, wherever the dog.  Rescues also want to make sure the  adopter is not going to misuse the dog--in Texas that often means being used as a hog-dog.  In fact, that's how many RR's and RR mixes (often crossed with a pit bull) end up in rescue in the first place--the dog won't hunt.

Ridgebacks are fortunate in some ways in this country, in that they are NOT terribly popular on the dog breed scale.  This limits somewhat, the backyard breeder aspect of overpopulation.  But RR's are 'different' dogs.  They're a Hound, first.  The breed was developed to be independent, and as such, they will quickly dominate an indecisive owner.  They're smart, and perfectly trainable, but the usual methods work poorly with a Ridgeback.  They get bored with repetition-based training.  They're stubborn as all get-out.  You have to mix it up, if you have a Ridgie, and keep it short too.

The booth
I spent my weekend manning the booth at the Celina Balloon Festival.  No hot air balloons were in evidence sadly, as the wind never did die down enough for them to safely launch a single balloon all weekend long.  The event however, was great, for the organizers had set up a special place for many area Rescues to set up booths, and show off dogs for adoption and to educate the public about rescue, and in our case, about Rhodesian Ridgebacks in particular.

African Lion Hounds
A medical emergency had thrown everyone's plans into disarray, but we pulled together and soldiered on, manning the booth for two full days in the late summer heat.  Volunteers walked and watered dogs.  Some kind folks donated cash and a few potential adopters were identified and encouraged to apply.  A couple of the dogs we brought were highly popular with the crowd, and a couple more showed well, and were on their best behavior (always a plus!).  I hope that homes for those dogs will come as a result.

A volunteer dog walker

There was even a sense of humor by day two, where I found a 6-pack carrier of Ridgeback Ale to place on the booth the time I went home last night, I was ready for a beer and a nap!

Yes, that is Ridgeback Ale!
 If you have it in your heart to donate to dog rescue, please find one in your area and give what you can, be it time, or money or supplies.  If you love the Ridgeback breed (mixed or pedigreed) like I do, feel free to follow this LINK and there on the main page you will find a Paypal button or two for financial donations, and contact information for the rescue I work with, if there are other ways you want to help.  I thank you all, for anything you give, be it time, or money or prayers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years Ago...

Twelve years ago today, Evil flew in the skies over this country.
08:46:30 EDT Flt. 11 hits Tower 1
09:03:02 EDT Flt. 175 hits Tower 2
09:37:06 EDT Flt. 77 hits the Pentagon
09:58:09 EDT Tower 2 collapses
10:03:11 EDT Flt. 93 crashes into a field in PA
10:28:22 EDT Tower 1 collapses

Twelve years ago today, I was sitting in my truck before work, and heard a news flash about an airplane and a skyscraper.

Twelve years ago today, some 3000+ people died when those planes hit those 3 buildings and one field in Pennsylvania.

Twelve years ago today, only 19 of those 3000+ people awoke, knowing they were already dead men.

Twelve years ago today, I was 6mo pregnant with our first child.

2001 was an eventful year for me--I totaled my truck on Bambi (and dang it,  there wasn't enough left of her to salvage ANY venison!), I was in the midst of my first pregnancy (talk about emotional/physical roller coasters), I was working in a job I despised, with people I knew and loved, 9/11 happened (talk about adding new stress!), I left my job to go on baby-leave and never went back (YAY!) and I delivered our first healthy child.

Remember what happened that day--where you were, what you thought or felt or feared or did.  Remember those who were lost.  This was our generation's Pearl Harbor.  Never forget!

Monday, September 9, 2013


I have been suffering of late.  It has been a self-imposed sufferfest however, as I was honestly too lazy to get around to roasting my own beans for my morning cuppa.  It's been hot, and I've been busy and tired in the evenings.  There, I've admitted it.  I love GOOD coffee, (As if you couldn't tell, from the background picture on the blog!) but in a pinch will drink swill.  You can tell from looking at my cup if I think the coffee is decent or not.

Good coffee = cream and sugar added
Swill=drink it black

DH is not too particular about his morning cup.  He says he is fine with the Walmart Dark Roast.  I can drink it too, if I make it uber-strong.  I can even use enough grounds to require cream and sugar...though it doesn't really make it 'good' coffee, just strong.

A long time ago, I learned about home-roasting coffee.  I bought a dedicated roaster.  I wore it out.  I had it repaired, 3-4x I think.  I bought an air-popper.  A Poppery II.  I burned it out in short order too.  I was becoming depressed at the dual thoughts of bad coffee, an/or having to spend a fortune on a high end dedicated roaster.  The good ones are NOT cheap.  (A note to prospective home roasters, you just can't roast in the house unless you want to set off the smoke alarms and summon the Fireguys.)

Coffee salvation appeared at last on Fleabay one day, in the form of an Original Poppery (I), not the II model.  The #1 Poppery was made right.  It's built like a tank with a  massive cast aluminum roasting chamber.  This thing is overbuilt, and just what I needed.  I have accidentally forgotten a roast session, and it has run nonstop for 30min.  The beans were mini-briquets by then, but the roaster was fine.  A lesser machine would've suffered a meltdown.

I used to buy the beans exclusively from Sweet Maria's, but with the price of coffee going up up up, I often end up going to CCM Coffee instead.  Their selection isn't as broad, and the beans are not quite as expensive.  Either location will serve the home roast fan well.  Sweet Maria's has a lot of information for the home roaster, to guide you in your coffee adventures.  It is helpful, especially when just starting out, so you can learn how to ID the different levels of roast. 

If you LOVE coffee, and have an adventurous spirit, you too might enjoy home roasting.  You will get the best results from a French Press for brewing your coffee too.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Random 5 Friday 09/06/13

Back to R5F this week!  Hope everyone's week has gone well.

1.  I'm sorting out what curriculum to buy for this year's schooling.
I am partial to Sonlight's stuff.  I am debating inflicting Latin on them.

2.  We are aggregating the remaining bits for when our latest cycling addition (n+1) is ready to pick up.  More on "Serenity" later...

3.  The garage purge is proving somewhat profitable this week, as I have sold some of the more valuable bits on 'Fleabay'.  I wonder what we can get rid of from the attic next???

4.  The weather is turning slowly toward Fall.  Daytime highs are now below 100F, and the nights are in the low to mid 70's.  It even rained the other night.

5.  I'd like to get back out to the range for some practice, but it is not yet cool enough.  The Sand Pit is rather like a giant solar reflector oven during the summer.