Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fire Pit : Finished!

So, for Pat's birthday -- back in April -- I told him I'd buy a fire pit. We looked at some kits and fire bowls and the like, and decided to do a DIY project. I bought a fire ring from Lowe's and stuffed it into the back of the Camaro, dug out a pit once he'd decided where he wanted it to go, and voila! Instant campfire feel.

We finally got the paver base just about a month ago, and at that point, Pat picked out what color stones we wanted. So, with my plans for a trip to Hersheypark this week getting stalled out due to car issues, I asked if I could use the truck today to pick up the retaining stones. He said it was okay, and so this morning, I ordered the stones online and went to pick them up a little while afterwards.

I wish Pat had warned me about how awful Lowe's online order-pickup at store deal was. I got the email saying the order was ready at 12:53PM, and got to the store just before 2PM. After getting my invoice at customer service, I proceed to wait outside until 2:30 when a cart-return guy (I think his name was Leon) asks me if I need some help with something. I told him what I was waiting for, and he went inside to check up on my order. He came back a few moments later and said I should talk to the customer service guys that were in the garden/landscape area, which I did. Finally, I got to talk to the guys who would be doing the heavy lifting, and took the truck around to where it would finally be loaded up. An hour after I'd arrived, I finally had the stones.

Once home, it took no time at all to construct the rest of the pit.

First layer
I started with the initial circle using the ring itself as the template. Pat came home just as I was finishing the first layer, and I asked him if he still wanted a second. He said yeah, and started bringing stones over too. In under thirty minutes, the last of the stones was in place.

Twenty-four stones later...
I'd bought 26 stones total, knowing each layer should only be twelve stones, but accounting for the possibility of breaking one or more.

So, if it finally stops raining and stays relatively cool, the new-and-improved fire pit will be even more awesome! :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Working on the WRX

The WRX needs a front wheel bearing, but I'd been driving it to and from work because the clutch issues in the Camaro were even worse. Then, I get a check engine light in the WRX, and the code reader tells me P0031, Heater Control Circuit Low. An oxygen sensor. Joy.

So, I order one up on Amazon, and after reviewing some information online, I go to replace it this morning.
Oh, look, part of my fender liner is still there
I found the fender liner trim, removed one of the remaining snap connectors that held it in place and rotated it out of the way.
Hello, Mr. Oxygen Sensor!
So, it was actually impossible to get the oxygen sensor socket onto the sensor from this position. In fact, it seems the only way to get such a socket to work would be to remove the subframe or cut part of the fender well. Yeah, forget that.

One of the videos I'd looked at suggested using locking pliers (Vise Grips), but I don't have any, and I didn't want to dig through Pat's tools to find some. So, when Pat came home, I bought two pliers (a large one and a medium one). However, before I could try them out, Pat wanted to drop off the car at Induktion so that he could go fishing before any of the impending thunderstorms hit.

Since I had a wheel off and a set of new front brake pads, I did decide to just go ahead and replace them. The passenger side was certainly worn more than the driver side, and the back pad on the passenger side was worst of all. Strange.

I can't recommend this brake tool enough, though.

It compresses the pistons so easily. Anyone who does their own brakes should talk to Pat about getting one.

Once I get the WRX back, the next thing on the list is dropping the Green Terror off for some work. I put the new tires on it yesterday, but the clutch issue is really getting old. Among other things, I also need to change the oil in that car, and I'm worried that driving it up on the ramps will be a disaster if the clutch engages at the wrong time.

Oh, the joys of automobile ownership.

Monday, June 29, 2015


It was finally cool and dry enough to get a fire going in the fire pit last night. The wood was still pretty wet, but I had a nice little flame going for a few hours.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rainy Saturday

It's raining like crazy outside, ruining any prospects for camping this weekend. Rain earlier in the week was insane, to the point that US-1 through Laurel was 6-8" deep (thankfully, I was driving the WRX, not the Camaro!!), and today's even worse. I just heard there are rescue boats being dispatched in Laurel to assist people trying to leave flooded apartments!
The catfish says, "I think there's more water out there than in here!"

Still, I'm getting stir crazy, and I'm evidently not the only one. Earlier in the week, Mom said she'd waxed the RV. I sent her a general itinerary last Sunday, and I've been compiling a list of things I need to bring with me for the trip. Pat's been psyched to take care of the spaz dog. I don't know who's been looking forward to the trip the most!

I am not planning to go in to work this coming week, but I think I'll be busy nonetheless. Both the Camaro and the WRX need significant work; the Camaro's clutch has been weird (engaging when pedal pressed in) and the WRX has a wheel bearing that is gone. I called to schedule the wheel bearing replacement two weeks ago, but the earliest IAG could see me was July 8th. With the Camaro's clutch being worse than the WRX's wheel bearing at that point, I kept driving the WRX, knowing that it was going to end up costing me a hub.

Well, driving to and from Rockville for new biology curriculum training on Thursday, the noises and vibrations were bad enough that I didn't think the car would make it home. I actually opted to drive the Camaro -- bad clutch and all -- on Friday, then called Induktion Motorsports to see if they could do it. The guy who answered the phone, Ed, was like, "Uh, you know we deal with European cars?" and I responded, "Yeah, but I also know that you have a guy who used to work at IAG, plus your former Matco Tools guy, Pat, suggested I try calling you." At that point, he scheduled me for Wednesday this coming week. Hopefully, I didn't destroy too much by continuing to drive it.

Speaking of the new biology curriculum training, I think it's needless to say that I was horribly bored being there. Considering I was a curriculum writer, curriculum reviewer, and even part of the phase I focus group, I knew the curriculum and NGSS and PBL lessons better than 95% of the people in that room. However, upon arriving and looking over the sign in sheet, I saw that many of my old colleagues from Watkins Mill would be there, including current B-CC teacher, Todd. I was so psyched, as were they when they saw me. We all had lunch together, and it was totally like old times. I miss a department that liked to do things just little things together, like talk and do lunch. I miss having people with similar interests to chat with, like Nate and Todd and hockey. It was so good to see them.

Yesterday was rough though. I woke up in tears from a dream that I'd figured out was a dream, where dad was digging out the area where the koi pond is. In the dream, I was walking underneath the cherry tree towards where he was when I suddenly thought, "This has to be a dream," and suddenly, everything shifted, and while it continued, I just knew it was all a dream. And in the middle of the dream, I'd turned around to look at something, and when I turned back, dad was gone. That's when I woke up and just started crying. I must've caused Pat to wake up, because he just handed Hoosier Bear to me and hugged me tight, not saying anything.

As if that wasn't bad enough, yesterday was also the one year anniversary of Jim Feinberg's passing.
It's not a margarita, but Jim also respected others' beverage choices.
So, after going over to the local craft store for some photo albums, I just spent all afternoon putting my extensive postcard collection into said albums. I started off with postcards my dad gave me from his Air Force days, when he was in Colorado and then in Destin, Florida. Then I transitioned to postcards he brought back for me from some business trips to Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh. Following that are postcards from his parents and then from our old neighbors, Ike and Betty Saylor, and a postcard mom sent the rest of us from a trip to Florida she took when showing rabbits. Most of the rest of the cards are categorized by trip, including the family trip to Walt Disney World (including South of the Border, Sea World Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center) and the trip to Toronto (including Corning Glass Center, Buffalo and Niagara). I put over 400 postcards into those albums, and I have this nagging feeling that I have more postcards somewhere, but I don't know where they are.

Hopefully, tomorrow's weather is better, and I can start to get some stuff done on the cars, like oil changes and brake pads and stuff. And I want to go to Hershey some time next week, so I need to look at what day would be best for that, too.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


This was a tough day.

I miss you so much, daddy. Of course, I would wear you near my heart on Father's Day.