Well, Georgia’s suddenly frozen-over landscape finally thawed-out a week-ago Monday and for the most part life returned to normal on Tuesday for Debbie and me. Of course what’s throwing us for a loop now is that the past two months of unseasonably cold weather leading up to the ice storm and shut-down of the northern half of the state has been followed by unseasonably warm weather where daytime temperatures over this past weekend snuck back into the 70’s with nighttime lows being rather mild in the 50’s.
As to what it ‘should be’ this time of year, here’s what the historical trends look like. We’ve been making the most out of the warm weather by getting out on the tandem bicycle for a couple of rides this past weekend, as we’re pretty sure it’s going to get wet later this week and continue raining through the weekend, albeit still with warmer temps than usual.
Anyway, moving away from the weather forecast and looking back over the past 10 days or so since my last update, here are the highlights:
Accident Repair to the Truck: Last Monday we picked up my truck from the body shop and it looks great! Yes, it took them a little re-work to get it right as when it first came back there were issues. However, 2nd time was the charm so I’m a pretty happy camper. The body shop and I agreed they wouldn’t try to fix were the damaged after-market auxiliary back-up lights I had installed on the underside of the truck’s rear bumper. Instead, I opted to go and buy some replacements and installed them myself and will be reimbursed for the cost of the lights. For what it’s worth, the lights are an essential aid in backing up at night since the stock back-up lights on a Tundra provide little to no useful light on the road or ground behind the truck at night.
The Truck’s Front End: Since the truck went right from the front-end repair into the body shop I haven’t really had a lot of time behind the wheel with the new lower ball joints + new rack & pinion. Having driven it a bit more, the changes have vastly improved the steering and handling; however, they’re still not 100%. It will likely take the replacement of the upper control arms (UCA) and their ball joints, as I’m pretty sure it’s those upper ball joints that are causing the remaining stiffness in the steering. As best as we can tell, there’s only about one reputable company making a high-quality UCA for my year/model truck — Camburg — so not exactly a big chance of getting a good deal on the parts: $699. Again, just good to have the truck almost back to being as good as or even slightly better than it was before getting rear-ended.
Debbie’s New Honda Got Rear-Ended: Of course, no sooner did we have the truck out of the body shop when Miss Debbie was rear-ended in her new, not even six-week old Honda Accord. There was apparently a gal on a phone in an SUV who wasn’t paying attention (this, according to a witness) who banged into the back of Debbie’s car on the way home from work on Monday evening. The damage wasn’t all that bad, but the rear bumper cover will probably need to be replaced and that means we’ll probably have a paint mismatch for the rest of the car’s life as well as diminished value. We’ll know for sure after it goes in for the estimate on Saturday morning. If it’s not one thing it’s another. But, at least Debbie was no worse for wear other than being terribly upset about having her new car rear-ended through no fault of her own. Yup, it’s getting worse out there… between the aggressive drivers, distracted drivers and just plain poorly trained drivers I’m starting to have second thoughts about my daily commute by motorcycle and wondering if those days should be numbered.
Back to Work: Since returning from the holidays work for both of us has been hectic and at times a bit overwhelming: just too many issues coming at us from every angle. I was really glad last Friday was a work-from-home day.
That Darn Traffic Citation: You may recall that related to my own accident back in December, I received a traffic citation for ‘following too closely.” After spending 6:00am until around 9:00am working at home on Friday I headed down to the courthouse to get my court date moved to February as I had a work conflict. I would normally just pay the fine on a ticket and be done with it, but I truly didn’t deserve this one and am planning on asking for a dismissal of the citation as it was probably issued only based on police policy, i.e., if there’s a collision the driver of the car that hit another car in front of it gets a prize. In my case had it not been for me getting rear-ended, the driver who I bumped and I would have both gone our separate ways after our very minor fender bump: neither of us had any damage and no insurance claims were filed. But, more to the point, the road we were on has zero policing during the get-home drive-time when even a 1/2 second gap will end up with a car jumping in it, never mind trying to maintain a minimally safe 2-second gap with the car in front of you, i.e., it’s impossible to maintain a safe following distance during commute time or whenever there’s traffic on that road.
Time for a New Tuxedo: After outfitting myself with a formal kilt outfit for special events it dawned on me that my 20-year old tuxedo no longer fit and was in need of replacement. Thankfully, tuxedos aren’t all that expensive since all but the really fancy ones are worn by musicians and folks in the restaurant & catering industry so I stopped by K&G discount clothing and picked up a new one on Friday. Well, picked-one up so to speak: it had to be altered and was ready just a couple of days afterwards. So, between the new tux and my formal kilt I’m all set for future black-tie events and holiday socials.
Friday Stuff: In addition to work, a visit to the courthouse and buying a new tuxedo, the rest of Friday was consumed by giving the Honda S2000 a thorough washing from above and below to get all of the road salt and grime off after it’s short drives on the sloppy roads the previous Monday afternoon and Tuesday. A new, electric power washer I’d bought to keep in the garage for small jobs (vs. hauling the big gas-powered machine out of the garden shed) proved its worth for that project: it is indeed a very handy tool that I’ll likely use more than I expected. I tried to find a new microwave oven for the not-that-old one that experienced a touch-pad failure. Pretty sad when a minor replacement part is about 75% of the cost of an entirely new microwave. It’s also pretty sad when none of the home improvement stores keep any of the larger appliance in stock. On the bright side, Internet-based retailers are picking up the slack: I saved 30% on the cost of the same microwave, didn’t have to pay sales tax and get free-shipping to the door in a week.
Betty’s Back: I’d loaned our 2011 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide (aka, Betty) to a friend for an extended test ride in early December who was thinking about buying it. While she likes the bike, the cost – even with friends and family pricing – was a bit too much to bite off on top of holiday spending, a trip to the National College Football Championship Game (she’s a rapid Clemson fan) and the like. So, Betty came back home Friday afternoon and joined the other bikes in the garage. I’ve pulled the for sale listing as I need to put a new rear tire on the bike and winter isn’t exactly the right time to try to sell motorcycles. So, she’ll likely be with us for a while longer, and that’s OK too.
Friday Night at Locos: With being house-bound last weekend, it felt as though we’d been away from Loco Willy’s for a lot longer than two-weeks. Regardless, it was great to be back there for dinner on Friday night surrounded by all of the usual suspects. We also had a pleasant surprise when a co-worker and his wife showed up to check out the place I always rave about. We ended up giving up our seats at the bar to sit and have dinner with Peter, Maria and their daughter and had a very nice time. We rejoined our friends back at the bar after Peter and his family headed out and really had a very nice and relaxing evening just chilling-out at Loco’s.
Saturday was an unseasonably warm day, just as predicted and we had a few household chores under our belt before mid-morning so that by 10:30am, and with temps in the 60’s, we were out on the tandem getting in some much-needed mileage. We did our usual 25-mile loop from the house and it was delightful. No speed records were set, nor were they expected: it was all about enjoying the time together, getting a little exercise and taking advantage of a beautiful day.
After lunch at the house and a few more chores around the house we headed over to Loco Willy’s at 3:00pm so that we could secure some seats at the bar for the 4:35pm NFL playoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks. We were there for the duration and were joined by our friends David & Deb and a few others: we even saw Peter & Maria made a return visit for dinner. We took turns visiting them at their table after we finished our dinner at the bar and finally pulled the plug on Locos after the Falcon’s closed the book on the Seahawks.
Our next stop was a friend’s home about 35 minutes away where they were celebrating three birthdays and watching the NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans with a large collection of friends. We arrived there shortly after the game was underway and pretty much stayed until the 4th quarter by which time we’d celebrated the birthdays and had a pretty good idea who would win the game. It was a long-overdue, great gathering of dear friends and I’m really glad we were able to make it out! Love our friends!
For some reason I found myself awake by 3:30am on Sunday morning and spent the better part of the early morning doing some writing (funny that we still call it writing when most of us actually compose via keyboard) and reading on the laptop while trying to be quiet. Debbie came down around 8:00am and after breakfast I headed out to clean her Honda from top to bottom like the S2000 as it was also coated with road salt and grime. As I did with the S2000, I pressed the new Greenworks 1600 psi electric pressure washer into service with great effect! It made short work of the engine / engine compartment, wheel wells, underside of the car and the many nooks and crannies in the grill and rear bumper. As soon as I had her car cleaned up we headed out for another 25-mile loop ride on the tandem from the house: it was even warmer than it had been on Saturday!
Once back at the house it was back to small chores and what-not as we waited for the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys game to begin. We only were able to watch part of the game at the house as we were meeting the kids for dinner at the Olive Garden to celebrate Wesley’s 38th birthday. The original plan was to celebrate back on January 7th but, as usual, it snowed (well, iced-over) just before Wesley’s birthday and plans had to be shifted. We had a wonderful time with the kids and grandkids, while trying to keep an eye on the score of the game. Just a great time, to be sure, and the girls have all become a joy to be around: really, they’re all becoming interesting little characters with distinctly different personalities. But, all of them are engaging and smart as can be. We finished out the evening watching yet another close game between the Pittsburgh Steelers & Kansas City Chiefs: amazing that Pittsburgh pulled it out!
Somehow the weekend did not feel like it had been a full two days, never mind starting with an off-Friday.