I am sitting here late on a holiday morning...wondering where to begin...
You see, great and portentous events have occurred since last I wrote of the carefree days of summer and broken garden equipment.
So let's hit the highlights:
The Bike Crash.
The Extra Week of Summer in California.
The Flooded Basement.
The Great Computer Die-off.
The Great (ongoing) Clean Up.
These events aren't as directly linked as they first might appear; and so I will explain.
In May of this year, my wife booked us a week-long package excursion to Anaheim, California. This constitutes the first vacation we've had outside the Province since our honeymoon. We tried for Florida, but could not manage the airfare.
All week leading up to our October 14 departure, I had forebodings that something was going to go wrong. The proverbial Other Shoe was about to drop. The previous week (Oct. 7), my wife once again needed the car for an appointment with the kids' Dentist and so I was doing the two wheel transport mode to work.
They (Translink Highway and Bridge dept.) have been doing seismic upgrades on the Alex Fraser Bridge since May. They are currently working on the expansion joints on the South end of the bridge's West side. Cycle and Pedestrian traffic must use the East side walkway. Although the actual work is being done on the west side of the bridge (southbound), they apparently needed to re-route a lot of the wiring...
They've run high-capacity electrical cables across the walkway and over the side of the bridge. Now, these high-tension electrical lines must be protected from being stepped on or rode over, apparently, because they are encased in a wooden cable channel about 2-3 inches high. The cable channels (there are two, about 5 feet apart) are painted bright orange for visibility - heaven forfend that someone should trip over them!
I haven't been on the bridge for some time. The cable channels were on the North end - which is the downhill side on my morning commute. Many of the streetlights are still inoperative, and besides, at 6AM, florescent orange paint may as well be black, 'cause I didn't see anything. Imagine if you will the happy cycle commuter, blithely speeding along after a hard huff up the south side of the the bridge, pushing a rapid cadence before settling into a well-deserved rest on the downhill and BAM!- the handlebars are torn from his grip and then BAM! - hapless cyclist is knocked arse over teakettle by the second unseen obstacle and hits chin on something hard and scrapes up both elbows. Bike does complete loop-de-loop and winds up facing backward.
Nothing I can sue someone for. The bar clamp for my #1 LED headlight broke. I lost my new red blinkie over the side - no great loss, as I bought it at a dollar store. Both bike wheels got really creaky and had a couple of noticeable bends in each rim. I thought for certain I was going to need a full-on truing and dishing at my LBS (I only have one LBS now, as Gunnar's Cycle closed up - didn't see that coming!). Amazingly enough, I literally "picked myself up, dusted myself off, and carried on". The bike was still ride-able! Speaking of rides...
Our Trip to Disneyland:
Was pretty good. The kids didn't want to go on any of the fun rides; you know, the Tower of Terror, the California Screamin' Roller Coaster, or the Maliboomer. To their credit, they did go on the Jurrasic Park ride at Universal Studios, and the Space Mountain coaster at Disney. We even got 'em on the Grizzly Mountain River Raft ride! Though in retrospect, they avoided all the rides involving water after that. While Laurie and I dried off after Grizz Mtn, the kids discovered the "discovery park". Last I saw of them for a full three-quarters of an hour was them sliding down a 50 ft zip line into a giant bumper at the end. They had fun. Three especial favorites: the Astro Booster (the old Saturn V rocket ride, redone in a Buzz Lightyear motif), the Astro Blasters (a Buzz Lightyear themed ride-thru - except you get to shoot a laser pistol at nearly everything!), and Soaring Over California; about which I can only say that if you haven't been on it, a description won't help...and would probably spoil it for you...
Upsides: Our hotel was 40 yards from the park gates - literally. We didn't need a rental car for the whole week. Most of Anaheim around the parks has all been built up as hotels of various grades and classes. Shopping - other than over priced mini-marts - meant either a long walk or a ride on the LARTS. The nearest mall (anchored by Target) was all the way down in Garden Grove! It's a looonngg walk. Our hotel had an excellent view of the nightly fireworks, as well as laundry, pool, jacuzzi, and sauna.
Downsides: Two Snoring Adults and Two Hyper Kids. However, I made the pleasing discovery that "Breathe Right Nasal Strips" actually work. Two long trips thru LA Freeway traffic down to San Diego to see the Zoo, and Seaworld. Shouldn't have bothered. We're planning a shorter stay next time, and no trips outside of Anaheim (well, maybe one day trip back to Universal).
Then, of course, we came home...to find two inches of dirty, smelly, standing water in the basement.
Irony: this is the first house we've owned; that was the first trip we've ever taken...why now?
We're still a little unsure of where all the water came from. A little bird let slip that one of the sewer lines on 114th, just around the corner from our place, had burst the day before we got back. The real problem, of course, was that the water didn't leave. The floor drain has since been cleared. The City of Delta engineering dept. swears up and down that the water simply could not have come up the floor drain from the storm sewer line. According to their contractor (who replaced the storm lines on our street in August), our floor drain doesn't even connect to the sewer line; "it's been capped off". But, of course "it was like that when we found it".
We are the only house on the street with the auxiliary drain line capped.
We may have been paying for storm drain service...and if we have then I want a pro-rated refund for all those years of paying for a service we never got. To their credit, the city did offer to un-cap the pipe for a mere 1200$
In any case, the restoration contractor we hired tested the water and sludge and said "sewage", which was good enough for our insurance agent. They'll cover the cost of replacing the floor, wall paneling, and bathroom fixtures. Thus far, we've had to move everything to the east end of the basement.
Speaking of which...
Coral's computer developed a glitch from being moved and was sent out to Kevin to repair. My computer (previously mentioned) caught a bad Boot Sector Virus and may need a(nother!) new hard drive. So...I am typing this entry and we are doing ALL our internet transactions on...Colin's 233Mhz PII...you know, the Win98 system I built out of spare parts so he could play his alltime favorite PC game: Hot Wheels Slot Car Racing. It figures, the scrap system is the only one still functional. The tragedy of my system crash is mitigated by the fact that there was only one irreplaceable item on the hard drive: my copy of Total Annihilation. A second copy now exists on Coral's computer from the previous month when she begged me to try to set up a network game. Other than that, my .Mp3 files are mostly backed up on my .Mp3 player. Everything else I have replacement copies on CDr or I can download. Has been interesting using this doorstop as the Family Computer. IE 5 doesn't work with our online banking page; even with the 128 bit encryption add-on. Actually, to be fair, our bank is currently overhauling their online banking page and no version of IE works very well. I wrote them a heartfelt letter about it:
Where did the *banking* functions disappear to on the online banking page?
Your site renovations must have been done by the same contractor that did buysell.com last year -- thereby rendering the bs.c site un-usable until another -competent- webdesigner could be found to make the glitzy new eye candy actually *WORK*...
I'm assuming the missing functions will re-appear soon, since it's kind of pointless to have an online banking page that doesn't actually let you DO any banking. Ditto for the typos, line format errors and dead links...
BTW...did you actually *test* the new Personal Access Features sign-up page? Housewives, pensioners, college students...the digitally savvy and the digitally clueless alike are all going to try to use this page...and it's utility is questionable -- "far from foolproof" is the phrase that comes to mind.
Anyway...thanks for letting me rant, I'll check back later and hopefully next time 'round I will be able to do more with my checking account than just LOOK at it.
I got a reply from their IT dept. the next day that advised (essentially); "download Firefox". So I did, works fine.
Further addenda: I made 100$ fixing up a wireless home network for a single-mom friend of Laurie's who is now on my Facebook page. Nice to keep my hand in.
Annnnnd speaking of hands...or handy.
The shop is mine. No-one, it seems, wants to take charge of all the tools and STUFF Opa left in the shop. I will finally be setting it up for bicycles and small engines as I intended all along. This means we are going to have one MOTHER of a Spring Clean Up next year.
It's good to be back. More later, but hopefully not too much later.