Thursday, January 7, 2016

Doing it by Hand

I finished repairing the dishwasher on my own today.

It started a couple of weeks ago. The dishwasher had been getting louder and louder, making a grinding noise when it would switch cycles, and what had once been a so-silent-you-had-to-check-if-it-was-on dishwasher, was now a shaking-the-house-like-Godzilla dishwasher.

I had the brilliant idea to look up how to repair it on YouTube. It seemed like a pretty simple fix where you take out the motors, find what's blocking their bits, and put it all back together. I'm not mechanically inclined but I thought it looked easy enough and I gave it a shot.

Hell, what could go wrong?

The flood I cleaned up upon next using the dishwasher answered that question quite well.

I took it apart again. I looked over each little piece. I cried a little. I kicked things. I discovered a loose seal and found a local place where I could order it. I also spent a lot of time finding out that, no, Lowe's, Home Depot, and other big box stores do not carry parts like that and will not order them.

One little rubber gasket that costs $30 later and I had fixed the dishwasher!

Except it was leaking out of a completely different part now.


I took apart the motor that was leaking and looked it over. I couldn't find a direct cause but it was clearly this motor that was flooding my kitchen so after some debate we ordered a new motor for about $60.

Today I replaced the motor. Convinced that I had fixed everything and nothing more needed doing I put the dishwasher back together, put everything in its place and, instead of testing it, I put dishes in it and washed them.

I thought God had promised no more apocalyptic flooding but he lied.

I pulled it out of the cupboard area. Again. I flipped it on its back. Again. I looked at every single piece to see what the problem was. Again. I realized I hadn't put the bracket back in place that held the impeller motor where it was supposed to go and the entire thing had fallen out.


It works now. It cleans the dishes and doesn't leak. It's quiet. I did a good job.

I never want to look at another dishwasher again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Dinner Time!

I don't have a cookbook yet for low-carb/ketogenic recipes but I can still work on cooking new foods and getting better at the process. I lost at least some of my skills do to non-use and I seem to have lost my attention for detail after the brain surgery so it's not going to be a super fast process but I used to have the skills needed to make some damn good food and I want to get that back again.

Yesterday I started easy and made some fried eggs. I looked up a recipe to see if there was any small improvement I could make over my old style of cooking fried eggs and found that there were two things I could do to improve them: Browning the butter first and then starting over high heat but turning that into low heat as soon as the eggs hit the pan.

 They were fantastic. It was a very small first step but it was an important one.

Tonight I've decided I'm making dinner for the family and I have what I think will be a hit menu for all involved:

I'll be making some basic changes to things, like halving the mashed potatoes recipe and leaving out the sesame seeds, as well as using almond flour on the schnitzel to keep them lower in carbohydrates and keto friendly. The potatoes will be for the two ladies in my life since they're a bit too carby for me but I'll taste-test them as I make them to ensure that they're delicious.

For the most part, though, I need to follow the recipes and properly time everything. Flavor, of course, is important and I want this to turn out well but my real focus will be on timing and attention to detail since those are the two things I feel I most need to work on.

After Action Report:

The chicken schnitzel was an abysmal failure and the potatoes didn't get made due to nobody else eating dinner tonight.

The Brussels sprouts, though? They were absolutely amazing. Steamed for about 10 minutes and then salted they were cooked perfectly and the natural sweetness came out.

They were probably the best Brussels sprouts I've ever made and they were amazingly simple to cook.

I may have bitten off more than I could chew with the schnitzel and shouldn't have tried altering the recipe for almond flour. I have to get that keto-friendly cookbook I was talking about so that I can do the recipes exact, as per the recipe. I'm hoping that will help.

But damn. Those Brussels sprouts made a fantastic healthy meal. I need to buy more.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Adventures in 2016

"Wear something festive," they said.
Welcome to 2016!

This is going to be the Year of Adventure!

It's also going to be the Year of Keto but that's a lot less exciting.


I have some goals for this year to help adventure happen. The road to them might night be super adventurous but each goal will be that the long path leads to some kind of adventure.

Have I used the word "adventure" enough here? Too much? Not quite enough?




  • Visit 2 new US states
  • Take 2 family vacations
  • Explore Chicago for a weekend
  • Visit 3 different LARPs


  • Run a 5k
  • Do 15 full push ups in a row
  • Do 50 crunches in a row

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

100 Books In 2014

1. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (reread)
2. Time Traveler's Strictly Cash (Callahan #2)
3. (Callahan #3)
4. Callahan's Lady (Callahan #4)
5. "Parasite" Mira Grant
6. "Divergent" Veronica Roth
7. Callahan (#5)
8. Callahan (#6)
9. Callahan (#7)
10. Callahan's Con (#8)
11. "The Wizard of Oz" Frank L. Baum
12. "Death's Hand" S.M. Reine
13. "The Darkest Gate" S.M. Reine
14. "Dark Union" S.M. Reine
15. "Witch Hunt" S.M. Reine
16. "Called" Robert J. Crane
17. "Flaming Dove" Daniel Arenson
18. "Cursed!" Scott Nicholson & J.R. Rain
19. "A Game of Thrones" George R.R. Martin
20. "A Clash of Kings" George R.R. Martin
21. "A Storm of Swords" George R.R. Martin
22. "Rosemary and Rue" Seanan McGuire
23. "Insurgent" Veronica Roth
24. "Allegiant" Veronica Roth

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Natural Bridge Zoo, Natural Bridge, VA

 Today we enjoyed ourselves with some friends at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Natural Bridge, VA.

The zoo is relatively small and unaffiliated with any national zoo affiliations but it's still fun, with a wide array of animals large and small.

The zoo was packed with travelers, all intent on celebrating Memorial Day weekend with their families, just as we were doing. We forgot it was Memorial Day weekend and were a little surprised by the crowds but you live and learn, right?

Still, parking wasn't too difficult and I never felt like we were crammed into the zoo like sardines or anything. They were busy but even when busy there's plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the animals.

 The first thing you walk into at the zoo is the big cat exhibit. There are cougars, lynx, and several tigers.

It took me too many shots with my camera to get a picture of this one lapping up water. He was a thirsty kitty though and sat there drinking long enough for me to finally snap the picture I was looking for.

Most of the big cats were dozing in the noonday sun so the pictures I have are of their backs, or their ears, or anything but their faces. They would move into position, showing their face, and turn away (almost as though on purpose) just as I pulled up my camera to take a picture. Cheeky little tigers.

 Three little potbellied pigs rooting through the dirt were essentially right next door to the tiger cage. I wasn't sure which animal this was more horrible to; the possibly hungry tigers looking for a snack, or the bacon, er, potbellied pigs right next door.

This pig was definitely the largest of them all, jowls hanging down about his ankles as he bullied other pigs out of his way.

I turned to Amanda, one of our friends who came with us on this journey and whispered, "Be polite to that one." She looked at me questioningly and I said even quieter, "He's the hogfather."

I'm not allowed to tell any more jokes.

 This little guy was reaching through the bars, begging to be thrown food. He's obviously learned that it works since he kept doing it and, well, people were throwing him food. He was definitely adorable, right up until he roughed up the other monkeys who were honing in on his territory.

Seriously, this guy was ready to cut them if they didn't step off.

As I'm writing this I'm beginning to realize that the top of my bald head isn't just a little sunburned. It's a lot sunburned. And it hurts. And my brain is getting fuzzy.

Still, aren't these flamingos absolutely stunning? Look at that plumage! Gorgeous!

There were easily 20 flamingos in the area and almost all of them had the same brilliant coloring.

I remember reading that they get their coloring from what they eat. I wonder what these ones eat that seem to make them extra colorful.

I guess it could be sunburn, since I'm extra colorful at the moment?

 Did I mention that a bird pooped on my head while we were there?

People say that's good luck. I think they say that because they don't want to focus on the fact that a bird just decided their head looked like a good bombing site.

One upside to having a bald head? Bird poop is easy to clean up.

For the record, this was not the bird that pooped on my head. It just reminded me that this happened.


This is an African tortoise of some kind. I know it's African because the nice lady who was letting it run around in the grass told me so. She also told me that its name had something to do with those wicked gnarly legs but I kind of forgot what she said since I was busy trying to get a good picture of it.

I think I was successful in my endeavor and barely regret only half listening. The lady also had a snake she was holding but I didn't get a picture of it. It was fast-moving, small, and wanted to hide up her sleeve.

 Is there anything cuter than a baby goat?

I mean, besides my daughter of course.
 Two baby goats.
My head is starting to really hurt at this point. I'm getting tired and my eyes are trying to close themselves. These deer had way more shade than I did for most of the day.

Maybe next time I should invest in sunblock? That's probably a good idea. Considering my fair skin I should probably always invest in sunblock. SPF 500.
 Elephants are really big. So big that I couldn't size this picture the same size as the others. It just wouldn't let me. Nope. It had to be bigger to do it justice.

I'm going to stop talking now. I'm tired and need to go get some sleep.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and my rambling. I hope you enjoy the remaining pictures after this last bit of ramble.

Today was a lot of fun and even though the zoo was relatively small it was large enough to be worth the price of entry, fun enough to keep even my almost-2-year-old (mostly) entertained, and diverse enough to have a few animals that surprised me.

I had fun here and I'm pretty sure everyone else did, too. All in all, it was a successful day.

Now please pardon me: I need to take some ibuprofen, throw a gallon of aloe on my head (if we have any), and go to sleep.




Look out, they spit!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Jefferson National Park, Cascades, Virginia (Fair Warning: Bugs and a Spider)

 This is a pathway to nowhere that seems to have continued onto a bridge at some time in the past, but that bridge has crumbled long before now.

That small cave to the left is dark and probably not as deep as it seemed to be. Probably.

Either that, or that's where the troll lives.
 You can see that the stairway ends, terminating in empty air over the river. I wonder what this used to be, why it was there, and how it was used.

I'm sure somebody knows but I am not that person.
The water was fast-moving, beautiful, and not too high. The last time we came out here the streams were flooded and we couldn't actually go further onto the path. Today was a perfect day for this.
 This bridge splits the path into the "easy" path and "difficult" path. We took the "easy" path.

Just for the record, "easy" does not mean "stroller friendly."
This little guy was crawling across the pathway. We had seen several corpses of millipedes along the way but this was the first (and only) living one we noticed.

It was fast!
 Downed logs littered the pathway on either side of the path and this one just struck me as particularly photogenic.

Either that or I was trying to be artsy-fartsy with my picture-taking. You decide!

(If this were black and white you could be SURE it was the second option.)
 This is a preview of what's going up on Father Fails on Friday.

My daughter is adorable.

 The stroller was a pretty quick downfall for us. We were probably less than halfway to our destination when we came across a large mud pit that would have been passable without the stroller.

It may have been passable with the stroller but the stroller would have never been the same, I'm sure.
This big guy was hanging out on the sign announcing that we were entering the Cascades. Laura pointed it out and I took pictures as everyone else stood far away.

We noticed it on our way out instead of our way in, thankfully. Otherwise we'd have all been jumpy about walking in the woods since this one was roughly the size of my palm. I'd have been trying to spot any others hiding in the trees, ready to pounce at any second.

I'm a little sad that we didn't make it to the actual Cascade falls but it was a beautiful day with my family. We had a lot of fun and I regret not trying to come out here more often while we lived here. Now that we're leaving in a week I wish we had taken a few extra picnics over the last couple of years.

Monday, April 14, 2014

10,000 Hours - Music

It's been a while since I've really had anything to say here. I've been dealing with hernia pain, which was just operated on, and Diverticulitis pain that has finally gone away. It's been tough to care about practicing when I've been in pain but I've at least kept up with the guitar a little bit.

I've discovered how to download fresh content for Rocksmith 2014, which is cool; all sorts of songs made by the community to share with everyone else. Some of them suck (I'm looking at you, very-poorly-done version of "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz) and some are amazing (thank you very much "Simple Man" for making my day).

I'm still having fun with it. It's just hard to come up with anything to say about it since it's more of the same. "Still practicing, seeing results that are unquantifiable in any real way."

Laura says she can tell I'm getting better, at least, so there's that.