Note: There are no photographs for this consolidated post. Sorry. 🙁
2014/11/03 (M) Getting Ready
Linda was up early and off to the bakery. I got up an hour later and had some raisin toast for breakfast. Whenever I have had time since I got home on Friday I have been working on the project list for our bus. I worked on it some more this morning but eventually had to set it aside while I made some phone calls, tried to deal with an issue with Linda’s Samsung laptop computer, and got documents ready to upload to my Dropbox for a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
I called Bill Jensen, the national service advisor for conversion shells at Prevost Car Inc., but his voice message said he was unavailable indefinitely and gave alternate contact info. The main contact was Kevin Laughlin so I called him. I described the shorter ride height linkage and the downward pointing position of the ride height valve lever arm in its neutral position. He agreed that neither of these seemed right.
I called Prevost and ordered a new ride height valve and two CX-96 (Gates) drive belts for the OTR air-conditioning compressor. I then called Martin Diesel in Defiance, Ohio and made an appointment to have the diesel generator in our coach serviced on the 20th and 21st if needed. I also needed to call Webasto technical support but did not get that call made today; maybe on Wednesday (or Thursday).
Linda’s Samsung laptop suddenly decided to turn the screen brightness down and she has not been able to turn it back up. It’s bright enough to see in somewhat dim conditions, but still uncomfortably dim for general office use. I did a Google search and found that lots of other folks had encountered the same problem and had advice on how to fix it. I shared several links with Linda but she could not get it to work.
I put the finishing touches on the FMCA Freethinkers Associate Chapter’s financial statements, roster, and minutes of last year’s’ meeting. I uploaded them to Dropbox and e-mailed the chapter members that the materials where there.
Linda got home later than usual from the bakery so we decided to go to La Marsa in Brighton for dinner. It’s our favorite local restaurant but was more crowded than on a regular Monday due to the buffet they have the first Monday of each month and we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. We ordered the almond garlic Ghallaba from the menu, one of our two favorite vegan dishes, but it was not as good as usual. Not bad just somewhat flat, as if they had left out the garlic. It was 8:30 PM by the time we got home and we turned in for the night fairly quickly.
2014/11/04 (T) Election Day
Linda did not go into the bakery today. We spent much of the day together and this is what we did:
- Had raisin toast for breakfast with Orange juice and banana…
- Got passport photos at Rite-Aid in Brighton…
- Went to Panera for coffee…
- Drove to Dearborn for dental hygienist appointments…
- Drove back to Farmington Hills where we went to McDonald’s and had French fries for lunch…
- Drove a mile to the Henry Ford Health System Columbus Center in Novi for flu shots…
- Drove back home where we had a few chips and hummus for an afternoon snack…
I drove to Brighton Honda for a 3:30 PM appointment to have the Element’s recalled air bag serviced. The appointment took 45 minutes by which time the traffic was really bad. Because of the combination of rush hour traffic and the ongoing re-paving of Grand River Avenue just west of the dealership a left turn was going to be near impossible. I needed to get to Latson Road and Grand River Avenue so I made the easy right (and correct) turn out of the dealership and quickly got on I-96 westbound. I took the relatively new Latson Road exit and stopped at Walmart to stock up on ICE brand water. I went to Meijer’s for a Mega-Millions lottery ticket and then to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for two more 12VDC duplex power outlets. It was still raining lightly, as it had been for most of the day, so I returned home by way of Grand River Avenue and Hacker Road which kept me on pavement for most of the trip.
Linda heated up the leftover chili for dinner. She continued to try different things to get her Samsung laptop to allow her to adjust the screen brightness and return it to normal but nothing worked. I took a little time to update WordPress websites and tweak the Wordfence login security. We then filled out and printed our passport renewal applications and got them ready to mail. We also figured out how to create, share, and synchronize multiple calendars on multiple devices so that we can now see the same information on our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It’s all about Google.
Linda was tired and needed to get up early but something had broken on our bed foundation and needed to be fixed, if only temporarily. We are still using the plastic foundation that came with our select comfort air mattress years ago and one of the cross members that carry the load to the side rails had come loose from the interlocking top platform and dropped down. We had to get the mattress off the bed to work on the platform. We got it put back together for now, but we need to get a box spring or other foundation to replace it. That probably won’t happen until spring.
2014/11/05 (W) The Day After
Yesterday’s election results were generally as predicted, so nothing to cheer about from our point of view, but the world did not come to an end either. Elections change very little in the short-term and the daily tasks of living continue regardless of who does or does not get elected. We were happy, of course, that Gary Peters won the U. S. Senate seat and that Debbie Dingle was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. We were especially pleased that our friend, Brian Robb, won re-election to the Ypsilanti City Council and that Richard Bernstein was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court, but saddened to learn that Casandra Ulbrich failed in her attempt to get re-elected to the State Board of Education. And so it goes with American politics.
Linda was back at the bakery today reviewing the period accounting and continuing to answer questions and monitor the use of the new software. I took care of some e-mails and then headed to the Brighton post office to mail our passport renewals. I refueled my car at Meijer’s for $2.899/gal and then stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to exchange two Sodastream CO2 cartridges. BB&B is in the same strip mall as the Panera, so I stopped in for some coffee.
When I got home UPS had already delivered my package from Prevost. I took the trash can to the street first and then I opened the box and verified the contents. I installed one of the Sodastream cartridges but the display would not reset. The unit has an LCD display so I figured it had a battery hidden somewhere. I released a clip at the top of the display and the whole display module came out with the nickel-sized battery was installed on the back side. I started to remove it and the display changed, so I figured it needed a new battery. I did not think we had any of this type of battery in the house but Linda told me later that we did.
I had not backed up all of my photo files from last week so I spent some time in the early afternoon copying files from my camera to my laptop and then from my laptop to both of our NAS units. I printed off all of the documents I needed for the FMCA Freethinkers Associate Chapter annual meeting and was responding to an e-mail when Tony and Mark from GSI showed up to install the new natural gas fireplace logs and hookup the new natural gas outdoor grill.
Tony and his wife own GSI but he had Mark install the fireplace while he worked on the grill. He installed the new disconnect but when leak testing discovered that there was a small leak on the output side of the shutoff valve. I had to shut off the gas supply to that branch circuit, which also supplies gas to the kitchen range and the fireplace, so he could work on it. Tony removed the new disconnect, installed a new valve, and reinstalled the disconnect. I turned the gas supply on and he retested for leaks but did not find any. He suggested that we run it for a while to burn off manufacturing oils and other things that initially produce odors and can affect the taste of foods cooked in the unit. I got the stainless steel heat diffuser and two cast iron grills and set them in place. The left burner lit easily using the battery powered piezoelectric igniter and the right grill lit easily from the left one.
Linda got home at 3:30 PM while Tony and Mark were still working and took over interacting with them while I got ready for our 4 PM telephone meeting. She got instructions on how to light/operate both appliances, paid them, and then joined me for the meeting. By 4:05 PM we had 14 “F” numbers represented, safely exceeding our quorum requirement of 10, and Bob Pelc called the meeting to order. The meeting was friendly but efficient. We conducted all of the necessary annual chapter business and adjourned at 4:42 PM. I was re-elected to another 2-year term as chapter secretary but did not run for chapter vice-president, the position I have held since the chapter was formed in June 2010.
After the meeting Linda shut off the outdoor grill and we sat in the living room monitoring our fireplace logs and discussing dinner options. As a result Linda decided to make waffles. She tried a different recipe and substituted pastry flour instead for regular flour. Neither of us understand the difference, at a food chemistry level, but she apparently invented/discovered something that will stick to Teflon-coated cookware; really, really tightly. The waffles were crispy and tasted fine, once we got them out of the waffle iron, but they would not have won any prizes for presentation.
We spent a couple more hours after dinner sitting in the living room letting the firelogs operate with the flue opened a bit. Tony and Mark said it can take up to 20 hours of use for the unit to stop producing odors and suggested that we operate it with the flue slightly open while breaking it in. The logs are a non-vented design, just like a kitchen range, which means they are designed to operate without being vented to the outside yet not produce harmful combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide. At 8:50 PM I turned the logs down to their lowest setting. Linda shut the unit off at 9:15 PM (it has an On/Off/Remote switch but we do not have a remote). The pilot light does not consume enough air or produce enough heat and combustion by-products to be a safety or economic concern, so I left it on, closed the flue, and went to bed.
2014/11/06 (R) Inductive Thinking
Linda left the house before I awoke and spent a long day at the bakery. I spent most of the day at the dining room table working at my computer. I typed up the draft minutes from yesterday’s FMCA Freethinkers annual meeting, generated PDFs of the chapter’s financial reports, uploaded files to the Dropbox folder, and reorganized it.
I took a break at noon and drove into Novi to have a look at Chuck’s latest bus projects and then go to lunch at the local Leo’s Coney Island. The new wedge cabinet and Corian top look and fit great between the end of the new couch and the kitchen base cabinet. He did a nice job replacing the outside Jenn Air electric cooktop/grill, which was mounted in a pull-out tray in one of the bays, with two Indufix 2-hob induction cooktops. The tray has an open bottom and is supported by four heavy duty extension slides, two on each side. The induction units are from Germany and came with European “208VAC” plugs. They are strictly 208/240 VAC devices and do not have a neutral connection. The wire colors are also different with brown and blue for the L1 and L2 (hot, load) and yellow/green for the ground. Chuck had an addendum sheet explaining the color codes and how to match them up to the U. S. standard.
For lunch I had a small Greek salad without feta cheese and an order of French fries. Chuck had a more substantial meal with a salad, chicken on skewers, and rice. I was back home by 3:00 PM and settled back into my computer-based work.
Linda got home around 6:15 PM and made barbecued tofu sandwiches with grilled onions and corn on the cob. We washed it down with Leelanau Cellars sweet Red Table Wine. It was labeled semi-sweet but it reminded me of the King of the North wine from Red Trail Vineyards in North Dakota which had a distinctly grape juice taste. I liked it and Linda said she did too, which surprised me a little, as she tends to like dryer red wines.
After dinner Linda read and played online word games on her iPad to the warm glow of our new natural gas fireplace logs. These logs are a high-efficiency, unvented design and actually through heat into the living room rather than up the chimney. I continued reformatting the Freethinkers chapter roster, uploaded it to my Dropbox, and e-mailed the members to let them know it was available and ask them to review their listing and get back to me with corrections. RVillage had notified me that someone wanted to join both the CCO and GLCC groups so I logged in and approved those.
I discovered the other day that Wordfence will allow me to block individual IP addresses so I would like to find the time to go back through the “User Locked Out” notification e-mails and enter some of the most egregious repeat offenders. But not tonight. It’s late, Linda is already asleep, and I’m tired.
2014/11/07 (F) 50% plus
My objectives for today were the following:
- Finish up yesterday’s blog post and start working on today’s…
- Read a few of the blogs I follow in Feedly (I am way behind)…
- Move the spare Aqua-Hot from the garage to the library…
- Move any other freeze sensitive items from the garage to the library…
- Finish the drywall compound work in the library…
- Call Webasto technical support…
- Measure the inside of the Honda Element…
- Buy plywood to build the storage divider for the Element…
- Start building the storage divider for the Honda Element…
- Use the blower to clear the leaves from the deck and planting beds….
- Prepare the FMCA Freethinker annual chapter certification paperwork…
- Select a few photos to go with blog posts going back to early October…
- Start uploading blog posts to our website…
That was obviously more than I could possibly accomplish in one day, but it helps to write it down. Here is how I did…
- Finish up yesterday’s blog post and start working on today’s…check.
- Read a few of the blogs I follow in Feedly (I am way behind)…check.
- Move the spare Aqua-Hot from the garage to the library…check.
- Move any other freeze sensitive items from the garage to the library…some.
- Finish the drywall compound work in the library…check.
- Make an unplanned trip to Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams for paint supplies…Yes.
- Prime the areas in the library where the drywall work was done…Yes!
- Call Webasto technical support…check.
- Measure the inside of the Honda Element…check.
- Buy plywood to build the storage divider for the Element…no.
- Start building the storage divider for the Honda Element…no.
- Use the blower to clear the leaves from the deck and planting beds….no.
- Prepare the FMCA Freethinker annual chapter certification paperwork…no.
- Select a few photos to go with blog posts going back to early October…no.
- Start uploading blog posts to our website…no.
That’s 6-1/2 + 2 out of 13 + 2 or 8-1/2 out of 15 which is over 50%; not bad. I might have gotten one or two other things done, or at least started, but we ended up meeting Chuck at BD’s Mongolian Bar-B-Que in Novi for dinner at 7:00 PM. Barbara was still attending to out-of-town family business and Chuck appreciated not dining alone. We were at the restaurant for over two hours and had a nice meal and great conversation in spite the very loud, upbeat youthful vibe of the place. Next time we will try Sizzling Sticks in Northville; same kind of food but a much more subdued atmosphere according to Chuck. Overall it was another good day.
2014/11/08 (S) Steve and Karen
We had a good sized crowd at the ham radio breakfast this morning. We did not have to be anywhere at any particular time, and we were enjoying the conversation, so we stayed a little longer than usual. Once we got back to the house I changed into work clothes for drywall and painting while Linda gathered up the recyclables and finished her grocery list. She left to run the errands and I got the painting tools/supplies out.
Linda dropped off the recyclables, stopped at the bank, stopped at Lowe’s to return something that it turned out we had not purchased there, and then did the grocery shopping at Meijer’s. While she was gone I put a first coat of paint on the areas of the west wall of the library where I had repaired the drywall. The item she planned to return was a can of Great Stuff Fire Block that broke yesterday when I tried to use it. It turned out that I had not purchased it at Lowe’s as they do not sell it. They sell a 3M product for the same application, which I had sitting in the garage but had overlooked. I used it to try to fill gaps around the gas supply pipe and the condensate drain, which were open clear through to the outside, and the double-walled flue pipe and gas pipe that pass through the furnace closet wall. I applied the foam from inside the furnace closet and will need another can to finish the job from the outside of the closet.
Linda started putting together supper while I gathered up laundry and started a load. I spent some quiet time with Jasper, our very sweet 10-year old cat, and then settled in to write and read for a while.
Steve and Karen arrived at 5 PM and we visited while Linda put the finishing touches on dinner. She made the warm Farro dish with kale, dried cranberries, almonds, garlic, and onions and roasted asparagus as a side. She has the Farro dish tagged “good for company.” We still have a few bottles of the 2009 Egri Merlot and the slightly sweet full body of this wine went very nicely with the earthy Farro. She made a chocolate cake for dessert with raspberry sauce made from fresh raspberries. I think the cake was her best yet; very moist with just the right texture. Vegan baking is tricky and Linda is still figuring it out. Sometimes the cakes are a bit dry and other times they lean towards being brownies but tonight she got it just right.
Steve brought his Raspberry Pi single board computer (SBC) and an SD card with photos of their recent (September) trip out west. He connected the Pi to our TV/monitor in the basement so we could all comfortably see the photos. They had excellent weather and some fall colors the days they were in Yellowstone National Park and got some nice images. But we spent most the evening sitting in the living room enjoying the new natural gas firelogs and catching up on what we had been doing since we last saw each other. They left around 10:30 PM and we had everything picked up by 11 PM and headed off to bed.
2014/11/09 (N) Wrapping Up
Today was mostly about wrapping up the library drywall/painting project and other minor chores, doing laundry, and getting me packed for a two week return visit to Twelve Mile, Indiana to work on our bus and help Butch and Fonda work on theirs.
Linda made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, which is always a treat. I made a trip to Lowe’s for a nine inch disposable paint roller cover and another can of 3M Fireblock spray foam. I used the can of spray foam to finish sealing the gaps in the utility closet wall openings where the black iron gas pipe and the double-wall flu pass into the garage. I only needed a little more foam to finish the utility closet openings so I used the rest of the can to fill gaps around the rear entrance door in the garage.
I used some scrap packing paper from recent Prevost shipments and some frog tape to mask the opening for the library furnace return air grille. I then used flat black spray paint to make everything that is visible through the slots in the cover disappear. Finally, it was time to paint walls.
I used a small brush to cut in the adjacent wall and ceiling with the Sherwin-Williams Extra White satin finish paint. I removed the cover plates from two outlets and a switch and then rolled on a new/final coat of paint. I cleaned up my paint supplies and then we brought the outdoor grill (and cover) into the garage to store for the winter. We also brought the patio table umbrella and base into the library and set the umbrella in the base for the winter rather than let in lie on the floor.
Linda made another batch of granola while I checked stuff on my computer and took care of laundry and packing. We had leftovers for dinner at 5:15 PM and then headed to South Lyon for the monthly SLAARC (ham radio) meeting where I was re-elected as VP for a second year and Linda was elected Treasurer for the coming year. The program was a presentation on Software Defined Radios (SDR) by Mike Alexander (N8MSA). When we got home we finished the chocolate cake and raspberry sauce with a glass of Leelanau Cellars Autumn Red wine and then turned in for the night.