Tag Archives: Nutrition Facts website

2015/10/13 (T) Desk Alignment

I got up at 8 AM, put on my robe, made coffee, fed the cats, and refreshed their water fountain while Linda got dressed and washed blueberries to put in our granola.  We took our coffee to the living room where I turned on the fireplace and we were joined by our feline friends.  I put the finishing touches on yesterday’s post and e-mailed it to myself while Linda pulled up the latest video post from Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org.

Linda left at 9:30 AM to meet Diane at Kensington Metropark for their weekly walk.  As this will probably be their last walk together until spring they planned to go to lunch afterwards.  While there was some work I could do by myself on the (permanent) installation of the desk there were other aspects of the job that would definitely require two people.  I needed to finish updating the roster for the FMCA Freethinkers chapter so I spent about 30 minutes reading the manual for the new Sony SLT-a99v camera and then got dressed and worked in my office for the rest of morning.

After a short lunch break I resumed working on the roster until Linda got home.  She and Diane had lunch at Baker’s in Milford as it is close to the Metropark parking lot where they meet.  We removed most of the things from the bus we were not currently using, many of which were stored in the sofa storage box.  We got the sofa seat off of the desk pedestals and set it back in place on the sofa base.

I wanted to use pieces of a 24″ X 30″ furnace filter to cover the various air inlets in the desk bases and the air outlets in the OTR HVAC duct.  The best way to hold the filter material in place appeared to be with some very strong tape.  We did not have any such tape on hand so Linda went to Lowe’s and bought a roll of Gorilla Tape while I cut pieces of filter material to fit the various openings.

The left desk base and passenger side OTR HVAC duct showing the pieces of furnace filter material used to seal these openings while permitting filtered airflow.

The left desk base and passenger side OTR HVAC duct showing the pieces of furnace filter material used to seal these openings while permitting filtered airflow.

We got all of the openings taped up but I still needed to fabricate two tongue and groove alignment devices between the pedestals and the center connector/cover.  I make these out of flat mending plates, one on the pedestal (tongue), and two on the connector/cover (groove).  The tongue is flat against the back side of the pedestal vertical board and protrudes about 1/2″ beyond the edge.  The groove is made from two plates, one stacked on top of the other, attached to the back side of the vertical connector/cover board.  The upper plate is just back from the edge of the board and the lower one (next to the wood) is offset from the edge a little more than 1/2”, just enough to create a space for the tongue.  The tongue and groove devices match two others lower down on the connector/cover.  All four of them are oriented vertically allowing the connector/cover to drop into place and force it to align with the matching pieces of the pedestals.  A pair of horizontal plates, one on each pedestal, provide a resting surface for the connector/cover that aligns it horizontally.

With the devices fabricated we were finally able to set the pedestals on the bases, drop the connector/cover in place, and align everything as if the entire desk was a single unit.  We then got the Corian desktop out of my car, brought it into the coach, and set it in place.  It will require some careful adjustments before we screw everything down but it basically fit properly and looked good.  Final positioning of the left pedestal and base, however, would require us to put the front HVAC duct cover in position.

We got the cover out of the library and into the bus for the first time since we brought it home from Jarel Beatty Cabinetry in Logansport, Indiana.  The length was perfect but the bump out where the heater hoses were originally going to loop through was too deep.    I suspect the mistake was in my design/drawings.  Jarel knew this piece was supposed to line up with the left pedestal and base but I no longer recall if he even had the desk pieces in his possession when he was building the cover.  At this point it didn’t matter anyway.  The misalignment is with the base and is not very visible.  Also, the bump out is screwed on to the main cover so it can eventually be removed and trimmed or replaced with one that has the correct dimensions.

Once we had the cover in place I realized that I also needed to fabricate and install alignment plates between the cover and the left pedestal.  I had not planned on this and did not have enough mending plates so we went to Lowe’s to buy more.  While we were there I bought another can of 40:1 premixed fuel and a bottle of bar and chain oil for the new Poulan Pro 18” chainsaw.  We stopped at Walmart to see if they stocked a particular folding chair made by Stakmore that we have seen online, but they did not.  We think it would work nicely as a desk chair, and go well with the interior materials and colors in our bus, but we would like to see one in the round before buying it.

Back home I worked on the alignment plates while Linda prepared dinner.  We had leftover lentil loaf, microwaved sweet potatoes, and a mix of steamed broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  She added a little water to the lentil loaf before reheating it to moisten it a bit.  We both like ketchup on our lentil loaf and I added some Pick-a-Poo sauce to mine.  All three dishes were served hot, which was comforting on a cool evening, and everything was very tasty including the cup of hot tea.

I returned to the bus after dinner and finished installing the mending plates on the HVAC duct cover.  I was not able to put it in place by myself, and there was no reason to have Linda come out and help at this hour, so I set the thermostats back and locked up the bus.

I called Butch and this time the call went through.  I updated him on the installation and testing of the fan-coil heat exchangers and asked him about the operation of our new refrigerator.  He suggested that I isolate the remote temperature sensors by using pieces of the furnace filter material to keep them from touching an objects or surfaces directly.  He and Fonda are wrapping up at the RV Park in Bouse and moving to Quartzsite on Thursday.  After we were done talking I worked on this post while we watched a few TV programs and then went to bed.


2015/10/07 (W) The Root Cause

We had Linda’s homemade granola for breakfast with fresh blueberries.  Berry season is just about over for the year and they will become more expensive as they have to be transported from farther away.  I made a pot of Sweet Seattle Dreams, the half-caff blend that Jeff makes just for us, and we drank it in the living room.  Linda checked in on the world and pulled up the latest video from NutritionFacts.org while I researched hardwood veneers on Rockler.com.

After breakfast and coffee I called Metro Environmental Services to arrange to have the culvert under the road cleaned out.  They were able to schedule us for this afternoon so I accepted that appointment.  I then called Brighton Honda to check on my car and left a message for Rob, the service advisor who wrote up the repair for the driver side door lock.  I had no sooner left that message than I got a call from Karen at Bratcher Electric.

Mike had worked up the quote to install the 100 Amp disconnect, tie it into the output of the transfer switch, and run a 100 Amp 4-wire service entrance cable to the current sub-panel, making it into a main panel.  They would also disconnect and cap the current sub-panel feed from the basement as part of the work.  At just north of $1,300 it was a good $300 higher than I expected.  My expectation, however, was not based on anything specific other than my own sense of the cost of materials and the amount of labor that might be involved, plus a desire for it to not cost more than $1,000.  🙁

With the phone calls taken care of we worked in the bus for the rest of the morning.  Linda worked on stripping the remnants of wallpaper that remained after we removed the mirrors from the lower outside hallway wall yesterday.  I worked on re-routing the heater hoses for the fan-coil heat exchangers.  She got her job done before I got mine done.  That’s usually the way it is.

To start, I removed one of the old 4″ round plastic grates and used my inspection mirror and a flashlight to examine the inside of the HVAC duct.  What I discovered was that the two heater hoses were secured periodically with plastic cable clamps to the outer wall of the HVAC duct.  I also discovered that the metal part of the duct is just the inner wall and top.  The bottom is the plywood subfloor of the bus and the outer wall is the plywood wall.  As originally built the metal portion of the duct could be removed but when Royale Coach did the conversion they built cabinets around the ducts and put wood wiring chases on top of them in such a way that they can no longer be removed without partially disassembling the coach.

The location of the hoses and wires in the duct was such that I could safely use my 4″ bi-metal hole saw to cut access holes for the hoses.  I determined where the cable clamps were located by measuring inside the duct.  I then marked where the access slots in the bottom back of the bases would be located and determined where I needed the two hoses to emerge from the duct.

The manual sheet metal nibbler used to cut a line between the bottoms of the two holes in the HVAC duct.

The manual sheet metal nibbler used to cut a line between the bottoms of the two holes in the HVAC duct.

There was already a 4″ hole at one of my needed locations so I drilled a second one next to it with an inch in-between.  I used Chuck’s hand powered sheet metal nibbler to connect the holes together to make an opening that looked like the track around a football field.  We vacuumed up the metal chips and I then installed door edge molding all the way around the edge of the opening.  I was able to reach the screws holding the first pair of cable clamps with a #2SR screwdriver and remove them.  This large slot will be behind the left end of the center connecting cover of the desk and the hose for the heat exchanger that goes in the left base will come out of it.


Plastic U-channel door edge molding installed around the new heater hose opening.

Plastic U-channel door edge molding installed around the new heater hose opening.

The location of the next pair of cable clamps corresponded, roughly, to where I needed the hose for the right heat exchanger to emerge.  I drilled two 4″ holes, side-by-side, at that location and nibbled out the little bit of metal in-between them to make a second slot.  Again, I installed the door edge molding around the entire edge.  The molding was a tight fit, and I had to use a screwdriver to get it to go on the inner curves, but I got it on.  The U-channel is locked in mechanically and has adhesive in it so it should stay put once it has had a few days in place.  Once the hoses are re-routed I will put screen material, and perhaps some solid plates, over the openings to prevent critters from gaining access to the living area by way of the HVAC PCTS (Prevost Critter Tunnel System).


The access holes in the OTR HVAC duct in the area behind where the desk will be installed.

The access holes in the OTR HVAC duct in the area behind where the desk will be installed.

Linda had two medical appointments this afternoon, both routine diagnostic procedures, so she got cleaned up, changed her clothes, and left around 12:30 PM as I was finishing up the second slot.  I went inside and was thinking about making something for lunch when the doorbell rang.  It was our mail carrier, Michelle, with a package that was too big for the mailbox.  A few minutes later the doorbell rang again.  I figured it was Michelle again, but it was one of the guys from Metro Environmental Services.  They were supposed to call first but just showed up.

I put my shoes on and walked them down to the clogged culvert that goes under the road.  I was really hoping they could clean it out from the south side but when we went into the woods we could not see the end of the culvert.  They got a metal detector and located the end of the pipe.  It was almost completely buried and had a massive root running right in front of it from a very large nearby tree.  They got a shovel and dug out around the root, exposing much of it and the end of the pipe.

The tree was probably 30″ in diameter at the base and the root was at least 10″ in diameter.  I got my (new) 18″ chain saw but had trouble getting it started.  It turned out it was out of gasoline.  Once I got it started I tried to cut through the root on either side of the culvert.  I thought I was all the way through on one end (closest to the tree) and most of the way through on the other end, but the root would not budge.  I dulled the teeth on the chain to the point where the saw would no longer cut and did not want to take the time to put a new chain on just to ruin it quickly.  The guys finally agreed to hydrojet the culvert from the north side of the road.

The actual cleaning out of the culvert did not take that long.  The pump produces 2,000 PSI and they used about 300 gallons of water from the onboard tank on their truck.  The head on the end of the hose has one forward facing nozzle and many rear/side facing nozzles.  The forward facing nozzle loosens and cleans out the area directly in front of the head while the other nozzles force the head forward and blast whatever is in the pipe back out towards the entrance.

They started with a small head and ran it in until there was water coming out the other end of the culvert.  They then pulled the hose back and switched to a much larger head and ran that all the way through and back.  When they were done muddy water filled the culvert and the depressions on either end.  On the inlet end the water was only about 3″ deep in the bottom of the culvert but on the outlet end it was near the top.  They billed me for the minimum first hour amount even though I think they were here longer than that.

I called Phil to let him know what we had run into.  He was surprised, to say the least, as he thought he had checked the other end of the culvert.  Obviously not, but that’s water under the road, so to speak.  Besides the problems with the root and the discharge end of the culvert being below the surface, it looked to me like the discharge area was something of a low spot and it was not obvious to me where water would flow from there.  I have learned, however, that I am not very good at judging such things visually.

Cory, our neighbor across the street, had come over to see what was going on.  He offered that the discharge area does, in fact, drain to the south through his property and eventually to Golf Club Road.  Cory has been here for 30 years so I have no reason to doubt the truth of that.  The elevation where Golf Club ends at Hacker and where our street ends at Hacker appears to be about the same.  Our street is fairly level while Golf Club has a little bit of up and down, but it is subtle.  I suggested to Phil that we might have to clear a path into the woods for his small digger and do some trenching to give the water a way out.

While Cory and I were chatting I noticed that the trees along this part of the road were hanging out over the road on both sides and were rather lower than they should be.  This is the very thing I complain about with regards to the way most of our neighbor’s fail to maintain their properties along the road.  I decided I should do something about it so I got our pole saw and spent a couple of hours trimming the low overhanging branches.

Linda went to the Whole Foods Market in West Bloomfield following her medical appointments and got home just as I was finishing up the pruning.  She went for a walk while I called John Palmer of Palmer Energy Systems in Florida.  I bought our Magnum inverter/charger for the bus from John along with various accessories and batteries.  I needed a 4-wire terminal block for our Magnum Battery Monitor Kit (BMK) because I had messed up the one that came with it when I originally installed it.  John confirmed that Magnum Energy had recently been acquired by Sensata, and was in the process of relocating the plant to Minnesota, but that several of the old-timers were still on board.  John needed to talk to Tom anyway and asked me to call him back in a week to see if he was able to get the connector.

I checked with the service department at Brighton Honda again and Rob said he expected to get the new door lock mechanism back from the locksmith tomorrow morning and to have the car ready for me to pick up by the end of the day.  It will be nice to finally have it back.

The cloudy weather finally broke today and we saw some blue sky with brighter light levels than we have had recently.  The day was lovely but a little on the cool side by late afternoon so we both had a cup of hot tea.  Linda took advantage of the light to work on her counted cross-stitch project, a holiday stocking for grand-daughter Madeline, and I went back to the bus to sand off the last traces of the old wallpaper from the outside wall in the hallway.

I used our Porter-Cable 1/4 sheet palm sander with 80, 120, and finally 220 grit sandpaper.  The sander has an integral dust collection bag but it does not capture all of the dust.  I used the vacuum cleaner to pick up as much of the residual dust as I could and then used a tack cloth to wipe down the wall.

For dinner Linda made pan-grilled tofu with caramelized onions in sweet barbecue sauce.  She served it open-faced on rye bread, because that is what we had, and steamed some fresh green beans as a side dish.  Yum.

After dinner I drove to Lowe’s.  I needed something I could use to plug the two heater hoses to keep them from leaking as I pull them back through the HVAC duct and out through the new slots I made for them today.  I ended up buying two 3/4″ barbed plastic plugs.  While I was there I looked to see if they had any bleeder valves but they did not.  They do not sell parts designed specifically for hydronic heating systems and I will have to go to Northwest Plumbing and Supply for such items.

While I was in the plumbing isle I looked to see if I could figure out some combination of parts to make a fill valve for the system but did not see anything that inspired me.  I would love to have one or more high point expansion tanks on this system but I do not have any easily accessible places for them from which I could also run overflow drain lines.  There is a good sized volume of unused space behind the drawers on the passenger side of the bedroom but it would be a very difficult place to install anything.  Perhaps Northwest Plumbing and Supply will have something.

On the way home I stopped at the BP station and topped up the fuel tank in Linda’s car.  I drove home with greater consideration for fuel economy than usual and managed to get the average MPG up to 56.7 before it dropped back to 55.4 as I pulled in the driveway.  It will drop into the upper 40s as soon as Linda starts the engine tomorrow morning but it was fun to get it into the driveway with numbers above 55 MPG.


2015/09/30 (W) Annual Checkups

We were both scheduled for our physical exams today.  Mine was at 9:20 AM, and I needed to leave by 8:20 to be sure I was there on time, so I got up at 7:30, showered, and dressed.  I took my vitamin and allergy meds but did not make coffee or have breakfast, Linda’s appointment was at 1 PM so she slept in.  We both had our blood drawn a week ago and the lab results had already been reviewed by our doctor and made available to us via the Henry Ford Health System MyChart patient information system.

We are both basically in good health with only minor issues, such as arthritis in the base of my thumbs or worn out knee joints in Linda’s case.  Both of our blood analysis results were OK across the board but that does not mean we were completely happy with them.  My blood pressure was a little higher than I would like but the doctor thought it was fine.  Linda’s total cholesterol is higher than she would like so we are still learning what dietary choices and physical activity have to do with controlling that.  We respect our doctor’s judgement but we are also re-calibrating our own understanding of what is desirable for us versus what is “normal” for adults our age living in the USA.

The problem with “normality” is that it is a statistical concept.  In a population that is overwhelmingly unhealthy we do not necessarily want to be normal.  As an example, American medicine considers the normal range for total cholesterol to be 120 to 200 and yet research, as reported by Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org, shows that real health is associated with a number less than 150.  Most Americans have total cholesterol way above that except for one group; active vegans.  As another example it is generally accepted that as people age blood pressures in the 130’s over 80’s are “normal” and yet in rural China and Africa, where people eat mostly whole-food plant-based diets, “normal” is 110 over 70 for their entire lives.  Heart disease and other “western” aliments are also virtually unknown.  We are still works in progress.

I do like my morning coffee even though it is usually half regular and half decaffeinated so I left my physical exam and headed for the Tim Horton’s at Beck and Grand River Avenue.  While I was in line I got a call from Chuck wanting to know if the new windshield cut down any of the wind noise.  He was headed to his shop just down the street so I suggested he stop and chat over a cup of coffee.  I told him what intersection I was at but mistakenly told him I was at Dunkin Donuts so he stopped there first.  We have air/water leaks around the other windshields, side windows, and the entrance door so I could not tell any difference from replacing just one windshield.  I trust, however, that the new one will not leak air or water and it is currently not cracked or dinged, so I am happy with it.

Linda texted me that she was leaving early for her appointment and was going to stroll around the mall.  When I got home and tried to lock the driver side door on my Honda Element the key stuck in the lock and would not turn or come out.  This lock has been failing for a while but the failure mode has been an inability to insert the key.  Fortunately I had a second key in the house and was able to unlock the passenger door and rear lift gate.  Not only was I unable to remove the key, the latch was disconnected from both the outside and inside handles and I could not get the door open.  I called Brighton Honda to make sure they could give a ride back to the house and then removed the ham radio control head and microphone, the GPS, the cellular booster, and the 2m/70cm antenna before driving to the dealership.

Rob checked me in and tried jiggling the key harder than I had.  The key still did not come out but he managed to get the latch to re-engage with the handles so we could get the door open.  He wrote up the work order and I only had to wait a short time for the shuttle to return and drive me home.  Rob called later in the afternoon with the estimate.  They had to order a new latch which should be in on Friday, and then send the latch and one of my keys to a locksmith to have the lock matched to the key.  By the time they got the mechanism back from the locksmith and installed in the door he figured it would be the middle of next week.  That was not ideal for me but it was what it was.  The car was not very usable in its current condition so I did not really have a choice.  I was all too well aware that this was another case where I put off fixing something longer than I should have.  I was lucky, in a sense, that it failed when and where it did as I was not stranded somewhere calling Linda to bring the spare key.

When I got back to the house I attached the battery charger to the battery in the lawn tractor.  Philip Jarrell is supposed to start working on our French drain and pull-through driveway extension tomorrow and the lawn tractor is parked where he will be working.  I added gasoline to the tank but even after bringing the battery to full charge and using the jump start feature on the charger I was unable to get it started.  After repeated attempts I gave up.  When Linda got home we disengaged the transmission and pushed to another part of the yard where it would be out of Phil’s way.

I have mentioned before that this lawn tractor was left here by the previous owners.  The mower deck was pretty messed up and we removed it this past spring.  We have a lawn service, Kish Lawn Care, mow the grass so we really do not have a reason to buy a new lawn tractor/mower.  Still, I thought it would be useful for hauling materials and debris around the property and I put new drive tires on it in 2013 and bought an 18 cubic foot dump trailer this year to pull around behind it.  Whatever the problem is I’m sure it can be fixed, and probably by me, if/when I have time; which I do not at the moment.

I spent much of the rest of the day in my office except for dinner.  I reviewed the final draft of an article I wrote which is running in the October 2015 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine.  I then logged in to the B&H Photo website and finally ordered the Sony alpha99 (a99v) DSLT body and a few accessories.  The body comes with the vertical grip battery pack for no extra charge, a $378 value, so that was a nice surprise.  The body comes with one battery but the grip, which holds two additional batteries, does not come with any, so I ordered five additional batteries giving me six total for two complete sets.  I also ordered two 64 GB memory cards and a small case for carrying an extra battery on my belt.  B&H is closed until October 7 for SUCCOS.  My order is scheduled to ship on the 8th and arrive on the 9th, no added shipping charge.

I spent the rest of my time editing drafts of blog posts and selecting/processing a few photos to go with some of them.  I hope to have the posts for the first two weeks of August uploaded in the next couple of days.  When I finally came upstairs we watched a show on PBS about the life long work of biologist E. O. Wilson.  It was fascinating.


2015/08/31 (M) A Major Sub-Project Done

We both took Advil PM before bed last night as both of us were sore and tired from a long day of work and needed a good night’s sleep.  We awoke at 8 AM to dense fog but it was not unexpected as I saw the advisory on the weather forecast before I went to sleep last night.  I made a pot of the Costa Rican half-caff coffee while Linda washed blueberries and got our granola ready.  We enjoyed our coffee in the living room with the cats on our laps and listened to Dr. Michael Greger’s daily research summary on NutrionFacts.org.

We were still a bit tired and sore but finally got back to work on the bus at 10:30 AM just as Keith showed up to mow the grass.  After opening up the bus and the “workshop”(garage), and getting out the air-compressor and hooking it up, we got the piece of underlayment out of the bedroom that we cut last night but still needed to trim.  I cut about 1/8″ off of the passenger side end and cut off the front corner on that end so it would clear the piece of vertical trim.  With those adjustments it dropped into place and I stapled most of it to the subfloor.  I would have stapled the whole piece but we ran out of staples.

We had already measured and drawn the second piece for the bedroom but without staples we were at a standstill.  Linda needed to pick up a few things at the grocery store, so we closed up the house and bus and made an errand run.  I dropped her at Meijer’s and drove across the street to Lowe’s.  I bought another pack of 1,000 #18 staples, 3/4″ with 1/4” crown because that was the smallest quantity they sell.  I also picked up a small bottle of pneumatic tool oil.  I drove back to Meijer’s and waited in the parking lot for Linda to emerge.  When she did she had eight grocery bags.  I guess “a few things” is relative.  She got a real hamburger patty and one slice of real cheese from the deli to serve to Kate tomorrow night.

Once we had the groceries unloaded and put away we got back to work on the underlayment.  I laid out the next piece for the bedroom which had 11 angles.  Even though I worked from a consistent reference point the numbers did not quite work out so I took additional measurements and made adjustments accordingly.  When I was satisfied that the layout was close to correct we cut the piece out of the partial panel.  I then cut it in half crossways to create two pieces each of which could be installed.  We started with the half piece closest to the driver side.

Keith finished cutting the grass and came to get his check so we gave him the inside tour of the bus.  He had seen the front part before but never been all the way to the back.  He recognized that it was an ambitious project.

The other half of the back bedroom piece, towards the passenger side, took some tweaking but we finally got it in and stapled.  The last piece for the bedroom should have been the easiest, a 42″ x 18″ rectangle for the aisle at the foot of the bed/storage box.  It wasn’t a perfect rectangle, of course, so it also required adjustments.  Things that should be at right angles rarely are and the flanges on the bottom of the HVAC chases do not have straight edges as I assumed they would.  The adjustments are usually small but necessary to get the pieces to fit.  So it was with the last piece for the main floor.

We thought we were done when Linda noticed a small “L” shaped area around the media cabinet behind the driver’s seat.  We still had pieces of underlayment left over that were big enough to cut this piece.  After measuring carefully and laying it out the numbers were once again not adding up.  We still had the piece of art board that I used to create the templates for the base of the refrigerator alcove so I laid out the “L” shape on that but made it larger than needed.  We positioned the template in the bus, trimmed the inside corner (not 90 degrees) and then marked where all the edges needed to be by tracing from underneath.  I trimmed the template down and checked the fit.  It looked good so I transferred it to the underlayment and we cut it.

We were finally done with the main floor underlayment so we cleaned up the bus by moving stuff to the garage/workshop.  I disconnected the DeWalt 15 gallon air-compressor, moved it to the driveway by the garage, and opened the drain valve on the bottom,  it had a LOT of water inside which reminded me that I really need to set up a water separator and inline oiler for use with this thing.  Linda coiled up the power cord while I coiled up the air hose and stored it with the air-compressor in the front corner of the garage.

Somewhere in the middle of all this work we stopped and had lunch around 3 PM.  It was now 6 PM, too early for dinner, so we decided to get cleaned up and go to Lowe’s to look for metal tile edging.  As long as we were going to be out I thought we might drive over to Chuck’s shop in Novi to look at the air ride seat base.  I called Chuck to see if that would work and he was headed that way anyway, so that is what we did.  The Lowe’s in New Hudson did not have what we were looking for but the associate suggested that we try Blakely’s on West Road near Beck Road in Wixom.  Chuck was still at his shop when we arrived so we had a nice chat, got the air ride base, and then went our separate ways.

It was 8:30 PM by the time we got home.  I spent a few minutes checking e-mails and then we sat down to dinner at 9:15, a simple meal of mock fish fillets with vegan tartar sauce and fresh steamed Brussels sprouts.

I continued checking and responding to e-mails after dinner and then checked into RVillage.  I posted a comment on a new topic in the Friends of Curtis YAY! group and a few minutes later got a call from Curtis.  After catching up on each other’s activities and whereabouts he e-mailed me a couple of things to read and react to.  When we concluded our chat I watched the 3rd installment of the video update series from Technomadia about the renovation of their vintage GM4106 bus conversion at MasterTech in Elkhart, Indiana.  I sent them an e-mail regarding a pet friendly hotel that we used years ago when our Golden Retriever (Einstein) was still alive and went with us on a week-long visit to Elkhart to tour motorhome factories.  (Einstein’s AKC name was Karie Jame Ricky Ricardo.  We got him from the Karie Jame breeders and he was from the Latin Lovers litter.)  It was then off to bed to write for a while before going to sleep.


2015/07/14 (T) Red Chili Wine

Storms moved through the area overnight with more lightning and thunder than rain, or at so it seemed.  The storms were triggered by a cold front, behind which we had a cloudy day with periods of rain.  Linda was up at 7 AM and read quietly until I got up at 8.  I made a full pot of coffee (Cafe Europe half-caff blend from Teeko’s) and then joined her in the living room.

Linda was checking Dr. Michael Gregor’s speaking schedule and saw that he will be at Wayne State University in December and will be one of the keynote speakers for the 2016 Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise.  We have not heard him speak in person, and will not be here in December, so that would be another reason to go on the cruise again.  By 9:45 AM Mara had not emerged from her rig so we went ahead and had breakfast.  Linda then went for a walk and I went to my office and worked on the design of the custom desk for the bus.

Mara finally emerged at 10:30 AM and we chatted for a while until Linda got back.  Our chat was briefly interrupted by a call from Mike (W8XH) on the Novi repeater so Mara got to see ham radio in operation.  My reception was weak and noisy and according to Mike my transmitted signal wasn’t any better.  The only thing that has changed since we tested this late last week is that I got the repaired M-302N VHF/UHF lightning arrestor back from Morgan Manufacturing yesterday and re-installed it.  Mike is going to help me do some more testing, but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that these units are defective by design and I will have to replace them with something else.  I am disappointed to say the least.

It was another cool, cloudy, rainy day, just the kind of day for staying inside and getting stuff done.  Linda and Mara both had things to do and settled in at the dining room table to work.  Mara has been focused on planning her upcoming travels and spent much of the day making reservations.  Linda worked on the bookkeeping for our GLCC chapter and SLAARC ham radio club (she is treasurer of both).  She also renewed our Coach-Net emergency road service and our Harvest Host membership, which had expired, and probably took care of a lot of other things that I don’t even know about.  Except for an occasional break I worked on the custom desk design until 6:30 PM.  On one of those breaks I needed to measure something in the bus so we gave Mara the inside tour.

When I came upstairs Mara was taking advantage of the unlimited hot water available in our guest bathroom to have a nice long shower.  We know from personal experience what a luxury it is to take such a shower when living in an RV.  Linda had started preparing our dinner so I opened the bottle of Hatch Red Chili wine.  This wine, from St. Claire Winery in Deming, New Mexico is one of the more unusual wines we have ever had but we really like it.  It is a slightly sweet red wine with no tannin, a hint of chili flavor, and heat in the back of the throat on the finish.  We had vegan mock Italian sausages with sautéed onions and red peppers and the wine went well with it.  I had mine on a hotdog bun with mustard.  Mara had another serving of her beef stew, which she is trying to use up, and Linda put out a plate of whole, fresh strawberries.

One of the nice things about having visitors is that meals take longer to eat as we linger at the table in conversation.  Mara returned to her rig around 9 PM to have some quiet time with her cats before going to bed.  Linda decided to watch a couple of TV programs and I went back to work on the desk design.  I called it quits around 10:45 PM and went to bed to work on this post.  The overnight low is forecast to drop into the upper 40’s which should make for excellent sleeping.


2014/08/07 (R) Endings And Beginnings

I did not sleep well last night.  I was a bit worked up about the landscaping and a bit worried about the iron gas pipe installation which looked to me like it would be difficult no matter how Darryll decided to do it.  We were both awake at 5:30 AM and finally got up at 6:45 AM and had breakfast.

The landscapers arrived early, before 8 AM, and got right to work.  Steve brought three guys and got them busy right away.  Linda and I walked the site with him, but he immediately saw more problems than we did.  There was no arguing or convincing; he seemed determined to make sure it was done right and that we were happy with the end result.  He stayed and worked alongside the crew to make sure stuff got done correctly.  They finished up around 11 AM.  We took one last look at the work and paid Steve the balance of what we owed him.  He said he would check back in 2 – 3 weeks to spot seed and fertilize the new grass.

Linda took off for the post office and grocery store around 8:45 AM and I started routing and stapling the sub-panel ground conductor along the edge of the deck by the rear library doorwalls.  Darryll (DCM Heating and Cooling) showed up a little after 9 AM with his nephew, Alec, so I took the next 30 minutes to walk through the gas pipe installation options.

Darryll decided to go with the original plan of running the pipe from the southeast corner of the house down the east side, around the corner across the back of the house under the upper deck, dropping it down and going under the middle deck, across the back of the garage just below the bottom piece of siding, around the northwest corner of the garage and up the west side of the garage to its end point behind the whole house generator.  There will be a T-fitting on the garage side of the middle deck, to supply gas into the garage for the two new furnaces, and another T-fitting at the end of the run.  One branch of the end T will have a shutoff valve and cap and will be used to supply gas to the generator.  The other branch will be capped and available should we ever decide to run a gas line to the (future) bus barn.

I determined where I wanted the sub-panel ground wire to enter the basement and drilled a 5/16″ hole an inch to the right and an inch below the water faucet that comes through the west wall of the house about 16″ back from the northwest corner above the lower deck.  This allowed me to route the ground wire around an inside corner to the hole and will allow me to tuck it up under the bottom piece of siding.

I wanted to get the ground wire into the main panel but I could not turn off the main breaker as Darryll was using electric power tools and Linda was working on her computer.  The connection will have to wait until no one is using power.  Once the ground wire is tied into the main panel I will remove the bonding screw in the sub-panel.

Linda made a different kind of bean salad sandwich spread for lunch using Great Northern beans and various other yummy ingredients.  We had some grapes and green tea to go with our sandwiches.

Having run out of construction projects for the moment I decided to work at my desk for a while, but my mind was elsewhere and I just wasn’t feeling the love.  The steps at the back door of the garage were going to be in the way of the iron pipe, so I removed them.  As long as I was out there I hung around to watch Darryll and Alec get the pipe under the middle deck.  It was a challenge, as expected, but for reasons that were unseen until Darryll tried to drill holes through the end boards.

First he encountered wet wood that kept fouling his hole saw.  Then he hit a nail, which did not enhance the performance of the saw.  It also bent his extension shaft slightly which he had to stop and straighten.  He then encountered joist hangars on each end and had to bend those out of the way.  Finally able to feed the pipe through, they encountered wood sleepers and a couple of large rocks.  They managed to go over the sleepers and push the rocks out of the way and got the pipe through.  Darryll and Alec put in a long, physically demanding day and got most of the 2″ pipe installed.  Two inch iron pipe is very impressive stuff and we were very impressed with the work required to install it.

For dinner Linda made a Farro pilaf, after which we sat on our deck and enjoyed a small glass of Riesling wine to celebrate the end of the landscaping project that has had our property torn up for the last five weeks.  We are very fortunate that we became vegans and that Linda took a serious interest in learning about whole-food, plant-based recipes, ingredients, and cooking methods just as we retired.  I shudder to think what our health would be like had we continued to eat the way we did until three years ago where, even as “vegetarians,” our diet contained a lot of eggs, dairy, and seafood, and not so much fruits and vegetables.  We watched Dr. Michael Greger’s annual summary address on NutritionFacts.org and went to sleep without the worries that interfered with last night’s rest.


2014/06/04 (W) Indian Street Food

After working hard on our fire pit project the last three days we took it easy today.  I put a load of laundry in to run while we had breakfast and browsed our blog and news feeds.  A couple of recent installments from NutritionFacts.org reminded us yet again why we are following a whole-food plant-based way of eating.  I made follow up phone calls to various contractors and left messages as no one seems to answer phones anymore.  We often do not answer our phones if we don’t recognize the number or the caller ID is blocked, but we are not running businesses.  I did get hold of Ed and we had a nice chat about the restricted water flow problem in his Aqua-Hot and what he did to fix it.  I’m starting to form the impression that these are “fussy” high maintenance units.

I got a call from Chuck in reply to my e-mail to him yesterday.  He is working on a project to replace the conventional bulbs in his side cargo lights with LEDs.  He found a source for a double contact base that fits in place of an 1157 bulb.  He can solder the wires from the LED arrays to the base and plug it in; no modification of the cargo light housing or wiring needed.  I like those kinds of solutions.

I got a call back from Darryll Mech at DCM Heating and Cooling.  Darryll installed a garage heater and a furnace/air-conditioner for the addition to our previous house.  He is going to schedule a time to come back to the new house and figure out exactly what we need to do to prep the house for natural gas.  It is going to involve running additional black pipe, installing a garage furnace and a small furnace/air-conditioner for the library, and then converting the kitchen stove, whole house generator, and hot water baseboard furnace to natural gas.  We have a local guy (TOMTEK) who services the hot water baseboard furnace, so we will probably have him do the conversion on that unit.  We also have a company that installed and services the whole house generator and will probably have them do the conversion on that unit along with the annual maintenance.  We would like to have all of this done, except the appliance conversions, in August.  The natural gas pipeline and hookup is scheduled for “late summer to early fall.”  When I talked to the contractor it sounded like that meant the end of August to early October.  I hope it’s closer to the former than the later.

Scott Barnes from The Renewal Group in Hartland, Michigan retuned my call.  He wasn’t able to work today due to the rain so he came over to discuss our pole/bus barn project.

We got together with Steve and Karen Limkemann for dinner this evening and then went to their house in Westland to visit.  As we moved to being vegetarians and then vegans Indian food rose towards the top of our list of favorite cuisines, and one of our favorite restaurants in all of SE Michigan is Neehee’s in Canton.  Neehee’s is a small, unassuming semi-fast food place that serves “Indian vegetarian street food.” As the name implies, you will not find any dishes with meat, fish, or fowl.  You will, however, find dishes made with paneer (an Indian cheese) and yogurt.  They also serve ice cream.  They have a nice selection of vegan dishes, however, and some of the vegetarian dishes can be made vegan on request.  It’s a long way for us to drive just to have dinner, but very much on our way to Steve and Karen’s place.  They were good sports and agreed to try it.

The menu had changed since the last time we were there.  The “Indo-Chinese” section was gone, and with it one of our favorite dishes, a fried cauliflower in a spicy sweet and sour sauce.  We had the Special Gujarati Thali which consisted of nine different curries and sauces, two types of puri (crepes, thin breads), and rice.  It was very good.  Steve and Karen were not as thrilled with their dishes, but the issue seemed to be a bit too much “heat.”  Almost all Indian food (that we have had) is spicy, in the sense of being pungent and aromatic, and some of it is “hot”, in the sense of having a burning sensation in the mouth.

We drove to Steve and Karen’s house after dinner, looked at photos from trips, and talked at length about past and future travels.  Steve had resurrected some very old computer games and had them running on his Raspberry Pi and displayed on their large screen TV.  We played one for a while based loosely on A Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.  It would have been a trip down memory lane if I had any memory of having played it years ago, but I didn’t, so it was a new old experience for me.  He also demonstrated their Roku device, which connects to their WiFi network and streams a wide variety of programming to their television.  Much of it is free, some of it involves a monthly subscription, and some of it is “pay-per-view.”  It might be part of a solution for us at home.


2013_12_23 (M) Williston Walkabout

The FL-121 entrance sign.

The FL-121 entrance sign.

With 3.5 days of hard driving behind us and nothing we had to get up and do first thing this morning, we slept well last night and got up when we were ready.  That turned out to be around 7:30 AM, but that was two hours later than the last few mornings.  We had a leisurely start to the morning and eventually went on a walkabout to explore the Williston Crossings RV Resort and the town of Williston, Florida.

The new FL-121 entrance/gate.

The new FL-121 entrance/gate.

Besides the beautiful landscaping, the high quality of the sites/infrastructure, the excellent Wi-Fi, and the nice people we have met so far (staff and residents) one of the things we like about Williston Crossings RV Resort is that it appears to be very quiet and relaxed even though lots of people are out and about.  The people parked next to us, for example have an outside TV.  They were watching it at 7 AM this morning while smoking, which they do constantly, but we never heard the TV and we never smelt the smoke.  We only knew they were there because we looked out our window and saw them.

The recycling area.

The recycling area.

A couple of bonus features we discovered included the recycling program and the RV/Car Wash station, available for use at no extra charge.  Another plus is that the resort is walking distance from Williston, a city of 2,200 residents (not including the RV Resort).  We walked downtown this morning and discovered a grocery store, two drug stores, two hardware stores, and a variety of non-chain eateries.  When we got back we walked the RV Resort and took pictures.  Our estimate is that there are at least 600 sites here so there are, or will be, at least half as many people staying at the RV park during January and February as live in Williston.  It’s a BIG park, but you can only see limited portions of it from any given vantage point, so it has much more intimate feel to it.

The RV/Car Wash station.

The RV/Car Wash station.

We also checked out a possible different site (#439) that was available in the old section of the resort and decided to move our reservation to that site.  The pull-through site we originally reserved for January – March was in the new section where the tree cover is sparse to non-existent, making the sites much more exposed to the sun.  Site #439 is a back-in rather than a pull-through which will save us $400 over the three months we are here.  The main reason for moving, however, was that it has the mature trees of the older section, including Live Oaks draped with Spanish moss, which will provide a more attractive setting while affording us good shade from the sun.  By the time we got back to our coach we had walked about 6,000 steps.  At 2 feet/step that was 12,000 feet or a little over two miles.  At 2.5 feet/step it was 15,000 feet, or just under three miles.  Either way, we would not have done that at home with temperatures in the mid 20s and lots of snow on the ground.

Linda with the Christmas dolphin near the swimming pool.

Linda with the Christmas dolphin near the swimming pool.

The north end of the resort is still under development and the landscaping is sparse compared to the south (older) end.  We were told that the northwest corner is being developed with sites that can be purchased.  The roads and utilities are in, but most of the sites have not been paved and landscaped.  This part of the resort is closer to the club house, swimming pool, and pavilion.  At the center of the north section are three full size train cars and a caboose.  We do not know what plans the owners have these but they are badly in need of restoration.

Three train cars and a caboose.

Three train cars and a caboose.

The nearest cities of any size are Gainesville (20 miles) and Ocala (25 miles).  Gainesville is a college town.  It has a Trader Joe’s, a few “health food” stores, several farmers markets, and a Panera so we will be making that trip occasionally for items we cannot find in Williston.  We are looking forward to eating a lot of locally sourced fruits and vegetables while we are here.  The Nutrition Facts daily video reports for the last few days have been about recent studies on the remarkable properties of berry fruits.  It’s worth checking out.

We were surprised this morning when we got an “access denied” message when we tried to view the Nutrition Facts video.  Nutrition Facts uses YouTube to make their videos available and had a problem a few weeks ago with a false report of “offensive/inappropriate content” which shut them down for 24 hours until they got it straightened out with the powers that be.  We weren’t sure at first if this had happened again or if we were being blocked from getting to YouTube by the resorts Wi-Fi system.  A quick check of YouTube directly indicated that the resort was apparently blocking YouTube.  As large as the resort is, it is understandable that they don’t want people streaming video content, and YouTube would be an obvious site to block.

(Opinion: People who abuse the ability to report offensive or inappropriate content of YouTube by making false claims should themselves be barred from ever using YouTube again.)  Nutrition Facts is now backing up their collection of almost 800 videos to another service (Vimeo, I think) as a precaution against this happening in the future.

Verizon Mi-Fi to the rescue!  We always try to use Wi-Fi when it’s available but we have the Mi-Fi device for just those situations where we can’t.  As long as we were powering up the Mi-Fi device we did a little experiment:  Instead of connecting to it directly, we had the Wi-Fi Ranger connect it and then connected our computers to the Wi-Fi Ranger.  Bingo, worked like a charm.  More to the point, we were able to watch the Nutrition Facts dot Org video.

We connected back to the resort Wi-Fi system and turned off the Mi-Fi.  I then downloaded a new version of a program that was 84 MB without objection from the resort Wi-Fi system.  Linda renewed a few memberships that we had not taken care of before we left and I continued to work on cleaning up e-mail.  Adobe has an interesting offer available to anyone who wants it for Photoshop CC (creative cloud) and Lightroom 5; $9.99/month with a minimum one year contract.  But you have to order by December 31st.  They are no longer going to sell these programs, so if you want them, this is how you will have to get them.  You can install on two computers under the terms and conditions.  Renewals will be at “current prices”, so no guarantee it that the price will remain at present level.

I did not order it yet as some of the features appear to require a 64 bit operating systems (Win 7, 8, or Mac).  That works on Linda’s laptop, but not mine.  I downloaded a new version (18.0) of WinZip this morning, only to discover that it would not install on anything less that MS Vista.  I like my existing Dell laptop computer, and I like Windows XP Pro SP 3, but it’s becoming all too clear that I am going to have to get a new machine, probably sooner rather than later.  Ugh.  In the world of computing one of my least favorite things is the process of moving to a new operating system.

It was pleasantly warm today, in the lower 80s, and bit humid but with a light breeze, so we wanted something light for dinner.  Linda walked back to the local grocery store to pick up some fresh greens for a dinner salad and few odds and ends from the drug store.  Around 3 PM the grounds crew passed through our area and used a leaf blower to clean the patio portion of our concrete pad.  Nice touch.  They also mentioned to Linda that the reason the current occupant was vacating site #439 was because one of the adjacent neighbors liked to build a fire every evening and he didn’t like the smoke.  We often have campfires at night when we are camping in cooler weather, but decided to check that out after it got dark.  We did not see any obvious problem, but we will investigate a little further tomorrow.