Archive for March, 2008

Broken Clutch…Unearthed the Stump

March 31, 2008

This weekend was uneventful until the clutch died on my 2002 Hyundai Elantra GT. The clutch had been slipping for a few months, so we decided to stop driving it until we could afford the repairs. Because I was scheduled for parking lot duty at church, I needed to drive the car to let my wife and daughter sleep in.

The clutch sounded the worst it had ever been, but it made it to and fro church. I was to meet my wife at Home Depot so we could purchase some fence posts, so I turned back on the road. On the ramp to 80 west, my clutch got stuck trying to go from 1st into 2nd. I pulled to the side of the ramp and turned the hazard lights on and turned off the car. What a bad feeling. I was able to get the car started, but couldn’t engage into 1st. It then got to the point where I couldn’t apply pressure on the pedal because the pedal became hard as a rock.

So, I figured I would just back it down the ramp. Amidst my distraction of watching out for traffic, I landed on the guard rail. Thankfully, no damage. I gave up and put the emergency brake in place and walked the half mile to my house. Both cell phones were missing, (we don’t have a land line yet), so I walked next door to my neighbors house.

The neighbors were kind enough to allow me to use their phone to make some phone calls and while on phone, he mentioned that he could probably just pull the car with his tow cable and truck. Sounded good to me. We headed over the the ramp, and decided that we should first roll the car down the ramp and back onto 46.

While I was rolling my car down the hill, a guy stopped right behind me and told us in so many words that what we were doing was illegal and that we should get a tow truck. I told the guy no thanks (and it turned out he owned a wrecking company).

Once back down the ramp, we were getting set to hook the cables up when two black and whites showed up. These cops weren’t the brightest, but obviously I was going to have to get a tow truck now. So, they called their buddy who tows (and I’m sure they got some of my money lined in their pocket). The tow for .5 of a mile cost me 85 bucks. Shoot.

Because of this, I was in the mood to injure something. So, the family piled up into the other car and headed out to our local Ace Hardware. I bought a 3′ ax, a post hole digger, some metal fence posts (for the garden, not the yard), and a metal rake. There is a stump in the yard that is calling my name.

The stump was an evergreen last year that was ugly, and in the wrong spot. The same neighbor came over with his chainsaw and destroyed the thing. So, last Sunday I began to dig around the perimeter of the stump and using my spade, hack at some of the roots. I found that this tree was deeply rooted. So, the ax was useful. After about 1.5 hours, I finally got the stupid stump out. Buried a pile of leaves where it once stood, and leveled off the dirt.

Ah, nice satisfying manual labor. Nothing else makes a man feel as good (well…).

I have a second stump that has a date with my ax and shovel next weekend.

UPDATE: My neighbor on the other side heard about my dead car, and offered his assistance when the time comes to replace the clutch. He’s a full-time truck mechanic, and has all the required tools. God is great!


Techies: Have you noticed an increase in Spoofing/Spam?

March 27, 2008

The solutions company I work for has noticed a large increase in customer complaints regarding email spoofing and spam hitting users inboxes.

A typical scenario so far, is that someone’s legitimate email address will become spoofed and then that user will receive a large amount of NDRs.  Or, spam will appear to be sent internally through fake usernames@legitimate  The spam filter is typically set to allow without filtering.  When doing a typical analysis, we find that the messages are originating from ISPs located in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Spoofing, and spam is nothing new, but I seriously believe that something new is on the rise that is beginning to outsmart current mail security measures.  Reply back if you have noticed this also.

Celtics Sweep the Texas Triangle

March 21, 2008

Celtics had a hard but very successful road trip out in the Lone Star State. They beat the Champions, knocked down a long winning streak, and had a thriller in Dallas.

I have to say that this is a very impressive team. With three stars on one team, they are all proving to be generous. This team is just fun to watch. I hope that, like the 80s, they can keep the magic going for a long time.

It would be nice if, like the 80s, we actually had a good president.

Trust God

March 18, 2008

Amidst all the turmoil that is going on in the world right now, take heart and realize that God is in control.

We as Americans have had a pretty good life for the most part, with some bumpy roads.  Sure, history has shown some terrible times, whether under various corrupt presidential administrations (Harding, Kennedy, anyone?), or through economic woes, wars, and even great impoverishment, we have been there before.

Looking at the current events, it may be hard to have a positive outlook.  While the world is determined to unify and go down that slippery slope, this is a time when we as Christians need to trust God.  This is only the beginning.

We should be the ones who are financially responsible.  Too many Christians have way too much Credit Card debt.  I myself was in that trap a few years ago.  To use a credit card to survive is like slapping God in the face.  So, in terms of economics, let us be the responsible ones.

We should not be so quick to support a war simply because a pro-life president wants it.  This war in Iraq has solved nothing.  Dictators have existed for sometime now, and currently exist not even 90 miles away from our shores.  Stop being duped into lies, people!

God is to be trusted.  After all, He has the strength like no other, and is not equaled in intelligence.  He is not in despair.  While the world is going down the toilet, God has a plan even today, even for you.

Saint Patrick Day Parade Pictures

March 17, 2008

I took the family to the Morris County St. Patrick Days Parade on Saturday. This being Kirsten’s first St. Pattys day parade, I took some pictures with my 1 mp Q camera. We left the other camera at home, unfortunately, so the photos are not the best.

This is a view of the luxury apartments out on the horizon. You can see for miles from up there. Great night view of the city:

Gearing up for the parade:

Men in Kilts. Not gay when playing a bagpipe:

My daughter is having a great time. Looking up Washington Street towards the green:

She probably sees a dog here:

The place was packed, all the bars were lined up around the block:

The parade is the largest in New Jersey. I am only half Irish, but that was probably more then the majority of people there. Funny thing, St. Pattys day is. You see people from India dressing up in all green.

I should have taken a picture of the huge black guy with the shirt that read: I’m not fat, I’m just fluffy.

We had a great time, ate a sub down at Long John’s Sandwich Shop. The bar next door had a sewage back up. This is why I chose not to hit any of the bars. Hope everyone else is enjoying St. Patrick’s Day.

Stand Up And Fight!

March 14, 2008

Everyone, repeat after me:

“We are in a recession.”
“Our government is too big.”
“We don’t really follow the Constitution.”
“We are creating wars.”
“Our dollar is at an all-time low.”
“The price of oil is at an all-time high.”
“Major investment firms are going broke.”

So what should we do? I think we need to kick out our current government. We are about 30 years overdue for a Revolution. The ride we are in for is not a quick and easy one. Since we have a generation of baby boomers that cared not for the future generations, we have serious issues that are not easily resolved. It is time to stand up and fight.

Look at the current Election race. Why are we so intent on allowing Hillary, McCain, or Obama take control? What difference will they make? None. Actually, it may seem impossible, but they will only do more damage to our nation. Stand up and fight, brothers. Enough is enough.

I am glad I have a God who never forgets His children. So if in 10 or 15 years, we are a 3rd world country, I will have peace that God will watch over my family. If in the next few years, I have to stand up against the oppressive government, I know that through God, I can do it. God is no respecter of men, and that is something all Christians should take to heart.

We must stand up and fight. Fight the good fight for our children’s sake, and their children. The world has its idea of what life is, and we have ours.

I am concerned for us. I love our country, and have traveled throughout most of it. I know the struggles the average American faces. While the middle class is disappearing at an alarm rate, the government and elite pile on more burdens. Some is our blame. We need to stop the credit cycle, and request real money. We need to read the fine print and not expect the government to help us out when we can no longer afford our house.

At the same time, we need the government to not take us, as citizens, for granted. They need to realize that the money printing, and insane spending is going to stop. They need to know that their very jobs are on the line.

Who is with me? Again, this is not for the weak. We need the strong and bold to come against this beast and bring the monster down. Otherwise, the longer we wait, the harder it will be, and eventually, it just may be. Too late.

No TV For A Night

March 12, 2008

Monday I told my wife that we would not turn the television on for at least 24 hours.  I couldn’t believe how much I did that night, and I noticed that I didn’t snack as much too.  We don’t even have cable, but somehow we rack up the hours watching stupid shows.  I think it is because by the end of the day we are both exhausted and the couch is our temporary vacation.

Don’t get a wrong picture, my wife is not a couch potato.  Even at five months pregnant, her height/weight ratio is still considered average.  When she is not pregnant, she usually weighs in at most, 115 lbs.   I on the other hand, could stand to lose about 40 lbs.

TV is a distraction.  While not all of it is terrible, I think Americans have come to accept it as a normal part of everyday life.   We have stacks of board games and puzzles that rarely get usage, and we have the great outdoors right outside our house.  I wonder how much time I have wasted this year sitting in front of the tube watching some stupid sitcom or reality show.  I would be ashamed to find out.

I am most to blame for this.  My wife had wise parents who chose not to join in and never bought a TV.  The only negative to that, is that she doesn’t understand much of the 80s and 90s pop culture gained from being a couch potato.  When out with friends, and we mention a certain cartoon or character, she is left completely clueless.  Of course, when she wants, she can turn the table, and mention some obscure author or artist leaving the rest of us reaching for our dictionaries (well, we don’t have any in reality).

I have been contemplating throwing out the damned thing.  My daughter is starting to recognize commercials, and she is not even two years old!

So on Monday we had a night without TV.  It was a great experience that I hope soon to repeat.


March 7, 2008

Back in December I asked them to reunite.

They have answered my humble plea and are back!

Yes, this is a little old now, but news nonetheless.

I’m happy