Monday, February 15, 2010

The DMV is your friend

I went to the DMV a couple of weeks ago. I went to make sure that when I drive back from my vacation out of the country, I have a valid license. I wanted to have a valid license while on vacation as well, just in case I wanted to rent a motor vehicle and drive around.

Little did I know what was waiting for me at the DMV.

Me:" Hi, I need to renew my license early. Can I do that?"
DMV:"Well, when is your license due for renewal?"
Me:" February 22nd, but I will be on vacation shortly after that and I want to have my new license before I leave.
DMV:" Well, I can take care of that. You are not applying too early."
Me" Here is the paperwork that I was handed when I received my number at the door."
DMV:" Thank you.
type type type
DMV:" Hmmm.
Me:" Hmmm? I don't think I have ever heard a good "Hmmm", unless you are going to break tradition.
Me:" You are going to break tradition? Right?"
DMV:" What?"
Me:" The"Hmmm" you just said, that was good, right?"
DMV:" No...."
Me:" No (pause) it is good?" ever hopeful.
DMV:" Do you know that you have a ticket you need to take care of?"
Me:" Uh, ticket? Hmm, no. I need to take care of it? What?"
DMV:" Yes you have a speeding ticket. You were cited for speeding in Lassen county."
Me:" Lassen county? Does it say where?
DMV:" No, oh wait, Susanville."
Me:" Susanville? Susanville? OH, CRAP. Susanvile. I know."
DMV:" So, you know what I am talking about?"
Me:" yes."
DMV:" But that is not the problem."
DMV:" Yes. It seems that your license was suspended in 2007 because you did not report an accident."
ME:" I didn't report an accident?"
DMV:" Yes, you had an accident and didn't report it."
ME:" Uh, well it seems to me that you know about the accident. I have to report it? You just told me about it. You suspended my license because I didn't tell you about an accident that you know about?"
DMV:" That's not the point. You are supposed to report any accident that has more than $750 in damage or has personal injury."
Me:"(Smartass mode initiated) I didn't get injured. I was hit. It was not my fault. I did not suffer any damage. I don't know what happened to the other person, I felt a nudge, I heard screeching, I heard a crash, but it all happened to my left and behind me. We were in the middle of a corner and I could not see the outcome of the "collision". The police officer never told me to file a report."
DMV:" Uh, you should know. It's on the drivers test. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse."
Me:" What about just plain ignorance?"
DMV: not even a smile
Me:" Okay, I'm sorry. How do I rectify this horrible miscarriage of my driving privilege?"
DMV:" You need to submit an accident report."
Me:" How do I do that?"
DMV:" Fill this out."
Me:" What? Fill what out?"
DMV:" This accident report form."
Me:" OoooKay..." scribble, scribble, scribble
Me:" Here you go."
DMV:" Thank you."
Me:" Oh, you are more than welcome."

So the long and short of it is this.

I did not report an accident. The DMV knew I had an accident. Apparently, they sent me a letter about the fact that I needed to tell them I had an accident.

I am sure that I thought that if they sent me a letter to tell me to tell them I had an accident. They must already know. Right?

Well, apparently they didn't know. All they knew was that I needed to tell them that I had an accident. Since I didn't tell them that I had an accident, and they asked me to them that I had an accident. They went to their safe place and suspended my license.

I think that they forgot to tell me that they suspended my license. Over 2 years, I was driving on a suspended license. My insurance company never told me that my license was suspended. I am pretty sure that I never got a letter telling me my license was suspended. I think that I would have responded. Maybe it was double secret suspended license suspension.(Animal House reference)

Well, after I filled out the paperwork for them they were happy.

I received a letter from the DMV a week later telling me that my license was retroactively re-instated. It went on to mention that if anyone asks, it would not show up that it was suspended.

So, if I understand this correctly;
I was in an accident.
The DMV asked me to tell them that I had an accident. (They obviously knew about it)
I did not tell them.
They suspended my license.
I tried to renew my license.
They made me tell them about the accident.
They re-instated my license.
They told me it would not show up on any request to see if my license was suspended. (In other words it never happened)

So, am I really blogging this?

If I am not, just send me a letter telling me to blog about my recent dealings with the DMV. I'll understand.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, another year come and (almost, at the time I am typing this) gone.

Almost everyday I am amazed that I was somehow able to, and am responsible for, raising 2 children.

I feel good that natural selection did not kick in and remove them from the gene pool.

I am responsible, in that I think that I have talked them out of most of the "bad" ideas for fun they had, just to keep natural selection at bay.

I do often ask them, after they have done something I told them was not a good idea. "How was that? I see that exactly what I told you would happen, happened. Are you going to do it again?"

Although, I think the most effective deterrent that I have found is, "You should do that later in life, when your body is more able to deal with the trauma this will cause you. :) ) So far, no objections(hee hee).

I am also responsible for many of the hours that Felex(aka Fox) has spent in front of the Xbox playing games.

He and I are a very good team at just about all of the Lego themed Xbox games.

Almost entirely responsible for introducing both Dex(aka Rex) and "Fox" to Runescape, and the hours of playing that they have spent trying to catch up to me in the game.

Completely and utterly responsible for the amount of easy cheese they have consumed.
"Cheese in a can?"
"Yes, cheese in a can. It is pressurized and shoots out and will cover, with cheesy goodness, whatever you put in front of the spout. Mmmmm, cheese."

Not at all responsible for the amount of sushi they consume. Honestly, I can take it or leave it. This was proven when Grandma took the boys out to dinner on a recent visit. I think, if memory serves, I removed only 1 sushi boat from the endless river/sushi boat caravan. I ate all the edamame I could get my hands on. The boys, on the other hand, turned out to be bottomless sushi pits, I kind of already knew that. I guess that I really should have warned Grandma before hand, but I think she figured it out. She's a smart cookie.

I am entirely responsible for Mr Fox's love of the British auto. He and I have been working on a few. Mostly dis assembly. Soon, he will enter into the hate portion of the relationship, assembly and trying to make it run, AND keep it running, WELL! Ah, the love/hate relationship. At least he will get Love/Hate 101 with dad.

I don't think I am responsible for the kids already arguing over who gets the green MGB when I die. I keep pointing out to them that I am still ALIVE and they should have the courtesy of not arguing over who gets my stuff when I am around. And by "around", I mean within hearing distance. And of course, STILL BREATHING!!! Of course I take this chance to mess with them and tell them that it could be another 4o or 50 years until they assume all my debt and non-running vehicles. Either they don't care, or they are messing with me. Hmmmm.

Well, as I said at the beginning, another year has come and gone. We all made it.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

South of the Border, down Mexico way

Well, its official. After years and years of staying between the North and South boundaries of these united states, I am once again going out of the country.

In March we are going to Mexico. As a family. On the same plane. AT THE SAME TIME.

I am sure that it will go better than my last trip South of the border, and I don't mean to Taco Bell.

It seems like it was yesterday, even though it was last century.

A bunch of us, 25 or so, thought that it would be fun to go into Mexico and hang out at a hot spring for a few days while drinking in the local culture and a few cervesas.

Well to be honest, we don't have to be in Mexico to drink in culture and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

Every year when we lived in San Francisco we went on a desert trip. Sometimes I drove my pickup/chuck wagon and other times I would ride one of my many motorcycles. Well if one was running and I was reasonably sure that I would make it round trip, I would ride it. Although a few trips I did make on a motorcycle I ran into a "sudden unplanned maintenance interval". Meaning, that while I was as far away as possible from my manuals and lots of tools, something went wrong. Just as you would expect.

Well, the last time I was South of the border was no different.

It started out like any other day. Driving through Mexico. Heavily laden with beer, camping equipment, dogs, tools, food, beer, and creature comforts. I had taken my pickup so the dogs could go with us as all of our dog-sitters would be on vacation with us.

An hour or 2 after visiting the Tecate brewery, and 25 or so miles of washboard dirt/gravel road we found our campsite. I always loaded the cooler in last so it could be first out. You never know when you are going to develop a thirst or hunger when you are unloading your truck and if this is easily accessible well, it just makes unloading that much easier.

We had been at camp for 45 minutes or so when people started trickling in.

A few riders at first.

Then we saw someone coming in with very little gear. That's not good.

This rider told us of an accident on the dirt road that one of the riders in our party had.

Hmmm. That is never good.

"How is he?"

"I don't know, he was getting back up as I came by. He looked OK."

The next rider was a little longer getting in.

"I wrecked too. I left my wife to look after Tim. I think he broke his collar bone."

"Great. How are you?"

"OK. You should go get Tim." Came the reply.

Well I had the best vehicle to do it with. I grabbed a co-pilot and hit the dusty (really dusty) trail.

We passed just about everyone else on the way in. They had jettisoned all non-important cargo in order to navigate this road easier.

When Brad and I arrived, we saw a mountain of gear and 2 people sitting on the pile waiting for us.

We took stock of the situation.

Broken bike, pile of gear, broken person and a long way to a hospital in the States.

We pushed the bike behind a big bush, loaded up the gear and the people, got Tim some liquid general anesthesia, well all of us really, and hit the road.

I could not go too fast as all the bouncing on the road jiggled Tim too much.

About 2o minutes later and we were on a paved, relatively smooth, road.

I finally had a chance to get out of 3rd gear.

Not for long. About 10 minutes into our drive toward medical help, my right rear tire had a massive blow out. I managed to stop without doing any damage to anyone or anything.

Well good thing I have a spare.

All the spares in the world won't do you any good if you don't have a way to put it on your vehicle.

When I got out of my truck to start fixing the flat, I had a flashback. It was of my jack and jack handle/spare tire removal tool, sitting on the garage floor back in San Francisco. I had to use it to replace a water pump and timing belt on a friends car as my floor jack was at the shop in Berkeley.

OK, time to use some ingenuity here. Luckily I still had the lug wrench and my wheel lock key. BIG sigh of relief. We just had to find a way to get the flat off the ground, the spare lowered and everything back to normal.

The Egyptians would have been proud of us. We pulled a fence post out of the ground to use as a lever. I hope the poor farmer didn't lose too much livestock since we had to cut his fence. We did put the post back. We got a big rock and now had our jack. I used my Leatherman to cut the cable that held my spare.

With the blow out changed we headed into the States to get some medical help. While Tim was getting help and meds, we stocked up on liquids as well.

On the way back we stopped and had road side tacos at 3 am. As we were driving away someone asked what kind of meat this was as the tacos were some of the best I have ever had.

"Cabeza de Burro." came the reply.

I don't think that I need to comment on that.

We did finally make it back.

Tim did indeed separate his collar bone. His bike was also broken. My truck was now spareless.

What we didn't know at the time.

Kevin, the other rider that wrecked had fractured his back. His wife had a mild concussion.

I really hope that this time when I go to Mexico, I don't get a blow out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The kid, the laptop, the repair and the fix.

Wow. Where has the time gone? I just went to the air show and then to work for a few weeks and then....

Well, one of the little things that I have avoided over the past few months has been the less than stable power jack for my laptop.

While we were on vacation in Baltimore it was dropped on it's side and the power port was compromised. It was weak and "wiggly" from then on. I knew then that this chicken would come home to roost, and roost it did.

Of course it couldn't wait until after the holidays. Nooooooo. It had to happen on one of the busiest weekends that I am going to have until the end of November. Lots to do, lots to do. Lets just add one more thing.

At least 3 or 4 times a day I get asked if I am using my laptop by Mr. Fox (aka Felex). It is obvious even to the casual observer that I am indeed using my laptop, but he takes no heed and asks.

"So, um, Dad, are you using your laptop?"
"Gee, I don't know. Let me look at my hands and see what they are doing. Well look at that! The are on the key pad and they are typing!! I didn't think that I was using it, but what do you know? I am."

Sometimes you just have to be a smartass. Sometimes more than others. Me, most of the time.

Well, I did come to a point that I was done and handed off the coveted laptop.

About an hour later I heard the cry.

"What?! I had it plugged in. Why did it die?"

"Let me see it. Oh here is the problem. You didn't notice that the power port was damaged and you just shoved the plug in, didn't you?"

More of a statement than a question really. I wasn't upset. I knew this day would come. I just knew it.

I guess that if I had thought about it, I could have scheduled it. Yep, right on time. I have so much to do this weekend, so why not break now?

Well I slept all that I could Saturday night/Sunday morning. At 6am I woke up, started a fire and started dismantling my laptop.

I dismantled my last laptop about 2 years ago and it is still in pieces in the garage until I find that 1 part that I need. But, that is not why I bought a new laptop, no, no, no. I can put it back together, really I can, I just don't have the right part and I spent soooooo much time looking that I rationalized that it would be cheaper for me to just get a new one.

So, here I am with my new one. Broken. Needing repair. I can do it. I passed a final in the Navy by fixing a broken radar system, I should be able to fix my computer.

It took another computer to find a website that had instruction to take apart mine, but I found it and did it.

I took it apart, epoxied the power port and reassembled it. All in the course of a few hours in a quiet house.

I don't look forward to doing it again, but if the house is quiet and I don't have anything else to do..... It is really easy to clean that way.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taking one for the team

The Redding Air Show has come and gone. Not without a lot of noise. Both by the kids and the planes in the show. Other people, of course, made noise as well. I went, I saw, I baked in the shade of my large umbrella/parasol, I witnessed countless fashion violations, I ate and drank expensive Air Show fare, I breathed in the essence that is the Redding Air Show.

The first test of the day was just getting there. We live about 3 1/2 miles from the airport. We made it within about a mile and that is when the pace slowed to a crawl. The next 75 minutes was spent going the last mile. I jokingly raced a couple that had just parked. They decided they would walk. They were out of sight in about 10 minutes. I never saw them again. I think that they won the race, such as it was.

Test the second; find a relatively cool place to "park it" for the duration. I figured, rather than have a tired cranky dad following you around day, why not have a happy centrally located dad that you could just check in with every now and then. I took my chair. I took my parasol. I took my good intentions. I took a very large bottle of water in with me.

The third test is the lucky one, right? Find a booth that every one agrees on to get food. I don't know why I wanted to do it that way, it just seemed, the not so easy thing to do. Well, 2 out of 3 can't be all bad. Fox, as he is now known, did not want to eat anything. Just water, cold water. So, 2 burgers, 2 sodas and 3 waters later we were ready to begin enjoying the show.

From my centrally located personage, I was able see the show, hear the announcer and, more or less, keep tabs on the kids. I saw a few friends, as did the kids.

The 4Th challenge came when I started to bring up leaving. I started by reminding the kids how long it took us to get here. Then I told them that more people had shown up since we had arrived. Then I told them that if we waited for the very last second to leave, we would be behind even more people on the way out. They understood where I was directing this conversation. I had made my point. We just needed a few good pictures of the Blue Angels and we were outta there!

Next test; Getting souvenirs on the way out. Remember, we were leaving before all the other people. Well, getting souvenirs was not as quickly done as one might think. With a 5 minute limit the hunting for the souvenir began. 10 minutes later... I was getting impatient. People were seeing our exit strategy and following suit, ahead of us. We got it!

Sweet, sweet exit is in sight!

Dad! Dad! There is another booth that I want to get a souvenir from. You have got to be kidding! Look how far we are behind now! Come on! Lets get out of here!

DAAADDDDDD! Just 1 more minute! O.K, 2 minutes. MOVE, MOVE MOVE!!

Well 2 minutes turned into 5, then 7. Still no closer to a choice.

Next challenge; Actually leaving. We managed to leave and follow droves of people to the truck. I thought that I was a genius for using the airport parking lot and saving a whole lot of walking in the dirt.

Getting home took about 25 minutes total.

Then the next round of tests. Who had the cameras?

I'll spare you the details, but I left both cameras at the air show. Andrea and I made our way back, retraced our steps and luckily found them.

That's how I took one for the team, kind of.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cleaning the unit.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Well here it is just about 3 years from the time that I stopped "doing" eBay I am back.

Apparently, there is not much call for certain vintage British/European car and motorcycle parts in Redding. Well not enough for me to get rid of 1/100 of the parts that I have acquired, in my or my great great great grandchildren's lifetime. Well at least not in Redding. There just is not enough demand.

Sure, Craigslist is a boon to mankind. Kind of the way that eBay was, in that it rids you of excess "stuff" in your life. Some have even made a living/starving on them. I know that I have had my share of success on both. They are some of the greatest electronic enablers of our time.

I am sure that there will be a better, faster, cheaper, and easier to use system someday. I don't know what, where or when that will happen, but until it does, I will just have to put up with Craigslist and eBay to get rid of my junk/garbage/gems/other man's treasures.

So, anyway.... We emptied out one of my storage units earlier in the month. I have had this storage for over 4 years. Holding a bunch of "stuff". Stuff that I just could not bring myself to get rid of. So with work in the Bay Area slowing, and my children's appetite growing, I did the unthinkable.

I renewed my love/hate affair with eBay. Mistress of all that is saleable/shippable. Sure I am home more, but I am also on the computer more. Well when I say I am on the computer more, I should also say that I am "productively" on the computer more, in that I am now more productive when I am on the computer. Rather than looking at youtube to see what the Chad Vader is doing today. Did he finally get his store under control?

There is a lot of research that goes into selling descriptions. I need to make sure that I encompass all the applications of an item to make sure that I engage the largest crowd possible to fight over the right of winning the prize. The prize being a part that I can no longer look at. A part that I have since said my fond farewell. A part that I may have to pay the city to take care of for me, instead of someone paying me for the joy of taking off of my hands.

Yes; I have renewed this affair, if you will. I think that now we have both grown and maybe this time it will work out. Maybe this time we can live together. Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time I will finally empty my garage and the last storage unit.

Like I said, desperate times call for desperate measures. I am desperate to quit paying rent on a storage unit full of my "treasures/trash". But I just can't bring myself to toss the stuff. It must be useful to someone.

I just need to find that someone, and have them pay me for my stuff.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another Million Dollar Idea

It hit me when I least expected it.




What the..?



Yeah, sploink. Wanna make something of it?

Make something of it? Was I arguing with myself? Probably.

Since I was sitting alone. No one else could have done that to me. So it had to be me.

But what was I thinking/arguing about? Oh that was it, my million dollar idea wafting in and out of my head.

I was sitting at an eating establishment, by myself, on a high stool, at a tall table. Well they also brew beer there, so I had that going for me. The beer, not so much the high table or the other stuff.

I was looking at the bar and listening, not eavesdropping, to the table that was behind me. It seems that there were problems. I just listened, I wanted to chime in, but common decency and false privacy prohibited me from sharing my opinion.

That is when it hit me.

Have a psychiatrist run the bar. It has long been said that if you want to know about a person, ask their bartender or letter carrier. The letter carrier can only tell you so much, but the bartender gets more and more information as the night goes on, sometimes without provocation.

You could have Psychologists wait the tables. The Psychoanalysts could work as hosts and cooks. I guess that the life therapists/coaches could clean up the mess that was left behind.

Of course there would be records kept and everyone would have to confer with everyone else.

The trouble that I have is, do I charge by the drink/plate or just have an hourly charge? Do I charge more for sitting at the bar? Will there be a bathroom attendant, probably an intern?

Well I guess that I need to flesh this idea out a little more, but it just may fly and be another one of my unrealised Million Dollar Ideas!