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Well, as anyone who owns an old beetle probably knows. The heating and defrost in a bug isn’t the best design ever made. With Wally I can cook my feet, but have almost no defrost and the heat on the passenger side is less than optimal. So, I decided to do some work on the bug today.

First thing I did was adjust all of the cable conrols to the heat flappers. Both front foot controls and the rear under the seat Y pipes. Turns out the Y pipe under the rear seat passenger side wasn’t even connected. The flapper was stuck in floor mode.

Also, for some reason which I cannot fathom the rear Y pipes are vented. Which means, no matter what, the rear seat gets 90% of the air, hot or cold. Here’s what they look like.

From Wally the Superbeetle

The pipe to the top goes to the front heater channel and the defrost system, the pipe towards the bottom of the pic is for the rear floor heat. So I did a quick duct tape modification to see how it would effect my front defrost. Here is what it looks like after my changes.

From Wally the Superbeetle

I’m hoping this will give me some forced air to the front. Maybe if this works I can get rid of the paper towel I currently use as a defroster. Fingers crossed and we’ll see how well it works.


I haven’t chatted with Tom in years and years, and then in less than 12 hours after posting about his bear escapade. Ping. I get a note from Tom!

It really brings to my attention how small the world is getting. We’ve all pretty much watched the changes caused by instant access to information. Where would we be today without google? Got a question, heck, ask google. You’ll get 4.8 million different answers in a second. At what other time in the history of man has this been possible? Never. Never in our history has information been so readily available. Information and the ability to communicate.

But what does this mean to us, the people living in this informational society? To me it really brings to the fore the old adage of 6 degrees of separation. I haven’t spoken to Tom in years, and yet I put up a post and within 12 hours someone who knows me and knows someone else who knows Tom, and voila! There he is correcting my mistakes. (It was screws not nails, over 1000 of them.) This wasn’t done by plan or with fore thought. No, this was completely out of the blue. And yet it’s not the first time I’ve seen this.In fact I’ve learned the hard way to be careful what you rant about.

We really do live in an interesting age. I can’t even fathom the changes we’ll see to our society in the future.

Just a quick story to give you an idea of what Tom was like. Tom was one of our network guys at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Tom was pretty smart in a definite redneck sort of way. Tom also had bouts of, well, let’s just call them moments of sub optimal intelligence.

Tom liked to hunt and fish. Tom owned an air boat. Tom used to go waaaaay up the Chena river into the back of beyond and set up camp. He’d then leave the camp and come back to “civilization” and work. Then the next weekend he’d head back up the river. Well, Tom had a problem with bears messing with his camp while he was away. Bears being big ole grizzlies. This is central Alaska remember. Something about grizzlies that may not be obvious. They’re very curious animals and like to check out things that are strange or different. Like fishing camps in the middle of nowhere.

So, like any good smart guy, Tom came up with a plan. He was well and truly fed up with the bears poking through his camp. So, on his run down to civilization, Fairbanks, I guess you could call it civilized, well, if you’re drunk enough. Anyhow, during his work week Tom ran over to the hardware store and picked up a bunch of plywood and nails. Long, pointy nails. He then went back to his camp and had a good time fishing and hunting for the weekend. Then when it was time to head back to Fairbanks he hatched his plan. He took those sheets of plywood and drove hundreds of nails through them and placed them in a circle around his camp. A veritable mine field of nails. Those damn bears weren’t gonna get his camp this time! And back to Fairbanks he comes.

Now Tom was proud of his plan. In fact he bragged about it to those of us poor folk who didn’t have fishing camps. That is until he went back and checked on his camp, or what was left of it.

It seems that bears when they are wandering around just being bears, well, they get kind of pissed when they step on a nail. Kind of like people really, I suppose. Well, imagine how pissed you would be if you stepped on say, 20 or 30 nails. Every time you tried to get off of one nail you stepped on another. Well, I don’t know about you or I, but that bear was really, really pissed! By the time it was done dripping blood and shredding anything in sight, well, Toms camp was pretty much gone. We’re talking shreds of camp covered in bear blood, and plywood scattered to the winds. The camp was totally and utterly destroyed.

Tom never did see the bear, at least he never mentioned seeing it. I imagine the bear had enough of the whole fishing camp experience and lit off to better environs. I do know that Tom never admitted to trying the nail trick again.  I guess it’s just better to let the bears poke around rather than piss em off and have em destroy your camp.

So, lesson to those who want to set up a fishing camp in the back woods of Alaska. Don’t be smart. Let the bears poke around and don’t, no matter what, piss em off.

And if you’re like me. You can’t get the pictures of one pissed of bear, bleeding and angry, ripping and tearing that camp apart, out of your head. Even after all these years it still brings a smile to my face. 🙂 Sorry Tom. But, damn, what a story.

I picked a movie from Netflix pretty much randomly. It was called Encounters at the End of the World. It’s a loose documentary about the people and sights of the South Pole.  It was written and narrated by Werner Herzog.

I was actually drawn into the film. A lot of the scenes of McMurdo base reminded me so much of living in rural Alaska. The dirt and muck half way up the trucks. The brown dirt and white snow mixed together. How everything looked dingy and rugged.

Then there were the people. Everyone is an odd mix of smart and stupid. So smart they are almost stupid? That’s really not a good description, but it’s what they are. The genius you have to help cross the street so they don’t get hit by a car. The odd ducks that hold conversations with themselves, because everyone else is boring. Those people that just live on a different plane of intelligence.

I know some people like that. I really miss working in that kind of environment. One of my best jobs was working at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center in Fairbanks Alaska. The cast of crazy characters was endless. Tom our network guru and his Mohawk, Kate and her knitting. Bill Brody a wacked out artist, Virginia Bedford who ran at her own clock cycle (over clocked). Kurt, a bloody English major who could code computers better than most anyone, the list goes on and on. All in Alaska cause they didn’t fit the norm in the lower 48.

Now I work with a bunch of mole hill climbing bureaucrats who can’t find their ass with both hands even though their heads are firmly embedded.

Hindsight. It’s 20/20 sometimes. It’s only now that I realize how much fun working at ARSC really was. At the time it was cold, dark, different, and hard. Now, it seemed like nirvana.

Funny how watching a random documentary can make you remember things. Give it a watch. You might like it so much you end up summering over in the south. Even I’m not stupid enough to want to winter over, but doing a summer, well, that might be pretty fun. (Hat Tip to banjo playing Seth Danielson who did summer over at McMurdo).

The Seattle group The Tap Handles will be coming to the Monterey area the weekend of April 23rd through the 25th. Gig sets and venues to be announced soon.

The Tap Handles

At least one Acoustical set at the house. I’ll even be bribing them with free beer. 🙂

Rumor has it they have just spent a drunken/productive weekend recording a series of new songs out on the islands.  Check out their current Demo cd here.

It’s sad when my fathers new motorcycle has a bigger engine than wally the superbeetle.

2001 Goldwing

Bike: 1800 cc Engine

Superbeetle: 1600 cc Engine.

From Wally the Superbeetle

So, in the drama of our lives this week we have:

A cold/plague has run through the household. Knocking everyone on their tails for a couple of days.

Normal Teen drama, who’s dating who, who’s fighting with whom.

Amo’s mother calls the cops and say he’s a runaway. Then tell the cops she thinks we’ve kidnapped him. Yep. True. Cops show up Friday morning while everyone but Leecha and Me are home sick.  Roberta has a long talk with the Pacific Grove officer. Who already knew Amo was here, even knew his grades were improving. He told Roberta that there are some days he hates his job, like today. Because Amo’s crazy mother filed a complaint, social services was going to be getting involved and a case worker assigned. No choice. Even though Amo liked it here, and going home really wasn’t an option, and going to his fathers was out, odds are that once social services spins up he will be forced into a group home. Which is utter bullshit. But, it’s out of our hands. We’re just waiting for the axe to fall. So, because his mother is wacked and won’t take care of him, he’s likely to be forced into the foster system. And we don’t have a choice in the matter.

Welcome to this weeks drama.

Well, it started with Megan and Amo, then Nora, Molly, Myself, I heard Leecha coughing this morning, and Roberta is still in bed.

Here’s the Yellow Jack Plague flag that would be flown on ships carrying the plague. I think I should print it out and put it on our door.

Yellow Jack Plague Flag

On the up side, it struck and should be gone by the time John gets here from Texas. So, don’t think you’ll get out of beers there buddy. Oh wait. Was it my turn to buy? Either way…

How do I get through the day? How do I make it on days when Roberta is in so much pain she can’t function. When we’ve spoken about funerals, wills, and where she want’s her ashes scattered? How do I make it through those days?

I remember the little things that others have done for me. Words, gestures, simple acts.

  • I remember when Lesley Hale sent me a copy of her cd. I listen to it often and remember Scotland.
  • When a friend sends me a t-shirt in the mail because I couldn’t hook up at a conference.
  • When someone who used to attend our music sessions at the Nitten folk club walked up to me on my last night there and gave me a coin with a black coal diamond engraved in it. To remember Newtongrange with. To remember the folks that worked the Lady Vic.
  • When a friend doesn’t ask how long, they just give the keys to their old car and say it’s taking up room in the driveway, drive it.
  • When friends just say, what can we do? No conditions, no questions, just, what can we do? Nothing, but just asking was what I needed.

I remember so many little things that made such a difference in a day, or week, or my life.

That’s how I am making it through this. One day at a time. I listen to Lesley sing about the highlands, I look at the small tokens I’ve been given, and I remember the friendships I’ve made over the years. It lets me stay on my feet and not fall down. I know I’ll be raising the girls alone at some point. But, every day that I’m not I’m thankful for.

When in doubt, blame global warming.

July 2009: The Bay Area just had it’s foggiest May in 50 Years.  And thanks to global warming, it’s about to get even foggier.

February 2010: Fog over San Francisco thins by a third due to Climate Change.

You can’t make this silliness up. So, which is it? Foggier or less foggy? Both are caused by “Gorebull Warming” it seems. Ahh well.  I do like how they’ve gone from we’re all gonna DIE from “Global Warming!” to we’re all gonna DIE from Climate Change!!!!!  Must have something to do with no significant “Global Warming” in over 10 years. It made em change their slogan of panic and doom.

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February 2010
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