Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning.

Got the kids up, fed, bathed, dressed and myself same (showered earlier this morning to avoid the black Friday rush (ha ha). Still have a headache, but not physically ill like yesterday from the stress. I've heard of people going into seizures over stuff like this, Lord help them.

This morning, still warmed to the idea of getting the mechanical license (glad I have Firefox, can't spell worth a darn this morning). Grandma told me last night that this is important and that she almost wanted to cry because I've worked so hard most of my life. I guess so, I've shed a few tears myself. Could go and blame this person or that situation, but where would that get me?

I've decided on a name for my new business when it materializes. It's going to incorporate the name of this blog with doing heating and air-conditioning and appliance repair. Again, it would be nice to get hired and receive a paycheck, but job security and employer loyalty are items to wax nostalgic over. The third time I got laid off from my last employer, my sense of loyalty was gone. Obviously, so was theirs (no offense, just stating the facts).

Thus far, the plan is to wait until after the holidays to get this done.Even if I got one now, it would expire on the 31st of December. I'll wait until January to get the ball rolling. I need to find a van to carry all my tools and some materials. I'm rambling and I'm sorry. Maranatha!

Making Plans

I said I was going to talk about the handyman and I am. Now I have nothing against employers, no ifs ands or buts. Right now though it has come to my attention that the powers that be have admitted, tentatively that we are in an economic depression. Who can blame them. Depression is a dirty word, but let's face it, it's a fact of life right now. Forewarned is forearmed and we all need as much information as we can get to help us out. There are six unemployed for every job opening right now nationwide, but Michigan is no doubt worse. Facts are facts, life is tough; we need to get through it.

What I'm saying goes for me. With these statistics staring at me and every other person looking for a job, the message is clear. We all have to eat. We all need a place to sleep and the bills aren't going away just because we're not working. Back in the Great Depression (What was so great about it anyway?) people sold apples, cleaned, my grandmother's dad lived in houses and fixed them up for a place to stay. I know of a gentleman who has to live in vacant houses while he's fixing them up (something I could do if I was single and no kids).

My mother considers me to be the smartest person she knows. But trying to run headlong in the rat race may or may not work. I respect that; it's something all of us have to live and deal with lest depression befall you. Many of us have spent a lot of time and money retraining lately seemingly to no avail. Lest I make the mistake of the blind leading the blind, let me say that I've made a lot of mistakes and have no easy answers for all the world's problems. Only Jesus knows this and He's going to be taking the throne soon. Sigh.

However, this is an opportunity for everyone to reevaluate themselves. Hard times always are. I've wanted to be a management consultant and still do. I've done heating and cooling work a total of 11 years. I passed the NATE certification with moderate effort. I've found that getting a mechanical license is $25 for an unlimited amount of exams, $50 toward the construction lien recovery fund and $75 for the license itself. Less money than the $250 or so I spent on the NATE certification.

As much as we probably don't need another aspiring contractor in the ranks, this is something I'm considering. I have no payroll and though I will need a few tools and a van, it is something doable. I have no delusions of grandeur here either, but I know there are a lot of customers in the area that can't afford to pay overhead and go without heat, or have to replace a furnace because the repair bill would be too high. This is something I'm contemplating if I don't find a job soon. Like the character Benny in Total Recall, "I've got X kids to feed." Maranatha!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, rent is finally paid up (along with court costs) food in the house, life is good. Yeah, I mean that and though today is technically the 26th of November (regardless of what Blogger says, I can't fix my stamp) this is for the day previous. The 25th to be exact. I started the morning with my mom waking me up at 8:30, the baby also got up and I had to take a shower, put on some clean clothes, shaved, etc.

We got the baby dressed and I drove us to McDonald's for breakfast. She bought the breakfast burritos (they were gross, but I managed to hork mine down) and the baby eggs. I bought the hot mochas for mom and I. Then we drove to Wal-Mart. My cupboards were bare, and though I had money for groceries that was earmarked for Meijer, she insisted on Wal-Mart.

Guess what, she helped me with the tab which was an extreme blessing, yet more were to come. Before we even ventured into the store, i had unknowing parked next to a handyman, a brother handyman, who had been doing this for 40 years! He gave me advice about trying to start a business, since the job market in Michigan is in the toilet.

Rather than give me advice about being a handyman, he suggested I go for a mechanical license. More on that later. We went in and looked at toys for the boys, bought groceries (mom, we thank you and God bless you). Even at this point, I was physically ill from the stress of this week and last. However, the Lord was not done and neither was the family.

We got home and put the groceries away. Our freezer, refrigerator and cupboards are full without a single trip to the food bank (been there done that, God bless them too). Mom helped me put a roast together, cleaned up the kitchen, fed the baby and put him to bed.

Last week, I applied at the DHS for some help with the rent, as we were nearly $1800 in the hole and if not paid by the end of this week, would have meant that our stuff was out on the lawn Monday. Add to that another $250 on court costs, this was an insurmountable mountain. Today, we got a letter from the DHS stating there was no help for us. I don't blame them and was disappointed, but knew something would have to come together by Friday. I'm a realist, but not a pessimist.

Although mom and dad and Sarah helped, and we scraped it together, we were still only two thirds of the way there. My mom called and told me grandma and aunt Peggy were going to help us out. I went over there, tearful, mortified and thankful. After a conversation that lifted me out of the stress and probably improved me physically significantly, I went to Meijer to get the money orders made out. Another trip home to fill them out, plus and the envelope and then to the rental office. Whew!

Thanks, everyone. Grandma, Mom, Dad, Sarah, Ramiro, and most of all, Jesus Christ. I also want to thank my brother handyman in the Wal-Mart parking lot with the white Chevy van, the cashier and even those nice people at Wal-mart and Mickey D's. God bless all of you on this day the Lord has made.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proper Way to Jumpstart a Car!

Today my drive home from St. Johns I stopped at Walmart to pick up some toothpaste for the baby and noticed a Buick Rendezvous with its hood up and another truck with its hood up, with the owner of the latter attempting to jump start the former. I walked in and left Walmart without getting the toothpaste. (I got it at Meijer). The same two vehicles were out there without success. The battery in the disabled car was a no name one bungee corded in the tray (there wasn't even a tray) and a $10 pair of jumper cables joined the batteries together.

In fact,the battery on the disabled car was buried under the fuse panel and the washer bottle and accessible only by remote cables. The cables to the running car were hooked up fine, but those on the disabled cars were hooked suspect. For one thing, the engine mount is not a good place to hook up cables as these are insulated. They had it hooked on the block side, which was not giving a good ground in this case. I took off the $10 cables (which were a smaller gauge, or around than they should be). I got them off and running in less than five minutes...

A starter motor needs a lot of current to crank over, and most bargain cables aren't up to the job. Add to that the improper hook up and the GM cables, hooking them up is going to be an exercise in futility and frustration.

My jumper cables are not the top of the line. I paid about $20 for them in 1987 and they have the GM side terminal clamps molded in. They are a heavier gauge than most of the ones you buy in a department store and have served me well. To tell you the truth I haven't had to use them much, but when I do they come in handy.

The first order of business is to make sure the vehicles are close enough to comfortably hook up the cables, but not touching. If the disabled vehicle is on the highway at the side of the road, better call a wrecker first thing. I know they're expensive, but unless you have extra long cables, the alternative is extremely dangerous. I've nearly ran into some numb-keg trying to turn around on a busy freeway while traffic was screaming by at 70+ miles an hour. A wrecker will have longer, thicker cables; not to mention the pretty light show on top. Ahem.

Assuming that it's safe to do so, the cars are properly parked, transmissions in park and the parking brakes set, separate the ends of the cables. Each will have a black for negative and a bright color for positive. It realy doesn't matter which color you use for which as long as you duplicate the result on the other battery Positive has to hook to positive and negative, well I'll get into that later.

First, the running car, shut it off. Hook the positive cable to the positive temrminal on the battery or remote post. This will be marked with "positive" a "+" sign or the color red. Then take other end of the positive cable and hook it to the "+" side of the battery or remote terminal of the disabled car.

Next, take the negative cable end for the working car and clamp it to the battery (use the battery if at all possible) or at least the remote hookup for same. Do not use any other ground source. Now take the negative cable end for the disabled car and clamp it to the engine block or frame, but not the battery, it may explode!Now start teh working car and wait a minute or two before starting the disabled car.

A word of caution here, batteries give off hydrogen sulfide gas, which is explosive. Wear eye protection and don't smoke. The electrical systems in a modern car are extremely sensitive and improper jumping can really screw things up. Batteries really need to be held securely to the vehicle and not just flopping around because connections can break and the plates inside can shift, not to mention damage to the case. For crying out loud, batteries are expensive, but buying a cheap one is not a good option either.

I like the original equipment ones (especially AC Delco or Motorcraft). Optima batteries are the most durable, but at nearly $200.00 a pop, in this economy, come on, the kids need milk and cereal...
In a pinch, I've bought Meijer ones and had relatively decent luck, but save the receipt. Do expect any battery to last more than four years. After that, they're on borrowed time. This is for entertainment purposes only and I have no control over your all workmanship, or lack thereof. I can't take responsibility for your actions and would call competent personnel when in doubt. God Bless .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Forgiveness and Responsibilty or Vice Versa

Last week I got an unwelcome surprise at the door. A sheriff's deputy, complete with burnished sidearm, badge and portfolio, came to the door. This was not a good day to begin with, as I was already watching my 20 month old, who was sicker than a dog, now I had this joker at my door.

The order was an eviction as well as a demand for payment. What the H.E. double hockey sticks, we paid our rent. Wrong, it wasn't paid as of July and ironically enough coincided with the time I was laid off from North Winds for the last time.

It was crunch time, I called my mother, whom I hate saddling anyone with this, much less her. Then I called my father-in-law, who wasn't exactly wealthy either, but also was of above average means. The key word was "was," as he explained to me that he'd lost his money in the stock market and just got done paying bills.

We had a lengthy conversation about jobs in Michigan, to which he intimated that there were no jobs in Florida either. Not a shocker there, but hey, I understand. Florida's job market and in fact, economy was dependent on high home prices to bring in the revenue. Once that dried up, they had nowhere to go but up. Kind of reminds me of Michigan lately.

The fact is that I was supposed to pay the rent. I abdicated my responsibility in the name of domestic peace. It's my fault. I don't know how anything will ever be the same again and it won't. Yes, the rent's getting paid this month, but it's going to involve a lot more people than it should have involved. It's going to have a lot more negative consequences than it would have otherwise. This is also going involve an air of forgiveness, trust and responsibility (I meant to say responsibility) that will have to worked at twice as hard to be appreciated half as much. Just because we have the strength to lift a car doesn't mean we should do this every day. This should be a one time, in a lifetime event. Sadly, this doesn't apply to me.

Such is the life. The Lord said Himself he would never put more upon us than what we could bear. As human beings, we manage to do this all by ourselves. Look at this mess, this one has cost me dearly. Lord I'm sorry, and I know You forgive and will restore me in due time. I know in my heart that You haven't forsaken me, but wish to teach me what I neglected to learn previously. You are a just God. Truth be told I know you're with me right now, carrying me. Today, I confess my shortcomings in Your name and leave them in Your hands.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Some Cheering Up

Just now between feeding Kingston and trying to get a loaf of bread made, I read a cartoon on Yahoo titled Luann. I've read this comic strip over the years when I'm able as our local paper doesn't have it. The main character, unlike almost all, has aged from a little girl then to a woman of about 38 years of age. Along with this aging has come the signs of the times, which this cartoon is, or should be noted for. The one with her in the Batman shirt in 1989 was the most memorable for me, but only because I, along with the rest of the crowd, was into the Caped Crusader.

Today, the whole motif has been soldiers and army. This is something Doonesbury is well-noted for and there isn't a day that goes by there isn't someone wearing the G.I. battle helm. Luann's strip was no different, with the main character, Luann and two of her friends, one ginger-haired with glasses and another with dark hair. They were sitting off to the side on folding chairs while another one of their friends (Tiffany in the cartoon) is in a circle with some soldiers wounded grievously in combat and obviously disabled as a result.

Luann's dark haired friend noted that Tiffany was sure cheering up the soldiers. To that Luann quipped that "Great, who's gonna cheer us up?" Though no mere sentence can summarize the economic depression we're in (I offer no apologies for telling the truth, this is not a recession by definition.) this comes close.

Well, I'm going to try and cheer us all up. I was handed an eviction notice two days ago and I could stand some cheering up too. The best that I can tell anyone is that Jesus loves us. It isn't some abstract concept of religion or other "magical man in the sky" concept; Jesus died to save us from the clutches of sin and the punishment of being separated from Him in eternal torment in Hell.

To make matters even better, there will be no more inflation, recession, depression, repression, obsession or unemployment in Heaven. There will be no need for banks that fail, cars that break down, cemeteries, hospitals, doctors, glasses, tough actin' Tinactin, Oil of Olay, or Max Factor. We won't be drinking beer on Tuesday because we'll be drinking wine with our bridegroom, Jesus.

There won't be a need for the Internet, mass transit, air bags, food banks or cortisone shots. Most importantly, no more need for the Capitol Area Michigan Works or M.A.R.V.I.N. because our needs will be met before we even realize it. Precious stones and metals will be mere building materials in Heaven. We won't need Trane Clean Effects or a Carrier Indoor Weather System because the weather will be fair and warm, bathed in the light that Jesus Himself provides.

Even today, in our mortal lives, we can and should still depend on Him for our needs. This is what all this economic ruin is really about if we know Him and have the faith He will provide for us. Remember my mention of precious metals being building materials? Okay then Luann, whatever it is in your life that's getting you down, get off that folding chair. The Lord answers "knee mail." Everyone who reads this should do the same today, whatever it is that's bugging you. We don't have to wait until we go to Heaven to experience Jesus' love for us. Amen

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2012 (the Motion Picture)

Like everyone else, I'm going to have to wait until Friday to see the actual movie. Until then, I'm going to have to be satisfied with the trailers like everyone. Truthfully, I've had little interest in seeing such apocalyptic thrillers. From the trailer (the one where the family rushes in a limousine through a surreal landscape of death and destruction to a plane on a disintegrating tarmac) the disaster seems to be the final of finals for humankind and civilization as we know it.

From the context of playing the game on the movie's website, (yes there is a survival game and in spite of myself it is very informative and entertaining, being an urban survivalist at heart) survival depends on everyone going to Nepal, a nation bordering China and India consisting mainly of the Himalayan mountain range. Everest and K2, two of the highest mountains above sea level, live there. It's not someplace (no offense to Nepal) but I'd rather seek asylum in Israel myself.

One of the reoccurring themes is that mankind's love for one another, cooperation as well as a common will to survive, will ensure at least some manage to live on. Another tenet of these modern disaster flicks is that the disaster unites mankind transcendent of individual beliefs. No matter whether it's the misnamed Armageddon, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Knowing,or any other one of this genre I've failed to make mention of has this theme. The trailer for 2012 makes this all the more obvious on YouTube with "no matter what you believe" or the president in the movie saying "we are one family".

I've been around a while and observed the way people interact in times of crisis. For the most, I've been pleasantly surprised. Despite the happenings in Michigan and the poor economy, people are very giving in both encouragement and materially. For one, if someone needs something and I have it, its theirs. After all. I believe that the lord intended us as human beings for good and despite all the negativity we hear about, we're capable of wonderful things when the Lord is in control of our lives, disasters notwithstanding.

Personally, I don't believe in an end of the world. I just can't see some galactic planetary or interplanetary phenomenon wrecking this sort of disaster on the earth as we know it. Because of this, I do not fear any end of world scenario, no matter how plausible. The Mayans are an extinct people who've made many calendars and while their knowledge was extensive of galactic happenings, it was after all, a part of their pagan religion. One of the theories surrounding their demise was a lack of water. However, they were also very bloodthirsty and cruel, performing human sacrifices at whim. (something very contrary to the Lord). It wouldn't surprise me if the Lord had a hand in removing these people, but I digress.

At any rate, these are not a people I can trust my future to. Earlier, I said that I don't believe in the end of the world. This doesn't mean there won't be some events, just not as depicted by some movie. Make no mistake, even without all the "disasters" people are managing to bring disasters upon themselves without any "help" from God. To leave this on a positive note, The Lord is still in control. Amen!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shower Day!

Yesterday, it was unbelievable with the amount of support to the point I choked back tears. We had our first adoption shower for Kingston yesterday and he got a big boy bed, a toy box, toys and some much-needed clothes. Even Jose, our older boy who we're in the process of adopting, got several toys for his trouble.

What really gets me misty-eyed over this is that the Lord has been so good to us. I've felt so inadequate about not having a job, along with the other temporal concerns that it clouds the fact that victory is already mine. Jesus has already won despite my depression, anger and even disbelief. Jesus has won.

We got three boxes of Lego's for the boys which they've enjoyed together. Kingston also got a toy remote he thinks is a phone. We've now sorted out all the "baby" stuff we're going to donate. The Lord has been good and nothings going to be wasted.
We've been able to survive a "rent" week would have normally been a nightmare. The Lord saw us through that week.

Thank You Lord, for all Your glory and victory, for saving me from the clutches of sin and despair. You haven't made it easy, but You have made it possible and in this life, possible is more than enough. Please grant me solace and patience in Your timing and comfort in Your Word. I do know that I will appreciate my real home all the more when You take Your bride there very soon. For this I praise You, in Your name which is above all names, Amen! Hosanna.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Holloween Day

Sorry no pictures, but the rules prohibiting publishing of Jose's likeness are still in effect. But let me treat you to a Halloween like no other. Beyond ghosts and their ghoul-friends out for candy, or the man in the pig suit with H1-N1 in block letters on the chest, was a rite of passage for our growing family. I remember 3 to 4 hour excursions into the spooky night dressed as a ghost, devil or other unholy being on the quest for treats. My sister and I would come home with half a pillowcase full, not a bad haul for two kids.

Grand Ledge is the place to go trick or treating these days, as the houses are decorated all out and the offerings aren't too bad either. No Black Jacks or Necco Wafers here; I'm talking chocolate and Tootsie Rolls as a staple. Susie and I took Jose and Kingston around the neighborhood, hitting about 40 or so houses and filling up buckets proper with candy. Not a bad haul for two little boys. After 2 hours of walking several miles we went to grandma and grandpa's house to show off their grand babies. Jose wearing a Mario costume (one that everyone took notice of) and Kingston in a Buzz Lightyear one from the Toy Story franchise.

Now that our little ones are back to their former selves for another year and the weekend's come and gone, we've another month to plan another holiday unlike any other we've had before and we'll not have again. Hopefully relishing the time we have with our little ones every step of the way. God Bless.

Fixed the Dodge

Yes, the clunking, clanking, popping Dodge has been rescued. I give full credit to the Lord and an answer to prayer. A nut and bolt combination that I had reused with a prior repair was the final, but not the only culprit. The cost was about $3.00 and a little cleaning up that has made a world of difference. As it happened, the bolt I reused was 12mm, but it had no shoulder (the section with no threads. This caused a loosened condition that made a sound as if the transmission itself was going to fall out. That noise was the too small bolt banging against the ball stud on the ball joint and without taking off the steering knuckle (about a 20 minute job) I would have never found it.

What was funny is that the bolt intended for the ball stud was too small to even grip in the steering knuckle. Even the serrations meant to grip the knuckle wouldn't even touch it, leading to a possible and dangerous separation at a later date. This is because a ball joint/ stud not connected with the steering knuckle at high speed can cause the car to veer unexpectedly, resulting in a crash. I had a tie rod fail on my '77 Olds back in '88. I was only going 25, (thank You Jesus) so it was only an embarrassing wobble. a suspension failure at high speeds is almost always very dangerous, so good quality parts that fit are more than an investment, they're insurance.

Yes, I'm picky. But in a litigious society, picky is good. Nobody wants to hurt someone else because of a mechanical failure and I sure don't. God Bless.