Saturday, March 17, 2018

6 Doors 1 Wall - 2 Cats!

The original video was posted here a few years ago, and is also currently the front page video on my Scoakat YouTube Channel.  This was a spur of the moment video from this last week when the cats, Hamish(-pie) and Basil(-boo), were amicable to being momentarily trapped and as usually cute.  The white things on the door handles are stops we put on the tops of the doors usually, because they certainly know how to shut doors but actually working the handle to get out is yet to be mastered.  Hamish knows how this stuff works, scarily enough, he's just not big enough to do it, thankfully.

And this was the minimally bad thumbnail option I was given, folks, sorry.  Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Simultaneous Sun And Snow

This is something you don't see every day - or at least not at the same time on that day.  It didn't photograph well, so you have to look close at the dark areas or in front of the garage.


While most of the snow has melted, we are about average for this time of year with temps above freezing during the day and below at night.  Kate noticed some of the early plants starting to come up the other day, barely showing so far.  I just happen to look up and see this today, thought I'd share.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

It's Back Again

Pain.  I've known lots of physical pain in this life.  From breaking both forearm bones in my left arm as a kid to broken toes, wisdom teeth infections, a shattered femur, neck fusion due to a disc, rotator cuff issues and two prior lower back disc surgeries.  I'm sure I'm missing something and I am skipping lesser things but that should be most of the bigger stuff.

While I've been dealing with more back issues lately, my impression was that the L5/S1 disc was bulging and putting pressure on my nerve, but it seems I was incorrect.  I had an MRI on Thursday for the fifth or sixth time in my life, I seem to have lost count.  I fully expected another disc issue but the findings were no significant difference since my last (2011) MRI, yet the L5 nerve root shows a 'significant impingement,' I'm told, which is right in line with the pain I'm having.  My next move is to await a phone call to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon.

While the pain is not quite what it was the last two times I had back surgery, it is the same pain just not quite as severe - yet.  I'd been trying to move this process along as the last two times I could only stand for short times and in excruciating pain by the time I got to the surgery and I was hoping it wouldn't get that far this time.  The MRI results, though, leave me less certain of what's to come.  It's not that I want surgery, I just want to feel normal, but knowing it's not a disc has me worried as to what exactly the problem is.  I don't know how soon I'll see the neurosurgeon but I look forward to seeing the images and hearing what they have to say.

The pain sucks, and they're not handing out the good painkillers like they used to.  I've taken lots of opioids when needed, and very long ago I told my doctor that if I need a painkiller I'll take nothing less than, say, vicodin or oxycodone and such, as anything less never did anything to help me.  Popping them left and right at times and while I've never felt the slightest twinge of addiction you do need to keep up on your stool softeners while taking them!  And with nerve pain even opioids are relatively ineffective so I have been taking nothing.  My doctor did give me a round of prednisone that I finished today but that has done nothing for me.  I'm in a holding pattern of dealing with the pain as best I can until I can't anymore.  Welcome back, old friend.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Winter Rain*

The weather started to turn a bit warmer last weekend, enough so that we got our bikes down to the shop to beat the rush and get them tuned up for spring - more on that in a bit.  And thank goodness it has been warmer the last couple days with all the non-stop rain we've gotten, or else this would be a very large amount of snow - or ice.  Icy weather is not very far north of us.


20180218_122740My wife picked up the rugs downstairs but the ground is still frozen so as of yet there has been no water in the basement.  Water runs downhill, however, and neighbor Dave's yard is definitely a low spot.  Much more water and he may need to borrow the next neighbor's kayaks (by the garage).

As I mentioned, we took the bikes in to a nearby bike shop on Sunday, Revolution Cycles, and as I am writing this I received a call that they are ready to be picked up.  At least they fully understand the weather so it may be a few days until we get there.

20180218_122525I took a few pictures along the way.  First, a stretch of the Capital City Trail that I've posted pictures of before, but without the massive wildflowers on the left and the community gardens on the right it looks a bit stark compared to summer.  We usually see the bike paths getting plowed before our street is cleared.  Madison has a great reputation as a bicycle-friendly city, and people take advantage of it year round.

The Goodman Community Center's splash pad looks rather depressing in winter.  Oh well, we're on the down side, anyway.  Spring can show up any time now, as far as I'm concerned.

And as for why I'm not at work this weekday afternoon?  Post will be coming soon.  Here's a hint - S1.

*Update, 21 Feb, after the break:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dishwasher Conclusion & Tech Support

DSC00151DSC00152On Thursday I worked for a couple hours in the morning and was home in plenty of time for the installation window I was given.  Before long, I received a call from the installers.  No, they weren't on their way, they were calling to see if I had the dishwasher delivered to the house because they couldn't find it at the store.  No, it's not here, they said they would look further and call back.  I called the store manager that helped me out last week and left him a message.  This had to get done today.  Soon they called back, they found it under a different sales number, probably the original.  I called and left a message for the manager that they found it, I never did get a call back from him but he may have been looking for my dishwasher!

Soon enough the installers were here.  They asked about the prior one as they were removing it, checked it over, and found that it had been wired incorrectly.  They asked if I wanted them to put it back in or install the new one, I said to just go ahead with the new one.  Installation went smoothly and we finally had our fully functioning dishwasher after weeks of hand washing.  The only thing that bugged me, and I let them know, is that when unboxing the new unit they ripped off a rubber flap that hangs down under the door and behind the kick plate.  They said it was just to try and keep noise down but doesn't really do anything but get in the way.  I expressed my displeasure, but accepted the new unit.  They left and I soon had the first load washing. 
DSC00146 b

So, this dishwasher saga is complete.  I still don't feel real good about the transaction, but at least I feel good about the product and the large retail establishment.  The installation crews, on the other hand, I don't feel good about.  The first crew installed it incorrectly and the second took a liberty with my product that I did not appreciate.  But it is done.

                                   *                      *                      *                      *

Display correct
What you should see.
Shortly before they arrived to install the dishwasher I initiated contact with Microsoft tech support.  I've mentioned here a few times how a recent (well, before the holidays) Windows update changed my display to darker than it should be and I had no option to make it brighter.  When I restart the computer, I can watch the picture on my lock screen jump from regular to dark as it is starting up.  I've researched online, asked people, and cursed Microsoft under my breath (and aloud) several times.  I just can't fix it.
Display incorrect
What I see - There is no brightness control.

I was put in contact with "Bryan," who seemed confidant we could resolve the issue.  He remoted in on the computer, and I watched as he looked at and tried all the things I did.  He did several scans and things that took time, so I was able to go back and forth from the computer to the dishwasher installers in the kitchen.  Scans found nothing.  Drivers did nothing.  Finally we did a full reinstall of Windows 10.  This was going to take a lot of time so Bryan could not stay, but he was confident this would fix it but I was given a number to call with my case number if not.  After the reinstall - nothing changed.  After several hours the computer was exactly as it was before.  Short of buying a new computer I don't know what else to try.

Update!  When I went to look it up again today for writing this, there is now a note on this help screen:

display note
So it seems they are finally acknowledging that it is not there for some users.  But my monitor is already at 100% brightness.  Now what?  I hate to do it, but I think I'll have to call tech support back again...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Our Dishwasher Saga

It was last year, mid-December when I noticed a drip in the basement.  The dishwasher that we bought 5 and a half years prior was leaking.  It was dripping into the utility sink downstairs, which made me wonder how long this had been happening as we would have noticed a wet floor sooner, I would think.  We had a list of other plumbing projects that also needed to be done so we arranged to have a plumber out to the house.  Several projects accomplished that day, but when it came to the dishwasher he found a tiny leak with the water connection and surmised the rest was from having the 'air gap,' what I would call the overflow, for the dishwasher under the sink.  One of the projects was a new kitchen faucet which also entailed placing this thing above the sink and not having a sprayer anymore, so he thought we should have no more issues.  We had more issues.

20180208_102920The drip downstairs continued whenever we ran the dishwasher.  We had the plumber out again to complete adding a gas line for a new gas range we want to get, so I had him get down in there and confirm where the leak was coming from.  It was coming from the middle of the bottom of the dishwasher.  I had to call the large retail establishment to get a dishwasher repair guy to come out, and I knew it wasn't going to be good.  Keep in mind, several weeks had passed and it would be at least another until the repair man would be out, that was on January 12.  He got right in there and came up saying we had the worst case scenario.  The bill he put together to fix it was almost as much as the dishwasher cost when we bought it.  We declined the repair and received a coupon that coupled with the estimate would give us 10 percent off a brand new one.  He then shared his opinions and gave some advice that we did follow when purchasing a new one a few days later from this large retail establishment's website.  I've linked to it before, here is what we got.  Part of our decision was that it also included a $150 rebate from the manufacturer as long as it was bought within a short date window and installed.  It would be about 3 weeks before it would be available and a couple days then before it could be installed, on February 8, well within those dates.

20180208_102837On installation day I had taken off from work and they arrived earlier than expected.  I was happy I could get this taken care of and have the rest of the day for whatever I wanted.  But that didn't happen.  Everything seemed to be going well, the old one out and the new one in, but when he went to test it there was no power to the machine.  He told me he noticed something about the electrical box on the unit was, well, off a bit, but he popped it back in and thought all was well.  He told me it was a manufacturer defect and I should call the store to have it exchanged for a new one.  He specifically said not to let them try to send a repair man out but to get a new replacement unit.  They said their notes would also say this, so the installers then went on their way and I had to get this resolved.  Certainly not the free afternoon I thought I would have.

I started by calling the store, as the installers told me to, but as I bought it online I was transferred to their online phone line, linked halfway across the world.  I had to first explain what happened to try to get this resolved without costing us more money.  I would bring up the rebate, and get transferred.  Start all over with another, and get transferred.  This happened several times until I got rather upset and let the current thickly-accented agent know it, and got disconnected.

20180208_102937Now I was hot.  I had a thousand dollar paper weight in my kitchen and I wanted this corrected - and now.  I gathered up what I had, printed out my email receipt, and headed to the local store for this large retail establishment.  At the store I headed to the large appliance department, and after waiting patiently for a bit was able to request to speak to a manager.  I let the manager know what happened and my luck with their online sales customer support.  Also my concerns about the rebate and other discount if they process this as I expected they wanted to.  He looked at what I had, asked a few questions, and called their online sales phone line.  This was now funny for me.  He repeatedly explained my situation, who he was, and asked not to be transferred yet he was transferred several times.  Finally he got frustrated, hung up abruptly and said he was going to the office to see if they had a different phone number or something.  I waited patiently in the department, silently happy that he fared as well as I did with their phone services.

Eventually, after about 20 minutes or so, he came back out.  He handed me my papers I brought, a very long receipt, and $150 in cash!  He was able to find and access the online purchase and did some dodgy work with the numbers to make it even up for me.  They would be calling me the next day to schedule the installation of the replacement.  He, as the store, couldn't do anything about the manufacturer's rebate, thus the cash.  I was shocked.

He made it right.  I don't know how he'll put this in the books, but he made it right for me, the customer.  I didn't expect this outcome - I expected to be screwed, but I was very happy and surprised and thanked him greatly.  I even took his card, if the next installation goes smoothly I will write him an email to let him know and to thank him again.

The new replacement dishwasher is scheduled to be installed during this coming week.  I don't foresee another issue, but if there is you can be sure you'll hear about it here.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Latest LIVE Listening Pleasure - Marilyn Manson

It's no secret that I turned 50 last September.  Perhaps it was a small midlife crisis, but in October I bought tickets for Marilyn Manson.  I'd been thinking that it's been so long since I regularly went to see bands live that I ought to get out and do it while I can, so I saw the upcoming show and bought the tickets.  With the tickets in hand I would be forced to get myself out into the world again - and it worked.  Now, in the days prior to the show I would have gladly sold them, but I didn't know anyone to sell them to and I couldn't even find a friend willing or available to go with me.  My wife wasn't very excited about it, but she did accompany me to the show.  It was actually pretty fun and I had a good time, now there are more shows coming up soon and I kinda want to go.

I took some pictures inside the Orpheum Theater to capture all the decor you see in these older places and Google stitched them up for me again:

There was no opening band, but an opening DJ - Amazonica.  Well, it cuts down on tour expenses, I guess.  There was no way I wanted to be there for a DJ so we, and many others, waited to show up until that was done.  We had seats in the front row of the third section of the balcony.  Really pretty good seats with a view down to the stage, see picture above.

I've never been the hugest Marilyn Manson fan, but he's always been on my radar and I've liked him more and listened to him more the last decade or so.  And I do have the latest CD and have listened to it enough to know all the new songs he played, including Kill4Me.

Marilyn Manson - Kill4Me

He broke his leg last year, the guns stage prop fell on him, so he still uses a motorized chair on stage but has been able to get around more and more in a walking boot recently, judging from the concert videos I watched leading up to the show.  There's been a few singers with leg injuries in recent memory, I guess the Dave Grohl/Axl Rose chair was too big for Marilyn's stages on this tour.  I was at least vaguely familiar with most of the songs, and knew the latest ones the best as that is what I've heard more.  And he has some songs and choruses that are really pretty easy to sing along with, including another new one below, Say10.

Marilyn Manson - Say10

The show seemed to end prematurely.  He did not play an encore staple, The Beautiful People, but ended with The Nobodies.  A couple songs less than he's played on other recent dates, so the length of the show was a bit of a disappointment.  Earlier in the show he did seem to be bothered by the lack of energy from the crowd.  I believe it sold out, but it was 15ºF outside and probably everyone worked hard all day.  That would be my excuse, anyway.

Last night I uploaded these videos shortly after I got home and they were in double digit views before I dragged myself to bed - even a rare comment.  Interesting.  I just now took a look and couldn't find any others on YouTube from this show, but they may show up in the coming days.  These are the only two full songs that I recorded.  Though I love watching the full concert videos on the computer I'm not willing to sacrifice my concert experience to do nothing but record, yet for me it is nice to have one or two videos of my own from the shows I see.

Next:  Sabaton and Kreator are coming on February 24; Alice Cooper is coming on March 14, and I already have tickets for the Harp Twins on March 24.  We'll see if I can get myself to get out some more before I get too old.  Stay tuned!

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird LIVE
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat LIVE
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm
LLP 21 - Garbage LIVE
LLP 22 - Arcade
LLP 23 - Nightwish LIVE
LLP 24 - Ace Frehley
LLP 25 - Darkc3ll
LLP 26 - Dementia
LLP 27 - Rammstein
LLP 28 - Marilyn Manson LIVE

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January This-And-Thats

January is here and so are we.  Winter is not the end of times, just the end of warm times.  That's not even true - as I type it is over 40ºF outside.  All the snow we got earlier in the week is in the process of melting away.  Temporarily, I'm sure.  Well, enough small talk, time to type and see what happens!
  • I have back issues.  I've had two surgeries on my lower back so far and at this rate there's at least one more in my future.  I do my exercises every morning but I still have days where I just don't want to move - or sit still, nothing is comfortable.  Recently it has been very uncomfortable and I've missed some work.  All I can do is keep on carrying on and try to keep it as best I can, until I can't.  Everybody has something and this is the monkey on my back, so to speak.  Sigh.
  • Before the holidays I noticed a little leak downstairs when we ran the dishwasher.  It took some time, but the problem was finally diagnosed and it was not good.  The repair would cost almost as much as we spent on the dishwasher less than 6 years ago.  We didn't even consider repairing it and ordered a new one, hopefully a better one.  We took some advice from the repairman and have the new dishwasher ordered for delivery and installation in a few weeks.  The leak is too bad to run the current dishwasher anymore so until the new one is installed we have to hand wash everything.  Good times.  First world problem, right?
  • When I was off work the other day I thought I would run past Ella's Deli right when they opened at 11 am.  I was thinking I could get some pictures before they got busy.  I grossly underestimated the local sentiment for the restaurant.  When I drove over I went straight past as the parking lot was full and they were lined up out to the street waiting to get in.  I was hoping to stop one last time before they close for good tomorrow, but I'm not willing to fight the crowds to do it.  I'll cherish the memories I have of this Madison institution - and there's tons of pictures already on google images.
I guess I can't think of much more to say right now, so just a short one.  Tonight we are going out to dinner, celebrating my wife's birthday at another great local restaurant, Cafe La Bellitalia.  Probably the best Italian restaurant that we've found in the area.  Just with friends Terry and Becky this year.  I'm understanding more how a winter birthday is unfortunate, and it happens every single year.  I must admit, summer birthdays seem more fun.  No matter what, it's still your birthday.  Happy birthday, Kate!