Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday approacheth

What is it about the holidays that seems to make time disappear?  I really didn't "do" Christmas this year, yet I don't have any more time than I did last year.  At least it doesn't feel like it.  Anyway, today, I'll give an overdue update on the state of the bus, and give an update on my elbow.  First things first...

Elbow Whacked
Between Halloween and last weekend, I've been up to the mountain to snowboard 9 times.  On my 6th trip, I was on my last run of the night at Ski Bowl when I caught a toe-edge and was too tired to kick through it.  Instead, I went down.  Now, we had received some pretty decent snow leading up to ThanksGiving, but its been cold and dry since, making the snow increasingly hard-pack and icy.  So, when I went down, it was onto concrete-hard snowpack.  I knew I was going down, so I tried to turn my shoulder into it so I could roll through, but I went down faster than I could react and landed on my left elbow.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  Sharp pain.  Hard to fully straighten or bend my arm without pain.  Not good. I finished the run gingerly, filled a plastic bag with snow, and applied that to my elbow for the drive off the mountain.
A smarter, more aware person than me would have gone to a doctor.  Nope, I'm a dummy.  Instead, I went snowboarding again a few days later and fell on it again.  Same spot.  Ye-ouch.  Then, in an unparalleled case of extreme-dumb, I went one more time.  I didn't actually snowboard that time, but it wasn't for health reasons.  We got there late and by the time the kids were equipped and sliding, it was 8:PM, so I figured I'd just hold down a barstool at the lodge.  Now, nearly 10 days later, my elbow still hurts when I bump it, move my arm certain ways, and I can't lean on it.  I have a doctor appointment this afternoon.  If I broke it, he may need to do something severe to set it.   I may lose some mobility in my arm for the next couple of weeks, leading to a less fun week off between Christmas and NewYears (when I planned to snowboard at least 3 times).  Lesson learned.
UPDATE: doc says its tendon damage. Keep frozen peas on it, and take ibuprofen.  Apply kinesio tape to help reduce strain on the tendon. If I plan to snowboard, wear an elbow guard like skateboarders wear.  Great news.  Looks like I'll be back on the mountain next week afterall.  hahaha!!!!

Christmas Painting
Every family treats gift-giving differently.  Some enter arms-races to see who can buy the most stuff for someone else.  I never understood those folks, but I suspect they are the same folks who buy a BMW because a neighbor bought one.  Anyway, my family (my parents, brothers w/wives, sisters w/husbands) draw names for the one person for whom you will give a gift.  For years, I have painted a small (around 4" each side) ceramic house for my randomly selected family member.  These take a considerable amount of time, like 40+ hours, so I spend most of my time between ThanksGiving (when the names are selected) and Christmas trying to get the house completed.  Of course, there are all of the other tasks of life sprinkled in, other social expectations, etc, so that's where my holidaze go.  Since the name I received this year is not local, I should have already been finished and had it wrapped and on a southbound truck.  But, since the family gift exchange isn't until the 28th, I have a few extra days.  Thank goodness.  On the side here there's a picture of a couple I painted a few years back for my sister and her husband (different years, of course).

Bus not Busy
There isn't really a great deal of news on the bus-front.  I have the new ECU plug, so I could start the harness surgery at any time.  I just need some time.  With the ceramic painting time constraint and limit, I haven't been able to focus on the harness.  The bus still on jack stands (though he doesn't need to be), and the new snow tires are sitting on the cabin floor.  I've neglected him, though he's been in a warm dry garage, so it's not all bad.  I want to give him some good focus on Xmas morning.  Maybe slap on the snow tires and take a quick spin around the neighborhood with the Justin's harness.  We'll see.

I expect the painting to complete in the next few days.  So, I should be able to bang-out the harness by the middle of next week.  Depending on what the doctor says about my elbow, its still possible that I could be taking the boys up to the mountain in the bus before NewYears.  If the doctor needs to isolate my arm, I won't be driving, much less installing a newly repaired harness in, my bus.  Keeping my fingers crossed that my elbow is fine (just badly bone-bruised), my painting completes soon, and the harness surgery is quick and error-free.

As always, thanks for following along, and have a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Foiled Again

Cue a picture of a cartoon villain, twisting the ends of a long thin mustache...

what I got on top
early ALH on bottom
The engine harness I bought sight-unseen was not for an early ALH engine.  I take at least some of the fault here since the guy I bought it from called and we talked about what it looked like.  What we didn't talk about, though, was what the ECU plug looked like.  Since this plug is the only one I know is bad on my harness, that one was the single most important one for me to ask about.  I didn't.  So, when the box arrived, I opened it like a kid at Christmas.  I took one look at that plug and knew I'd struck coal in my stocking.

Now, the fun starts.  I was unable to return the harness because the guy I bought it from had already spent the money and indicated that I did get what he said it was: it is an engine harness for an ALH engine.  The fact that it is not an "early", and therefore doesn't fit is my problem.  Of course, this position wasn't articulated until after I'd returned the harness, so now I have no harness, and no money.  Sweet!  ... and just in time for Christmas.  The guy did say he would return the harness on delivery, so I'll have my useless-to-me harness again.  To eBay I go, I guess.  It does have a brand new glow-plug section in it, though, so that alone is worth $70.  Before I go that route, though, I'll look up the part number on the ECU plug and verify what models and years it fits.
UPDATE (2011-12-21): I did some googling and found the harness fits an AJM engine, not an ALH:  fits 1998-2000 Passat, Jetta and Golf with a highest HP output (130BHP) diesel engine available at the time.

I did buy a replacement ECU plug on eBay.  After all this time, I finally found someone just selling a plug with 3" of wire bundle attached.  I didn't want to perform this kind of surgery, but a $30 plug beats a $150 harness if the rest of the harness is good (which it should be).  Had I found a plug like this before, though, I would have gotten it then.  In 3 years, I'd never seen just a plug with some wire bundle for sale.  Good deal, great timing. I'll have to wait on that work until I finish my other Christmas time commitments, but I still hope to get the bus onto the mountain before NewYears.

As I write this, my studded snow tires are being mounted onto an extra set of 14" rims I got off Craigslist a couple of years ago.  They're black, so its almost like they were designed for snow tires.  Since they're 14" tires, though, I will be retaining my 52mph top speed in the bus for winter driving.  I'm certain this will frustrate other motorists as they try to speed past the beautiful countryside on their way to the lift lines.  Ah well.  I do have a set of 15" rims which fit the rear hubs.  If I had that harness money back, I could probably get a pair of 15" studded snows and increase my top speed... but only by a few mph.  Ultimately, my top speed is controlled by the high-rpm expecting 002 transaxle.  I'll address that next Summer.... if I have the money.  Or, I'll have another year to remind myself that the journey is the destination, and traveling at 50mph allows me a greater opportunity to make the most of that destination.  Later this winter, I will be chanting this mantra as I drive up Mt. Hood at 50mph, heading a line of Chevy Behemoth's and Ford Monstrosity's chomping at my rear bumper.  :)

Thanks for following along.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

White Friday

As I've mentioned before, my boys and I have a tradition we started a few years ago (Holding Pattern taking Hold) where we get some snow time during the ThanksGiving break rather than retail time.  On that first holiday weekend, we went on Saturday, but in the last 2 years, we've gone on the day after ThanksGiving.  The newsfolks (and far too many people, in my opinion) refer to that as Black Friday.  The ruckus leading up to ThanksGiving about what sales are where and who's going to have the biggest lines completely blots out the whole being thankful message of the season.  So, to give the sickening consumerism the finger, we get away from the stores, the televisions and the crowds (presumably) and head for the snow.

My boys slept in.  I told them I wouldn't wake them as a means of getting them to go to sleep ThanksGiving Night, but the excitement of going to the mountain on opening weekend was too much for them.  I finally awoke them around 9.  Since the lifts opened at 9:30, and we were still in Beaverton, we clearly were not going to be there for the first lift.  No matter; both of my brothers were going to meet us up there, and they both have little ones, so we figured they couldn't actually beat us there.  A quick-slam breakfast and we hit the road.

White Friday
We tried a weird longer route, but we got there by 11:15.  The traffic to the mountain was steady.  The climb up Timberline Hwy required chains.  The parking at the lot was to overflow and there were sizable lines at the lifts.  Considering it was considered the beginning of unbridled consumerism season, the turnout for White Friday was fantastic.  Then, came the conditions.  The snow was powdery.  The air dry, the visibility infinite and the winds still.  Perfect day for playing.  C got separated again, so we spent time looking for him at one point, but he wisely realized he was in the wrong spot and stayed put.  We met both of my brothers' families and visited in Wy-East, then headed down the mountain to Summit for some sledding before dark.  We ended the day saying our goodbyes in the Summit Lodge after hot coffee / cocoa.  Perfect White Friday.

I hope you take the opportunity to celebrate White Friday next year.  The retailers will survive without you, but can you survive the retailers without first giving yourself a break?  Go to the snow, play with your kids or your friends and breathe in the crisp fresh air.  The malls will be there for you later.

The bus progresses.  I'm waiting for a replacement engine harness so I can return the borrowed harness to Justin.  I bought some used snow tires too, so we'll be able to take the bus up to Government Camp / Ski Bowl this winter.  I'm not quite daring enough to try Timberline, but we'll see.  Thanks for following along, and I'll post again soon-