Off To Kentucky and Indiana for Easter

Ford Explorer loaded up, check. REALLY loaded up. Portable DVD player, check. iPods, check. Easter baskets and other stuff, check. Cell phones and chargers, check. Digital cameras and more chargers, check. Books and homework for kids, check. Electrical inverter, check. Clothes for 5 people for 5 days, check. Swim suits too, check. Cash, I wish 🙂

So now we are ready to head down to Kentucky and Indiana for an extended Easter weekend to visit family and have some fun! Bye-bye snow, bring on the thunderstorms!

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And You Think You Had a Bad Day?

WHITE HALL, Ark. (AP) — A deer somehow survived being hit by a car near Little Rock, but that was only the first part of what soon became a very rough day.

On Tuesday morning in White Hall, the vehicle struck the animal on U.S. Highway 270.

Assistant Police Chief Richard Wingard says the injured large doe then charged into the glass doors of a travel plaza, ran about 100 feet through a hallway and crashed through a second set of glass doors, finding itself outside again.

The deer then ran into traffic on Interstate 530, where it was hit by a southbound vehicle. Somehow, the deer managed to run across the median and was hit by a northbound truck.

That proved to be enough for the deer, in Wingard’s words, “to meet its maker.”

No one was injured.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Back Home Again

Nope, I haven’t left Wisconsin in a while, though we will visit family next weekend. Home this time is the C programming language. I learned C a long time ago, moved to C++ in the early-mid 90’s, and then to C# around 2001, and barely looked back. I always missed it somewhat, and occasionally did little projects of my own in C/C++, but C# has paid the bills for years.

Recently however I had the chance to dust off the trusty old C compiler for a project at work, a cross platform email MTA for Lotus Domino. It took a day or so to get back into the language, and quite frankly I am still struggling to quickly recall some of the C runtime functions. but it is coming back quickly. And the application that I am developing is nearly done, and very high quality to boot. I am pleased.

Last weekend we (the family) also bought a new Apple Mac Mini to replace our aging iMac G4 home computer. We sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist to buy it, and are mostly pleased. If iPhoto 09′ would quit taking a crap, all would be great. Apple quality is still very good, though their QA and past history of releasing nearly flawless software is just that, history. I do hope they get back to their old ways.

We copied all of our old pictures and other media from our server to the Mac for testing. All of our pictures and stuff are organized by the year, month and day they were taken. But, when copying the files over to the Mac, those original file time stamps were messed up. I could live it, but with my newly refound love of C, I decided to fix it.

About 800 lines of cross-platform bliss later, I have my first Macintosh program! It scans the media files and updates the dates to match. Nothing hard here, just a first for me. I still coded it on Windows and then ported (cleaned up really) the code to the Mac. First Mac application, first UNIX application in many years, and I am feeling good again. Now I am hunting for a good development environment on the Mac. By good I mean Visual Studio like, anyone? XCode still blows, though I guess I could get used to it.

Boat Seats Nearly Done

We didn’t get quite as much free time this weekend to work on the boat, as we needed to help Missy’s brother Josh move today. No biggie there, we still owe him a ton for helping us do the basement construction last summer. But we did manage to get all the vinyl work done for the rear seating and tonight did the first complete test fit. It looks pretty nice, though Missy says she prefers the old seating better. I guess we’ll see if it grows on her, and if not, there is nothing to stop us from going back to the older style.

Here are some pictures of what it looks like now.



The Boat Seats are Taking Shape!

Missy, Halle and I tonight made our best boat seat so far! The picture below is the bench seat, and it came out great. We all pushed, pulled, stretched and contorted the vinyl into shape while I stapled it. This one is truly factory quality!

A couple of days ago I covered the “sundeck”. It came out pretty good, though with the results we achieved tonight with the seat (above), I am thinking we will re-do this one.

She Runs!

The one BIG thing we did not know about the boat was how, or even if, the engine ran. The boys at Rawhide had it running when they did their checks on it, but that was last summer. They did not completely drain the water and winterize it correctly, so we were concerned the block may have been cracked, which would cost me a minimum of $1000 and an entire weekend to fix.

My buddy Bob and his son came over tonight and we hooked the engine up to the garden hose and the Ford Explorer up to the battery leads (the boat has no battery). We primed the carb with a little gas and Bobby hit the starter. BAM!!! It sounded like a shotgun went off right next to my head as it backfired. It took me a couple of seconds to shake that off, so we tried again.

This time the results were much better. She started right up and ran great. There was a small leak from somewhere that I could not see, but Bob tightened it up and it stopped. We let it run for a while until my hands were almost frozen, then Tyler took over and held the hose in the intake. We let the engine run about 10 minutes and it purred quite nicely! Whew, what a relief!

Boat Progress

We have all been busy with our little (okay, not so little) boat restoration project. The boat itself is a 1990 Mariah 1850XL, which is an 18 1/2 foot open bowrider with a 4.3 liter 175 horsepower Mercruiser V-6. We bought it a few weeks ago from Rawhide Boys Ranch. Our goal is to have it done and in the water in about 6 weeks, or whenever the lakes thaw, whichever comes first 🙂

As she looked last summer


The seats and all vinyl are shot and will be completely replaced. We started by pulling all the old vinyl off, which revealed mostly rotted plywood that will have to be replaced.


While planning how we would install new seats, my friend Bob suggested that maybe we could update the boat to a much more modern look. The original boat had back-to-back seating, and small jump seats on either side of the “doghouse”. Most modern boats have a nice “sundeck” that covers the engine and provides a nice place to sunbathe and chill. A bench seat will provide 3-4 across, all forward facing, seating. That simple suggestion was all I needed to hear, I wanted it!

So I designed and built a new doghouse frame that would enclose the engine.
It is very strong and also very light. I also made similar, but much smaller, sections to go on either side of the doghouse. They all need to be easily removed to work on the engine, battery, etc.
That picture also shows the new front seats, but don’t look at those yet 🙂

Since all seats will now be forward facing, we needed new helm seats. I found a brand new set on eBay for a fair price, and designed and built “boxes” to support them.
The pressure-treated 2×4 on the bottom uses the existing Mariah mounting bolts and brackets. Missy and I then covered the boxes with vinyl, and I installed Garelick 12-point swivels that will allow the seats to rotate 180 degrees. I had to design my own mounting system (4 oddly sized bolts) to get the seats mounted to the swivel, but it came out very nice.


All of the woodwork for the new seats is complete and we are now doing the upholstery work. I started the sundeck tonight and will finish it tomorrow. Here is what it looks like now.

Why Spelling is so Important

We are having somewhat of a rough time teaching our oldest daughter to spell. She is improving a lot now, but just doesn’t “get” why spelling is so important, a real fundamental element of a good education. I don’t share this with her (she is 10), but this is a good example of just how important spelling really is.

Happy Birthday Halle!

Today is Halle’s 10th birthday! Wow, double-digits already! Did you ever think you’d spend part of your birthday weekend building boat parts? 🙂

I’m sorry that you had to go to school on your birthday, but I hope you enjoyed having fun this past weekend. I know this past year has been very rough on you, but you are pulling through like a real trooper! Your mom and I love you very much and hope you have a wonderful birthday!

All About Boats

It seems that I have forgotten to update my blog lately, thanks dad for pointing that out! 🙂 Actually we have been very busy, but lately our new family boat has been what is taking up our time. We bought a 1990 Mariah 1850XL from Rawhide Boys Ranch and have been working to get it all fixed up and ready for boat season, which we hope will start in about 6 weeks.

The boat is a 18.5′ bowrider for fishing and skiing, with a 175 HP Mercruiser 4.3 liter V-6. As far as we know right now, the work we have to do is mostly cosmetic. We are replacing all the vinyl, and converting the standard back-to-back seating to the much more contemporary sundeck with bench seating style. It’s a little hard to explain, but I will post some pictures here as we make more progress.

Here is some of the work we did last weekend.

The new “Doghouse” Cover. It supports the sundeck on top and provides the bench seating on the front.

Halle sanding the doghouse.

Halle waterproofing the wood. I supervised.