25 May, 2015

Tuk, Tock, or Maybe It's 'The King's Dog'

Yesterday was a busy day for a bunch of us. That bunch being Bruce and Colleen, Jeff and Sara, Jane and Steve, and Dianna and myself.

First off, we loaded up a couple of vehicles and headed off to the tulies up near Xaibe to a place called Jacob's Farm. Jacob's Farm is actually a drug and alcohol rehab center. Along with that, they are actively working to make the place self-sustaining with organic farming, fish aquaculture, and chickens.

There was plenty to see with crafts, such as hand-died clothing, hammocks, good food for sale, and music provided by Brad and Christina.

Dianna bought a Mayan basket, and some homemade mango preserves and goat cheese from Gloria Verka, who had a booth there. She and Jim were showing off a couple of their young goats as well.

After stuffing our tummies, we headed back to town, eventually making it over to Sara and Jeff's place (Denis and Vivien's house) where we learned to play a game called Tuk, or Tuck, or as the title says, 'The King's Dog.'

Tuck is a board game, similar to LudoAggravation or Sorry!, in which players race their four tokens (or marbles, or, in our case, golf tees) around the game board from start to finish—the objective being to be the first to take all of one's tokens "home". Like Sorry!, it is played with playing cards rather than dice. - thanks in no small part to Wikipedia. Look it up, there's a lot of stuff about the game and its variations.

Did I forget to mention that Tuck is a fun game to play. Pretty easy to learn to play, and it keeps your attention - something that is important nowadays. It's easy for six adults to play. The biggest problem is getting chairs comfortably around the game table. Once that's solved, it's a hoot to play.

21 May, 2015

Has She Sung Yet? A Mid-Week Grab Bag?

I don't think she has so far. By all accounts, my wallet, especially, she should have. I thought when I took the Isuzu with it's 'new' A/C compressor to Nirobi and got it charged up, that we might be done with expenses for a while. In a word, that'd be, uh... no.

Apparently, we still have the Rubicon somewhere in front of us. I went into town this morning on a quest to find a smallish piece of aluminum to make a tool for the pool chlorine tablet tower. About halfway through all that running around, I noticed the car was running more than a tad hot. Not yet boiling over, but getting there. Anyway, I shut off the A/C, much to Secret's and Bela's consternation.

After we got back home and the engine cooled down, Carlos took a peek at the radiator. Still had water in it. That sort of indicates a blockage in the radiator itself. There's a couple of shops around that flush radiators and that sort of stuff, so that's probably my next project.

Let me back up a smidge and tell you about getting the A/C charged. I drove over to Nirobi's place (easy once you know how to get there), and he let me in.

After popping the hood, he hooked up his gauges and asked if the compressor had been 'oiled?' I didn't know, so I called Rick and asked him. He must have been irritated with something going on at his shop because he told me in sort of clipped tones that that was part of the A/C man's responsibility - oiling, filling with coolant, and testing it. Ok then. I knew then that it wasn't going to be as quick a stop with Nirobi as I had imagined.

I told Nirobi that it hadn't been oiled. He shuffled off to his storeroom and came back with a bottle of A/C compressor oil. I didn't even know there was such a thing. He also replaced the o-ring where the tube from the compressor fits into the firewall. Then he told me to go across the highway to the Chinese store and get the coolant, Freon R134-A. So, I did that. They must sell a lot of it, as it was right near the front of the aisle near the cash register. $30.00 BZD.

Made it back across the highway (still under construction up at that end of town) and gave it to Nirobi. He plugged it into his system and began charging up the Isuzu.

Shortly after that, the acid test. I had had the A/C on while he was charging the system, but hadn't stuck my head into the cab to see if it actually had gotten cooler. Well, it had, noticably. Doggies were speedily becoming happy campers.

Finishing up at Nirobi's cost another $60.00 BZD for the oil, ring, and service. Not bad overall. Like I said, coming back to the present, I thought then that the troubles were behind us.

Now, I'm sure it's entirely coincidental, but just a few days ago Bruce had ordered a radiator from Guatemala. All metal, no plastic top and bottom cap, and he had just received it. Hindsight being what it is, I probably should have ordered one with him and we could probably have gotten a discount.

Well, we'll hope that it's just a matter of the radiator being clogged. if not, I may ask Bruce for the particulars on where he ordered his radiator.

I don't think it ever ends, does it?
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On a happier note, Sara and Jeff arrived a couple of days ago. They're renting Denis and Vivien's house across the street. We're breaking them in right. Last night, about 0100 AM, BEL dropped the load and we were without current for the better part of three hours. I sweat like a pig. Nothing like trying to sleep when you're just dripping sweat. I'm sure, since they haven't had a chance to acclimatize yet, that it was an interesting experience for them. Welcome to paradise.
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I thought I had someone lined up to take a whack at the custom font I purchased. After an initial round of emails, it's like they dropped of the end of the world. They actually live and work in Ireland, so I suppose it's possible. Maybe Leprechans had something to do with it.
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Related, sort of, but a separate issue, I'm still trying to get the Domain Name System (DNS) for my domain (winjama.net) sorted out. Confusing as all get out. Time will tell, however.
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I guess this is sort of turning into a grab bag, again. What can I say but yes, it is.
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We thought our new little girl, Bela, was done with her bout of Demodex mites, a susceptibility for them that is inherited, so they appear fairly early on in their lives. Not contagious, but unless treated, can be devastating. So, she's back on Ivermectin once again, with a daily dose until all the symptoms disappear. I've heard it's not unusual to have to repeat the course once or twice till their immune system is up to the task. It certainly doesn't slow her down any.

Oh, also, she has started walking the walk. She looks so cute with her little purple pack on. I'll see if I can get some pictures or two of her at work. She's actually carried mail, bakery goods and veggies for us. So, she's getting right into the swing of things.
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Carlos has been busy varnishing the house and the front/back porches as well. He first pressure-washed the house. It's really looking a lot better. Long over due for a thorough cleaning and varnishing. We'd had our old caretaker, Cody pretty much do a much lighter job of it before. But, it was time for really good going over.
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That's about all I can think of for right now. I have to get some lunch together and get ready to get in the pool and cool down. Well, I know it's rough, but somebody has to do it.



16 May, 2015

It Just Goes To Show You

Nothing ever seems to work out quite the way that you think it might.

A week or so ago, the A/C on the Isuzu began to get, shall we say, warm. In other words, the A/C began to fail by degrees (pun intended). It got progressively warmer in the cockpit. At some point I decided it was no longer functioning, so I turned it off, relying only on the vent and fan.

The girls, Secret and Bela, normally love to go for rides with me. I'm convinced now that the only reason they want to go is so they can sit right in front of the A/C vents and suck up all that cool air. They both began to look at me suspiciously, as if I was purposly screwing up the air supply.

I wasn't, honest. It failed. That's all.

A couple weeks prior, Bruce had told me about a shop on the highway near his house, that recharged A/C units for a nominal fee. I tried to find it, but with the highway construction going on in that area, looking was severely hampered.

A couple of days ago, I called Bruce and asked if he would go with me to try and find this elusive A/C fixit joint. He said "Sure," so I hot-footed over to his place and we went to find it.

Well, it turns out there were a couple of other reasons why I couldn't find the place besides the construction... One, Bruce had told me to look for a white house with a chain link fence. Turns out the house is yellow and white. And two, There's no way to get to the house from the highway. You have to approach it from a side street. Sort of sneaking up on it in a way. Oh, and a third reason - No sign. Not that that's unusual by any means here in Belize. Many businesses have no outer indication that there might be a business at that location.

So, OK. Bruce's directions might have muddied the works a bit. We found the place all right and the proprietor (Nairobi is his name) came out with his gauges and stuff to check out the A/C. Right away, after I started the car, he broke out his stethescope (an old length of green garden hose), stuck one end on the A/C compressor and the other to his ear.

His quick diagnosis was that the bearing in the compressor was about to fail big-time. He gave me a card for a guy (Eustace Dawson, 501-610-2835) in Belize City who makes frequent trips to the states and returns with parts, new and used, for all sorts of vehicles. I don't know if he has a sign out front or not. My guess is... uh, no.

Anyway, I asked if he had a compressor for a '96 Isuzu Rodeo, 3.2 liter engine. He did. All I had to do was deposit the money to his bank account, and head over to BPMS (Belize Post and Mailing Service) sort of the UPS of Belize, pay for the COD freight and pick up my compressor. Which I did. Of course, in reality, that took about two days to complete all the transactions, but it got done.

So then, I went up to Rick's, my mechanic, to see if he could install the compressor for me. He could, and he gave me a ride back to Casa Winjama. Once again, we're without wheels.

In the mean time, while all this is going on, Carlos, our Caretaker, told me that Terrence Leslie, the small engine expert, was next door working on Mike's boat motor. I called Terrence and asked if he would stop by when he was done.

Our generator, a 6.5kW (or is it Kw? I looked it up on the Intertubes, and saw it both ways) wheeled affair, hadn't been started in a year or so (my laziness entirely) and the fuel in the tank was a good three years old.

Terrence and his son loaded the generator into the back of their SUV, and I said, since you're here, I think the pool pump needs new bearings too. He had replaced them about four years ago, so it was time. They took the pump as well. That was on Wednesday.

Friday morning, Terrence comes with the generator and the pump, both in primo condition. The generator fired up on the first pull. So, in that regard, we're ready for the coming hurricane season. I made myself a slew of promises that I would test it regularly, etc., etc.

We then took the pump to the pool pump house where I greased up the 'O'rings for the pump pipe unions and we hooked it up and turned it on. Nary a leak. I think that was a first. And Quiet. Wow! I remember, the first time Terrence replaced the bearings on the pump. Before he worked on it, the bearings were actually screaming. The racket was unbelievable.

Everything I had read about the pumps was that the bearings were very critical and had to be ordered specially from Hayward and all that. Total BS. They run fine on Chinese bearings. In fact, after Terrence replaced the bearings the first time, it ran quieter than it did when the pump was brand new. And now, this time was no different. Quiet. The only thing different was that I got it done before the old bearings could scream. They merely moaned.

Generator's taken care of. Check. Pool pump is taken care of. Check. Isuzu's taken care of. Almost.

Back to the Isuzu. At about the end of the Friday pool party, about 5:00 PM, Rick showed up at the gate with the Isuzu. He said it was a good thing I had bought the compressor. The old one was definitely on the verge of seizing up completely and would not have worked long at all. But, he had run out of time for Friday to charge the A/C system. I had asked him to bring the car back Friday afternoon so we would have wheels for the weekend.

Rick is a Seventh Day Adventist, so he's closed on Saturday, their Sabbath, but he said if I brought the Isuzu by on Sunday, he would be able to charge it for me. Everything is looking rosy.

Well, almost everything. My computer, hasn't been able to access the Intertubes for two or three days now. I've been trying to do everything through my iPod. What an exercise that has been.

This morning, I fired up my PC, wanting to extract my email configuration data, and, lo and behold, it's connected to the Intertubes! So, first thing I did was jump up and crank out this post.

I have no idea why the PC was unable to connect for so long. Everything else could do it easily. Dianna's laptop, her iPad, my iPod. Who knows?

So, it just goes to show you... what, I'm not sure, exactly, approximately, or even vaguely. You just have to be ready to respond and 'stay flexible, but don't go limp.'