Friday, September 23, 2016

Fish Post Friday: More Danios

In my last post I wrote about how I had bought a few Longfin Zebra Danios to add to my mostly empty tank.  Here's the original post:

http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/09/long-finned-zebra-danios-and-mike.html

So today I went to a different pet shop and bought some "mixed" Danios.  Basically, there were three different types.  So I bought six total.  Two white ones, two regular zebra ones, and two that I could only describe as "speckled." 

This time I thought I would be smart.  Since they won't hold still I decided to take some pictures of them in the bag.  It didn't work out.  They are still just too fast for my camera.




So I decided I would let my camera work for me.  I took a short video of the Danios swimming around.  Take a peek.

video

Everyone seems happy, and they really fill the tank after it being empty.  I really like having them.  I'm not sure why I never had them before.  So, please look forward to more updates when I add some Angelfish in the tank. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Long Finned Zebra Danios and Mike Nugget, The Pleco Hide And Seek Champion

My last Gold Gourami passed away last week.  I didn't want to add any more fish to the tank with her still in it.  Namely, since I wanted to change the tank over to Angelfish, I didn't want them fighting.  I know they are "supposed" to get along together, but I had Gouramis fighting each other.  I wasn't about to add other fish to the mix.

So today I decided to buy some Zebra Danios.  I know they're not Angelfish, but I have a method to my madness.  After giving my tank a good cleaning, I needed to reestablish my good bacteria.  I also wanted to have some fish to go along with the Angelfish I will be getting in a few weeks.  Danios are great since they are off the minnow line, and aren't fin-pickers like some other "community" fish.

But as life is fickle, things didn't exactly go my way.  You see, they didn't have any of the cheap Zebra Danios.  They had the prettier, more expensive Long Finned Zebra Danios.  So I decided to buy three of them.  They have quite a bit of room in my 46 gallon bow-front Eurotank. 

I tried to get some nice pictures of them, but dang, they are fast.  They just won't slow down for me to take a picture. 




Trust me, they are a lot prettier in person than they are on in the photos.

Also in the tank is Big Joe the Sixth.  Joe don't care.  He's just been hanging out there for 12 years or so.


Even though I gave the tank a good cleaning last week, I couldn't find Mike Nugget, the Gold Nugget Pleco.  In fact, I hadn't seen him for over two weeks.  I thought he had passed away, but today I found him.  I have to give him credit.  He is the Pleco hide and seek champion. 

Here's the only pictures I could get of him.  Look directly in the middle of the photo.  He's hiding between the rock and the glass of the aquarium.  If you see the yellow polka dots, that's him.  Like I said, he's good.



So that's the exciting fish tank news for the day.  In two weeks or so I should have some new Angelfish to show off.  They will be the classic Marble Angelfish.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bad Luck Windshield, And The Best Way To Ruin A Saturday

All I wanted was to do a good job at mowing the yard.  Well, mowing has never been the issue.  Any trained monkey can sit on a riding lawnmower and cut grass.  It takes a person with patience to crank up the weed-eater, edger, and blower, and fine tune the yard.  I am not a person with patience.

So what began as a chance to manicure my lawn into a perfect white picket fence dream house, ended with a broken back windshield.  Let me explain.

I had already mowed the lawn.  Next, I had taken the edger around the yard.  I was 98% finished with the weed-eating.  That's when I noticed the grass growing through the cracks in the driveway.  I usually don't bother with that grass, as it doesn't grow big enough to worry me.  But I wanted to give it my all.  I wanted to give it 110%.  I wanted the lawn to look immaculate.  So I started to weed-eat it. 

The good news was that the grass grows in-between where the concrete was laid.  So it grows right where the road's asphalt meets the driveway's concrete.  In other words, it grows in a straight line.  That's great!  I can walk and weed-eat in a straight line, and knock it out real quick.

So I get one side of the driveway.  Then I continue weed-eating the other side.  I had the weed-eater on full blast due to the kind of grass that was growing through it.  We have St. Augustine, and I was trying to cut it down completely, and that meant going through the roots.

So I was weed-eating when I thought I heard a gunshot.  I looked around, and didn't see anyone or anything.  I looked over to my left at Mom's Ford Escape.  Everything looked fine.  I looked at Dad's Ford F-150 next to it.  Again, everything was fine.  So I continue weed-eating the grass in the cracks.  I get to the side of the driveway where I finish weed-eating that line of grass. 

That's when I look over to my car to see my back windshield exploded.  Here's a picture of it.


Apparently what I thought was a gunshot was the weed-eater picking up something (maybe a penny or other piece of metal) and slinging it right into my back windshield.  I was just trying to make the lawn look nice.  Now I had a completely destroyed back windshield.  I'll be honest, I still thought it was a gunshot when I looked at it.  I thought it went through the edge of it making the two holes.  I checked out Dad's truck to see if there was a bullet hole in it.  I couldn't find one, so I must have slung something into the glass.




So the insurance and glass people were called.  I then did the only thing I could do.  Start cleaning up the mess.  I got out my toolbox with my long hammer and heavy duty gloves.  I know that glass can cut up a person really quick, so I made sure to wear my gloves.  I also got out my shop vacuum, and two brooms, and a pan.


I'm glad I had the shop vacuum to clean up the inside of my car.  Here's before the vacuuming:



And after the vacuuming:



I still need to get into some of those nooks and crannies, but I got all the major glass out of there.  Next, I had to drive to the back of a corporate maze of businesses to find Safe Light Glass.  I drove around for 45 minutes in Thonotosassa pissing off the locals.  But I finally found it, and they put a temporary cover on the back for me.


It will be Wednesday before my replacement windshield arrives.  That's fine.  I didn't expect them to have a 2001 Ford Focus Station wagon on hand.  This windshield is a bit more expensive than other ones due to it having the defrost strips in it.  So, I'm sure it will be a pain in the butt for the installer. 

I feel like Dante in "Clerks" when he says, "I'm not even supposed to be here today!"  All I wanted was to mow the lawn, and get some things cleared off my "to-do" list.  Instead, I have more work on my list due to this.  I just wanted a nice lawn.

I also have the feeling that certain folks in the household don't believe that the windshield broke due to an accident.  I'm sure they think I lost my temper again, and took it out on the car, and that's why the windshield broke.  Of course, my hands would be cut to shreds, and would need massive stitching.  I'm sure they would then think that I smashed it with the weed-eater, except that it would have gone all the way through the glass, and not made it ripple like it did.  Well, I can only control me, and not what other think of me. 

So I will write an update when I get the new windshield.  I'll leave the car where it is so I don't look so white trash going down the road.  Luckily Mom will let me borrow her car for the time being so I'm not S.O.L.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

HVAC: Home Edition, Part 2

A few weeks ago I cleaned out the squirrel cage blower on one of our A/C systems.  We have two systems to cool down the house.  So I finally got around to cleaning the other blower.  First up, this is what I was looking at.


It's a bit different than the other unit, but then again, that one has been replaced twice.  This unit and system is still running after 22 years.  Of course, I was told that it hadn't been cleaned in 22 years either.  So let's get to working on this.



Luckily, I only had to disconnect a few things, and not cut any wires.  It was a bit dusty on the outside, as well as rusty.  And by rusty, I mean, one of the screws holding the unit was being a pain in the butt as I was trying to get it out.  Take a peek.


But it did manage to come off with some elbow grease.  Then I managed to get the whole thing disassembled.  And it was a bit dusty if I do say so.


Yeah, it's a bit dirty. 


So I got around to cleaning it up a bit.  Between brushes, screwdrivers, and compressed air, I think I got it looking somewhat decent. 



Then came the hard part.  Putting it all back together.  Everything was going fine until I found one plug-in that didn't have anything to plug in to.  So I actually looked at these pictures I took, and found one thing.  Take a peek at the upper left hand corner.


Do you see the plug that doesn't actually plug into anything?  Yeah, that's what I was dealing with.  So once I found that it didn't actually plug into anything I was able to put everything back in place. 

So that's another great HVAC victory in the books.  After putting the cover on, and turning the system back on, I had to put my ear against the blower to make sure it was running.  In other words, it was running so smoothly I could barely ear it.  That's a good thing.  It shows that I got it nice and clean. 

So it's onto the next project sometime or another.  I'm learning a lot in class, and hope I can continue with my string of success.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

All About That ... Well, You Know

I finally bought a piece of musical equipment that I have never had.  A combo bass amp.  But before I get into that, let me catch you up.  You see, I bought a Dean Razorback for a great price.   Here's a picture of it.


However, I didn't really have a use for such a metal guitar.  I don't really play metal much anymore.  And even if I do, I still have a few other guitars that I would use to play that style of music.

So I decided that I really needed a Fender Blues Jr., Mark 3 combo amp.  It would be perfect for carrying and playing coffee shops.  So I traded the Dean Razorback for the Fender Blues Jr. 

I didn't really care for the sound of the EL-84 tubes, but then I read on the internet about a "mod" kit to make it better.  So I did that.  I also added $80 worth of expensive tubes.  Not only that, but I added a pretty good speaker to it.



Guess what?  I still didn't like the sound.

Here's the link to everything I did with that amp:

http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/08/fender-blues-jr-new-mod-day.html

So I sold it off.  Now I have money burning in my pocket.  What to do?  Should I hold on for a rainy day?  Should I buy another guitar amp?  Maybe this time a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with the 6L6 tubes? 

But I thought about it, and realized I already had amps that were better than that.  What I didn't have was a bass amp.  I had two basses, but no bass amp.  I had been using an old SUNN Alpha 212R combo amp for a bass amp.  It came from the 70's when both the guitar and bass players plugged into the same amp.


A bass amp is what I needed, but what kind?  The immediate answer that most players would say is, "Buy an Ampeg and be done with it."  But there's kind of a problem.  St. Louis Music which used to own Ampeg sold it off.  The new ones are made overseas, and they have had nothing but problems.  My former bass player had one of the new ones, and it was in the shop something like over 15 times.

I thought about Kustom amps, both the old and new models.  However, they don't really have a gain setting on them.  They are some of the best looking amps, but looks don't make the sound. 

So they were off the list.  So I went into Guitar Center, and tried out a few amps.  I also made the smart move of taking one of my own basses.  The bass amps that really impressed me the most were the Acoustic Amp series of amps.  (Acoustic is the brand name.  It is not an acoustic guitar amp.)  They were big in the 70's, and had recently come back from the dead (business wise.) 

I really liked the B100 model.  It was a 100 watt amp with a single 15 inch speaker.  It also had a simple four band EQ, and a gain setting.  Frankly, it was everything that I needed and nothing more. 


It's perfect for small gigs and coffee houses.  Honestly, I'll probably use it more for recording than anything.  It's not too big, and it's not too small.  Although, I'm sure I will be told that I'm, "too loud" while playing in the house. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

This Is 40

Last week I turned 40.  I knew this would happen eventually.  I just didn't think it would happen so soon.  It seems like not long ago I was in college, and trying to turn my life around.  Well, in a weird series of events I am back in college and still trying to turn my life around.

Yeah, I really go here:



I was hoping to get a cake that looked like this:


Instead my cake was a little more like this, this year:


I knew it was coming.  I remember when my Father turned 40.  The family was up in West Virginia.  I lost a tooth, and Uncle Jim had the home video camera out, recording everything.  The cake was black.  The plates and plastic silverware was black.  Even the napkins were black.  I kind of felt bad for Dad.  All those, "Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's 40," sayings posted everywhere. 

But despite me never having a birthday party where I invited friends over, I had the bright idea to have one.  This lead to all sorts of weirdness.  Namely, a lot of anxiety whether anyone would show up.  Also, I used Facebook to send all my invitations, and 75% of my "friends" never responded to my invite.  I asked a number of times that if anyone couldn't make it to just say so.  Either way, I needed to know how much cake to bring.

In the end I had mostly female friends show up, so I can't be too mad about that.  There was plenty of cake and veggie sticks for everyone.  I didn't receive as many presents as I would have liked, but it was supposed to be more about, "the experience."  On a side note, a 70's throwback disco/funk band called, "Raspberry Pie," played during my party.  They were really tight.

But on a different note, I guess I should be thankful.  My hair is still black.  I'm surprised it hadn't turned gray yet.  Even my Mom had gray hairs when she was 12.  Yes, that's not a misprint.  Her first grays started popping out when she was 12.  Her brothers also went gray early.  I figured I would be gray young as well.  Now I do have a patch of angry gray/white hairs on my chinny, chin-chin, but I don't have very many on my head. 

I mean, I'm not as good looking as Paul Rudd at 40, but I'm better than I thought I would be.


So, they say that age is just a number, but so is breaths per minute, and that's kind of important.  I won't look at this as getting older, I will look at it as leveling up.


Also, I'm riding a Chocobo.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

HVAC: Home Edition: Undercutting the Contractors

I am now in month four at Erwin Vo. Tech for HVAC (Heating, ventilation, air conditioning.)  The last two weeks things have finally starting coming together for me.  The things that I have learned from the book are finally being put into real life practice.  And honestly, it couldn't have come at a better time.

You see, the A/C unit at the house had it's scheduled maintenance.  The company that maintains it said that it needed a few things.  First on unit #2, the dual capacitor was weak, and eventually it would need a new one.  The second issue with unit #2 was that the squirrel cage blower wheel needed cleaning. 

Well, after everything I've seen I wasn't sure how true it was.  I know a lot of companies perform the "inspection" for free, and then jack up the price on needed work.  What defines "needed work" can be open to interpretation.  Usually a capacitor either works or it doesn't.  There is no in-between.  Now I will be honest, in that, if a capacitor is weak it may be a sign of dying ...... sometime.  It could be a week, it could be years.  What you don't want is a capacitor to quit working, and then need an "emergency call" to the A/C company.  Then the price will really be jacked up.

So I wanted to get ahead of the curve.  I took a peek at the estimates for the work.  To change the capacitor was $194.24 (before discount,) and cleaning the blower was $256.10 (before discount.)  So if I could take care of this instead of the A/C company it would save a lot of dough.

My instructor was able to purchase the capacitor for $9.40.  I immediately paid him for it in cash, and was ever so thankful.  So when I made it home I got all my equipment and tools out. 

I took lots of pictures, so I will tell the rest of the story along with the pictures I took.  That way, you can understand what I am talking about.

First up, the tools.


And here is the $70, nay, $9.40 capacitor.


Here is the unit.


Here are the guts of the unit.


Here is a close up of the old capacitor.



I made sure to perform the correct math to make sure all the wires were going in the right places on the new capacitor.


So I put the connections on the new capacitor, and then drilled a new hole on the strap.  This capacitor was skinner, but longer than the old one.  So I adjusted the strap to hold it nice and tight.


And here is a picture of the all the completed work.


Honestly, I spent most of my time performing math and adjust the strap.  Other than that it didn't really take long.  So that was now out of the way.

A few days later it was time to tackle the squirrel cage blower.  Again, any little bit of dust on it can result in an A/C company saying it needs cleaning.  So before I even took anything apart, I took a peek at it.  You know what.  They weren't lying.  It needed cleaning.  It needed cleaning badly.  So I took it out and this is what it looked like.



There's nothing too technical about it.  It's just dirty, and I needed to get in there by hand and clean it out.  I used wire brushes, my big flat head screwdriver, and an air compressor to get in, and get that thing clean.  Did I mention it was dirty?  Because I looked like I rolled around in black dirt.



Again, it was more time consuming than it was hard.  I will say this.  My instructor showed me how to clean a blower just two days before.  I also knew that I would have needed a special tool to take the motor out.  If I could have removed the motor, then I would have used a water hose on the blower.  But since the motor was intact, I knew not to get water anywhere near it. 

Using the compressed air really helped.  I was able to get the little bits (and big bits) out of the blower.  I was surprised at the amount of dirt I was able to get out of it.  I ended up with a big ole' pile at my feet.  So this is what it looked like after cleaning.


Not perfect, but still ten times better than it was.  Once the unit was re-installed it actually sounded quieter.  That let me know that all the work I preformed was valid.  And hey, no one had to pay $450 (before discounts) to the A/C company.