RIP Lola Bean

Continuing a terrible week for dogs in the Barber family, Taylor’s chocolate lab, Lola Bean, passed away tonight, January 25, 2023. The sweet girl’s free spirit got the better of her. I hope she and Cooper are running together in Heaven.

RIP Cooper

Heaven gained a new angel tonight. Cooper was born on December 5, 2017, and passed away on January 24, 2023, after a series of uncontrollable seizures. The veterinarians did everything they could, but in the end, the seizures were just too much for the medicine to handle.

All the vets worked diligently, kept us updated, and took excellent care of our boy. I’d like to give a special thank you to Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, who was there when we brought him in and when he crossed the rainbow bridge.

We love you, Buddy!

All Good Things Come to an End

Today, my boss of a little over seven years, told our team that he had turned in his resignation.

In all my years of being an IT professional, I cannot think of a boss, from whom, I have learned more about my chosen vocation. When Dave came in, he added structure to a disjointed program and gave us guidance on just how to do things better. We learned what mattered and what didn’t, pertaining to business continuity and disaster recovery. We learned how a good leader should and shouldn’t act. We also gained confidence in our skill sets, and really came together as a team.

I won’t sugar-coat everything. Dave and I butted heads a little, but nothing more than two adults with opposing views would, when they care about something. The important thing is that he, nor I, ever crossed any lines and were always respectful of each other’s opinions. He always had our back, and the proof was in the pudding. He was unafraid to do the right thing by us and we always felt “safe” under his guidance.

Personally, I feel like we got along well. Soccer not being the least of them, we talked about a lot of different things. As his subordinate, he confided in me about things and, I to him. It was a relief to me that all of our conversations did not have to revolve around work. I even bought my motorcycle from him. I got the pleasure of meeting and knowing his wife, Heather, who passed away during his tenure. I’m sure that was a rough time for him, and I hope he knew how we prayed for her, him and their children.

I know all good things come to an end and, at the end of the day, our team will carry on. I just wish I could learn more from Dave. I consider him a mentor and friend and I wish him well.

Congratulations, Bear!

I attended the wedding of my lodge brother, William Bradley Braswell, Jr. last night. It was a very nice, short ceremony and the reception was awesome!

Another lodge brother, James Grubb and his wife were in attendance also, along with several hundred others. Family, folks from Bear’s time in law school, Bear’s fraternity brothers, his school mate, from McCallie… yuck! Overall, it was a great evening, and I am proud to have been invited. Bear is one of the best people I know… a sentiment shared by anyone I know, who knows him. He is motivated, nice and just fun to be around.

I wish he and Kayla the very best and my prayers are for a long and happy marriage.

New Train of Thought

Back in August 2022, I bought a drone. Without going too far into it, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that the drone was a waste of money and, living so close to the airport, I was unable to fly it in the manner intended. As such, I decided to sell it. I was firm on my price and, eventually, someone bought it.

My next thought was, since this was my bonus money, “what am I going to spend this on?” My line of thinking was, with the drone, before too long, I would have to upgrade and drones are not cheap. I was interested in something I wouldn’t have to upgrade as much and something that might be considered a “life-skill.” As I thought about it, I harkened back to when I owned a guitar.

With my mind made up, I started researching. The website sweetwater.com kept popping up and I found that this was probably the best online retailer for guitar-related things. It kind of caught me my surprise, but I found that I already had some preferences. For example, I wanted a guitar with a cutout, so I could get to those bottom frets. Eventually, I landed on an Alvarez AGE910 Artist Elite Deluxe Acoustic-electric.

I made the purchase and the guitar, with a few accessories will be arriving on 1/6/2023. I am excited. I have already planned out my initial itinerary for finally learning this instrument. I have made some additional purchases for some apps and website subscriptions and hope this will finally be the year I learn a musical instrument in a way that I can say “I know how to play a guitar.” It is one of my bucket list items, after all. 🙂 Wish me luck and discipline!

RIP Nikki

One of my oldest friends, Nikki, passed away on November 29, 2022. Nikki and I have had ups and downs as friends, more than friends and confidantes. It hurts to see her come to her end with so much life ahead of her. The picture below is how I remember her. Here is her obituary:

Obituary for Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson

Beloved Teacher Loved Adventure, Her Children, And Animals

Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson, 49, gained her wings on November 29, 2022. She was born on September 7, 1973, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Nikki graduated from Hixson High School, grew up and lived on Signal Mountain where she taught at Sunshine Learning Center, and was a much-loved substitute teacher at Thrasher Elementary. She later moved to Cumming, Ga., and continued her love of education as a special education substitute teacher and paraprofessional, all while raising her children and maintaining a loving home for her family.

Nikki’s children were the love of her life. She was so proud of them. Nikki loved adventures and making life fun for Avery, Colin, Cay, Morgan, and all their friends. Nikki spent many days on baseball, soccer, softball, and flag football fields as the proudest Mom. Nikki also passed on her love of the equestrian world to Avery, helping Avery to achieve her dream of owning her own horse. She was a beautiful soul with an infectious laugh who loved her family and friends. She was passionate about everything in life, loved deeply, and worked hard to achieve her goals. There was no one quicker to spark an uncontrollable laugh or with more determination and grit. Nikki loved animals, including cats, dogs, horses, pigs, a cow, a mini horse, mini donkeys, and many other creatures. Nikki was beautiful and vibrant and will be missed beyond words; she was truly one of a kind.

Nikki was preceded in death by her parents, William “Bill” Mills and Susan Humphreys Burke.

She is survived by her daughter, Avery Hendrickson; son, Colin Hendrickson; stepdaughter, Cay Hendrickson Plaskett (Bentley); husband, Kevin Hendrickson; sisters Kelly Leiper (Mark) and Cori Mills Barber (Daniel); brother, Kevin Ray (Susan); aunt, Alice Humphreys White; niece, Morgan Leiper (Derek); stepmother, Debbie Mills Maple (Jay); stepsisters Nicole Pittard (Sam) and Gina Wright (Rick); stepbrother Chris Fincher; mother in law, Clarice Hendrickson; father in law, Charles Hendrickson (Linda); sister in law Kimberly Hendrickson (Tab Gray); several cousins and other nephews and nieces; close friend Greg Wilson; and dog, Pilot.

The family is comforted by knowing Nikki is at peace and surrounded by her Mom, Dad, and the hundreds of animals Nikki rescued or adopted over her lifetime including Shadow, Hampton, Snoop Dog, Chip, Brooklyn, Sadie, Foster, Goose, and Brownie. The family would also like to express gratitude to the multiple friends who have supported Nikki.

A Celebration of Nikki’s life will be held at the Mountain Arts Community Center, 809 Kentucky Avenue, Signal Mountain, Tn., on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by a service from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. officiated by Pastor Caleb Pitkin of Signal Mountain United Methodist Church.

A burial for the family will follow at Chattanooga Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Educational Society or the McKamey Animal Shelter in Chattanooga, Tn.

Announcement is by Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist – Valley View Chapel.

New Toy – Part 2

It’s been a while since I posted anything, so I thought I’d post the continuing story of my motorcycle. There may be a few posts today, since it is, in fact, my 16th wedding anniversary. 🙂

Picking up where I left off in Part 1, The fuel sending unit arrived, was installed and is doing exactly what it is intended to do… tell me how much gas is in the tank.

I did end up taking that carburetor off again, for a much more thorough cleaning. The carb set for this VN750 is in three parts, two carbs and a central piece that connects them together. I took it off, took it apart and allowed each part to soak for 24 hours in some Berryman Chem-Dip Carburetor Parts Cleaner. All pieces came out looking like new and it beat the heck out of purchasing new carbs at the bargain price of about $1200 each! Ouch!

Having had the bike for a little over a year now, I have definitely learned and remembered some things. One important item I’d like to get back to is proper helmet fit. As you may recall, I purchased an HJC F70. While I love this helmet, I have found that it is only suitable, for me, for short rides. I found that, during long rides, my forehead feels like it is on fire, after about two hours. No bueno, for anything outside the state. For helmet sizing, there is the obvious choice of a helmet that will, simply, fit over your head. Taking it a step further, one must also take into account the shape of one’s head. My HJC F70 is an “intermediate oval”… slightly elongated, front to back. What I need is a “long oval.” HJC doesn’t make a long oval helmet, so we’re back to the drawing board.

Bottom line on helmets, it is not just about the brand and basic size. Also, don’t do it online unless you know exactly what you need. I went through three online orders before I found one that would simply fit over my head. Do it in person and be sure to ask about inside shape. A bad fitting helmet will eventually reveal itself and by that time, you might not be able to return it for one that fits correctly.

New Toy – Part 1

Back when I was in college, I had a good, old fashioned crotch rocket… a 1993 Suzuki Katana 600. Last month, I got a new toy… a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 750. I got a great price, which I found to be a very appropriate price and put almost as much into it to get it and me road-worthy again. It had been sitting in the previous owner’s garage for five years. It had not been started, or in any way, maintained for that amount of time. It was not running and had to be trailered home. Here’s a run-down of what it took to get back on the road:

  • Purchases
    • Motorcycle (2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 750, VN750A22)
    • Helmet (HJC F70)
    • Insurance (Geico)
    • Registration (TN)
    • Turn Signals x4 (Not OEM)
    • Phone mount (Roam Universal, I will be looking for something more substantial)
    • Battery (Yuasa, OEM)
    • Rubber tubing (OEM)
    • Fork top (OEM)
    • Fuel tap assembly (fuel valve on the tank, OEM)
    • Air filters (K&N)
    • Spark plugs (NGK, OEM)
    • Spark plug socket (O’Reilly’s)
    • Fuel gauge sending unit (OEM)
    • Oil filter (K&N)
    • Various fluids & cleaners (Amazon & O’Reilly’s)
    • Battery charger & accessories (Battery Tender)
  • Labor
    • De-rust tank
      • I used Evapo-Rust from Amazon. It did an okay job.
    • Replace battery
    • Replace fuel tap assembly
    • Replace fuel gauge sending unit
    • Replace turn signals
    • Replace spark plugs
    • Replace air filters
    • Clean everything
    • Rudimentary carburetor cleaning
    • Various electrical work
      • Ran a wire for a phone charger.
    • Change oil
    • Top off antifreeze

I have learned a TON by working on this thing myself. Here are a few key things that happened or were discovered:

  • The carburetor was a BEAST to remove, even though I had the service manual to tell me exactly how to do it. I didn’t have the guts to disassemble it at the time, for a more thorough cleaning. That will come later.
  • The tires were in surprisingly good shape, given their age. They are still on the bike and I intend to use them.
  • It is a pain to get a correctly-fitting helmet when doing it by mail. I suggest that anyone buying a helmet, do it in person to find the right fit.
  • Now that it’s running, I come up against a wall, when I hit about 4000 RPMs. Looses power, especially going up hill. I have been told, by a service tech, that a more thorough cleaning of the carburetor is in order.
  • When buying a used bike, have a budget in mind BEFORE buying and have a good idea of what will need to be done AFTER you check it out, but BEFORE handing over the money. Be okay with walking away. There are a ton of bikes for sale.
  • GET THE SERVICE MANUAL for your model of bike. Worth every penny. I wish I had one when I had my old bike.
  • When ordering online, check out the shipping charges. With certain vendors, shipping is almost as much as the part itself.

Here are some of the websites/stores I used to get what I needed:

  • amazon.com – Got several cleaning items and non-bike-specific items
  • partzilla.com – My go-to for OEM parts. Free shipping for orders over $140… not hard to do.
  • cyclegear.com – Helmet and batter charger w/accessories. They also have a local store. Free shipping to the store.
  • jpcycles.com – Spark plugs and non-OEM turn signals (OEM ones are VERY expensive)
  • rever.co (not a typo) – Cycling app and service for phone
  • oreillyauto.com – Carb cleaner, brake cleaner, oil filter, plug socket… normal non-bike-specific things.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE!DO NOT, under any circumstances, use a company called Adept Powersports. They have the absolute WORST customer service known to mankind. Ever since I have been old enough to spend my own money on anything, I have never received customer service this bad. I even got cussed at for questioning when/how an order would be shipped. Luckily, I stopped it before they shipped me the wrong thing and, likely, charged me a restocking fee. JUST DON’T. These people do not deserve to receive one red cent from anyone for anything.

At this point, all that remains is to receive and replace that fuel gauge sending unit and pull/clean the carburetor again. Not looking forward to that, but I feel much more comfortable about it now that I’ve been through a thing or two. I am, very much, looking forward to spending some time on the road with this thing. There just not much like it. More later!

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