Legal Disclaimer

The opinions stated here in this ‘blog or elsewhere on my web site are my own. Any or all facts (real or imagined) are typically presented from my personal point of view. Furthermore these facts and opinions do not necessarily represent or even agree with those of my family, my employer, the US Government, any other organization, or entity (real or imagined). Any similarity (real or imagined) to other individuals, animals, places, items or concepts is purely coincidental.


Vaulting Photos 

In case you missed it, I posted a couple of cute photos from the Devonwood Vaulting Harvest Fest on the Cascade Vaulters' blog / public web site.

Volcano Visit 2 

Today turned out to be a sunny but cool day so I drove down to Mt. St. Helens again. Again I got all the way out to the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center. Unlike my visit on 10-8, this time the Volcano was in spectacular view.

When ever the few scattered clouds would move out of the way I could clearly see the steam plume rising from the creator. At one point the plume got very gray. I couldn't tell if it might have had some ash in it or more likely that it was just a rather dense puff of steam.

It was really neat to see this kind of geologic activity first hand. The proximity of active volcanoes was one of many factors that influenced my decision to move to the Pacific NW back in 2000/2001.

For more info on the current activity at Mt. St. Helens and the other Cascades Volcanoes click here.

I again spent time with my laptop in the Cafe of the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center watching the various clouds and the steam plume waft about. And while I did I worked more on the Club Bylaws and Rules for the Cascade Vaulters.

As I was leaving I found out that the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center will be open a few days a week through out the winter, so I plan to make some trips back if the activity keeps up.


Soot (the Cat) 1993 - 2004 

I got the following bummer of an e-mail from my friend Jen today.

Dear Tom,

I'm sorry to have to tell you that Soot passed away last week, on October 19. He'd been having some trouble walking and the vet thought he had hurt his back, but it turned out he had a rapidly-growing brain tumor. The neuro-specialists we took him to were very good and I don't think he had any pain or fear - he just got duller and quieter and then he slipped quietly away only a couple days after we learned there was a problem. We will be putting his ashes in the back yard.

Smoke seems to be doing OK; he's been very sociable and clingy, but doesn't seem to be sad.

Sorry to relay the bad news. Josh and I were pretty in pieces about all this but we are recovering and remembering the 11 years of joy Soot gave us.


Soot and his brother Smoke were the inspiration for my domain name, I certainly enjoyed the time I spent with him over the years and I will miss him.


RE: Flame: FW: Special Alert regarding P&G boycott! Pls forward 

I got the following reply from my Uncle.


I am very sorry to have offended you. It is
certainly not my desire that your bonus be reduced, but we serve a God who can
increase our bonus in ways we never thought possible. Everything I
have, including all pay and bonuses, I considered as having come from the
Lord. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
(James 1:17).

I have a lot of compassion for people who are
involved in homosexual relationships because I know that God loves them. I
believe that God's Inspired Word, the Holy Bible, tells us that He views
homosexual behavior as sin (Genius 19:5-7, Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, and
Romans 1:27 [all of these should be read in context with the verses around
them]). Our God is a Holy God and a Just God and therefore, we deserve
death for the things that we have done that are against His
Law. But "Christ loved us and gave Himself up
for us" (Eph 5:2). Jesus paid the price for our
sin so that If we repent and turn to Him, we can be forgiven and be
healed. There are also a lot of sins in heterosexual behavior that God
also views as immoral (e.g., adultry) and therefore as sin. All of these
sins God can and will forgive through Jesus Christ.

I respectfully
decline to debate this issue and hope that you will understand I hold
nothing against you for what you believe -- that is between you and God.
You are part of our family and we love you. If you have
accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then we pray that He
will guide you into all Truth. If you have not believed and received
Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, we pray that you will. After I
received Jesus as my Lord and Savior (I was about 34 years old), I found that in
knowing and loving Him, I have come into a wonderful relationship with a
Awesome & Mighty God and I will be spending the rest of eternity
worshiping Him.

It was good to hear from you and hope that all
is well. Again, I am sorry to have offended


Uncle Rodney

It's too bad that he declined to debate the issues at hand. But it is understandable as most arguments based on blind faith don't hold up when examined rationally.

My Uncle references several Bible verses and implores that they should be "read in context with the verses around them". But he seems to forget that they should also be taken in the context of when, where and by whom they were written.

Saga of the Heater Valve: Epilogue 

The new heater valve, battery and starter seem to be working well. My Jeep hasn't had any more starting troubles or leaking coolant.

In case you missed them, due to my back posting, parts 2, 3 and 4 of the saga are now online. The original part 1 is here.


Words of Encouragement 

I got these comments by e-mail to my Flame: FW: Special Alert regarding P&G boycott! Pls forward entry. (Charlie is my Dad and Joanie is my Mom’s cousin.)

thanks for the forward Charlie


thanks for having the courage to speak your mind.

Take Care,

As of the time of this post I haven't heard anything back from my Uncle Rodney.

So I’ll simply add that now is the time for Moderate Christians to stand up, speak out, and take back our churches, our communities and our nation.


Flame: FW: Special Alert regarding P&G boycott! Pls forward 

Note: This entry was censored on 2004-12-07. See this entry for details.

Uncle Rodney –

I am deeply offended at your call to boycott Procter & Gamble. And so I challenge you to an open online debate of these and related issues in front of God, our family and the Internet. I will be posting this message on my blog and invite you to designate a location online for your comments and rebuttals.

First, to the best of my knowledge, you do not live in Cincinnati nor do most of the individuals that you are asking to join the boycott. So a local ballot measure in Cincinnati is, quite frankly, none of your business and none of ours. Procter & Gamble is headquartered in Cincinnati, and thus a corporate citizen of Cincinnati. P&G is also large employer in the area. Their $30k donation may simply be a reflection of the concerns of their employees or for the economic well being of their home city and thus their shareholders.

Second the ballot measure in question simply repeals a section of the city charter, and says:

Be it resolved by the people of Cincinnati that Article XII of the Charter of the City be repealed. This amendment to the City Charter shall in all respects be self-executing. Article XII shall be null and void and of no force and effect

It in no way grants any special rights to homosexuals, lesbians or bisexuals as alleged in your e-mail. A detailed analysis, including full texts of the existing City Charter Amendment and the ballot measure to repeal it, can be found by clicking here.

Third on October 1st my employer, {Employer's Name Removed}, announced {link removed} a major partnership with P&G and released a new co-branded product line, the {Employer's Product Name and Link removed} from {Employer's Brand Name Removed} and Crest. So the boycott of Crest products that you’re advocating would likely adversely affect my bonus next year.

Finally what makes you so sure that God shares your views that attack the loving and supportive relationships of homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals. As with slavery, women’s suffrage, and the rights of the disabled, shouldn’t a truly Christian community seek to provide equal protection under the law (both civil and ecumenical) for any minority group that is attacked by bigoted individuals in positions of power or influence.



Saga of the Heater Valve: Part 4, The Starter 

Fortonatly I didn't have to work on Friday (10/22). I checked the web and was able to get a replcaememnt starter at a local Schucks Friday morning. Their web site showed that almost all the local stores stocked starters for 1992 Jeep Cherokees.

It took a little over two hours to put my Jeep up on jack stands, pull off the old starter, mount the new starter and set my Jeep back down on it's wheels. It probably would have been about a 30 minute job, if I could have thrown my Jeep up on a lift. The most time consuming task seemed to be the repeated crawling under my Jeep to do something then back out to get a part or tool I needed.

By early afternoon I had finished up the repair, returned the old starter for the core depost and was on a long test drive.


Saga of the Heater Valve: Part 3, The Battery 

Once I got back from Devonwood, my Jeep continued to have starting problems. By Tuesday the battery seemed to be having trouble holding a charge and I was having to bump start more often then I could get the starter to turn over.

So after work I stopped by my local Les Schawb and had them test the electrical system. Of course they found that I needed a new battery. And since batteries cost less than starters and my jeep's battery was getting up there in miles, I let them sell me a new one. This seemed to fix the starting problems, at least for a few hours.

By Wednesday after noon I was back to the point of having to bump start most of the time. Fortunately most of the places I park my Jeep are on hills so this wasn't a particular inconvenience. Though I did end up getting gas at a station I don't normally stop at because it had a nice slope away from the pumps.

By Thursday evening the starter wouldn't turn over at all.


Saga of the Heater Valve: Part 2 

On Friday morning (10/15) I found the time to pick another heater valve from Eastside Chrysler Jeep and install it in time for my drive down to the Devonwood Vaulting Harvest Fest in Sherwood, OR that afternoon. I again used the plastic bag trick to catch the escaping coolant. And when I got this new valve installed did not leak. :)

With respect to my Jeep, the drive down to Devonwood was warm (but not hot) and rather uneventful. While in Oregon, I continued to have moderate trouble getting the starter to turn over. Most of the time it would require several turns of the key, and a few times I gave up and just bump started. On Saturday I got a call from a guy at Shucks letting me know that replacement valve I ordered had arrived early. The drive home on Sunday was much like the drive down.

On Monday I stopped by Shucks and picked up the valve I had ordered (and had pre-paid). So now I have another one on hand when the current one starts leaking.


Saga of the Heater Valve: Part 1 

For the past few months, the heater control valve in my Jeep [1992, Cherokee, 4.0l, 5 spd] has had a small leak. Until a couple of weeks ago this was barely noticeable, just requiring a little topping off of the coolant when changing the oil.

Over the last couple of weeks the leak has been dripping onto the starter / starter solenoid and has become a real nuisance. While the solenoid engages with each turn of the key, it requires several tries or a blow from a hammer / the clutch before the starter will turn. I think that the coolant has contaminated some of the electrical contacts in the solenoid and/or starter.

On Monday I bought a replacement heater valve at the local Shucks auto parts store. The “Four Seasons 74777, Fact Air Heater Valve” was the only one in stock. On Tuesday I swapped out the old valve for the new one and found that the new one leaked much worse then the old one. The new valve leaked around shaft that rotates the butterfly plate where the shaft enters the housing.

TIP: When swapping out this valve place a 1-gallon plastic freezer bag stuffed with paper towels under and around the valve before you disconnect the hoses. The bag should catch the coolant that drains out of valve and the heater core.

I couldn’t leave the new valve in as it would leave a good size trail of coolant everywhere I drove and a puddle when I stopped. I couldn’t put the old one back in as it was killing my starter. Correctly figuring that it would take several days to find a better replacement, I got a lift down to Lowes and picked up a couple of brass hose butt connectors and simply bypassed the heater core.

Today returned the defective “Four Seasons” heater valve, and ordered a “Ready Aire, 5941 Heater Valve”. As expected it won’t arrive until the 18th. So until then I have no heater. Or if it gets unexpectedly cold I can swap the connectors around and have heat that is always on.

This is the third time I’ve had to replace this valve and I think that it a underlying problem is a design flaw. The OEM part and the replacements have all had plastic housings that I suspect have been cracking from the hot and cold cycling experienced in about 50k miles. So I’m also looking for a better long term solution, like a better designed valve meant for some other vehicle or some other application entirely. The valve has four hose attachments for standard 5/8” heater hoses and is actuated by a small vacuum servo.


Cascade Vaulters Visit ECV 

The Cascade Vaulters went on their first "field trip" toady, visiting the Emerald City Vaulters and participating in a joint practice. Highlights included Beth and Sandy getting experience on a "green horse" and goes at canter. Also Adrianna go to practice on Storm in preporation for Devonwood Harvest Fest next weekend. In all it was a very fun and sucessful event.


Please Don't Buy a Compaq 

Please, please, please, pleeeeeeease, don't buy a Compaq if you want me to help support it. Recently a few people I know have acquired Compaq laptops and all of them are having troubles.

Twenty years ago Compaq made really good, state of the art, portable computers. Fifteen years ago their products were okay. But IMHO their systems have continued to go down hill ever since.

The basic problem is that Compaq tries to put too much of their own software between the hardware and the OS. This wouldn't be a problem except that hardware companies are notorious for writing bad software.

Back when operating systems were relatively small and simple, implementing software between the hardware and OS was a relatively small, simple and safe task. But with today's multiple operating systems, that tend to incorporate everything including the kitchen sink, this is nearly impossible to do well.

Good laptop brands these days are: Toshiba, Sony & IBM.

Volcano Visit 

I drove down to Mt. St. Helens today. I got all the way out to the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center. This was the second time that I got to the locked gates protecting tourists from an active Mt. St. Helens. The first time was in the summer of 1980 when traveling with my family on summer vacation. That tile we drove up to the the edge of the "Red Zone".

unfortunately the weather today wasn't the best for Volcano viewing. The entire time I was there most of the mountain was obscured by clouds. It did clear enough at times to see much of the pumice plane and lower flanks. And at one point I may have seen the lowest part of the crater. But I never did see the upper portions of the crater, the lava dome or the rim.

For more info on the current activity at Mt. St. Helens and the other Cascades Volcanoes click here.

While I waited at the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center to see if the weather would clear up, I was able to find a seat in the cafe with a power outlet. So I got some work on the Club Bylaws and Rules for the Cascade Vaulters done on my laptop.


Cascade Vaulters 

The Vaulters formerly known as Redwing held their first practice away from Faith Farm today. The vaulters warmed up by running down to Meydenbauer Beach and back up the hill. After stretching the vaulters then worked on their freestyle routines on the Region III Barrel. As the vaulters worked on the barrel, the vaulters, parents and the coach (me) discussed various names and chose "Cascade Vaulters" as the new club name. We also selected royal blue [#2b60de], navy blue [#000080] and silver [#c0c0c0] as the new club colors. We adopted a set of bylaws, and selected officers so that we can get our non-profit paper work turned in to the AVA by the October 15th deadline.