My Neighborhood Dog, Spike

Spike on the Bluff


he always wandered off,
to return with friends at our door

filled rooms with comfort
laying on the floor

he reminded us of simple joys
like back-scratching on grass

and never complained when I blamed him
for an occasional passing of gas

he surrendered himself to belly rubs
to provide us with positive energy and healing

and wore a contagious smile
no matter how you were feeling

so go now and play
and look down when you can

because you will always be
a best friend to this man


Spike – 2.14.2005 – 10.2.2013

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Alex Thoughts

I am in 7th grade now and I am 13 years old. I know how to speak a large amount of French but I am not that fluent.

I still play Guild Wars, and for playing for just over 4 years, having all the campaigns and expansions and not have beating a single one, you might say I’m bad. I don’t think I’m bad I just think that i don’t have a very large attention span in Guild Wars, meaning I don’t do one thing for too long.

At the moment in Guild Wars I am working on a Warrior in Nightfall that is level seven and has not died, I’m not sure if I’m going to go for Legendary Survivor but I do think I am going to get the first survivor title, which is getting to level twenty. So one thing that I am interested in is the FoWSC, which means Fissure of Woe Speed Clear. I have the ability to do the main tank role, the EoE role, I am one skill away from being able to do the 100b role, and I am one skill away from being able to the MoP role. But of course I need Hard Mode still.

One day in language arts my friend Dillon and I were joking around and some one through out the word, ” Sea Cow “. The other responded, “HaHa, yeah the Sea Cow.” and then all of a sudden I was like, “Holy Crap I have to write a book about the Sea Cow,” and now I am writing a book about it. Soon, below I will have a link to the sea cow progress page where you will be able to read the Sea Cow as I write it.

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Mountain Bike Tuneup

My son’s mountain bike hasn’t been shifting properly, and it was time to take it to an expert. My girlfriend’s brother-in-law likes to work on bikes, and I thought it would be a good idea to ask him for some help. It turns out he has a website, works on his friends bikes, and actually tunes skis and snowboards in the winter too! If your interested, here’s the link:

ratchet system in shifter messed up by the extra long screw I used

offending screw

Anyhow, when he looked at it, he found two things that were causing problems with the shifting. First, the internals in the front shifter were completely messed up. The main ratchet system was bent, and the screw the cap was secured with was threaded into a plastic part, not the metal threaded part, and it was locking up the shifter so that it would not even engage. After hearing about this, I remembered the silly shifter cap falling off a couple years ago, and rummaging around on the work bench, I found a screw, and put it back on.  Maybe I should have been a little more careful to use a screw that wasn’t five times longer than the the depth of the shifter.  I held my tongue initially, but came clean when I went to pick up the bike. I just couldn’t shoulder the guilt.
He was able to take apart another shimano shifter he had, and replaced the parts in ours. There is a picture on the right showing the bent screw, and one on the left of the damaged parts.

bent hanger

The other shifting issue was the derailleur hanger. There was too much movement in the derailleur when he was adjusting it, so he took it off, and noticed that the hanger was almost completely severed. He thinks this is from either laying the bike down on the derailleur side, or the derailleur shifting all the way into the spokes at some point. Apparently, the derailleur hanger is designed to fail in the event something happens, in order to protect the frame. I guess I should be thankful that I’m not replacing my frame. I am thankful he was able to modify a spare derailleur he pulled off another bike to use on mine

also hanger

After all that work, the bike shifts great, and all the gears work except for the top two rear cassette rings, which we don’t really need anyway. I guess the rear shifter is wearing out, so it just doesn’t get up to those top two gears; however, it’s not worth replacing the whole shifter just for those, when there are plenty of other perfectly good gears. He also did a full tune up, which is a bunch of stuff including tightening up the breaks, taking all the cables off, out of their casings, and lubricating them, and de-gunking and re-lubricating the chain.

I highly recommending finding someone who likes to tinker on bikes, as opposed to a big business to work on your bike. Get someone who’s hobby is working on bikes, someone who isn’t influenced by profiteering, or required to support the overhead of a commercial space and stuff. If your in the Chicago Suburbs, click on the link above and see if he has time for your bike.

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mayonnaise and mushrooms

Recently, in Michigan, Alex and I had a quiet food face off. To provide a little back story, Alex dislikes mushrooms, and I mayonnaise. As a last attempt to share the world of mushrooms with Alex, a year or so ago, we were eating at the Patio, and I convinced him to try a fried mushroom. The deal was that if he tried the fried mushroom, I wouldn’t badger him again about mushrooms. Never again to try and explain how they taste good, or how he may like them. Even writing this history today could be breaking my promise (I’m going to say it’s not based on 1: he would have to actually read this – and – 2: I am not directly cajoling). He tried the mushroom, and still does not like them. I think he is basing it completely on the texture and not the flavor; however, I digress, this is not the point.

I set a bag of mushrooms up, and was going to take a photo of him which also showed the bag, and before I was able to take the picture, he blocked with a jar of mayonnaise. So, I’m sharing with you a couple Alex shots from lunch time in Michigan.

I regret not taking enough pictures in Michigan during this trip, and that the ones here are blurry. Forgive me for this.

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