Monthly Archives: September 2007


Sometimes it’s sad when you think about how much of a rut you are in. The renters moved into the cottage on Friday, so I no longer have a place to go to “get away”. I’m really not “getting away” from anything in particular, but it feeds my addiction for lake living. I think I only spent three or four nights there this summer, but I was there almost every day. I imagine I’ll be like a caged lion for a while, pacing back and forth, thinking I have nothing to do. As soon as I go downstairs I’ll see the piles of stuff I brought from the cottage and, now, need to find a place to put it.

As I look out the window I can see the “over the hill gang” playing golf. It’s a group of men over 50 that play together at nine each morning. I look at the clock and it’s only 8:55. Maybe when you get to be a geezer like me, you figure if you don’t wait around for the clock to hit a certain number, you may get a head start and outrun the grim reaper. I know I said “men over 50” and that makes it sound like a middle aged group, but if I join them I’ll be, by far, the youngest person out there at almost 61.

I sold the Lund fishing boat yesterday. I bought it brand new when Jean and I got married and used it a lot that first couple of years when we were at Algonquin Lake. When Jean made me move into town (correction – when I decided that I was tired of lake living and asked Jean to give up the water and move into town) we didn’t use it nearly as much. It hasn’t been in the water for three years and probably hasn’t been used more than ten times in the last ten years. It was time for it to go, but it’s like losing an old friend. The boat brought lots of good memories.

The final word on the pontoon fiasco is that it now runs. Apparently the guy at the marina overestimated my mechanical abilities when he said an idiot could replace the battery cables. I took the cover off the engine and it looked like a mass of foreign objects. I couldn’t follow the red wire, couldn’t see where the black wire attached, and it looked like you had to take out way too much stuff to get to them. I consulted with ace boat mechanic, Martin, and he told me the best way to make a splice of the broken wire. That I could handle and, after ten minutes, the motor was purring like a kitten. The splice should keep it running so I can get it over to the landing when the marina picks it up.

By now most of you know that Becky is in the hospital. She called Jean in the afternoon yesterday and sounded like she wasn’t well at all. Jean took her to the walk-in-clinic and that started the ball rolling. An ambulance transported her up to the emergency room and, by nine she was in surgery. By eleven she was on her way to recovery. Let’s just say it’s a plumbing issue and you can get the details from Jean. It’s like looking at a fine automobile. I admire the sleek lines and long to take it out for as spin, but when it comes to lifting the hood and looking at the inner workings, I’m not mechanical enough to understand what I’m talking about. We’ll keep her in our thoughts and prayers.

Happy retirement, Paul.

Just (Happy To Be Jean’s Go-fer) Jack

Fair Warning

(npi=no pun intended).

Thursday is D-Day. Well, actually it’s C-Day for my third colonoscopy. That means one for every Ironman race I’ve completed. I think I may retire from the long-course scene ‘cuz I’m tired of these humiliating experiences (the race and the scope). It’s bad enough that a doctor is standing behind you with what seems like a 50 foot pole with an umbrella on the end, but opening the umbrella is worse. That crap (npi) they tell you when you have your first one “You won’t have to have another for 6 to 8 years” isn’t true for everyone. It seems like the hip hematoma, the a/c joint separation and the bike wreck of ’03 would have been enough bad luck. And it’s quite expensive when it’s my turn to bring the wine and candles.

Everyone who I have talked to who has had one (me included) says the preparation the night before is worse. Jean had the foresight to get scheduled to work from 4 to 8 tomorrow evening. My preparation starts at 5. By 8 I’ll have an imprint of a toilet seat on my butt that won’t go away for weeks. I would just as soon none of you stopped by at around 7 to see how things are going (npi). If you do please be warned not to blow out any of the scented candles. You’ll be sorry and I’ll be sorrier because I won’t be able to go outside for fresh air.

I’ve told some of you my ills regarding the pontoon boat. I exhausted all the things that the guy at the marina told me to look for, so today I took the next step. All the connections were clean and bright; the fuse was not blown in the engine; the battery was good and fully charged; and the remote was in the neutral position. It was windy and cold today, so I got on my waders, went out to the boat, and crawled on my hands and knees underneath to follow the wires. On my knees trying to shuffle through the weeds that had grown under the boat was bad, but the 10 jillion spiders and spider webs was worse.

As I had expected, some muskrats had build a sleeping bed of grass and mud right over the cables that go from the engine to the control box. I shook all the cables and looked at them as well as I could, and I didn’t see any breaks. I was a bit discouraged and was standing at the stern by the motor, when I saw the positive cable that goes from the battery to the motor, in the pan below the motor, submerged in a half inch or so of water. The spot where it touched the pan had some green crud on it and, bingo, a light went on. Green crud on wires means oxidized copper (anybody knows that from 8th grade science class) so I reached down and pulled the wire up. I ran my finger along the cable covering and it had worn through to the wire. That’s where the break is and, if I replace the wiring harness, it should work.

I went to the marina and picked up a set of cables (for a Mercury engine and I have a Honda) to the tune of $58.00 plus tax and will try to replace them tomorrow. I asked the guy if an idiot could change the wires and he said yes. We’ll see! I’m not very mechanical, but I should be able to disconnect the old black cable (negative) and hook up the new black cable and the same with the red cable (positive). If it baffles me I may cry for help from any of you who are more mechanically inclined than me. I’ll trade help for beer.

Which reminds me, I bottled the first batch of the Fat Tire Amber Ale Sunday and today I transferred the second batch to the secondary fermenter. I’ll cold condition it for a couple of weeks and bottle it around the end of the month. Mountain Bike Sam has some wine that’s about ready, Pike’s Peak Pat has some homemade wine too, and I’ll have way more beer than I’ll ever drink. I’ve talked with Jean and Sam and will talk with Pat about having a Trilanders wine and beer tasting get together around the holidays. The beer will be at its best around my birthday, so we’ll see what works for everybody.

Better go (npi).

Just (Not Looking Forward To The Next Two Days) Jack


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to brew a clone of Fat Tire Amber Ale. It was developed by Jeff Lebesch who melded his love for quality Belgian beers with his love for mountain biking. I don’t know if I reported any of the details after the brew but it didn’t come out exactly the way I thought it would. The recipes normally give a range of what the specific gravity of the wort (unfermented beer) should be after the boil but before fermentation. It showed an expected gravity (the O.G.) of between 1.048 and 1.050. I followed the recipe exactly and mine came out to be 1.042. It’s not all that much lower but it can have an effect on the alcohol content and the fullness of flavor.

I consulted with Matt, my mentor, and we discussed all the possibilities for why it turned out the way it did. I decided this last Friday to brew another batch using the same ingredients but using more pounds of grain. I entered the original recipe in ProMash which is a beer brewing software that does all the math for you. I changed the batch size to 5.5 gallons, reduced the mash efficiency to 64% (from my last batch) and I added enough grain quantity to get the estimated O.G. to 1.050. I OVERADJUSTED! On this last batch I went to Bells in Kalamazoo, bought the grain, and crushed it myself using the hand mill they supplied. I did change the process of the sparging of the mash, but everything else remained the same other than the quantity of grain. I ended up with an O.G. of 1.064. That will change the estimated alcohol level from an estimated 4.33% abv (alcohol by volume) to an estimated 6.87% abv. I guess bartenders have to drink their own mistakes so wish me luck.

I hate to rat on good friends but I know who caused the recent storms and heavy rains that have flooded areas all over the country. I hate to kick a guy when he’s down but it’s Bill Bradley! It’s a little complicated so try to follow along. I’ve written many times about the fact that I’ve become a triathlon race weather pox. No matter what race I enter, the weather will be bad. Either way…hotter and more humid than normal or cold and rainy. It’s my lot in life so I have to live with it. After my bike wreck of 2003 and the attendant brain injuries, my friends have taken turns watching me to make sure I don’t do anything weird or detrimental to society.

All summer without any rain made Crooked Lake drop about 8 inches and the first section of my dock was over dry land. My pontoon boat was on shore half the time and it took all my strength and body mass (no comments, please) to move it enough to go for a boat ride. I asked Bill to help me move it out one section. It was Bill’s turn to keep an eye on me and he agreed to help me anyway, knowing full well that when I moved the dock it would start raining, and it did. Now you have to wade in water for five feet just to get out to the dock. And look at all the people who are now homeless from the floods.

I usually don’t comment on politics but this past week has been a field day for the media. I told a couple of people Friday night, before the wine set in, that I try my best to avoid public bathrooms to do “number two”, but the few times that I have, my foot hasn’t come anywhere near the guy’s foot in the next stall. And I wouldn’t reach down to pick up a piece of paper (that’s the senators’ story) with my worst enemy’s hand let alone my own left hand. And if I was picking up something I thought was that important, I wouldn’t wave to the guy in the next stall under the partition. With that story and Michael Vick claiming that he didn’t actually kill the dogs that didn’t do well in the dog fights he didn’t promote but he was there when others did, I get upset. If people are going to do those kinds of things they need to take responsibility for their own actions and pay the price. People are so quick to blame someone else for their own bad actions. It makes me sick!

Better get out to the lake and rake some weeds.

Just (Glad I Take Responsibility Like A Man) Jack