Archive for the 'Ed' Category

New Brakes, Part 2

Man, that was one heck of an ordeal. So we finally got everything back together and fully changed out. We ran into a number of problems today that we were not anticipating that slowed us way down. We had broken bolts that caused us to have to exchange brackets and two defective calipers. The original O’Riely’s store didn’t have the replacement parts for the parts we purchased from them to replace the defective parts we got, so we had to go to another store to get them. It seemed like we ran into issue after issue. Diagnosing the second defective caliper took a lot of time because it wasn’t until we were trying to bleed the brakes that it was discovered. I can’t even explain all the stuff I learned in one way or the other during this entire process. However, the main thing I can say I learned is that changing brakes is nowhere near as difficult as I had thought for so many years. Sure, it’s time-consuming, but basically it’s very easy! While it has been a very long two days that has been both physically and mentally exhausting, I am very happy to have gone through it and learned everything that I have. I am very grateful to have such good friends as Nicole and Alex, who took a lot of time out of their days to help me, and especially Nicole for teaching me everything she did! So, after roughly 118,500 miles and 10 years, the original brakes, rotors, and rear calipers have finally been replaced on the Envoy!

New Brakes, Part 1

I’ve had my truck now for just about 7 years, and in that time I really haven’t had to put too much money into it. There have been some parts replaced here and there, oil changes and new tires and such. I’ve even been really lucky in the sense that a number of these repairs have been performed by friends for the cost of parts, smokes, and food. In addition to that, I am also learning things that I have never had the opportunity to learn before. Today was another of those learning experiences. Last night my brakes started making some really bad grinding noises. I’m not really surprised as I knew they were getting low, particularly since during one of the previous repairs my friend told me that it appeared my rotors were original to the truck. So today my friend Nicole help me and taught me how to change the brakes and rotors on my truck, all of them. I picked up a new jack and some various other tools along with the necessary parts and in about 8 hours we changed all four brakes and rotors. The front ones did not give us any issues but it turns out we are going to have change the calipers on the back as well, which means most likely bleeding the brakes too. Something else to learn! But that’ll have to happen tomorrow.

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

What a great weekend! We just returned from spending the weekend up north at Chris and Tracey’s cabin. It’s the first time Kylie and I have been there in almost 10 years, and it’s the first time for Melissa! We had a really good time, the kids all got to play together and the adults got to relax a bit. Even though it was a long weekend the time still went by really fast. The drive up and back took a bit longer than they normally would due to the holiday traffic, but luckily there were no real standing points, just congestion and slow downs. We are already talking about trying to find some more time to go back up this summer. Not sure if we are going to be able to or not, but we definitely won’t wait another ten years to get up there!

Beauty and the Beast

Tonight Melissa and I finally celebrated our second anniversary by going to see the musical Beauty and the Beast at the Fox Theater. We first went back to Angelo Brother’s for dinner and enjoyed some delicious Italian food. Afterwards we drove down to the Fox and luckily found a pretty good parking spot. I say luckily because there was also a Tigers game going on at the same time, so the city was even more busy than usual. It was a short walk to the theater from where we parked but it was a beautiful evening so the walk was rather enjoyable. Even though we arrived early the lobby of the Fox was already very busy. We had plenty of time to wait in line to pick up some souvenirs, Melissa was very happy that they had a full color souvenir program as she has begun collecting them from the events we go to, and then make our way to our seats. The show itself was very good. The way the stage and props were constructed so that buildings and set pieces were easily moved and served multiple purposes was great. The colors in the outfits were very vibrant, and the characters were all amazing. I can’t imagine portraying a candle stick or feather duster is an easy task, but they were incredible. I was amazed, however, at how many people appeared to show up late. I’ve attended many plays and musicals and never have I seen so many empty seats at the start of the show and so many people trickle in after the show had begun. There were a few seats in front of us that were empty until after the intermission, and then there was only another 30 minutes left of the show! Regardless, it was a great night for Melissa and I and we are very happy we had the opportunity to see this musical. Happy Anniversary Melissa, I love you!  

Bring Your Daughter to Work Day 2016

Today was the day that Kylie had been waiting for just about a year. It’s take your daughter to work day! Last year was Kylie’s first time participating in this event and she had so much fun that she has been asking about it ever since. So last night after work I went over and picked her up so she could spend the night at my house to make the morning a bit easier. Seeing as the events started with breakfast at 9am I decided it would be best to not go into work at 6am like I normally do, so we both got to sleep in a little later than normal, which is always a good start to the day. Traffic on the way to work was a little heavier than I am accustomed to, and even Kylie commented on it, which I thought was funny. Regardless, we made it to the office with plenty of time and Kylie was amazed that since last year I have moved my desk and now have a standing desk instead of a sitting desk. She seemed shocked to find out that I literally stand around all day. Even more exciting for her though, was that I actually do have a chair, one that adjusts to a higher height to allow me to sit at my standing desk if I so choose. She had a lot of fun sitting in such a high chair. After about 15 minutes we went over to the main gathering area where breakfast was being provided and found ourselves a seat. After breakfast there was some dancing (though Daddy doesn’t dance) and general goofing around, and shortly after it was time for the kids to go off with their groups for a day full of activities. Due to a customer issue I was, unfortunately, not able to actually sit and have lunch with Kylie. This upset me greatly, in fact, I think, a lot more than it did Kylie. Thankfully she was able to sit with Nicole and Kira so she was not alone. I was able to at least quickly go over and let her know I wasn’t going to be able to eat with her and let her know how sorry I was so she wasn’t just sitting there wondering if I forgot or something. After eating Nicole brought her over to my desk so I could see her for a few minutes before she went off to her next activity. At the end of the day we met back up and she told me about all of the cool things she did. She said she really enjoyed the programming class and that the day in general was a lot of fun. I am very fortunate to work for a company that participates in these events and grateful to have a job where I can actually bring her in for the day. We are both already looking forward to next year’s bring your daughter to work day!

My Love Gets Older

Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife, Melissa!

To celebrate we had dinner at Angelo Brothers, a small Italian restaurant up the road. Seeing as Italian is Melissa’s favorite and there is no Olive Garden around (which I am kind of thankful for) we decided to give this place a try. I thought the food was excellent, and in my opinion, better than the previously mentioned chain. Not only was the main course excellent, but the homemade cannoli we had for dessert was also exceptional. After dinner we took a trip over to Best Buy where I purchased Melissa a new Dell Inspiron 11 3000 in Bali Blue to replace the ASUS Tablet that I had originally purchased but was defective. Afterwards we came home to configure her new laptop, watch some TV, and relax together. I look forward to many more years with you, my love. Happy Birthday.



Today we went out to the Wharton Center to see Riverdance, and it was amazing! It’s hard to believe that this show has already been performing for 20 years! Kylie loved seeing the dancing, and when she realized that they were doing Ballet, Pointe, and Tap all at the same time, she loved it even more.

We purchased a program on the way in, and because Kylie was with us the guy at the souvenir stand gave us the heads up that the woman 2016-04-02 16.21.20(Natia) we had purchased the program from was one of the dancers, and that if we asked she would sign it for us! So off we went to have it signed, and in doing so she pointed us to another dancer (Mariia) who also signed it! Then Mariia gave us the heads up that if we went around to the stage door after the show that we could have the program signed by the cast of the show!

So after an amazing show we asked the Wharton Center staff and they directed us around to the stage door out back and we waited, in the snow, for the performers to come out, and we are super glad we did! There were only two other families who were waiting so we got to interact with many of the dancers and crew, get autographs, and even a couple of pictures. They JONeill_Tweet were all so kind, happy, and thankful that we waited out in the cold and snow just for the opportunity to meet them. The highlight is this picture of Kylie with Jason O’Neill (Twitter), the principal dancer for the show! We even tweeted him after, and he replied! I can’t overstate how incredible it was to see this show live. If it ever comes through the area again, and we have the opportunity, I am certain we will go! We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the Wharton center theater, but we were able to take a few outside in the main area, and those pictures, along with the one above of Kylie and Jason, can be seen in the gallery here.

An Evening with the Stars

I’ve been a fan of astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson for a long time now. I frequently listen to his StarTalk Radio podcast and I absolutely loved his Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey series. I think very highly of Mr. Tyson and am inclined to stop and listen whenever I hear his voice, as I am certain what ever he is going to say is going to be both educational and entertaining to me. So it should come as no surprise that I was very happy that Melissa got me some tickets to see him live for Christmas, and even less of a surprise that I am very happy that tonight was the night that we finally got to see him at the Fox! It was an incredible night listening to him talk on many subjects as they relate to astrophysics and us as people. I have already decided that I would love to see him again if he ever comes back through town. Thank you Melissa for such an awesome gift and an incredible evening.

An Evening with the Orchestra

Melissa and I had a unique opportunity tonight to listen to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a small intimate setting in Southfield at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. I have seen this building from the road almost daily for the past 2 years now and while my thoughts were that it was a very attractive building that clearly had a religious affiliation, I did not know what it was until this event. It is as beautiful inside as it from the outside, and now that I know what it is, you can see images of it on Google. For their part, the DSO, was amazing! This is the first time that I can remember hearing a professional orchestra play as a standalone event, having heard that before with plays and musicals, and I have to admit that it is a completely different experience when what you are focusing on is the music and the players and not what it is accompanying. The acoustics within the building were a lot better than I had thought they were going to be as well. This experience has made me more aware of how enjoyable going to an orchestra event can be, and as such I am going to try to keep an eye on what performances they are doing, perhaps next time we will go see them at Orchestra Hall.

Turkey Adventures, Round 2

I just returned from what might very well be my last hunting trip of any kind for a while. My brother and I tried our hand at turkey hunting again this weekend, and it was miserable. My brother’s coworker let us come up to his place to hunt on some land near him that he said he sees turkey on everyday. It sounded like a good lead, however, once again, my brother did not have the time or opportunity to go and scout the area. The lack of scouting is something that is a huge problem for me, I do not like going into land that no one in the party is familiar with in any way beyond looking at a google map view of. As such, much like our last trip almost two years ago, we were not very lucky. Actually, this trip was much worse than that one. For starters, this time we were sharing a tent that my father-in-law lent us whereas last time we stayed in his father-in-law’s house. So the accommodations were much worse this time in every way possible; We shared a queen sized air mattress, had individual sleeping bags, thankfully his friend lent us a tent heater because it was extremely cold, to top everything off (and the main reason it will be a while for my next trip) is that my hunting boots literally fell apart. They separated from the sole, and the inside of that area was basically all dry rot. My feet were hurting so much by the end of this trip! I will need to do some research for the next pair, as I thought these were supposed to be a good brand, but they only lasted a few years, and realistically they were only worn maybe 20 days. Also I will need to set aside some money for the purchase. Needless to say, we did not see any sign of turkeys on this trip, though it certainly wasn’t from lack of trying. In the end though, all the negatives aside, it was still really fun to spend some time with my brother again. Who knows, maybe the third time will be the charm?