Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Crappy Job but Someone has to do it – RV Repairs

Sister’s House, Citrus Heights, CA

break in pipe assembly

Breaks in the sewer line are among the least favorite jobs that one who owns a RV/Motorhome have to face.  Not too much expense involved…as long as you do it yourself…but it is definitely not enjoyable what so ever. Above you can see the crack in the joint…

Sewer Assembly which needed to be replaced

…where the grey tank meets the black tank at the “exit point” where one attaches a hose which leads to the sewer.  That handle you see to the right in the picture is the handle for the black tank drain valve…the toilet stuff.  The smaller pipe to the left is coming from the grey tank, the shower, bathroom and kitchen sink.  So to fix this…I would need to deal with both the blank tank line and the grey tank lines…oh, how fun!  I want to note now that Arny examined all the bad parts after they were taken off and could not detect any impact marks…so these cracks did not come from hitting curbs, rocks, or anything like that…they are just stress cracks that developed after ten years of use.

Grey Tank valve that I replaced gaskets in

Prior to finding the “crack” in the pipe, I knew that this grey tank drain valve was leaking.  I had replaced this whole part last year, and at first it held…but then started leaking.  I knew that they have replacement gaskets, and that was pretty easy to put in…the gaskets I had to replace had bent, not allowing for a good seal all the time.  Lesson learned…always check these gaskets even though they come already put together when you buy a valve like this.

Grey tank line showing elbow leak

Upon further inspection, Arny also found another small crack in the elbow that the arrow is pointing too.  This is between the grey holding tank and the grey tank release valve…the more water in the grey tank, the more pressure on the line, the more this small crack would drip. Since the grey tank is on the other side of the motorhome from the dump valve, all the pipe

Valterra T60 1/4 Bend Rotating Heel Inlet Valve Assembly with 3" Hub x 2" Hub x 3" Bay with Cap     ABS Glue
 ABS Hub for connecting 2" pipe to 1-1/2 pipe   24" of 1-1/2" ABS pipe
 1-1/2" Flex Coupling   ABS 1-1/2"  Elbow

To fix it I needed to get the following parts (after the grey tank release valve gaskets which I replaced a few weeks ago at a cost $7.75 from Amazon) … A Valterra T60 1/4 Bend Rotating Heel Inlet Valve Assembly with 3" Hub x 2" Hub x 3" Bay with Cap – note: could not find a 1-1/2” that I really needed ($30 from Amazon), ABS Cement Glue ($5.00 from Home Depot), 2" to 1-1/2" ABS Bushing, this part is needed because original Valve Assembly was a 3” and 1-1/2”, so this bushing will take the 2” down to 1-1/2”  ($1.50 from Home Depot), 24” of 1-1/2” ABS pipe ($3.50 from Home Depot), TWO Flexible Couplings to connect new parts to original pipes ($4.00 each from Home Depot) and a 1-1/2” ABS Elbow ($1.50 from Home Depot).  I also purchased a cutting tool to add to Arny’s vast collection of tools ($29 from Home Depot, not shown).  Parts to fix the leak cost under $50, and another $29 for a tool…so the cost was not that bad.

Black / Grey pipes and vavle project

The worst part was dealing with the black tank valve.  Although we had taken the motorhome to a Chevron Gas Station that has a Dump Station (free if you purchase $20 of gas) and rinsed the black tank out real good…the years of waste built up on the valve still had to be dealt with without too much gagging.  I just thought about all the real bad diapers I have changed in my lifetime…and it was a toss up as to which was worse to deal with.  Once we got this part of it fixed, and loosely attached, we then cut the elbow out that was leaking and fixed that part, then tightened everything up.

Grey Pipes Project 
Putting in the elbow was the easy part.  Arny did all the gluing and the cutting, I did all the attaching underneath.  It took us about 3 hours, with a chunk of that time figuring out how to attach the new Valve Assembly since it was just a little different than the one we were taking off.  All in all, it works.

Extender   Rhino Flex Pipe to empty into a Blue Tote

To top it all off, I also ordered this extension to fit on the new assembly to make it easier to attach a hose to when it comes time to empty, and a new hose to attach to the blue tote that we use here at Sandy and Arny’s house to empty our waste tanks.

New Rhino Flex hose from RV to Blue Tote

In the end…it is still a crappy project…but one that needed to be done.  Did most of the work last weekend, got the new hose and adapter in from Amazon on Wednesday, and it stopped raining yesterday.  Dumped our tanks this morning, and there are no leaks…but even dumping the tanks is a pretty crappy job leaks or no leaks…but better when there are no leaks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Mr. Steak Years

Sister’s House--Citrus Heights, Ca

Mr. Steak on Madison Ave (from Sacramento Bee)

It was Easter break, my Junior year, when my brother Bob, who did not live at home anymore, came up to my room after I went to bed and woke me up.  What I remember is this:
“Hey Dave, you awake?”

“”Am now…”

“You want a job at Mr. Steak?  You can start tomorrow if you want to work there.  Hitch is, you will have to be able to be to work at noon each day.”

“Well, don’t know how that could work since I am still in High School.  But there is this thing called “work experience”, I know other kids who leave school early to go to work….ok, sure, what time should I be there?”

“11:30 sharp, wear dark pants, you will get a shirt when you are there….”

Typical 1970's Mr. Steak via Google Images

That started what would be a career which would last until 1986.  From Busboy, to Cook, to Head Cook, to Assistant Manager, to Manager to General Manager.  Back in those days, the typical Mr. Steak…and there were over 270 nation wide, looked like this one above.  It served only USDA Choice steak, used no tenderizers or spices except on the Teriyaki Steak and on the Kebobs.  It was always full service, unlike a Happy Steak, Ponderosa or Sizzler which were “serve yourself” style.

Typical 1970's Mr. Steak sign via Google Images
The sign was bright yellow, with “Family” emphasized because they had a strong push for being a family restaurant.  Kids had their own menus, and kid’s meals would come out first, before the parents meal so that the parents could take care of getting them going on their food without the parents foods getting cold.  (Except for the kids steak, which would be served at the same time as the parents food.)



Mr. Steak Postcard showing 1960-1970 design, via google 

This “vintage” postcard really shows what the interior looked like back then.  The waitresses wore a red uniform, with a white apron and white hat, and white shoes.  The restaurant had 32 tables and booths.  This picture was taken from the Hostess/Cashier Station, and the nearest table was table #1.   In the middle right, where you see the shingled roof, was the kitchen.  Doors on each side of the kitchen  led to the back room.  Each waitress had a number, and when an order was ready, the broiler cook would call her number.  On a Friday night, there would be 7-8 waitresses working, 2 hostesses, 2 busboys, 1 dishwasher, and 3-4 cooks.  When it was full of people, it was pretty loud.

Mr. Steak Ashtray via Google    Mr. Steak matchbook via Google

Mr. Steak kids bib via Google

Along with any restaurant there is always the promotional items.  The most “stolen” item was the Ashtrays (upper left).  Matchbooks were free for the taking (upper right).  And all kids got a “Mr. Steak Bib” to wear.

Mr. Steak new look mid 1970's

The late 70’s brought a “new look” to many of the restaurants.  By now the number of restaurants nationwide had dropped to just over 200.  Those restaurants which remodeled, did do better…but competition from places like Black Angus, Steak and Ale, and numerous other higher end, full liquor establishments were drawing people away.

Mr. Steak new look mid 1970's

The interior’s of those which were new or remodeled had a brown, wood look to them.  To shut down much of the noise, instead of a microphone, a light number system was used…#1 for section 1, #2 for section 2, etc.  The kitchens were closed off to where only a slot for the food to be passed through was open, and the noise level inside dropped dramatically.  In Sacramento though, we were on our second ownership, and by 1980 I was managing my “own” (I did not own it, but I always managed it as if I did own it).  Then, around 1981, the owner decided to sell them back to the company.  MOST Mr. Steak’s were franchised, but the company, headquartered in Denver, owned around 20-25 locations, some of which were turned back to the company from the franchisee who was folding under.  In our case, we were not folding, the owner (who once worked for the company during the 60’s and early 70’s) just wanted to sell…and the company had first rights to purchase…which they did.  With that, I had to go to work in San Jose twice for 13 weeks the first time, and 15 weeks the second time all in a 32 week time period.  That unit was losing lots of money, and they needed a manager real bad….but I would not go there permanently because frankly, I could not afford the bay area, and I did not think the place would survive very long.  Sure enough, they closed it about 18 months after my last day working there.

Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's   Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's 

Mr. Steak new logo mid 1970's

Of course, with new look comes new matches, ashtrays, and even a belt buckle which they gave to managers…I still have a few of those somewhere, along with a business card.

Mr. Steak's last logo   Mr. Steak's last logo

Then in the early 80’s they once again changed their logo.  Cooks and dishwashers wore these baseball hats, and they finally started to sell beer and wine in their company stores (before that only some franchises sold alcohol.  A large church about 1/4 mile from my location protested the beer and wine license, but we did finally prevail…and on Sunday after church we did not put out the wine glasses as to not offend the church goers.  Another thing we did was have half or more of the restaurant as non-smoking, instead of the 10% prescribed by California law.  Of course now days, all establishments are non-smoking in California and most states throughout America.

Mr. Steak's menu 1980's 

Although they tried very hard to keep up with the Industry, it was destined to be one of those Restaurant Chains that would die off.  The 80’s introduced one of their better products, the “Steak Lover” menu (those are menus in picture above).  14 oz New York Strip, 12 oz Top Sirloin, 16 oz T-Bone, 14 oz Ribeye and the 8 oz Filet Mignon.  (I think I have the sizes right)  These steaks were as good as any other restaurant except for those who served USDA Prime (and even better than some of those too).  In the early 80’s, with the company owning the Sacramento restaurants, the north store and my store were both converted to the image which they hoped would safe the Mr. Steak concept.  I have pictures, but not with me…I think my daughter actually has them now, and there are none on the Internet.  More up-class than their original remodel, it had etched windows, wooden tables, comfortable chairs…it was real nice. 

Mr. Steak Mascot

In June 1985 I married my first wife, whom I had known through working at Mr. Steak for a number of years.  In late 1985 I briefly went to work for an independent restaurant in Sacramento that was just starting up…just to realize about 6 weeks into it that the guy lied about his financial backing.  My name was on the liquor license, and we made a deal…he lay me off, let me get all the goods back to the purveyors so that they did not lose too much of their money, and I would not report him to the Alcohol and Beverage Commission (ABC).  He agreed, I then wrote ABC a letter letting them know that I no longer worked for the establishment, and within a month it was out of business (I did not report all the stuff he did, but I never said that I would keep my name on the liquor license).  At Mr. Steak, however, the company had decided to sell the three restaurants to a franchisee who had lost his new concept Mr. Steak out in the Denver area.  During this time period I could not go back to Mr. Steak for 30 days after the sale went through…so I have a few months off.  We went to Utah to see my wife’s brother, and I decided I wanted to go to their business school…and that is what we did in late August of 1986 after working for Mr. Steak for another six months (March-August).  While getting my business degree, I worked in the library…where they just happened to have a School of Library and Information Sciences masters program…which is how I became I librarian.  Graduated with my Business degree in August 1989, and with my MLIS in August 1990.  By January 1991 we moved to the Pine Bluff Arkansas area, with three kids, all born in Utah.

As for the Mr. Steaks in Sacramento….before 1986 ended, they closed the south area store, the one I started at.  By the summer of 1987, the Fair Oaks store, the one I managed and worked at the longest, down…and before the end of the year, the north area store was shut down.  In the restaurant business…if the owner does not know how to operate a restaurant, they had better have a REAL GOOD, trustworthy manager…  Mr. Steak as a “Nationwide Company” went bankrupt in 1987, and remaining franchise locations retained the name and did not have to pay a franchise fee any longer.  I don’t think there are any Mr. Steak restaurants, which were part of the Mr. Steak Franchise, still in existence. 

Finley's, converted from Mr. Steak late 80's

In Michigan (Battle Creek, Lansing, Jackson, Muskegon and Okemos) the owners there changed the name from Mr. Steak to Finley's, now Finley’s Grill & Smokehouse, and they still have five restaurants operating, still steakhouse style with a diverse menu…although I am not sure the current owners are the same as when it was a Mr. Steak  (wish I would have known that when we were in Battle Creek earlier this year!)  As we travel and drive through various towns, I see old Mr. Steak buildings.  Some are now Chinese, Mexican, or other type of restaurants, while others have been split up into two or three establishments.   Here in Sacramento, the north area store is a Sub Shop, with another part of the building used as a Goodwill Express, but is now empty.  The south area store is a Mexican Restaurant.  As for the Mr. Steak which I worked at the most…well, it is now a part of the Pavilions Shopping Center, a premier luxury shopping center which first started while I was managing the Mr. Steak on Fair Oaks...and when the restaurant closed down, they expanded right over the entire property.


After Thought added 11/14/2017:  Forgot to add that my now brother in-law Arny and his crew from his auto-body shop use to come into the Madison Avenue Mr. Steak for lunch.  I am POSITIVE that I have cooked their meals before, probably showed them to their table a time or two, and even rang them out when they left at the cash register as I worked at that store off and on for at least two years as a cook, head cook, and was Co-Manager for a few months before I became Manager at the Fair Oaks location.  This was YEARS before he and Sandy even met.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Skruffy’s Side of the Story

Sister’s House, Citrus Heights, CA

Ok, Skruffy here, and I have something to tell you.  If there are any little pups out there, let me tell you…NEVER have a liter of puppies, especially “IF” you live in a household with young kids in it.  First, mom and dad are not going to like the fact than instead of 1 dog, there are going to be a handful of dogs around.  Second, as the cute little puppies grow, they have to get rid of them…or of you.  When the time comes that the parents say, “Ok little Jimmy and Suzie, you have a choice…you can keep the momma dog that we have all grown to love, or you can keep one of her puppies.”  Well little pups out there, don’t say that Skruffy Dog did not warn you…the answer will be “We want to keep the cute little puppy,” 9 out of 10 times.  Yep…that’s what happened to little Skruffy Dog here.  And oh, it gets worse than that…

Luebker Vets

They will drop you off at a place like this…Luebker Vets…but wait, it gets worse than that…they do it on a SUNDAY, when they are closed!  They took me out of the car, walked me up to the door, sat me down and said, “STAY!”  Ya, well Skruffy Dog stayed alright…just until the car went out of sight.  Thank goodness for me (and Dave) right across the street was this Construction Firm, with lots of large vehicle and neat things to hide under, and that's where I headed, dodging cars as I crossed the street!

Construcation Yard across from Luebker Vets

There were all kinds of people who worked there…and they started calling me “Skruffy”, and they left food out for me.  And on Saturdays and Sundays this nice lady would come by and put food under the fence for me.  Ya, I had it made in the shade….until…

Scarry Stuff

…the storms started.  Night after night, rain, hard rain, and so many lightening hits that I ran out of paws to count them on…and then there was that scary thunder, so loud my ears hurt.  I hid under the biggest yellow vehicle I could find…and shivered at each and every strike and clap.  Oh, I tried to be brave, but I was only a little dog, and all alone.

Truck

One Thursday afternoon, after 4 straight days of intense rain, lightening and thunder, I saw one of the nice workmen getting into his truck to go home.  I walked up to him, looked up into the truck, and he says, “Skruffy, you want get in the truck with me?”  Well HELL yes, I thought…

“Skruffy, I told you, no curse words…so far you are doing a good job, now do you want to continue?”

“Sorry dad… Sad smile … I won’t do it again, I promise."  Winking smile

“Ok Skruffy, now get on with your story….”

So ole Skruffy Dog did just that, I jumped into the truck.  But to my amazement, the man grabs me…and pets me…and tells me that I need a bath, but that he knew a nice lady who would take care of me.  He takes me into the office, and I hear them say, “Just call the library…”  Hmm, now I thought a library was a place to get books, but apparently this nice lady works at the library.  “The man said that he would call her, and she should be here in 10 minutes…”, I hear them say.  Sure enough, 10 minutes later that same lady who put out food for me on Saturday and Sunday drove up…I started to wag my tail, because she always gave me some sausages, some hamburger meat, and even a few fries with it.

Four Dogs

I get to her house just a few minutes away and what do I find…FOUR DOGS!  Oh no, this is not going to work…who would want a fifth dog???  So I look up at her with my saddest eyes, and she says, “Oh, it is going to be fine Skruffy, because this nice man named Dave is going to come over.  I am going to sit you on his lap, and when I come back to pick you up in 10 minutes or so, you just give me a big old growl…show your teeth if you want.  That way, I can just tell him, “Well, you have to take her now, SHE OWNS YOU NOW”.  And that is exactly what I did.

Me and Dad

Well, that’s my story.  And Dave, and Marcia, and Uncle Arny, and Aunt Sandy, and Grandma and Grandpa, and ALL the Library people, and EVEN Bubba have been so very nice to me.  Even when I left a little brown present on Grandma’s Bedroom Floor right before Dad and I went back to Pine Bluff the first time we visited them, just a month after Dad and I got together, the next time I saw Grandma she gave me some love…and I didn’t even get a whooping like Dad did when the moron fell through the Greenhouse roof…

SKRUFFY!

Sorry Dad…but you were being a bit stupid that day…Grandma told me the story many many times….besides DAD, it hasn’t been ALL ROSES living you, you know.  First, you did not ask me if Marcia and Bubba could move in, and you made both Bubba and I stay in the car when that Minister Dude said some words out of the bible and then you kissed mom..

SKRUFFY, are you about done with the story?

And then DAD, how about I stick you up in a tree like you did to me…or at the edge of one of them walls you made me sit on with the cliff or the lake or concrete on the other side if I fell?  All just to get a stupid picture... And then there is the time you turned me into a THREE HEADED MONSTER…see, I still have that picture!

Dad turned me into a Three Headed Monster

Ok Skruffy, you got a point there…who would want to see three of you, one is more than enough!  Winking smile   However, is there anything else you want to say, or just continue with your story, and I hope you are nearly done…

Well, the only other thing I want to say So sick I nearly diedis, I have been traumatized about Veterinarians ever since my former owners dropped me off at the Vet to get rid of me…until last year when we were in Alaska.  Just look at me there to the right…in mom’s arms.  I looked DEAD.  And then you took me to Soldotna Animal Hospital, and I met Dr. Meezie, and the rest of the staff, and look at me now!  I love them folks at Soldotna Animal Hospital!  And hey, all you dog owners need to brush up on what the danger signs are for a dog with Diabetes, much better to catch it quick before it kills your doggie!



Happy to be alive...happy to be with dad, and mom, and...

Thanks for letting me tell my story Dad, I hope everyone out there learns a big lesson….neuter and spay your dogs, and IF you are stupid enough to forget to do that, DON’T drop any puppies or mommies off at a Vet’s office when it is not open, and if you want to get rid of a dog or cat, it is NOT a Vet’s office you do this at, find a no-kill shelter.  Thank you folks…oh and Dad, I think we both saved each other…you were kind of a mess that first day I met you, but you are doing much much better now.

Thank you Skruffy…now go to bed, it’s past your bedtime.

Dad, I am a dog…I don’t have a bedtime…haven't you learned anything these past 9 years?  (I told you folks that Dad can be a bit stupid at times...)

Skruffy’s Ninth Anniversary

Sister’s House, Citrus Heights, CA

Skruffy in Library Office

Nine years ago this month this little critter came into my life.  Above Skruffy is sitting in my old office at the library sticking her tongue out at the cruel world that she left behind when she came into my life.    You see, she was “rescued” off the streets of Pine Bluff Arkansas…where for nearly 3 weeks she had been living under construction equipment such as large trucks, tractors, and other equipment where she had been abandoned by her former owners.  She had just had a liter of pups, and the vet felt she was just over 1 years old.  The construction people gave her the name Skruffy, I decided to keep it spelling it with a “K” instead of a “C”.   Below is a picture of her after I had her for a few months, taken care of her heartworms, had her fixed, and groomed.  I told them to leave her face looking “Skruffy”, and they did.  Smile

Skruffy in Library Office

For 16 months she went to the library with me day and night…even went on library trip to Colorado where I put her into Doggie Day Care during the day while I was in meetings.  For the first few months when she was in my office, if I had to leave to talk to a staff member, fix a computer, whatever, I would have to shut my door.  She would start barking fairly quickly, but it got better with time and she was able to stay in the office when I left it with the door open…but within ten minutes she would let out a quick bark or two…wait…and repeat.  Staff would go by and say, “He will be right back Skruffy…”, and that would quiet her down…for about 5 minutes, and then she would repeat her two quick barks.  “IF” my absence turned out to be a longer one than I anticipated, I would take her down to the bottom floor staff area and she would do just fine sitting in an office with a staff member.  When Marcia and I married in February 2011, along with Marcia came Bubba…and Bubba has allowed us to leave Skruffy without her going crazy because she was “alone”.   A year later we were on the road for 7-9 months each year.

Skruffy Blowing Away in Texas
On the road in Texas, almost blown out of a tree…

Skruffy Crater Lake National Park
On the road to Crater Lake Nation Park, Oregon

Skruffy Glacier National Park
On the road to Glacier National Park, Montana

Skruffy Yosemite National Park
On the road to Yosemite National Park, California

Skruffy, Alaskan Highway Mile One
On the road entering the Alaskan Highway, Dawson Creek, BC

Skruffy on Marcia's Lap, California Desert
One the road being the chief navigator, California Desert

Skruffy on Dave's Lap, Alaskan Highway
On the road being the driver in the snow and rain…on the way to Alaska

Skruffy and Bubba, California Desert
On the road searching for grass with Bubba, California Desert

Skruffy at Soldotna Animal Hospital, sick as a dog
Skruffy’s road almost comes to an end…Soldotna, Alaska

Skruffy and Bubba getting morning treat from Uncle Arny
Skruffy and Bubba’s FAVORITE moment of each day in Sacramento
(now she gets about 1/2 ounce of pork due to diabetes, followed by 
her breakfast and her breakfast shot of insulin)

Bubba and Skruffy being Stars
And although Skruffy is the one in many of our photos as we visit places, BOTH Skruffy and Bubba are “STARS” in our eyes. 
(Bubba just can’t sit there, he wants to wander off)

http://lh4.ggpht.com/-HyoJ9cGUDRQ/UxIuPKDtvlI/AAAAAAAAORw/uOK4nBXX-dY/1c_thumb%25255B1%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800
Skruffy helping Marcia, Service Dog with phone at the ready (pink bag on her back)


Birthday Cake for Dog

Nope…she isn’t getting any birthday cake, just more love…

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