How I Saved Over $100 on Car Repairs

My truck has been busted up forever. About four years ago one of the tires blew out and took a mudflap with it. Three years ago someone inserted a screwdriver into the driver’s side keyhole and busted it as well as co-workers at a crappy retail job breaking the handle to my tailgate. The truck was still drivable, after replacing the tire with the spare, but I’d just been ignoring all the others problems… Entering the car through the passenger side, lifting objects into the bed, etc.

I wasn’t dealing with the car because it was still operable and fixing everything was going to cost money. I was quoted $125-to 150 to replace the lock on the driver’s side, $100 for a new tailgate from a junkyard more if I wanted someone to replace it for me and/or paint the junkyard find. $80 or so for a new tire (yes, the blown out tire has been in the wheel well for four years; I am a terrible person.) D and I have talked about selling the truck recently, in order to pay down some of my debt, and I couldn’t sell it in its current condition so something had to be done.

While I was despairing over the cost of repairs D took action. She called up a number of junkyards and located a tumbler for the car door ($25). With the help of the internet I was able to breakdown the side paneling on the door and install the new tumbler myself. Money saved? $100-125. I also broke down the tailgate as well, and was able to remove the handle. $5 got me some epoxy and that was used to reseal the plastic handle. Sadly, it didn’t work… I was able to use the item codes on the handle though to locate a replacement on the internet that cost (with shipping) only $17. Savings? $75.

Next weekend I’ll be vacuuming the interior and washing the exterior and next month I’ll be using my discretionary funds to pick up some new tires. So, by the end of May the truck is going to be looking great and ready to be sold. Except I’ll have put all this time and effort into the thing and not want to =P

Boy Scouts of America: Over 100 Years Later

My First Edition Copy of the Handbook for Boys

I bought this original Boy Scout Handbook, and another, two years ago. The one in better condition I gave to my father as a Christmas present and a reminder of all the great times we shared in the Scouting program. I’ve been flipping through mine recently and noticing some things.

Boy Scouts have been around for a long time. Here, in the United States they were incorporated on February 8, 1910.  The oldest Scouting organization, in the United Kingdom, was founded in 1907. I ‘m somewhat surprised how much of Scouting has been retained over the past 1oo hundred years. The Boy Scout oath, law, and motto have not changed since that time but many other things have, from rank requirements to merit badges. I thought I’d share a some of the ones I found just flipping through the book.  (I wish I had my old Boy Scout Handbook from when I was in the program, as well as a current edition just to compare, I’m doing this from memory… If you want a good, cheap resource for outdoor and first aid skills a Boy Scout Handbook isn’t a bad choice, by the way.)

Some of the Merit Badges one could earn then but no longer:


The Cement Working merit badge

Cement Work, handicraft, beekeeping, blacksmithing, foundry practice, invention, pathfinding, signalling, and taxidermy.


A few requirements that didn’t make it into this millennium, They probably didn’t make it through the ’70s: make a round trip alone (or with a fellow scout) to a point at least seven miles away going on foot, or rowing boat. Or, construct a raft which will carry two people and their duffle safely, and demonstrate his ability to make practical use of it.


Fixing My Playstation 2

12 years and going strong!

I don’t recall when I picked up my PS2. If I recall correctly, and as time goes on that becomes harder and harder, I picked it up in 2002 which makes my console nine years old. Through those nine years it has faithfully played every CD, DVD, and PS2 game I’ve put into it. Well, that was the case until last month or so… Then it started giving me intermittent “disc read errors” that slowly, but surely devolved into complete inoperability.

I have a slim PS2 that has been sitting in a box for years. But, I was not ready to give up on my old one, especially since one of my goals this year was not reduce the amount of waste I generate. It is not easy to recycle advanced electronics and companies are not (yet) taking them back to recycle.

I poked around on the internet and found a guide at that guided me through the process and all it cost me was an #00 phillips screwdriver.

The bottom of the PS2 with the screw caps removed.
The opened case, the optical drive is on the right.
Optical drive with its cover removed. All it took was a little rubbing alcohol.

The whole operation only took 30 minutes or so… and I’ve been running the PS2 through its paces and it is working fine. I hope to get another nine years out of the console before I need to take a look at it again!

2010 Resolutions: How I did

Patrick understands that if you never try, you never fail

I made nine resolutions at the beginning of this year.  I didn’t spend too much time thinking about my resolutions.  Looking back most of them seem to be things I want to scratch off of my bucket list (which I have never made.)  So, it comes as no surprise that I haven’t done very well this year.  I’m hoping to take what I learned about resolution making this year (more about that on Wednesday) and apply it to next year’s resolutions.  So let’s look at the list:

1. Get my SCUBA diving license – This is just something I’ve always wanted to do and I nearly did get my license back in high school.  I made this resolution without thinking about my schedule or where I live…  And, despite looking into programs it never happened.  I think a big reason for this was because none of my friends are interested in SCUBA nor is my spouse and going through all the effort of getting the license and then not having anyone to enjoy it with made little sense. FAIL

2. Go skydiving – Another thing I’d just like to do sometime.  Again, I had trouble finding friends who would want to do this with me and it seemed a lot of money to spend on something I couldn’t enjoy with people.  Unlike the SCUBA license I still really want to do this so it might appear on next year’s list.  FAIL

3. Become an Oddfellow – I’ve lived in this town for the last six years, four of those years were spent at the University.  I was actively involved on campus in various clubs and organizations.  Despite that I never felt like part of the community.  In an attempt to do just that I investigated a number of the social fraternities, clubs, and organizations in town.  Organizations like the Masons, Kiwanis, Rotary Club, etc.  The one that was the most active internally and in the community was the Odd Fellows.  I attended meetings and got to know the members and what they do in the community and after seeing all the good work they do, and all the fun they have doing it.  I successfully petitioned the the Odd Fellows and became a member earlier in the year. WIN

4. Brush up on my Latin by reading Harrius Potter et Philosphi Lapis Fairy Tales in Latin – I’ve read a lot of books this year, at last count I’m at 65, none of them were in Latin though.  This resolution came about over my guilt.  I have a BA in Classical Civilizations and in earning that degree I took a number of Latin classes.  Since college I’ve yet to use any of that knowledge and I’m sure it’s going to rot.  I’m definitely doing this next year. FAIL

5. Participate in NaNoWriMo Write a 10,000 word story Write any story – As you can see this resolution went through a number of revisions.  Even with all the revisions I failed to complete it.  It wasn’t that I did no writing this year, I wrote a number of pieces of poetry and I’ve been updating this site regularly.  When it comes to bigger writing projects though I find myself incapable.  I have several ideas for stories, but no writing to show for it.  This is going to be a resolution next year, along with submitting work for publication (terrifying, I know.)  FAIL

6. Complete my Battlefleet Gothic fleet, Horde Army, and Chaos Army – I’ve got a number of metal miniatures. I love the little things.  I love putting them all on a table and rolling a bunch of dice to play with them!  Sadly, I haven’t had much time for this hobby this year.  I didn’t have much time for it last year either which is why this resolution is here.  Sadly, I only painted once or twice this year.  I was only able to complete of few of the Battlefleet Gothic models.  My Hordes miniatures lie untouched and I’ve traded off my Chaos army to someone who has the time and inclination to good use.  FAIL

7. Make a Gaming Table – I’ve got the boards and the glue in my garage.  My friend has the sand in his.  All I need to do is get these things together with a little paint and this will be done.  Just not this year.  FAIL

8. Climb half-dome – The spouse did this last year with her cousins and I missed out.  So, I put this as a resolution and even reserved a camping space.  When it came time to go though we couldn’t figure out what to do with the dog, as they’re not allowed in the park… We ended up not going.  FAIL

9. Get in great shape – I’ve been working out at least three times a week, every week (barring some holiday and weather related) this year.  It’s been swimming three times a week with core, arms, and leg work on the off days.  This was the biggest resolution on the entire list and I’m thankful to report that it is a WIN.

TALLY:  2 out of 9

That isn’t a score anyone should be proud of and I’m not.  There were a number of resolutions that could have been accomplished in a single day and weren’t.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about why I failed so badly and I have a few ideas, as well as some ways around them.  I’ll share them with you on Wednesday.