Category Archives: General

Life Playlist – July 2012

Friends and Fam – July was full of people we love! We spent about 5 days in Lindsborg with our families as I helped work on some projects for my parent’s business. That weekend also included a reunion with the cousins on Beth’s side of the family. A couple weeks later we hosted sister Laura and her fiance Ben for the weekend. We caught our second Royals game of the season, which resulted in an extra-innings loss like our last visit. The next weekend we had most of our dear friends who are in the States for their annual summer visit. We had a great time eating, shopping for dresses and eating more.

The Long and Whining Road – Retrieving our mail one afternoon this month was particularly exciting when we saw a package from the Royal Mail service. We had received our copy of our friend Sim’s book, “The Long and Whining Road”. This is a recounting of the Courtie’s one-year, round-the-world adventure with their family in a VW camper van. You can get a good sense of his smart and hilarious writing style from the blog he maintained while traveling.

The Long and Winding Road by Simeon Courtie

Buy the book for Amazon Kindle for a mere $4.75 here:
The Long and Whining Road (Kindle)
The paperback version is available direct from Sim here:
The Long and Whining Road (Paperback)

Basement Finishing Project – Work on the basement continues. This month’s highlights include receiving the onyx base for our shower and sweating copper for the first time. We lucked out with timing and my cousin Allyn was able to bring the base by our house so we didn’t have to make a special trip. It looks fantastic and will match the tile for the walls well:

Onyx Shower Base

My new-ish friend Jeff stopped by a few nights later and helped me through the process of sweating a few copper joints for our new shower. After my first messy attempt, things seemed to go pretty well. I haven’t had a chance to pressure-test it yet but I’ve had water sitting in the pipes for several days with no leaks so that’s a good start.

Sweating copper for shower valves

First inspection should be in early August.

Music I’ve been enjoying this month:
– Mutemath Pandora station
– Mumford and Sons Pandora station – I occasionally get Thomas Newman on this station. He wrote most of the Shawshank Redemption score which has a very distinct and memorable sound that makes me want to watch this movie again.
– Derek Webb is rumored to be coming out with another full-length album next month so I’ll very likely pick that up.

Life Playlist – June 2012

Hospital Hill half marathon – Beth completed her second Hospital Hill half marathon in early June and set a new personal record for herself by a few seconds. I still can’t believe she just decided one day to run a marathon. I’m proud of her.

Taylor Roadshow – I went to the Taylor Road Show held at Mass Street Music in Lawrence. Taylor sends out a couple employees and a couple dozen guitars and explains their product line focusing on body styles and wood types and how these variables affect the sound. The evening is geared a bit toward those considering buying a guitar and wondering what the best choice would be. The Taylor guys they sent did a great job and even though I’ve had a Taylor for almost two years I still found their presentation very interesting.

Doomsday Preppers – The best show on TV we haven’t even seen. A couple friends told us about this show of people preparing for the end of the world, however they think it may come. What we heard about the show sounded almost unbelievable but eventually we got around to watching a few previews on National Geographic’s website and it didn’t disappoint.

This is probably my favorite show re-cap:

Other highlights for the month include:

  • Doing some much needed car repairs with our friend Wayne
  • Hosting parents-in-law
  • Hosting sister-in-law for wedding dress shopping
  • Whiryball for John’s 2nd annual Father’s Day gathering.


Due to the type of stuff I have been working on lately I have been able to listen to quite a bit of Pandora while I work and a few new channels of mine have worked out pretty well for me lately. The nice thing about the new channels is that I’m a bit less distracted since I don’t know most of the songs that are coming up so far, but I’m listening enough to get used to the bands and their sounds. New channels:
– Punch Brothers (Thanks Rob)
– Black Keys (Thanks Matt and Rob)
– The National (Thanks Reuss)
– David Mayfield (Thanks Taylor guitars)

SOLA-MI – The digital scavenger hunt started by Derek Webb over a month in advance has resulted in (so far) a “soundtrack” to a supposedly forthcoming movie. The theme has to do with the process of a computer or robot becoming self-aware and “waking up”. It’s an electronic project but I actually like it quite a bit and it’s growing on me each time I hear it. Derek has done the writing and had someone else do the vocals but I still feel like you can hear Derek coming through in the music and writing. It remains to be seen if this is the end, but Derek has suggested there is more to come in this project. It’s a free download from

Memorial Day Estes Park, Colorado Trip

We went to Colorado for a good friend’s wedding and decided to stay a couple extra days. We were fortunate to have good weather while we were there, despite some very cold and rainy forecasts. We found ourselves hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in a mixture of warm sunshine and light snow. For those familiar with the Park, we took the free shuttle to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and hiked to Alberta Falls and then Mills Lake, which was worth the hike. We went back by way of Bear Lake.

While in Estes Park we also signed up for a 2 hour horseback ride at the Cowpoke Corral just southwest of Estes Park on the way to the YMCA. We had a great guide that took us up a trail in the mountains and back down. I had the slowest horse of the bunch named “Ace”. The group had to constantly stop and wait for us to catch up. It was a great time and a new kind of adventure for me.

We enjoyed being around Estes as we found a couple great places to eat (thanks to our friends Rob and Sarah) including the Dunraven Inn (order the lasagna; make reservations on the weekends) and Poppy’s Pizza and Grill (their single sized pizzas are a great deal!).

As is common on an Achenbach vacation, we treated ourselves to ice cream at least once on this trip. A thousand local snack joints and we end up here:

Finally, on the way back to KC we really lucked out since our hometown is right on the way home and my brother and sister were both in town from Chicago and Mississippi. The previous day was my dad’s birthday so we all went out for dinner at Tuscon’s in Salina. At Tuscon’s, I couldn’t resist the “Kansas City Combo”, which was choice of two meats. I went with brisket and pulled pork. There was some mix up and about half of our meals came out 10-15 minutes after the other half. Fortunately, one of the outcomes of the mix-up was an unexpected half slab of ribs on top of my already-full dinner plate:

After dinner, we went back to my parent’s house and played some cards, ate some snacks and played a great game of “name that tune” that will be remembered for a long time.

Life Playlist – May 2012

We were glad to welcome my parents to town for a couple days this month. We packed a lot into our two days including the Jersey Boys musical (good music and stage sets, decent acting) and the Titanic exhibit at Union Station. The Titanic exhibit was interesting, if a little pricey, but we got an even bigger kick out of the $15 deck of playing cards in the gift shop. I just don’t understand. Anyway, in the museum I was struck by the list of survivors- most of them were women, and most of those who perished were men. I wonder if that would happen today. The exhibit definitely made me want to learn more about the event.

We also went to our first Royals game of the season and had a great view thanks to our good friend Jim. Sadly, Kansas City ended up losing in 15 innings.

A bonus at the Royals game was a little concert preceding the game by Oriole Post, one of our favorite local bands. They even played a couple new tunes. It was a great night for music and baseball.

Other minor highlights include dodging a tornado at home (we could see it from our back deck) and inviting a pest control guy over to get rid of some stinking birds in our attic. They were taking over and it became a larger project than I wanted to tackle myself. Sunflower Pest Solutions came over and did a great job of quickly removing some birds from my attic and patching up the hole where we think they were getting in. It’s now MUCH quieter around our house so hopefully they went and found another home.

As promised, here are a couple pictures of the state of the basement. As of this writing I have finished framing and running wire. I have a bit of plumbing to do and then I will call for rough inspection. I think things will move more quickly after that.

I had to route the PVC from the sink drain the builders left to the vent pipe in the ceiling.
Vent for bathroom sink. Just like playing with legos...
Left from the previous homeowner. Generally mixing colors in a junction box is a BAD idea.
What NOT to do. Check out this gem I found from the previous homeowner. I figured how how it works but it still seems like a bad idea...

Finally, our big May event was our trip to Colorado. We went for the wedding of our good friend Ty and while there played golf (ha!) hiked, rode horses, and went on a zip line. We also got to see both of our families on the way out AND back. I’ll post separately about this trip.

Baseball triple play – I don’t know where I saw this or who is in it but it’s such a beautiful thing:
I love baseball.

John Mayer clinic at Berklee – If I had another shot or two at life I’ve always thought it would be fun to really pursue music as a career, whatever that would look like. I’m super fascinated with the thoughts and stories of artists who have “made it” so I was pretty ecstatic to run across this video series of John Mayer talking about music theory, songwriting and his music to students at Berklee college. I don’t tend to follow John Mayer outside of his music, but I found him surprisingly articulate and was impressed with his ability to stand up without a script and share thoughts for an hour or so.

Lost and Found kickstarter project – A band that played at a few youth conferences I attended years ago has launched a kickstarter project for their latest record and to help cover expenses due to not being able to tour due to cancer treatments. (If you’ve seen them live, you understand why touring is a most significant revenue source for them :-)) – I ran across a link to this website when I saw someone recommend listening to certain songs while this website is simultaneously loaded in the background. I got a kick out of it. It helps if you’re in certain moods. Try it!

GPS Tip #3 – “Find Near”

A relative of mine was recently having some difficulty finding certain points of interest he knew existed in his GPS. Sometimes if you are searching for a hospital, for example, that is several towns away, there are so many other hospitals between you and your desired hospital that the list fills up before you see the one you’re looking for.

By default, Garmin will always search near where you currently are. You’ll get a list of places sorted from nearest to you to farthest away. One tip for finding these places is to use the “Search Near…” feature.

Click the Menu button (three horizontal bars) to view the Near... popup

By using the “Search Near…” feature you can search for places starting nearest to some other point of your choosing, whether that may be another city, a “favorite” Point of Interest you’ve already saved, or your current destination if you’ve entered one in. I find it easiest to try and locate known places by searching near the city it is in.

Search starting near a different city, a "Favorite" you're previously saved, or your destination.

Another useful application for the Near… function in browsing for places such as food or gas near another area such as your final destination. Perhaps you aren’t hungry yet or don’t need gas now, but you know you will when you arrive at your destination. You can use “Near…” to see what points of interest are available near your destination. Once you find what you’re looking for you can either start routing to that point right away just click on that point of interest and save it to your Favorites if you want to visit it later.

Life Playlist – April 2012

Messiah Festival in Lindsborg – We took a couple friends to Lindsborg to hear Handel’s Messiah on Easter Sunday. I had seen parts of this performance as a kid, but admittedly I was dragged there. This time, under my own power I went for the whole thing and enjoyed it immensely.

I had high expectations for the Hallelujah Chorus and wasn’t disappointed. It was also inspiring to see people I knew singing and playing- some for their 30th time and others their first.


Logical Fallacies – I have an unhealthy appreciation for recognition of logical fallacies in argument. I think this site I ran across this month (or something like it, such as a college level critical thinking class) should be required reading before anyone is allowed on the internet, or at least before posting any comments. Actually, this should be a requirement for every college major in the universe, if not a high school diploma.

I think the snarkiness of the site is a little overboard, as I won’t be using the site to bash people over the head for logical fallacies committed, but surely as people identify fallacies in others’ arguments, they’ll begin to recognize them in their own, right? RIGHT???

So a Polish Dentist’s ex-boyfriend walks into a dentist office… It’s bad I think this is so funny but a Polish female dentist had her ex-boyfriend in the office for a sore tooth and decided to remove all his teeth as some twisted form of revenge:

Basement Finishing Project – Construction on the our basement finish project is back in full swing, after an unexplained lull. We got the bathroom/den area framed. Next up will be the lowered ceiling in the bathroom followed by running water supply lines. Pictures next month.

Listening to:
– I am trying out Ray LaMontagne at the suggestion of my friend Rob. I’m not latching onto this as quickly as I do with some other music, but it’s not bad. Side note: I might go crazy if I hear “Trouble” again. Side note #2: Same goes for any arrangement of “Hallelujah”.
– Next up: Punch Brothers

Psych. We’ve really gotten into this show in the last few weeks. It has a nice balance of humor, drama, and I suppose some suspense.

Life Playlist – March 2012

Beth’s mom made a quick trip to KC in the middle of the month to help celebrate Beth’s birthday. Among other activities the two ladies worked to create some much needed decoration for our living room walls and ended up with this:


Wichita “vacation” and Gungor concert with The Brilliance – Toward the end of March Beth and I took a few days off of work to head to Wichita to visit Beth’s sister and sister’s boyfriend. While there we got to see a Gungor concert at the very cool Orpheum Theatre. We got VIP tickets so we could ask questions of Michael Gungor before the show.

Gungor put on a great show and the surprise of the night was opening act “The Brilliance”. They fit in great with the mood of the night.

We spent the next couple days hanging out in Wichita, eating donuts, walking the river and having fun.

Project #1 – Garage door – We’re not usually short on repair projects, and this month was no exception except for the fact that I paid real live experts to actually do some of the fixing. Project #1 was our garage door. I came home from work one day to discover that the opener just wouldn’t open the door. I could hear it trying, but failing. I was able to get inside with my key (so old fashioned!) and went into the garage to find a broken torsion spring.

Broken Torsion Springs

I asked around at work and got the name of Harm Waterborg, who came out the next day and with great skill and service replaced my two springs and got our garage door running more quietly than it ever has. I highly recommend Harm if you need any garage door service. He’s out of Gardner, but also operates throughout Kansas City.

Project #2 – our front windshield – Starting at the end of last summer a crack was working its way across the windshield of our car. It stopped expanding for a few months and now with the relative heat of Spring the crack has made it the rest of the way across the window in no time.

I chose to schedule an appointment with SafeLite online, which was super convenient. I had them come to my workplace and while I was working away at my desk their technician had a new windshield on in about an hour. I was impressed with his work and explanation of what he was doing and certain difficulties he may encounter based on looking at my car before he started (namely, rust on the frame around the window).

It’s been a few days since the installation and though it hasn’t rained yet (so I can’t check for leaks), based on my experience I’d recommend these guys.

March Madness – How can one mention March without mention of March Madness? I have loved Kansas basketball since I was a kid, and my wife is even warming up to them a bit herself. We have enjoyed watching them progress through the NCAA tournament enjoying games with friends and family.

The Brilliance – Dust We Are and Shall Return

Window Replacement – Jan/Feb 2012

As part of our basement finishing project, my wife had the great idea of replacing the tiny window on the back of our house with one about twice the size. Miraculously, there was a stretch of about 3 warm days at the end of January which is exactly what I needed to put the window in, caulk and paint before bad weather came (which it did). With the help of my good friend Joel we managed to install this thing with very little trouble:

Finshed window on back side of house
Finished window installation

Here are a few more pictures of the process. I got my window at Home Depot. Our biggest challenge was the fact that I bought a “new construction” window, but probably shouldn’t have since my house has siding on it already. We just cut the siding back a bit more to nail the nailing fin in, and caulked liberally around the fin and when attaching the trim pieces.

You may have noticed it looks like it is dark outside by the time the new window was nailed into the rough opening. Yes, yes it was. I took the final picture the next day once it was light again.

Finally, if you’re in the Gardner area you should know I couldn’t be more pleased with Construction Materials, Inc (CMI) in Gardner. They were very helpful in supplying everything I needed for this job including trim, metal flashing, trim nails, roofing nails (for the nailing fin), lumber for the new header and caulk. Now if only they were open on Saturdays…:-)