Category Archives: Reviews

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqde2sPMLNw&feature=related
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 :-))

rainymood.com – 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!

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.

Credit: bethanylb.edu

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: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/dentist-pulls-her-ex-boyfriend-teeth-split-210829769.html

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

Watching:
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:

Beautiful!

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

Line 6 DL-4 Footswitch Replacement

If you’ve found this page you surely know exactly what you’re looking for by now. Below are a few thoughts from my experience of changing out the mechanical, failure-prone “spring” switches of the DL-4 and replacing them with something more reliable, quieter, and smoother to press.

Here is what the original, mechanical switches look like:

Stock spring footswitch for DL-4
Stock spring footswitch for DL-4

I have VERY limited soldering experience but I think I could have done this on my own. Despite that, I enlisted a generous and more experienced friend to help me replace these DL-4 switches.

From what I read, people tend to want to change these switches because the springs either break or simply stop switching reliably. I was starting to experience the very first signs of unreliable switches (“hey, I thought I pressed that button…”) and so I chose to preemptively swap them out. We used the following resources:

1. Instructional video on youtube

2. Written instructions on Gear Page forum
3. Replacement Switches source (order 4 of them) *Updated broken link* (If necessary in the future, search smallbearelec.com for SKU 0206A, Momentary SPST “Soft-Touch” switch.)

The only real comments I would add to the video and forum post above are as follows:

– The six rotary knobs are very difficult to remove in the disassembly process. I ended up wrapping a layer of electrical tape around each switch and then using a large set of pliers to pull them straight up and off. I found it easier to put my pliers on the “long” way across the knob instead of the “short” way. That is, there are two orientations in which you can grab the knob. Use the way that opens the mouth of your pliers more widely. Pull straight up and be careful to not bend the knob too far side to side. Some folks say to use a screwdriver to pry the knobs off. I had no luck with this and don’t recommend it.

– You do indeed need to file or cut out the little metal nub on the DL-4 enclosure. The replacement switches I got have a groove but if you line up the groove with the nub, the new switch will not fit in the enclosure. In theory the switches could spin a bit without the nub, but just tighten the nuts down well when you re-assemble.

– The video and the forum I’ve mentioned show opposite configurations for where and how to solder the wire. Either one will work.

– The total height of the switches is just a little too high. We had them sticking out the hole on the front of the enclosure as much as possible (which I recommend), but we still had a hard time getting the back of the case to close flush. I think I ended up taking out the large middle stand-off screw completely.

– Be careful to not bend the long posts that the LEDs are mounted on when you’re re-assembling the unit.

If possible I’d test out the unit before putting it completely back together to make sure your wiring is good. That’s it! Once I had the pedal disassembled, the process took us about an hour. Here’s the finished product:

New footswitches for DL-4
New footswitches for DL-4

Life Playlist – Jan 2012

Inspired by my wife’s monthly posting of pictures in 2011 with her new camera, I thought it would be fun to document what I’ve been up to this month – January 2012.

Giving Blood – I gave blood for the first time on January 19, compelled by my dad-in-law’s loss of 9 units during open heart surgery a few months ago, and subsequent survival due in part to generous folks who donated their own blood not knowing if it would ever even be used. I was so grateful at the thought of strangers doing that I decided to contribute my own. I was prepared for some pain but it really wasn’t bad at all. If you’re so compelled, the Red Cross website does a great job of letting you know what to expect and you can see where the next blood drive is taking place near you.

I LOVE this article about a “cash mob” at a local hardware store in Ohio. One resident got the idea to email 40 friends asking them to spend $20 at the store on a certain day. Word spread and the article describes the outcome.

Line 6 DL-4 Switch Replacement – I started writing about this here, but it turned into it’s own blog post. I’ll probably post that within the next month. [Update: link here]

Standing at my Desk – I’ve joined that group of crazy people who sometimes stands at their desk as they work. I’m fortunate to have a desk at work that can be instantly raised or lowered, so I end up standing about two hours a day. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, but I recently ran across an infographic titled, “Sitting is Killing You” that kind of pushed me over the edge. It’s been a good experience and I think I’ll keep doing it. I’d never stand ALL day, but now I don’t have to sit all day either.

Italy: Antique and Modern Genius – I got this great coffee table book for Beth for Christmas. It has pictures of all the places we saw on our last vacation including our favorite little area, Cinque Terre.

Gungor – Ghosts Upon the Earth. I did something a little different when listening to this album. On Gungor’s blog, Michael recommended sitting down, reading all the intros to the songs on his blog and listening to the album as a whole with no distractions. The album attempts to create a musical picture of The Creation, the Fall and redemption. It’s interesting to see how various songs grow on you and also to find out others’ favorite songs from this album.

Forever Reign – Hillsong – I like this sound of this song though I don’t normally enjoy watching worship videos. We plan to introduce this one at our church in the near future.

Life playlist – Dec 2011

Just a few links from my life in December. These are things I’ve read, listened to or otherwise found interesting this month:

Woman finds wedding ring on carrot after 16 years – This woman (A SWEDE, no less) pulled up a carrot from her garden and attached was her wedding ring, lost 16 years ago. Read all the details, including bonus information about their pet sheep, and a family picture taken with such excitement that her husband didn’t even waste time taking off his headphones.

Here’s a fantastic article I read about the state of transportation security, mainly as it pertains to the TSA and airline “security”. The author’s position is pretty much consistent with my own. He articulated it well and while his position is clear, I found it to be an honest and fair assessment. I’m not against security or spending money on security. I also understand my inconvenience may be part of the package. However, let’s (the government) just be honest with ourselves and with the American people about what threats we face and what we’re REALLY accomplishing by spending this money and implementing these programs.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming annual reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail on Jan. 16. He is responding to a letter from Alabama clergymen which can be found here. The clergy is asking for King to stop demonstrations and “wait” for the racial matters of the day to be worked out through the legal system. King responds. I think the letter is a near-flawless example in persuasive argument and his appeal is profound and morally convicting, surely even then.

On a less serious note:

Good Love is on the Way – John Mayer. I’m currently working on learning this one on guitar. Very fun.

Gravity – John Mayer with Keith Urban. Someone pointed out to me the pickup switch he flips at 6:07. Brilliant!

Boss DD-7 – an excellent Christmas gift from my wife. Just what I wanted!

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay
Boss DD-7 Digital Delay

Pizza Hut – The Big Italy

We love Italy. So much that if a product includes “Italy” in the title we’re likely to buy it. Such is the case with Pizza Hut’s new Big Italy pizza. How could it NOT be delicious?

Well, this pizza does not disappoint. This creation is obviously larger in size than Pizza Hut’s large pizza, with special spices that actually seemed to be on the bottom of the pizza and pieces cut into squares like The Edge pizza.

Observe the “his” and “hers” halves above. Great for a romantic dinner for two. (We didn’t eat this all in one meal…)

Oriole Post Music

We met our good friends Rob and Sarah at a free Oriole Post concert in Olathe several weeks ago as part of the Johnson County Community College “Light Up the Lawn” summer concert series. Due to severe thunderstorms they moved the concert inside.

I was completely surprised by the quality of the music and the tightness of the band. I highly recommend checking them out at their website or on iTunes. Here’s a clip from their first track on Silver City, “Like I Should”:

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