Apparently, I’m getting worse and worse about posting to this blog. I’ve now missed an entire month (September 2008). And I nearly missed another month…

Part of the reason, at least over the past few weeks, has been a long vacation. I’ve been lazily lounging around the house for four weeks… well, not entirely lounging actually. The company I work for has (had) a nice sabbatical policy. Starting at your fifth calendar year, you have the option of taking a four week sabbatical every three years. I took one when Will was born (that was after I had been there for five years). I wanted to save my next sabbatical to take off when the new kid comes around (next April), but rumour has it that our 2009 Benefits plan will not include the sabbatical. So I needed to take my extra vacation time before it was too late to do so. So we scheduled for me to take my four weeks off starting with Will’s vacation from school (which was only three weeks long).

The first week of vacation was the week of September 22nd. During this week, I had the clutch on my car rerepaired. The clutch pedal has been acting up ever since the new clutch was put in. When I took it in, they claimed the clutch hydraulic system needed a new slave cylinder. It wasn’t expensive, but I was irate that they were asking for more money to fix the car. The pedal had no such problems before they installed the new clutch.

It is certainly possible that they’re competent and honest mechanics. The slave cylinder could have been on its way out and coincidentally didn’t exhibit any systems until after they messed with it (they did have to flush, fill, and bleed the hydraulics when replacing the clutch). But they obviously had difficulty getting it fixed – they told me it would definitely be ready the next morning. It took a whole day and half beyond that before it was ready, and the guy explained to me over the phone how difficult bleeding the system was. That tells me that they had the same problems even after replacing the slave cylinder (i.e. this was likely a waste of my money) and spent extra time to properly bleed the system. It feels like the did major adjustments in the new clutch, too, because the pedal travel, weight, and friction-point location and length all feel very different then when I took it in…

But it appears to finally be fixed now…

That week I also shipped a case of homebrew to my sister and brother-in-law in California. That Friday, Will, Malin, and I joined that case of homebrew as we boarded a plane headed for Los Angeles.

We had a good time in LA. We took Will to the National Science Museum, the LA Zoo, and Travel Town. We had an unbirthday party (complete with balloon animals that weren’t really animals – more like abstract shapes such as intestines). We went to Little Tokyo. We had good sushi. We had so much Mexican and Central/South American food that we swore off tacos for awhile… We had an unpleasant time dealing with UPS, which decided to totally screw up the deliver of the previously mentioned case of homebrew… And then we flew home.

The following week, it was Malin’s turn to have her car in the shop. The Audi’s radiator was leaking, and it had a cracked CV boot. Mercifully, the radiator leak was fixed cheaply by replacing the overflow reservoir (less than $200, which feels cheap compared to most of my visits to the mechanic).

Her car was fixed just in time for a road-trip. We stopped by and visited my parents in Greenville, SC. We then traveled to visit friends in Durham, NC for a couple of days. On the way back, we stopped and visited some of Malin’s family in Charlotte and stayed the night with a college friend of mine, Desmond, that lives there. We spent the next day in Greenville again. Will’s grandparents took him to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua while Malin and I went to see Max Payne (which wasn’t half-bad).

And this week we’re getting back into our routine. Will started school again this week, so we’re waking up early to take him there. He’s gotten hooked to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated show on Cartoon Network over the past month. Tonight, however, he fell asleep before it came on (so he’ll have to watch it tomorrow). In this case, it’s good that he fell asleep because this was the roughest episode yet. The target audience is definitely kids, but it’s kids that are a good bit older than Will (8-12 year olds I’d guess).

Today was my last day of sabbatical vacation. I have the weekend ahead of me, and then I must return to the office. Just like my first sabbatical in 2005, this one felt very short. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a whole four weeks… But it has been long enough that it will feel a little wierd returning to work – and a little depressing.

And one of the main things I wanted to accomplish during this four week time – fixing drywall holes left by plumbing repairs – still hasn’t been done… Man, I am such a slacker. But what the hell – it’s a vacation, right?!

I’m hoping to post some pictures and more details from both our week in LA and our road trip in the Carolinas, so stay tuned.