What’s New at StevePake.com

Welcome to my new “home” for Pake family updates, new blogs, photos, and other random stuff in my post social media world. Everything that I might have posted on social media before will be here now.

september 14, 2019

Since the one day we could have made it to the every other year Andrews Air Show was rained out this year here in the D.C. area, we decided to make the trek to Dover Air Force Base, which is about 2 hours away to get our air show fix in. Other than the fact that we got there a bit late and had to wait nearly 2 hours just to get through the security line (will get there earlier next year), it was a great show, the weather was pretty forgiving, and it was nice being able to drive right on base with our chairs and gear.

Not that I’m fanboying out or anything, but William and I got to meet Maj Paul "Loco" Lopez (right) who flies the F-22 Raptor Demonstration, and William McKenna (left) who pilots the Air Force Heritage Flight P-51 Mustang. Pretty awesome! I could be wrong, but I don’t think pilots walk the line like this at the Andrews show, so it was a nice surprise. As somewhat of an avgeek, I knew who “Loco” was and recognized him immediately, and shook his hand and got a picture of the pair with William.

By the time Loco was up in the air in the F-22, William was exhausted from being up and around in 80 degree weather all day, so we had relocated back to our car far away from show center. My Raptor demo photos this year weren’t quite as good as the ones I took in 2017 as a result, but I still got some pretty good photos. I haven’t even started to go through them yet.

While Loco and McKenna were still in the air and wrapping up their demonstration, we hopped in the car and beat feet down to Rehoboth Beach about 45 minutes away. Thanks to a Mercedes S-Klasse driver going at “an accelerated rate of speed” that was breaking the cops for us, we made it down to Rehoboth just in time to get the second to last seat of the first seating at our all time favorite Henlopen City Oyster House and had a great dinner! It was a perfect end to a great day. We all had a great time!

September 8, 2019

We went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis this past weekend. The weather was just about perfect, and we had a great time. Little did we know that this renaissance festival is based around a 10 year span around 1540, and that they have a slightly different theme every year depending on what was going on in a particular year, until it finally loops back to the start again. So you can go every year, and it’ll be a bit different each time.

Here’s a few pictures of the jousting. We didn’t realize this last time, but some different plot lines are playing out at the noon, 3pm, and 6pm jousting sessions, so each jousting event is a bit different than the last. This of course is a ploy to keep you there for longer and spending more money, but it’s effective, and far more interesting than what you’d see at most theme parks!

I’m super behind on photos at this point and still haven’t even gone through beach photos due to working on numerous fairly important household and yard projects, but I’ll get the full set of these up before long.

I took these with my Canon EOS RP camera, and Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens. Enjoy!

September 3, 2019

Back To School 2019

Aaaaaaaaaand just like that, summer is over and our kids are back in school! Katie is in 7th grade this year, and William 5th! Here’s to a great school year!


September 2, 2019

Sometimes the best photos happen purely by accident. I had actually been focusing on the beach umbrellas far away, but out of nowhere this group of three kids came sprinting down the beach heading for the water. Without even thinking, I just fired off a shot trying to catch them in the middle of the frame. It all happened in a split second, so no time to adjust anything - just shoot. The autofocus miraculously managed to lock onto them and the result is below. I love it. It really captured the mood nicely for the end of summer.

I shot this with my full-frame Canon EOS RP camera, and a 70-200mm f/4L lens at 200mm in 1.6x crop mode (320mm equivalent). Normally I like to bring my 100-400mm L II lens for the more open spaces at Virginia Beach, but have been nursing a wrist strain injury, so didn’t want to burden it with having to handle a much bigger lens with a far greater moment of inertia as well. I tweaked the photo a bit with some center lighting effects, and then a mild vignette at the outer edges and corners. I’ll post a full photo album of our Virginia Beach trip within the next week or two, as I’m fully occupied with some urgent landscaping repair projects.

Erosion Repair Fun

We had a minor water ingress issue into our newly finished and 90% completed basement that fortunately didn’t cause any damage. The source of the seepage is due to erosion around our foundation that our home inspector pointed out when buying two years ago. All of the flash floods and severe storms have finally caused an issue, so I’m in the middle of repairing 20 years worth of soil erosion issues and making lots of runs to Home Depot and back with massive loads of replacement soil and mulch, along with some new drainage pipes that I’m putting in to help divert water around the foundation. The Suburban has a 1500 lb internal load capacity, and I’ve been using it all and then some!

This was the critical spot. I had to do all this with Dennis’ help in a single day before we left for the beach! You can’t tell from the photos, but it was plain as day obvious how much erosion there was here, and that it was allowing water to flow up to the edge of the foundation. So a few inches of replacement soil to restore the proper slope away from the foundation, and then another few inches of mulch on top of that, along with some temporary drainage pipes to route water from the downspouts away.

The critical area above is done and “tested”, but while I’m at it, I might as well take care of it all, right? I’ve never put mulch down in a lot of areas since we moved in 2 years ago, and most of what was there has either washed away or has decomposed completely. I can’t even get to some of the areas where there’s erosion issues, so I’m also having to trim and even chainsaw my way through shrub and tree overgrowth first, all of which takes time! In other words, lots of fun in the yard as of late, and no time to play photog or do other things.

Good news. Mulch is on sale at Home Depot for $2 per bag rather than the usual tree-fiddy, so “saving lots of money.” The Home Depot guys say you can get about 50 bags of mulch into a Suburban at a time, but I’ve kept it to 30 just to avoid making too much of a mess! Good thing Home Depot is literally right up the street from us. All in, this will probably be about $1000 or so to fix, and at least we can DIY it. Hired out, this would probably cost $5-10k. It’s mostly a muscle project and not much brains or skills required, so Dennis and I can handle it! Lol. Dennis (my brother-in-law who is disabled that lives with us) has actually been a huge help. He actually does a pretty good job of groundskeeping and just needs direction on what to do. So mainly I’m just directing, and making Home Depot runs, although I’ll have to take care of some of the trickier areas myself. We should be mostly done in a week or two, but concealing and/or prettying up the new drainage pipes might take some doing, as I can’t dig through tree roots, and also can’t put the drain below sidewalk level to keep water flowing. We’ll see what works and makes sense. I have a slightly more involved Plan B and C in mind that might very well work out better, but for now Debbie’s newly finished basement is protected, and that’s all that really matters! :)

September 1, 2019

Aaaaaaaaand we’re back from a week long beach trip. Highlight of the trip, going parasailing for the first time with my daughter. I was terrified, but it was an amazing experience, and not once did I ever feel like it was unsafe.

We also answered the question of just how much stuff you can pile into a Chevy Suburban, the vehicle my wife swore up and down was too big and that we would never need! (You know where this is going!) So a week long beach trip and all of the usual luggage for 5 people and a dog, plus a dog crate, dog fence, dog bed, dog food, toys, and snacks, 10x10’ canopy tent, beach chairs, beach toys, boogie boards, camera gear, cooler bag, a big-wheeled foldable beach wagon that can haul all of this stuff over sand, miscellaneous other stuff, oh and a massive bag of bedding for 5 people at the AirBnB rental we used, and it all fit! I managed to squeeze all of this into the Suburban, and still keep the two-thirds side of the 3rd row seat open. So while there was zero room left for any more cargo, everybody had plenty of passenger space.

I managed to get 23.5 to 26 mpg straight highway depending on speed and traffic (drafting or not), and 21 mpg overall for the entire trip, including all local driving, 30 minutes just sitting idling, and probably an hour combined worth of multiple relatively minor highway slow downs or delays. That’s pretty freaking good hauling two vehicles worth of stuff in compete comfort! Best of all, it takes regular grade fuel. I’ve been doing a lot of hauling with this beast lately for yard and grounds repair projects, so I’ve been using all of its 1500lb internal load capacity also. It’s definitely proving its worth! This is clearly the right vehicle for me to have at the right time in my life, so no regrets at all. I’ll write a one year review blog of it towards the end of the year.

I did manage to stay (mostly) completely off of the Internet and social media while on our beach vacay, just enjoyed the time away and with my family, and also finished reading a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Now that I’m back and took a peek at social media again, I feel exactly as An0maly did below. LOL. Compare how I felt after reading a good book with reading social media. After the book I felt enlightened and encouraged, as opposed to continually outraged and annoyed going on social media and/or reading the news. I think that just about says it all. I have more books on my Kindle that are ready and waiting for me, and there’s some good ones by people that I respect that are coming out soon, so you know what I’ll be sticking with.

August 23, 2019


Going to be taking a nice Internet and social media break for this last week of the summer before schools start again, and just enjoy life and family. Phone off, news off, world off, everything off. It’ll still be here when I get back. Planning to read some books and do some writing as well. Go give An0maly a follow on Twitter. He’s one of the few people who makes any sense to me and posts good stuff!


August 21, 2019

It’s Nice To Finally Be Writing Again

For the first time in a few years now, it’s been nice to walk into my work in the morning and not having to run around like an idiot putting out fires and keeping up with extremely aggressive schedules, trying to solve totally bizarre problems that have come out of nowhere, and not hopping on and off planes, jetting to one place or another. This time last year, I had been hopping on and off planes so often that I managed to develop bilateral inner ear infections, and spent half of the summer temporarily 75% deaf! I don’t miss that. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak too loudly, but it’s actually given me time to think and decompress a bit, and so for the first time in a long time I’m actively working on numerous writing projects and essays, some of which have been sitting around as rough drafts since as early as 2016.

Much of the past 10 years of our lives has been filled with total bullshit, and one too many people in our lives have been complete bullshit as well. Debbie and I have always been the real deal towards everyone in our lives, so what a sad state of the world that we live in where truly altruistic people like ourselves, without hidden agendas or ulterior motives who have just wanted to do some good in this world, have been lumped in with all the other opportunistic grifters out there, and lied about and smeared in the worst possible and dehumanizing of ways. People are fucking insane. We’ve both written off years of our lives at this point, and that’s sad.

On one hand, a part of me just wants to write off so much of these past 10 years, and forget it all and move on. But then I’m a Scorpio. We never forget a thing, and it still lights me up and burns me to this day to have devoted so much time and energy to others that we’ve treated like second families, only to be blown right out of the sky when it suited them. Who’s the opportunistic grifters, and who’s egotistical and self-serving again? Those that have dedicated years of their lives to others while asking for nothing in return, or those that have taken full advantage of us and everything we’ve ever done, only to completely disavow, smear, and dehumanize us when it suited them? Hmmm…

There are some real piece of shit people out there that have killed off the altruistic spirit in both of us, so Debbie and I have moved on and are just living our lives for ourselves now. While I do miss being a part of something larger and look forward to doing bigger things again someday, never again will I allow myself to put so much time and energy into something that I don’t have full control over, only for some egomaniac to tear it all down out of spite. On the bright side, I’m glad certain people showed their true colors when they did. No more wasted time or energy. I hope some people out there are having a nice life without us, and without all that we did and would have continued to do for them.


We have absolutely nothing to hide, and nothing to be ashamed of, but can’t say the same for others who truly ought to be. I’d like to say that I welcome dialog, but the shameless have no shame, and the minds of egomaniacs, narcissistics, and sociopaths are fundamentally incapable of ever seeing any wrongdoing, and will continue to manipulate, use, and abuse until they’re held accountable. I’ve largely remained silent, and so many things have been left unsaid, but I won’t remain silent forever. I’ve learned to forgive, but I’ll never forget.

On a more positive note, and not having anything to do with the numerous piece of shit human beings we’ve had in our lives and all of the bullshit we’ve had to deal with, I do have some more positive and inspirational type cancer survivor blogs coming as well. Who knows when I’ll ever get them out, but I do have a young adult cancer survivor “retrospective” series in the works, looking back on my entire young adult cancer experience. I haven’t been able to touch the whole cancer topic all that meaningfully in the past year or so for a lot of reasons, but I look forward to being able to go there again. :)

August 20, 2019

Random cool photo. The one thing I miss about our old townhouse was the direct westward sunset views from the top of the hill overlooking the neighborhood that we live in. Our new house is our dream home, but doesn’t have particularly exciting views. This is an early evening thunderstorm passing through and a double rainbow on the way out. Pretty cool. Most of the interesting views from here are way early in the morning around sunrise, long before I’m usually awake! Canon EOS RP with Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L at 24mm and f/5.6, with a little tweaking in Apple Aperture software to bring out the rainbow and colors a bit more.

August 18, 2019

William and I scored last minute tickets to the Washington Nationals game, and what a crazy game it was! It was more like a home run derby! The Nat’s hit a club record 8 home runs, and demolished the Brewers 16-8, after a painful 14-inning loss of 14-15 the night before. It was hot, but our seats were up in the 400’s and in the shade with a nice breeze, so it wasn’t bad at all. Special thanks to the Ron Sitrin team at Long & Foster for the invite and tickets. We had a great time!

Click below for the full album link

I used my Canon EOS RP full-frame mirrorless camera, and then my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L ultra-wide and EF 70-200mm f/4L non-IS telephoto zoom combo for photos.

August 15, 2019

Basement renovation project photos. God no we’re not doing this ourselves! Don’t have the skills and don’t have the time, and it would take us years, so it’s been contracted out. Will have an exercise/weight room, a small full bath, and a large den area. We’re finishing around 1000 sq-ft, and will still have more than enough space leftover for unfinished storage. Should be pretty awesome when it’s all done! Click below for the album.

August 14, 2019

Photography Fun Post - shooting a 55mm Nikon Macro Lens on Canon

I took the super close photo of the Instagram app icon on my phone with my old manual focus Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens. This lens does 1:2 macro (half life-size) by itself, and then I used the Nikon PK-13 extension tube to get it down to 1:1, which is full life-size. I used a Foatsy non-CPU lens mount adapter to go from the legacy Nikon F-mount, to the Canon full-frame mirrorless RF mount. All you have to do on the camera is enable a non-CPU lens shutter release option, and it manages to meter and do proper auto-exposure just fine by itself.

Manual focus is the norm for close macro shots like these, so it’s no issue that the lens doesn’t have autofocus, and the feel of classic manual focus Nikon lenses is pristine. Total cost of this setup for 1:1 macro? Like $150, tops.. About $110-120 for the lens used, $10-20 for the PK-13 extension tube, and $20 for the lens mount adapter. You can get a lens like this and the extension tube from places like KEH.com, and I’m sure they can be found on eBay, too. I bought the Foatsy adapter off of Amazon.

I’ll have to see if I can get some other cool macro shots now that I’ve dug all this stuff out of my old photography gear bins. No, I’m not so old that I used to shoot film on manual focus cameras before autofocus was around. But after autofocus came onto the scene in the late 1980’s, lenses like these were immediately rendered obsolete and their resale values collapsed, making them incredibly good deals used. I have a small pile of these old gems, all of which I picked up for around $100 or so each, when some of them might have sold for the equivalent of $800-1000 new in their day. Best of all, they’re built like tanks out of solid metal, and will literally last a lifetime. Nikon always had a stellar rep for “overbuilt” cameras and lenses, and it really shows in these old lenses. Most of the manual focus lenses that I own are 1980’s vintage, so not quite as old as I am, but they still take amazing photos even 30-40 years later. Great camera lenses will last a lifetime, and there’s literally nothing to go wrong in these lenses. Properly stored, these lenses will still take great photos when my kids are my age!

August 13, 2019


Because of how open I've been about my own struggles after cancer through things like depression and PTSD, I've had a lot of people reach out to me over the years about far more than just cancer and mental health, because they needed someone to talk to, knew that I got it, and wouldn't be a judgmental ass. In addition to cancer survivors like myself, I can count among my readers and followers people who have been victims of abuse, sexual assault, and even rape, people that have either contemplated or attempted suicide, others that have suffered from PTSD as well, and even someone who was the victim of an attempted murder.

When this is the level of privacy and confidence that I've operated at in the past, how can I in my right mind and in good conscience continue to operate on these Big Tech social media platforms when they literally scrape everything that we say, everything in our DM's, scan photos on our phones that we don't even post, admit in court that we have zero expectation for any privacy, and even LISTEN IN on our private conversations?

It's truly unbelievable the extent this very platform is willing to go, selling everything about us out all to make a buck. How the hell could I ever have a "private" conversation on here about someone that's just contemplated suicide, when I know Big Tech is listening? I can't and I won't, and that's why I've been winding down my social media accounts.

Now onto the blog. I had to re-install the Instagram app a few days ago to do something quick that I couldn't do through the mobile web version, and almost immediately I caught it spying on my wife and I. It's tough to argue that it wasn't actually audibly eavesdropping on our conversation as well, especially when combined with other evidence. Truly sickening.

Everybody needs to start thinking about what's next AFTER these totally intrusive platforms. Like Steve Wozniak has said on camera, “most people should figure out how to get off of Facebook”. I already am. Read on...

August 11, 2019

We’re relaxing on our porch after a productive weekend with a bottle of wine. Now that it isn’t so blazing hot, it’s actually been nice to come sit out here for a bit in the evenings.

New PotteryBarn Outlet outdoor swivel chair at the distant left.

Another weekend, another Chevy Suburban furniture “kill” down at the PotteryBarn Outlet in Fredericksburg, VA.

We wish we lived closer so that we could stalk this place out a bit more. It was pretty picked over this time, but we managed to get a killer deal on some swiveling outdoor porch chairs that we’ve had our eyes. on. Regularly priced $999 (insane!), but on sale at the outlets for $399, and on sale online for $299. The outlet matched the online price. You really have to look at these things close, because there tends to be quality control issues and some of the legs come bent from casting flaws, leading to a floppy chair! They had four, two of which were new in box. I was going to buy the two new in box ones, but sure enough when I pulled them out, one of them had a casting flaw in one leg, making it floppy on level ground. Unbelievable that they have such poor quality control on chairs that they charge so much for. Both of the floor samples were okay, but one had a stained cushion, so we mixed and matched and took the good floor sample and the good cushion, threw it in the box and in the ‘Burb, and were on our way. We’ve “saved so much money” with the Suburban, in the form of thousands of dollars in delivery fees that we haven’t paid! Most of the new furniture we’ve picked up since our move has been hauled by this thing. :)

We love our PorchLife™, but it is a bit narrow, so it helps to have some swiveling chairs for the ends so that people can easily rotate in to talk to others, or rotate away to look out in the yard.

In other news, we’re finally finishing our basement. We re-did our kitchen last year, as it had never been updated and the layout just didn’t work for us. The previous owner had left the basement completely unfinished, so that’s the next project for us this year. Renovations got started on August 1st. There’s a gargantuan amount of space down there. We’re finishing around 1000 sq-ft, and will still have plenty of unfinished space leftover for storage, so it’s yuge. No, we’re not doing it ourselves! Are you kidding? Would love to learn how to do all of this, and it’s amazing to watch, but none of us has the time. It would take us years and consume every bit of our spare time that we don’t have, so it’s been hired out and will be done in about 4-6 weeks total instead.

We’ll have a room for either an office or a spare bedroom that we won’t legally be able to call a bedroom because we’re not excavating our yard to create a walkout, a compact full bath, and then a large den area. The “office” will probably become an exercise room. We’ve already inherited a really nice elliptical machine that some friends want to get rid of, and we’ll probably get a weight machine set, too. We have no idea what we’ll put in the larger area, but we’ll figure it out once it’s done. We’ll probably setup a large desk for Katie to draw on, and who knows what else. Friends have suggested putting a bar down there, but we’re not big on alchy. Maybe we should be!

Here’s a little preview.

Prepping our basement to get finished in the first place was a major ordeal all by itself! We had to go through all of our @#%#, donated tons of stuff, took tons more to the local dump (all of which was hauled by the ‘Burban), and then consolidated it all into the back corner that will remain and about 400 sq-ft.

This summer has been a bit of a drag just prepping for the basement project. Now that that’s done and the basement project is underway, it’s been nice to have just a tiny bit more leisure time. I’m actually starting to make progress on some writing and blog projects again, having time to think, in addition to getting my website updated! I still have much more to write about life in general, and even cancer, but so much has been put on hold the past few years just because of how busy our lives have been. There’s some essays and other works that I’ve had in drafts for two years now that I’m finally starting to organize and work on again, in addition to a retrospective series on young adult cancer that I plan to write. So I’m not “done” writing by any stretch. Mainly life has just been too busy to think much about writing projects. It’s nice to finally have enough of a breather to actually make some headway.

Hope you all have been having a nice summer, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. I can’t believe how quickly this year is going, but I guess that’s what happens once you hit the big 4-0. The years just start to fly on by. Hard to believe that I’ll be 42 in a few months. Debbie and I will be celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary, and have something special planned. You’ll see. :)

August 7, 2019

New Blog! This was actually back in June over Father’s Day Weekend.

When You Suffer From Post-Cancer Chronic Fatigue, But Can Still Bust Out a 30 Minute 5K

August 5, 2019

After some real burner weeks at work, a few business trips, being sick, and prepping our basement for a massive renovation project that got underway last week, there’s been basically zero time for anything fun lately. Kinda a drag, but we’ve still managed to have some fun. Here’s a little recap and some new photo albums I’ve put up over the past few days, now that things are settling down a bit.

Summer Traditions, Generous Pour 2019 with Natalie and Mark - July 27th

The Capital Grille has a great summer event called The Generous Pour where you get bottomless wine with dinner for $28 per person. We haven’t been able to do this the past year or two because of one thing or another, so it was nice to finally get to go again with our dear friends Natalie and Mark.

We love these guys. Our lives have been so (bleeped) up in various ways over the past few years, that I don’t even need to mention that I had cancer earlier in my young adulthood to get jaws dropping anymore. But Natalie and Mark were around for us in the aftermath of that too, and no matter what it is that we’ve been going through, they’ve always helped us to just forget it all and have a nice time, through their presence and the magical charm of their fun and outgoing personalities. There’s a reason why you’ll find photos of these two scattered throughout my website and in more than a few blogs. Everyone needs friends like these. I don’t know where we’d be without them.

What a great time, as always, and happy anniversary! :)

Summer Color Party - July 20th

Normally we do our annual summer kickoff color party around Memorial Day, but planned it a bit later this year hoping for somewhat warmer weather and to dodge all of the spring rain, after so many rain delays and completely unpredictable weather last year. Late June didn’t quite pan out for various reasons, so we landed on July 20th, where of course we got the hottest 100F day of the summer! Lol! We just can’t win with the weather, but rain-or-shine is still the way to go, as it’s too much of a pain to reschedule when everybody has busy weekends.

So yeah, it was a bit HOT, which definitely kept some of the regulars away, but we still had fun. We camped out indoors in the air-conditioning until we were all ready to go out, and then let the color rip all at once while almost immediately firing up the sprinklers and water balloons before anyone had a chance to get heat stroked. So another fun color party, but could we maybe please get somewhat sane weather next year??

Rasika West End - July 13th

After our NYC weekend, Debbie and I actually managed to get out for a date night and enjoy a nice week together without our kids or dog, as they all spent the week up in Pennsylvania with their grandparents after coming back from NYC. For the past two years in a row, I’ve always ended up having to go on business trips when our kids would spend a week at their grandparents, so haven’t been able to pretend like we’re “DINK” types (dual-income, no kids) for quite a while! It was nice to have some time for just the two of us, and get out for a nice dinner. Rasika West End is one of the best Indian cuisine restaurants in the D.C. area. Debbie had a craving for their Lobster Malai and their Garlic Naan breads, so craving satisfied. :)

Rasika West End - no photo album, just a quick collage!

New York City Trip - July 4th Weekend

We went to NYC all the way back on July 4th weekend, and just kinda hung out. We were all too exhausted and burned out from a real burner of a spring and early summer to do much, and accidentally ended up doing some of the same things, so just a change of scenery and some great food, and met up with some friends of ours who live in NYC. We brought Puffles along too, who had a great time sniffing out a new city and getting all sorts of attention from people, but he was part of the exhaustion taking him out for walks and trying to get him to do his business in an unfamiliar place. I think we’re kinda New York’d out at this point, and probably won’t go back for awhile.

In addition to this What’s New page, you can also find all of these photo albums here: http://www.stevepake.com/2019

Sorry, no photos of Puffles lately, other than when he’s been along with us! He’s looking a bit shaggy again and due for another grooming, and to be completely honest I’ve had zero time for much photography anyways, besides when we’re out doing something. He’s also figured out that he hates the hot weather regardless of if he’s just been groomed or has longer fur, so tends to want to just stay inside where it’s cool. He’s a smart dog! On the next update, I’ll fish out a few photos of him along with us in New York City, and put them on his Puffles Latest page, and then my website will pretty much be up to date again.

Re: El Paso and Dayton. Just watch Mike Cernovich’s Periscope. He’s one of the few people I trust. That’s all.

August 4, 2019

Debbie is officially a Chevy Suburban driver now

So about 10 months to the day after we bought it, Debbie finally drove our 2018 Chevy Suburban for the first time. We’re going to the beach again in a few weeks, and I’m going to get dropped off with the kids to do various things while Debbie goes elsewhere, so she needed to learn how to drive it at long last. Driving it is the easy part - she said it drove and handled pretty well and was impressed with it. It’s maneuvering of a nearly 20-foot long vehicle in close quarters and also parking that really takes some mental re-calibration and getting used to.

Normally, unless the parking lot lanes are extremely wide, head-in parking is a 3-point turn when adjacent spots are taken. You pull forward past your intended parking spot while making one-third of the total turn, reverse while making the second third of the turn, and then you can pull straight in while completing the turn and not have the thing’s butt sticking out or at an angle. Backing in is easier once you’re used to it. Pull forward almost a spot and a half past your intended spot while completing half the turn, then full opposite lock while reversing will usually get you right in once you judge the distance properly. Since the front steering wheels are clear of the adjacent cars, you can continue to use high steering angles while parking.

Well, for Debbie’s first trip driving the Suburban, she chose the worst possible spot! Even I wouldn’t have chosen this spot, and it ended up being a 4-point turn rather than 2, but she did well. The rear camera works great, and the auto tilt-down on both side view mirrors helps you see the parking lines. When pulling out, or navigating a sharp right hand turn, you just need to make sure the rear-axle is clear of the curb or parked car before you start turning, otherwise you’ll be hopping curbs or scraping up the car next to you. I’m going to order some traffic cones and we’ll go to the local park which has a huge parking lot for her to practice in before our next beach trip. :)

10,000 Mile Review

We hit 10,000 miles in the Suburban the other month. Our only real complaint so far has been the lousy Bridgestone tires, but I knew about them beforehand. Bridgestone tires suck. They have terrible puncture resistance and I found a screw in one of them one day, and the right rear developed a bubble in the sidewall with only 9,000 miles on it. It’s practically unavoidable that you’re going to end up hopping curbs on sharp right hand turns once in awhile, but are you really going to tell me that a tire shouldn’t be able to handle hopping a couple of curbs. I have no idea if that’s what caused it or not, but these tires are a freaking joke. It’s a shame that this happened right before a business trip and then having a road trip to NYC planned right after I got back. I took it to the local Chevy dealership to see about a warranty replacement, but of course the tires are sold to GM with no warranty to customers at all (which is why they sell tire warranty plans!), so I was out of pocket for a new tire. If this had happened any other time, I’d have had the time to get a set of Michelins lined up from either Costco or TireRack.com, but for now I’m still on the crappy Bridgestones. They’ll be getting replaced within the Michelins within the next few weeks.

Other than that, we all love the McBurb. Everyone has tons of space, the air-conditioning is powerful and quiet, it’s super smooth and comfortable on long trips, and it’s amazing who and what you can stuff into it. Fuel mileage is an impressive 23.5 mpg on straight highway going 75 mph. You can get 24+ if you slow down a bit, and full road trip mileage including idle time and local/city driving has still come out in the 21-22 mpg range. Consider its size and being stuffed full of people and a dog, that’s pretty darned good. Complaints are minor, and few and far between. This is a very well thought out and engineered vehicle, and there's never been any “what the hell were they thinking?” type issues, unlike with the Ford Expedition I rented before buying. Most of the “complaints” are just about the nature of the beast, and not about any fundamental design flaws. Yes, the straight local/city driving mileage is terrible, but you knew that. No it’s not particularly “fun” to drive, but it drives quite well. I don’t find it overly bothersome to park, we all love the utility, and best of all NOBODY messes with this thing. I love being able to drive in peace. People would either constantly not see my BMW 335i convertible, completely misjudge distance, or purposely try to run me off the road because I’m a guy driving a 335i convertible, so surely must deserve it. None of that nonsense in the Suburban. As for Debbie driving the 335i, she actually gets a lot of friendly honks and cat calls when she drives it, as opposed to people trying to run me off the road when I drive it. Why didn’t I ever get any friendly honks or cat calls? LMAO!

Anyways, she loves driving the convertible now, and even 8 years old and completely stock, it’s still quite zippy by today’s standards and looks great. I never took to the “F33” 4-series successor. It just looked too slab-sided to me and lacked the lines and shape of the classic E93, and weren’t nearly as good to drive either. So we’re keeping our now “old” convertible and running it into the ground.

Hopping out of the Suburban in NYC. I still haven’t posted photos from our NYC road trip over July 4th weekend, work has been too busy and we’ve been prepping our basement for renovation.

August 1, 2019

I decided it would be a good time to clear out this page before it gets too big and starts causing people’s phones to choke. Click the “Older What’s New 1H-2019” button below for the old stuff. I’m also simplifying the formatting so that it will display the same on both desktop and mobile, which will also make it easier to do mobile updates on here.

What has the Pake family been up to lately? Mainly just working like dogs. I managed to catch this nasty summer flu that’s been going around, so I’ve also been “sick as a dog” which had me totally out of commission for a full day, and now I’ve had a lingering head cold for two weeks! When not working or being miserable and sick, often both at the same time, we’ve also been clearing out and organizing our basement, because basement renovations start TODAY. I’ve also been on a few business trips in the past month, which haven’t been very much fun either. So the Pake’s haven’t exactly been having much fun lately, but that’s just how things go sometimes. You can’t have tons of fun literally all the time. Lol

I’ve decided that I’m not going to post about politics, current events, or Big Tech any more - or heaven forbid the 2020 Presidential race - nor am I even really going to follow it. It’s all such a shit show, everybody is lying and pandering out their asses seeing who can sell out our entire country the fastest, and it’s such a drag to keep up with it all on a day to day basis. Few people are actually being honest, literally every week is a new outrage cycle, and more often than not it’s all a load of crap only to be followed by the next outrage cycle a few days or a week later. I’m breaking the cycle, and am just not going to follow anything at all. No news, no social media, no nothing. Why bother? It’s all crap. I’ll save my rantings for a couple of “epic rant” style blogs that I’ve had in the works for quite a long time (in one case over a year), and that will be it. Otherwise it will just be fun stuff and pictures here.