Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Friday, September 30, 2011

Deja Juju

Five months ago Marc finished overhauling the engine in his Toyota Tercel. New pistons, bearings, rings, the works. Now it has developed a tic. This isn't good. It only shows up when the clutch pedal is depressed. Let off the clutch and the tic goes away.

What could this be? You
  • push on the clutch pedal, 
  • hydraulically it pushes on the lever 
  • that pushes on the throwout bearing, 
  • that pushes on the retraction fingers in the pressure plate (assembly), 
  • that pull the actual pressure plate away from the clutch disk.
I wrote up an explanation of how a clutch works, just in case you want to know. You can read it here.
  The throwout bearing, the pressure plate and the disk are all rotating with the engine, so if pushing on the clutch pedal caused something to stick out, and there was anything for it to hit, well, that could be making the noise. I give this a low probability because 1) all the clutch parts are new, and 2) I've never heard of such a thing happening.

However, there is another, worser possibility, and that is that whatever bearing(s) are holding the crank in place, that is, that keep it from sliding end to end, have failed. When you step on the clutch pedal, and that mechanical chain reaction starts, it ends with the throw out bearing pushing on the clutch. If the clutch, which is mounted on the end of the crankshaft, is free to move along it's axis, that is what will happen. The bearing will push the clutch, and instead resisting the force of the bearing and forcing the pressure plate to disengage, it will just move away.

Underside of main bearing number three of Toyota four cylinder engine with main bearing cap removed.
So if these suspect bearing(s) have failed, then when you push on the clutch, the crank should slide end to end, and when we tested it, it did in fact move. Marc had cut a three inch hole in the right side inner fender so he could reach the bolt in the center of the crankshaft. If  you push against the end of the crank (we used a two foot length of pipe, engine not running, please) and have someone step on the clutch, you should not be able to feel it move. Mind you, you have to push against the crank pretty hard. The first time I did it I could feel a little tic when Marc stepped on the clutch. Marc tries it and then tells me to really lean into, and when I do and he steps on the clutch I can easily feel the crank move, I would say about an eighth of an inch, which is about a zillion times more than what the spec says.


Once upon a time, about a zillion years ago, when I lived in Austin I had a friend named Ayron who had a Toyota Corolla wagon, and he rebuilt the engine in that car. And sometime later the engine developed a problem, which turned out to be because the thrust bearings had failed.

It seems that on either side of the number three main bearings, there are flat surfaces that serve as thrust bearings to keep the crank from sliding end to end. For these to work properly, the matching surfaces on the crankshaft need to be a certain distance apart. When Ayron first took his crank to the machine shop, they neglected to check this critical measurement, and went and ground the rest of the bearing surfaces as specified. I am afraid this is the same thing that has happened to Marc. Toyota must be the only manufacturer that makes their engines like this.

Revolver Map

I don't know if I trust that thing. Whenever I bring up this page, the only recent hit is Hillsboro. OK, that's enough of that. Time to go do some real world stuff.

To My Commenters

Both of you. I apologize. I just discovered that Blogger has a Spam box where they have been sending my comments. While there were a couple that might have been Spam, it looks like the majority were not. Unfortunately, I don't know what posts they were attached to, and I am not sure I will be able to figure it out.

P.S. Does Spam really need to be capitalized? Yes, if you are talking about the canned meat product (delicious fried), it's a proper name. But if you are talking about advertising sent under cover as being actual communication, I do not think capitalization is warranted. Matter of fact, if I was Spam, I would be perturbed that my proper name was being taken in vain. I think all those spell checkers out there need to be aware of this fact.

P.P.S. Why is perturbed spelled per-, and perogative is spelled pre-?

Enter The BIOS, Part 3 and a 1/2

As I said, we watched "The Good Wife" over the net yesterday evening. We got it straight from CBS, not from one of those pirate sites. There were a few ads, but not nearly as many as you get with broadcast TV. However, the volume on the ads was astonishingly loud. Fortunately I was able to find the mute button (on the remote control, no, not that one, the other remote control. There, down at the bottom right corner). The video quality of the ads was substantially below that of the show, and even the different ads were of different quality.

At the end of the show they offer an opportunity to take a brief survey. Cool, I can tell them what I think. So I point and click and go to the next page. I do this for a couple of minutes, I am several pages into this thing, and I notice the little progress indicator at the top: I am 10% done. A brief little survey?!?! I don't think so. Either I imagined seeing the word brief (entirely possible) or they are big fat liars (also entirely possible). Smoke that, CBS.

Then there's the show. We've been watching it for a while now, a couple of years maybe, and it's been pretty good. [Warning: this may get a little gossipy] At the end of last season we found out that Kalinda (the really hot, female, very secretive private investigator at the law firm where Alicia (the star) works) had a one night stand with Peter Florick (Florik? Alicia's soon-to-be-ex-husband) some time ago, and Alicia goes ballistic (internally). I thought this was a little over the top. Here she has a friend (Kalinda), and she is on the outs with Peter, and she finds out about this ancient history, and she cuts her friend? What do I know? I am a man and a real person, and Alicia is a woman and a fictional character.

The main plot line was considerably more substantial being as it was about Jews and Muslims and murder and arrests and the machinations of lawyers working in the justice system. And politics. Don't forget the politics. Eli Gold is just (how do I say it?) pure gold.

Enter the BIOS, Part 3

 I keep using this title because it reminds me of Bruce Lee's "Enter The Dragon", not that his movies were any good, but because of the attitude he brought to his fights: Intense.

The more I play with the Zbox, the more problems I run into:
  • the DVD player won't play movies,
  • I can't get audio over the HDMI cable,
  • the Linux desktop is just slightly too large for the screen,
  • the screen saver turns off the TV (or maybe the TV turns itself off), which is good, but it won't turn it back on,
  • some of the video you get over the net is not very good, but whose problem is that?
I don't know, every time I turn around it seems like something else is either broken or just not working.

For instance, in the course of trying to figure out why the DVD won't play, I try to play a music CD. It works fine (of course it would, I used the same optical drive to install Linux off of a CD-ROM), but the player program does not show the names of the tunes, it only shows the track number. Oh, yes, I remember running into this a long time ago on Windows. To find the names of the songs, you need to go to a database on the net, and using the playing times of all the songs, you can find out the name of the album and therefor the names of the various tracks. I think there was one check box or something that had to be enabled to turn this on.

Linux is not quite so wonderful (Linux is Lovely, Windows is Wonderful), you have to jump through a couple of hoops to find the names of the songs, and even then not everybody wants to play nice.

Banshee is name of the music player that comes with the current version (11) of Linux, but it has no capability of naming that tune. For that you need another program. To install the latest one (Picard) requires that you install a whole bunch of other stuff, and while it would be done automatically, I am just a little suspicious. I mean, this is a fairly straight forward proposition, why do you need to install 489 other pieces of stuff (stuff being a euphemism for a more vulgar term which I am refraining from using because I am trying to be civilized about this)?

So I look a little more and I find EasyTag, which doesn't require much of anything. I install it, and ask it to look up the names for the tunes on this CD, and it can't find anything. Grump. Why not? So I do a little exploring using the name of the artist (Leonard Cohen) and the name of the album (I'm Your Man) and I get back literally thousand's of matches. Okay, there's something funny going on here that I don't quite understand. I finally pick one and it seems to work, and now all the tracks I copied onto the hard disk have names that mean something.

And that is basically how it has been going. On the plus side, we were able to watch an episode of "The Good Wife" over the internet last night. I don't think the video was as clear as we used to get using the Frontier DVR, but it wasn't too bad.


Google Feedback

Blogger's editor is a little flakey, has been for a long time. My desk computer is being a little flakey also, so I can't really know whether the problem is with Blogger or with my computer, so I don't really feel I have solid ground from which to issue a complaint.

But now I've got the new whiz-bang Zbox, and while it has numerous problems, I am able to get on the net, which I have been using to try and fix these problems.

Since I am here, I thought I would go ahead and write a post about what's been going on, and since we are all new here: new hardware, Linux instead of Windows, and a newer version of Linux since the last I time I played with it, I would go ahead and try the new version of Blogger.

And what happens when I try to write a post? Blogger is still up to its' old tricks, but now we have a feedback button on the bottom, so let's give them a little, to wit: 
Why is the first line indented just a smidgen? This is not just a problem with the new interface, it's been around for a long time. If every time you pressed the Enter key, you got an indentation to start a new paragraph, that would be fine, but you don't. You only get one on the first line, which is dumb. And it isn't even a proper indent, which should be three or four proper characters (not a narrow character, like a lowercase L or i). If you indented after every Carriage Return, one wouldn't need to put in an extra blank line to separate paragraphs, and you could get more text on the screen. That may or may not be what you want, but this single little bitty indent at the beginning is just wrong.
P.S. What's the deal with "separate"? I swear this word gives me more trouble, or maybe Google is just screwing with me. It does not matter whether I spell separate with 2 a's and 2 e's (separate) or with 1 a and 3 e's (seperate), the spell checker always complains.

And while we are complaining about spell checker, why does it complain about a's, but not about e's?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Facebook is like jail. You sit around and waste time, write on walls, and get poked by people you don't know." - Dustbury on Facebook, who got it from somewhere else.

Enter The BIOS, Part 2

Woke up way too early this morning so I thought I would see if I could sort out some of the problems with my new toy (Zotac ZBOX).

Figured out a few things about getting into the BIOS:
  • Does not have to be a cold boot.
  • Press the Del key immediately after power on. Do NOT wait for the Zotac splash screen. You have about three seconds after you turn on the power and splash screen comes up.
  • Wireless keyboard works fine. I bought a wired USB keyboard just to see if that would make a difference. It did not.
  • Only the left hand, front panel USB socket works with the BIOS. Either front panel USB socket works with the OS. Matter of fact, I had both keyboards plugged in at once and I could use either one.
The power on push-button can also be used to turn it off. Press and hold for about five seconds and it will shut the machine off. Reminds me of the run-away car tragedy in Southern California back in 2009. Guy couldn't figure out how to turn off the engine in his rented Lexus.

Now we can look at the HDMI problem. Enter the BIOS and look around and find . . . nothing at all about audio or video. I issue reports of my findings to Zotac and Nvidia technical support. I will have to wait and see what they have to say.

Next I try Netflix. I can get to their website and get logged in, but I can't watch anything. You can't play Netflix on Linux. I poke around a little more, and I see something about how you can use Google's Chrome to watch video from Netflix. I download and install Chrome, and now I need Netflix's special plug-in module, but it's still no go. I finally realize that the Chrome / Netflix combination only works on a Chrome Netbook or some-such. Fortunately I still have my Roku.

I am beginning to think I need a panel to hold all the remote controls for this collection of gizmos. At least I'm not paying the $100 a month to the cable company any more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

War On Drugs

Real old stuff: I think drugs should be legal. I don't think the government had any business making them illegal in the first place. If they were legal, we probably wouldn't have as much trouble with addicts stealing money to support their habits because drugs would be a lot cheaper. It might be that the number of people who are destroyed physically or mentally because of easy access to drugs might go up, but I doubt that the increase would be significant, at least compared to the number of people's whose lives are being destroyed by our system of justice.

Medium old stuff: I don't think drugs are going to be legalized. Too many people are making too much money off them the way things are. Too many people have a vested interest in the status quo, and I'm not just talking about drug dealers. There are all the people who benefit from drugs being illegal: all the people in the business of supplying drugs that are legal, like cigarettes and alcohol, and all the people in all the various police departments and prisons who make a living off of catching and imprisoning people who were caught up in this War.

Now: We have a minor shooting war going on in Mexico because the President there has decided to wage war on the cartels.

Where is this going? I do not believe they will ever be able to suppress the drug trade, shoot, I don't think they are even going to be able to put a dent in it. Everytime they bust someone, someone else will step in to take their place. Doesn't matter if it's a low level delivery man, or the head of a major cartel. Taking out the head of the cartel might slow that organization down for a while, may even put them out of business, but there are other cartels out there just looking for a chance to expand.

There was a big bust in Queretaro this summer. Soldiers found a warehouse full of chemicals that could have been used to make meth. This warehouse operation was undoubtedly owned by one of the cartels. I suspect a competing cartel got wind of it and tipped off the government. I would not be surprised if the chemicals were now in the hands of the tipsters. Maybe I'm being too cynical, maybe the government actually destroyed them. Seems a pity since they were probably worth a couple of million bucks.

Are things going to change? Well, yes they are, as we all know, change is the one constant in life. But are we going to have a dramatic change? Or are things just going to muddle along getting progressively worse? I'm thinking it's the later. The drug cartels are going to start increasing their security, which is going to mean more guns and bigger guns, which in turn is going to mean more jobs for gunslingers, and we know there is nothing a kid wants more than to be a gunslinger. All you have to tell him is he is working for the good guys. And pay him.

Drug cartels are run by the rule of man, as opposed to the rule of law, so more people's lives are going to be subject to whim. I suspect the cartels are going to increase in power and influence. I wonder if they will ever start paving streets, or supplying clean water to people's homes. Somehow I doubt it.

Enter The BIOS

I've been mucking around with the Z-BOX, and signs are pointing towards some settings in the BIOS. OK, fine, let's go poke around. Except. I can't get in the BIOS. Instructions say press the Delete Key. That doesn't work. OK, fine, maybe the BIOS doesn't like the wireless keyboard. Let's go get a plain, ordinary USB keyboard (we have left PS/2 in the past). It doesn't work any better. I opened a support ticket with Zotac. We shall see what they have to say.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Visit To The Pet Store

As part of our continuing WAR ON FLEAS, we took Gus the cat into the local pet mega-mart for a bath and trim. Walk by this bird cage and they're all dead looking. What's the deal?



Oh, it's morning and they're still asleep. Never seen such a sight before. Must have been up late partying.

Pick up a different kind of flea goop. Notice this display case by the cash register. Geez this stuff is expensive. Last time I dealt with this it was a couple of bucks (showing my age I suppose). They were several different brands, but they all basically used the same poison. Now they are all different and cost a small fortune for like a half a teaspoon.

Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Well, are you? If you are, then go ahead and buy that brand new whiz-bang whoser-what-sit. We have gotten very good at making things, and making things that work reliably for a very long time. However, occasionally one of your whiz-bang whoser-what-sits will break, and when you try to fix it you will find that the repair bill will be more than a new one will cost.

This was brought home to me the last couple of days by a conversation with my neighbors, who have the first refrigerator they bought (some 20 years) ago in their garage and it is still running. However, the high fashion one in their kitchen is the third one they have bought because they don't last more than five years.

And by a conversation with my friend Jack, who replaced his mom's dishwasher because the five cent plastic motor shaft extension broke and you can't just buy that part, you have to buy the whole $300+ motor, which was more than a new dishwasher cost.

So, are you feeling lucky? If you are lucky, that new whiz-bang whoser-what-sit may work fine for the next zillion years. If not, you may be buying a new one every six weeks.



Prompted by a post from Dustbury.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grierson's Raid by Brown

We stopped by Post-Hip after lunch today and Scott tells us about Grierson's Raid by somebody Brown. He thinks it's a great book. So who's Grierson, and what's this raid?  Grierson was an American Civil War general, and his raid was an expedition through Mississippi during Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.

Some say that the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg (which happened at the same time) sealed the fate of the Confederacy. With their victory at Vicksburg the Union gained complete control of the Mississippi River and so the Confederacy was effectively split in two: East and West. Gettysburg put an end to Lee's invasion of the North.The prudent thing for the Confederacy to have done after these two major defeats would have been to sue for peace. But they didn't. The war dragged on for another two years.

The same thing happened in WWII with Germany and Japan, and they didn't give up just because the tide turned against them. They fought on to the bitter end. Of course, you never know what's going to happen in war. Some bit of luck might fall your way and change the whole course of events. Not likely, but it could happen. And movies are full of stories about the underdog who manages to defeat the big, bad, over-equipped, over-gunned and over-armored villains. It must be an emotional thing. Once you have your mind set on war, that's it, you're set, set until can't walk, stand or crawl any farther. Only then will the leaders who have set us on this course admit defeat. That's why they got picked.

I am beginning to think that war is inescapable. All this talk about peace is just a waste of breath. If people are not waging war, i.e. they are at "peace", they will still find someone else to fight about something else. Just look at politics, and you don't have to just be talking about national politics. Look at any level: state, county, city, district, ward, school board, whatever. There is always somebody making a fuss about something. Christ must have been nuts to think we could be nice to each other.

P.S. Civil War Factoid: Every state of the Confederacy, except South Carolina, contributed at least one regiment of troops to the North. Another guy named Brown has something to say about it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stupid Computers

OK, there's a football game on this evening, let's see if we can get this whiz-bang whos-er-whatsit working. Wireless networking isn't, so let's hook up a wire. That takes some fiddling, but I got it connected. Now for the sound. That takes more fiddling and I end up pulling the speakers off my wife's computer and using them. None of the whiz-bang digital gizmos hooked to the TV can handle a simple matter like audio. This takes all afternoon, but by game time, it's all working and we've got ESPN on the screen, over the internet.

The picture is not quite I was expecting, it's kind of jerky, kind of grainy, and you get blurred spots. Maybe this Zotac computer doesn't have enough horsepower to process the compressed video that's coming over the wire. But wait a minute, the ROKU box doesn't have any trouble like this. OK, it might have a little trouble, but nothing I have seen using the ROKU has been anywhere near as bad as this. What we have here with Zotac and Linux looks your good old standard TV, or even VHS. You remember VHS, don't you?

And the ROKU box is tiny compared to the Zotac, and it doesn't even have a fan. Somebody or something is not quite right here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Real Life Science Fiction

I picked up a volume of short stories by William Gibson a couple of weeks ago (Burning Chrome). I think I may have read this book before, because some of the stories were familiar. One in particular, The Winter Market, hit me. The way I remembered this story, and the way it read this time were completely different. But there were too many details that were the same, that I had never seen anywhere else, that it had to be the same story. There is a girl, young woman actually, who is wearing a black exoskeleton. She needs it to be able to move because of a serious defect. I remembered the story as being kind of upbeat and cheerful and going places. But this time, if it even is the same story, it is grim and sad and not very happy at all.

Then this shows up in the paper today and I think OMFG, there it is: the exoskeleton of science fiction, here now and live.


In this case it's not actually an exoskelton, it's a prosthetic for fingers she lost during a major medical disaster a few years ago. Now she's a guinea pig for the robotics guys.

Part II

Neal Stephenson posted this on Facebook today:



I never thought they would EVER be able to do something like this. What's worse is they did it without my help.

New Bookstore in Town

Things are in flux in downtown Hillsboro. The coffee shop / antique shop that was on the corner of 2nd and Main has closed up and moved out. A second shoe repair store (!) has opened up next door, and the bookstore next to that has been replaced by another bookstore. I stopped in there yesterday. I thought they had been there a month or two, but the woman at the cash register said they had been there a year. I was shocked. Probably because I am getting old. Whether I like it or not. In any case, the new business seems to have a more, I dunno, with-it? inventory. Seems like they had more stuff that I might be interested in and less useless old stuff that I wouldn't. Found two used science fiction novels and got the pair of them out the door for six and a half bucks. Much better than Powell's. Oops. Am I speaking out of turn? I don't care, Powell's hasn't sent me any money, even though it's been a week and a half since I posted their little search box.

The new bookstore is called Jacobsen's Books, and they have a url, but there isn't anything there yet. However, they are hooked into a book buying website, and that one it working.

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away, down at Hank's Thriftway grocery, the pharmacy is closing up shop. Walgreens has built a new store a couple of blocks farther East, and they bought Hank's customer list. Isn't that nice? All the pharmacy employees, except the pharmacist, are out of luck.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ninja Bums

Down in Eugene the other day I saw a woman standing on the curb holding a big cardboard sign:

Ninjas Killed My Family
Need Money For
Kung-Fu Lessons

When we stopped in Salem on the way back for ice cream, there were people standing on the corner with your more standard pan-handling signs.

There was a young couple standing at the top of the exit ramp on my way to lunch today. His sign said something about needing a tire. I gave him a five.

I mentioned this at lunch and Marc tells me he had seen a bus dropping off people at key pan-handling locations. I don't know if this is a true story or not, but it is certainly believable. If you can stomach it I am sure you can collect enough money by panhandling to make it worth your while. The economy is certainly in bad shape, and I am sure it has hit some people harder than others. I am always of two minds about giving money to bums. On one hand, why don't they a get a job, lazy good-for-nothing slackers. On the other hand, there, but for the grace of god, go I.

I stopped at Costco for gas today. It's a big place. I think they must have half a dozen people working there pumping gas. Most of them seemed to be my age, i.e. old. I'm thinking there, but for the grace of god, go I. On the other hand, even a menial job like pumping gas might be a nice change of pace from my aimless bouncing. And it would be bringing money in.

On the gripping hand (I saw that somewhere yesterday), by not working, I am leaving a position open for someone who might need it worse than I do.

Launchpad Paranoia

Last night I am looking for some help trying to figure out what's wrong with my new Linux installation, and I run into something called Launchpad, which is a clearing house for problems with Linux. Naturally, you have to log on. Do I have an account here? I dunno, maybe. I was fooling with Linux last year, or maybe the year before, or sometime, and I was using something similar. So did they migrate all the user's to this new thing? Who knows?

I take a couple of guesses at what my password probably is, but it's no go. Okay, click the I-forgot-my-password button. A message pops up saying they have sent me an email, that should arrive very soon. Or in a couple of hours. Maybe. If the stars are in alignment.

I check my mail. Nothing. I check my spam folder. Nothing. I turn around three times and check again. Still nothing. Fine. We'll just open a new account. That works fine. Once again a message pops up saying they have sent me an email. Hmmm. Well, what do you know? It came through instantly. I got registered and everything is cool.

Except that when I claimed to have lost my password, they claimed they were sending me a message, but they didn't. They out and out lied. Grrrr. Why would they do that? I enquired, and I got this response:
"Why would it be a good thing to allow everyone on the Internet to check and see if an arbitrary email address has a Launchpad account associated with it?"
Methinks their paranoia runs over. I mean how many people are even interested in Launchpad? And of those, how many have evil designs? And what could you possibly hope to gain by finding out that someone with some email address had an account there?

While we are picking on Launchpad, let me gripe about the password. I have a nice, handy-dandy password I use for all my trivial accounts, which is basically everything except my email and my bank. It has several letters and several digits and it's long enough to make most logon programs happy. But is Launchpad happy? No, they are not. They want more. Come on people, exercise a little restraint. Stu sent me this picture the other day. I think it is quite apt.

Linux is Lovely

I finally bought a computer to run my TV. It's a Zotac Zbox and I bought it from Amazon. I was looking at these earlier, mostly because they use a processor and and a graphics controller that are supposed to work with MythTV. I stewed about it for a while, mostly because I couldn't get a clear picture of just what was in a Zbox. It seems Zotac isn't interested in clarity. Apparently, they are trying to sell consumer electronics, which means saying lots of stuff like "new, improved, shiny", and not anything technical or specific. What clinched it was that Amazon had reduced the price by a third (33%). Last week it was $500, this week it is less than $400.

I have not used it to watch any TV yet. It got here yesterday, and I got Linux installed on it without too much trouble, but the wireless networking bit doesn't seem to want to work. I could hook up wires, but all the wireless pieces are there, so it should work. I'll fool with it for a bit and see how it goes.

There's also a problem with what is supposed to be on the screen. There should be a menu bar of sorts across the top of the screen, and a status bar across the bottom, but they are barely there. I suspect the screen size is not getting communicated properly.

So I have Linux on my TV, but no TV over the internet yet.

Spider for the Day

This guy (gal?) is tiny. We are looking at a patch of skin on my hand about a centimeter square. The body must be like a sixteenth of an inch long, if that. And this critter has a brain that enables it to walk using eight legs, see, well, maybe not well, but certainly see something, figure out where to go, recognize possible food, plan and execute attacks. Pretty amazing that you can get that much computing power in that small a package. And it runs on dead bugs.

Marc's New Truck

Marc bought another truck to supplement his family fleet. It's a very pretty blue F-150. Nothing special, but being who we are, we had to take a look at the motor.

When I first saw it from the right hand side I thought it looked an inline four. Once you get over on the left hand side you can see that the big aluminum thing up on top is an asymetrical intake manifold. The two big, black, ribbed tubes you see in the foreground carry air from the air filter to the engine. There is a 302 V-8 in there, but it is was down low. This has got to be one of the strangest arrangements I have ever seen. There is more space in this engine compartment than in the interior of some small cars. 

P.S. It's not a new new truck, it's just a new to Marc truck.

Flea Paper

We've been battling fleas for a few weeks now. Anne decided she'd had enough, so she bought some flea bombs. Set them off before I left for lunch today. Spread out newspaper where I was going to set off the aerosols like the instructions said.


I must have used a month's worth of newspapers. Newspapers have been shrinking, in case you haven't noticed, and only about half the pieces of paper are actual full-size newspaper sheets. The daily paper is like four sections, with about eight pages each, which means you get eight full size sheets. (A sheet makes four pages, two sheets make one section.)  To properly prepare the aerosol launching site, your really need 13 sheets: a 3 by 3 base, followed by a 2 x 2 second layer. Three bombs means 39 sheets, divided by eight sheets per daily paper comes to five days. Okay, it's only a weeks worth. Still.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WARNING - MADE IN USA

 If all our exports carry this kind of warning, it's no wonder our industries are suffering.

Marc sent me this from Nicaragua. It looks like there are some other words in the middle, but I can't quite read them. It kind of looks like:

MARINE CHILD
HOUSE MAINTENANCE
AUDITIVE VANDAL
MOE . . .  AND BAD

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Me Pocket Knife


Because Tam said to. It's a Victorinox Tinker and I think it's like the 5th or 6th one I've had. One ended up at the bottom of Lake Travis when I went swimming, another one got confiscated by the TSA in Columbus, Ohio. One got exchanged for a different make and model of Swiss Army Knife during the Rose Festival when I went on board one of the Navy ships. This one has got the transparent plastic grips from when clear everything was the rage, which was when? A couple of years ago? They used to be just regular plastic, not this transparent stuff. Pretty tough stuff in any case.

In any case I've been carrying one for a long a time. 2 blades, 3 different screwdriver blades, bottle opener, can opener, stabby thing, toothpick and tweezers. I sharpen it once in a blue moon and abuse it regularly. I don't even know what kind of gunk is on the blade right now. It's stainless and loses it's edge pretty quick, but I use it on all kinds of things you aren't supposed to use knives on, like cutting metal. I've never used the little lanyard ring, and it gets in the way sometimes, but it's too much trouble to grind off the eyelet. There's no real point in taking off the key ring if you aren't going to grind off the eyelet, so it's still there. I'll take it off someday, if I don't lose the knife first.

Sci-Fi Ice-Li

Stopped for an ice cream at a McDonald's in Salem. This is the business end of the ice cream machine.

Looks like something out of Star Wars. Reminded me of an episode of Star Trek where some piratical dudes glommed onto a replicator (the magic box that makes all drinks and snacks), didn't install it properly and blew up their space ship when they turned it on.

Silicon Hillbillies

Moved youngest son John to Eugene this afternoon. Once we got the truck loaded I thought it was pretty fair imitation of the Beverly Hillbillies truck.

Us
The Originals

We were lucky, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. John and some friends are renting a house, and they all decided to move today. We saw a small U-Haul van come flying by us on the drive down South, but didn't think much about it. A little later we pass Alex (one his friends) in a pickup.

We have the address to the house, but no one has bothered to look at a map. We luck out though and manage to drive directly to it, and who is sitting out front? One of his friends in the very same U-Haul van we saw earlier. Five minutes later Alex and his crew pulls up in the pickup. It's a two hour drive and our speeds were easily 5 MPH different, but all three of us managed to show up within a ten minute span. Okay, maybe it was 15 minutes. Barely long enough to stretch and get our bearings.

Everyone brought all the furniture they had been saving for this event. There might be too much. Some of it might end up out on the curb. Fortunately we didn't have to bring any home.

Stupid Joke du Jour

Via Steve

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bits & Pieces

Here's a couple of odd items Jack found while sorting a pile of old metal bits for recycling.


We think the one on the right is an electrical temperature sensor. It has a short threaded post on the far end. If it is a sensor, then there should be some insulating material between the post and the body, but some exploratory scraping revealed only brass.So maybe it's just a hunk of brass with a threaded post.

The other one we suspect is a bleed screw. My question is why go to the trouble to add the little pipe outlet? Why not just drill the hole and leave it at that? These things are from a different age.

Album of the Day

More old strangeness from Post-Hip.

Stupid Joke du Jour

A customer asked, "In what aisle can I find the Polish sausage?"

The clerk asks, "Are you Polish?"

The guy, clearly offended, says, "Yes I am. But let me ask you something.
If I had asked for Italian sausage, would you ask me if I was Italian?
Or if I had asked for German Bratwurst, would you ask me if I was German?
Or if I asked for a kosher hot dog would you ask me if I was Jewish?
Or if I had asked for a Taco, would you ask if I was Mexican?
Or if I asked for some Irish whiskey, would you ask if I was Irish?"

The clerk says, "No, I probably wouldn't."

The guy says, "Well then, because I asked for Polish sausage, why did you ask me if I'm Polish?"

The clerk replied, "Because you're in Home Depot."

Via Steve

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

At seven hundred freaking degrees, fluorine starts to dissociate into monoatomic radicals, thereby losing its gentle and forgiving nature. - from an old story on In The Pipeline by Derek Lowe.
Yes, gentle and forgiving flourine, I remember it well.

Hire The Handicapped -or- Ten Thousand Maniacs

I am of two minds about the handicapped. On one hand I think ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a good idea. If you are building a new building, it doesn't take a whole lot to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to get through the doors. On the other hand, if we are going to devote acres of prime parking space to the disabled, the least they could do is get out there and use it!

And who rates a break for being disabled? Certainly military veterans who were crippled in the line of duty, and people who are disabled through no fault of their own, as in an physical accident or an accident of birth. But what about those people who have eaten their way into a wheelchair? Or those who smoked themselves into one? And how about the idiots who did something stupid and suffered the consequences? And how do you tell the difference?

I suppose I should count my blessings as I am still walking around and have all my faculties. Crazy like I am isn't generally considered a disability.

Roughly 20% of the US population has a disability of some sort, and about half of them (10% of the population) have a severe problem.



Chart from Chartbook on Disability in the United States.

I've been thinking that we could really use a consistant basis for all our statistics. I mean what does a hundred million people, or a trillion dollars really mean? It doesn't mean anything. It may as well be infinite. I'm never going to see that many people or that much money all in one place. So I was thinking we should give all our financial and population statistics in relation to a more manageable number or people, say like ten thousand. You probably know a hundred people, you may even deal with a hundred people every day. And each of those 100 people will know a hundred other people. So crossing two degrees of seperation, which isn't very far, you have a 10,000 people. 10,000 people is like a small town, or half a dozen villages, or a neighborhood in a big city. It's number you can relate to, sort of.

So for this example, out of your average town of 10,000 people, a thousand have a real problem. That's a pretty large number.

In terms of disabilities, this line from Wikipedia put a different spin on the situation:

"Several chronic disorders, such as diabetes, asthma or epilepsy, would be counted as nonvisible disabilities . . ."
Most of the time a person with one of these disorders could be perfectly fine, but occasionally they could cause real problems.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Raise The Roof


Looks like I was right. Looks like they are using the biggest crane in the world to lift the entire roof of the new microchip fabrication facility into position.

New, Improved ATM

Fancy, new drive-up ATM at the bank today. The plastic, circular green thingy lights up when you put your card in the slot. But what's this?

There's a headphone jack just below and to the right of the card slot. 
I'll have to bring my headphones next time so I can hear what they are playing. 
Or not.

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell, Part 2

I thought I would give this book another go, after all I paid real cash money for it, I should see if I can't get my money's worth out of it. I got about two pages farther and I put it down in disgust when I read this:
"I'm trying to do what's best for all involved."
Bullshit. I every time I hear that phrase I know someone is lying. I wonder how I developed that reaction. Movies, or real life? In any case, it put me off. I know it's just a story, and the characters and what they say are part of the story. I just don't want to spend any more time on these dunderheads.

I know the phrase sounds reasonable, but I find that whoever is saying it generally has some particular agenda they are trying to push that is probably not in the best interests of everyone involved. It sounds reasonable, but what they are actually asking for is not reasonable, and this deception is what makes me so angry.

P.S. "He/she's not a team player." is another phrase that elicits a similar response from me.

Quote of the Day

If you get a memory foam mattress, make sure you sleep really comfortably that first night. Otherwise, it’ll never let you forget.
If I've got the story right, someone wrote this line for someone else to say in a TV show, so it was said by an imaginary character. Does that mean the words are imaginary too? Found on Dustbury, who probably knows more about it than I do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mystery of the Anti-Freeze Jug Cap

So I'm trying to purge the air from the cooling system on the Sebring. I open up a jug of anti-freeze and I set the cap down. I fiddle around a bit with hoses and funnels and coolant and then I go to put the cap back on the jug and I can't find it. It's not sitting on the car, it's not sitting on the cupboard by the door, it's not here, it's not there, it's not anywhere. Oh, well. Take the car for drive to get the motor up to operating temperature. I drive to the car wash, maybe two miles away. The car is dusty, it's been sitting in the garage for a year, it can stand a wash. I go through the wash and when we come out the other side the fan belt is squeaking. I figure it got wet in the car wash, when it dries out it will stop. It squeaks all the way home. When I get to my house I see a cap for a jug lying in the driveway. I go pick it up and see that's a cap for Zerex anti-freeze. That's weird, because I'm using O'Reilly's house brand of coolant. It doesn't fit my jug either. And the engine hasn't stopped squeaking. Matter of fact, it sounds like something is going snap everytime it squeaks.

So the Sebring is slightly demented. Once upon a time it grabbed the Zerex cap and has been holding onto all this time until today, when it saw an opportunity to grab a new cap, and being foolish and attracted to shiny things, it dropped the old cap and grabbed the new cap and started gnawing on it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Fifth Woman, Or Sinking Ferry Redux

Stu put up a post a couple of days ago about a ferry sinking off Zanzibar. At the time I was just starting on The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell, and one of the first things that comes up in this book is the sinking of the ferry MS Estonia just ouside of Tallin, Estonia, back in 1994. I remember reading about the Estonia disaster when it happened. In particular there was an article in a hydraulic engineering magazine about a new kind of lock for sea doors. Unfortunately, there were no pictures of the MS Estonia, so it was very hard to visualize what went wrong. Now, however, with the wide reach of the internet, we have pictures at our beck and call. Even the Wikipedia article has one, though it's not very good. This one is better.


From the Wikipedia article: "The bow visor was under-designed for the conditions Estonia was operating in (the ferry was designed for coastal waters, not open regions like the Baltic Sea)..."

I had imagined the doors to be big slabs fitted to the sides of bow. Being as the whole bow is the door, I can see how repeated pounding by the waves could have easily stressed the latches to the breaking point. They would, after all be hitting the door up and back, the same direction it would move when opening. Not a good idea for rough seas.

Update April 2015: Reading about deep sea diving, I came across another very similar ferry disaster from just a few years earlier. This was the sinking of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987 just outside of port in Belgium.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There Goes The Neighborhood

We have a neighborhood association where we live. This means there is a package of CC&R's (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or some such) that supposedly govern the use and upkeep of the houses here. We moved here because we wanted a neighborhood with sidewalks, swimming pools and schools within walking distance. We also didn't want to pay the $40,000 (in 1995) premium to live in Beaverton.

For the most part, it's worked out okay. You have to keep your yard mowed and your house painted, which is kind of annoying, but I can hire it out. Writing the checks is much less painful than having to do the actual work.

A place like this you might expect would be full of homeowners, but in the last few years (five? ten?) three of the nearby houses have become rentals. At first I thought they would be renting to Intel employees. Intel shuffles people around, and they pay pretty well, so that would have made sense. This year though we seem to be getting more people from the real world.

One rental seemed to be turning their garage into a kind of a nightclub on Friday nights. It never bothered me, I spend all my time in the back of the house, and the few times I was out front on Friday nights there was never any noise to speak of. That seems to have stopped now.

Another house sold at the peak just before the crash. The owners moved out this year and rented the house to some folks who are running a day care center. This has got their immediate neighbors up in arms. Traffic morning and night, screaming kids all day long, not to mention numerous violations of the CC&R's. I suspect lawyers, guns and money are not far off. Well, maybe not guns.

Red versus Orange

I used these two planks in a makeshift cradle to lower the engine out of the Sebring. When it came time to put the engine back in, I used them when I tried to make a better cradle. We slid the wide end under the car, positioned the engine towards the narrow end, and put the jack under the cross piece at the narrow end. The wide end needs to be narrow enough to fit between the jack stands holding the car up. Our first attempt was not well planned and was too wide, so we had to take it almost completely apart, cut the cross pieces down to size, and then reassemble it. Thank goodness for power screwdrivers.


The casters on the wide end made it easy to roll the half-ton engine / transmission / front-suspension assembly into position. The hinges were to allow us to adjust the height of the rear end. That turned out to be unnecessary.  What would have been helpful is some blocking under the engine to support the cross members, and some hooks to hold the cross members together. The weight of the engine on the mounts attached to the cross members tends to push them apart.


I have had these two planks for dang near forever. A neighbor in Phoenix gave them to me. I don't know what they were originally for, but somebody went to a lot of trouble to put them together: they are not single planks, they are each made of two tongue-and-groove, cedar 2-by-6's joined together. The left over tongue on one edge has been cut off. The beveled groove along the tongue and groove joint was filled with plaster, and then they were painted with high gloss enamel. I use them about once a year, usually for some kind of precarious scaffolding.

The price of hardware has really gone up. Used to be things like hinges and casters were unbelievably cheap, now they are like $4 (FOUR DOLLARS!) a piece.What's really bad is you can buy a complete furniture dolly at Harbor Freight for less than you can buy just the four casters for at Home Depot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jack's Famous!

My friend Jack was quoted in last week's Willamette Week, the local free tabloid newspaper:

Old News

Stopped by Post-Hip the other day and this newspaper from September 18, 1933 caught my eye.


For the last several years there has been a lot of talk about taking out dams here and there to help restore the salmon runs. Bonneville is one of the big ones, and I don't think anyone is talking about removing it.

Here's a blow up of the text:


Update: So way back then there was a bit of an argument whether the dam was going to generate power at all. Bonneville is the biggest source of electrical power in this neck of the woods with a generating capacity of 500 Megawatts. But you already knew that, right?

Chrysler Sebring Test Drive


Yesterday we took the car out for a spin. Notice how the steering wheel is straight at the start of the clip. That's because we are going around a curve. Notice how later on in the clip the steering wheel is cross wise. That's because when we slipped the two sections of steering column together, we didn't pay no never-mind to the rotation. So now we've got a cross-wise steering wheel. I don't know which would be the easier way to fix it. Pull the steering wheel, or loosen the front suspension. Either one promises to be a royal pain, and I'm not sure it would even be worthwhile. We shall see.

I don't know if you can see the little orange warning light between the two big gauges, but it's the ABS light. What's up with that? Just because we rearranged the brakes lines into more artistic shapes shouldn't have any effect, should it? Maybe there's still some air in the brake lines, but the brakes seem to work fine. ABS on my truck is acting up, too. I wonder how much money we have spent (collectively, as a nation) on ABS equipment, and I wonder how much damage they have prevented. I imagine we probably spend a billion dollars a year on ABS braking systems, and I'll bet we save maybe 10% of that, for a net loss of $900 million dollars a year. No wonder we're all broke.

Notice the foggy area across the top of the headlight? Maybe not, it's hard to see in this photo. You can see a little cloudy spot just above the headlight bulb. When I was connecting the right front brake line I got brake fluid all over my hands and forearms. I wiped it off with a rag. Then I looked at something under the hood and I rested my arm on the headlight. The residue from the brake fluid, after I had wiped it off, crazed the plastic lens. Bah.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. Very light weight, moderately entertaining story. I picked up a murder mystery by her a while back, and I enjoyed it a lot. This one was just okay. We've got magic involved, and that doesn't do a whole lot for me. Most of the "magical" events could just be freak occurrences, and our heroine is something of a doubting Thomas, it's not that she is a devotee of the black arts or anything. And then there's the monkey. Some people like monkeys, think they are funny. I think they are fine as long as they are not making a mess in my life. The heroes put up with way too much in the way of monkey shines from the monkey. But maybe I'm just an old grouch.

Bees

Been seeing a lot of bees around lately. In the backyard, there must have been two dozen on this one plant. Click to embiggen.

Then out at Larsen's Nursery Sunday, we saw some bumble bees

And honey bees and bumble bees in the same area.



The bumble bees are are the black ones in the foreground. The honey bees are harder to see. They are farther back and more of a light brown color.

Up In The Air with George Clooney

Up In The Air with George Clooney. This was an odd movie. George has a job that requires him to spend all his time flying around the country on airplanes, renting cars, and living in hotels. He has an apartment, but it's a pretty miserable sort of place. He only spends a couple of weeks there each year. His big goal in life is to rack up ten million air miles on American Airlines. Last year, for example, he flew 350,000 miles. Since planes fly 500 MPH, that's 700 hours in the air, not counting all time spent waiting in airports, or driving to and from airports. It's amazing he has any time to get any work done at all. Oh. Then there's his job. It's firing people. He flys around the country and tells people they are fired, without using the word "fired".

Even though he flys an extraordinary amount, it would still take him 30 years to rack up ten million miles. When he does reach his milestone, he is only the seventh person to have done so.I couldn't do it. I fly anywhere it takes me a day to recover. Long flights, make it a couple of days. Air travel and I just don't get along.

Anyway, George's existence is pretty empty and pointless, but he seems content with it. I just can't imagine. Are there people who are really that shallow? Maybe, if they have never encountered any difficulties. Anyway a couple of things happen to George and he eventually wakes up and realizes there is more to life than airline miles. Of course, it's a little late now, but maybe something will work out.

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell. New York Times Bestseller. A murder mystery involving Dr. Scarpetta (a woman). I've only read a couple of dozen pages, and the number of errors is appalling. She's taking a shower after a grueling autopsy. She wants to get clean. Come on, a shower is not going to wash out your sinuses, which is where the odor producing molecules created by tissue decomposition have lodged. You can't get rid of that shit. The smell is going to be with you for days, and if you are doing autopsies on a regular basis, you will never get rid of it. I imagine if you wore some kind of mask, you could keep that shit out, but a mask that worked well enough to keep the smell out would probably be a major pain to wear all day long. That's the big problem I have with all these shows that involve autopsies - the smell, or rather the actors lack of reaction to it. Maybe you could learn to tolerate it, but I can't imagine such a thing. I am repelled by foul smells. I clean the cat's litter box every day, and I detest it. Maybe I just have a sensitive nose.

Then there's the business of coming to get her while she's in the shower. This one is plausible, but annoying. Some guy name Marino has been trying to get in touch with her all day, but she has been busy. Somehow the message can't be delivered to her when she is done with work, but must wait until she is the shower, and then they can send someone to roust her.

She goes back to her hotel room to collect her things and and they are in such a tearing hurry that her killer niece is packing up her stuff, but instead of just throwing a bottle of Advil in the bag, she checks to see if there are enough pills in it to make it worthwhile to pack. When she is done packing, she suggests that her aunt might want to take a look around to see if she missed anything. WTF? It's a dang blasted hotel room. This is not a two person job. If you are going to pack my gear, then you check the room. If you can't be trusted to collect my stuff, then you shouldn't be doing it. You know, if they were ordinary stumble bums, like you or me, I can understand it, but if you are one of the elite, super qualified, super special, then we don't need any of this do over crap.

The last one was the gun with the missing serial numbers. Scarpetta is a doctor, she does autopsies. She works for a large bureaucracy. Guns are not her province, so why is she even discussing the gun, or it's missing serial numbers?

On the plus side, we have a dead body that bleeds all over after it was in the morgue and it didn't have any visible wounds. So I may have to keep reading to find out what's going on.

This is the author's photo on the back cover. She's 55. She looks like she's been airbrushed to within an inch of her life. I wonder how many more copies of this book will sell because of this photo.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. - Sylvia Plath
Found on Frog Blog.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It Runs!

Finally got all the pieces bolted on, hoses connected, wires plugged in, radiator installed, crankcase filled with oil, throttle cable hooked up (that was a pain), coolant added to cooling system, but then we find the battery is dead. I had a battery charger. I know I did. I had it for years, but now when I need it, I can't find it. Did I give it away? Did someone borrow it? Is it hiding in a corner somewhere? Don't know. In any case I couldn't find it. Took the Les Schwab battery back to Les, they put it on a charger for an hour or two and then tested and said she's a goner, dude. So they sold me a replacement at the pro-rated price of forty some odd dollars, which I thought was a pretty good deal, since I had obviously killed it by letting it set in the car, without charging it even once, for a year (!). Put the new battery in and discovered we forgot a ground strap. Connecting it seemed to improve things. It took several tries, and several sessions of head scratching, wondering what could possibly be wrong before it finally fired up and ran just fine.

Still need to install the splash shields, front bumper and wheels. I need to get a bag of those stupid little plastic jobbies they use to hold the splash shields on, but that's about it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quote of the Day

“We read to know we are not alone.” C.S. Lewis
Found on Andrea's Bookclub, which seems to consist solely of book reviews. I'm not a big fan of C.S. Lewis. I read a couple of his books a long time ago and they were fine stories. But then I read something about how his stories were allegories about god and religion and how the lion was god or something and I thought "what a load of rubbish". So I guess I wouldn't have anything against ol' C.S. if I hadn't read what someone else thought of him.

Anyway, I sometimes wonder why I write this blog. I suppose it's mostly because I hope someone will read it and possibly find something useful, or maybe just interesting.

I just stumbled over a post about sculpture, and I just realized artists make things for the same reason I write. They are trying to communicate with people, but for them words are somehow not enough. Most modern art strikes me as silly, and museums full of great art bore me to tears. But people are ... I was going to say oblivious, but that's not really the right term, even though they are. People can only focus on a few small things at a time. When your day is filled with obligations, how much time do you have to look outside of your little world and see what's going on? That's what artists and writers are trying to do, they are trying to show you something from somewhere else. Maybe it will give you an idea, or maybe it will provide you with a little enjoyment. One can hope.

Collectibles

Went over to Jack's Mom's house the other day to pick up a spare set of oxy-acetylene tanks. Saw some cool stuff while we were there.

Monitor - Cast iron nozzle for hydraulic mining.

 WWII era military AM communications radio

Disk from a player piano

The old man also had several two cylinder, horizontally opposed, two stroke Maytag washing machine engines.

Chrysler Sebring Day N+1

When we dropped the engine out of the car two months ago, not all of the lines had been properly disconnected. In particular, the fuel line hung us up, and in the excitement of the moment I elected to cut the dang thing instead of trying to figure out how to disconnect it. Today I paid for that rash action. $17 to be precise, for a plastic fuel line repair kit. Went by O'Reilly Auto Parts, because that was the last place that was helpful. I should have known better. I went by there yesterday to pick up a couple of hose clamps. They had them, which was good, but they were packaged in a blister pack and hanging on the display rack! That tells me it is a generic retail operation and not a real auto parts store. On the other hand I noticed that they had quite a selection of tools, including taps (tools for cutting screw threads in metal) which is something I would not normally expect to find in such a place.

Anyway, they couldn't help with my fuel line problem, so we headed over to NAPA. NAPA is not my favorite, their prices are generally a little higher and they are closed on Sundays, which sometimes interferes with my sinning. On the plus side, NAPA can get you what you need, even if it is obscure, or you screwed up by cutting a fuel line you didn't need to cut. And sure enough, they had a plastic fuel line repair kit.  All I really need from the kit is about four inches of tubing and the little metal ferrel. You know in the good old days, fuel line was either reinforced rubber hose, or copper tubing, and the one could be connected to the other with a simple hose clamp.Now we've got this plastic tube with funny plastic connectors on the ends. There's probably a million dollars worth of engineering in this part, but it only costs a nickel to make it, and then sell it for $17. The dealer probably wants $35, but it would be a snap to install. I still have some work to do to repair my fuel line using the kit I got from NAPA.

There's another factor in play here as well. Back in the good old days, fuel lines were suction lines. The fuel pump was on the motor, and it sucked the fuel from the tank in the back of the car. The pressure on the suction line was negative. Nowadays, we've got electric fuel pumps that produce something like 50 or 60 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure, which we need to keep the fuel injectors happy. So while a leak in an old time fuel line would make your car run poorly or not a all, a leak in a modern fuel line will spray gasoline everywhere, making a big cloud of explosive gas. Good thing fuel lines don't often leak.

Then there was the brake line. The line from the anti-lock brake unit to the right front wheel runs across the top of the front cross-member, which also supports the radiator. There are three little plastic clips that hold this line in place, and when we dropped the motor out, they did not want to let go and so they drug the brake line with them and reformed it into a new and more artistic shape. Which means it did not want to fit back where it was supposed to go. It still isn't right. I think I am going to need to stuff some rags between it and the frame so vibration doesn't wear a hole in it. That would be bad.

We did remember to disconnect the exhaust pipe when we dropped the engine. We did it by cuttting the exhaust pipe in half. If all goes well, I plan on taking it to the muffler shop and having them do a proper repair. Meanwhile, just to keep the exhaust pipe from dragging, and to keep the noise down to a dull roar, we patched the pipe with a piece of tin and a couple of hose clamps. It looks so good I might just leave it.


We misplaced one of the bolts that hold the A/C (air conditioning lines) to the compressor. Fortunately, I found one in my box-of-bolts. Unfortunately, it was an Allen head (uses a hex key). Fortunately, I just happened to have the right size metric Allen wrench with a 3/8 inch square drive. I had completely forgotten about it.
Back of the engine showing the power steering pump (blue), hoses (purple) and steering shaft and tie rod ends (yellow).

Also misplaced the screw that holds the power steering reservoir in place, which makes me think there is another jug of bolts hiding in the garage somewhere. The power steering was kind of a trick deal. By unfastening the reservoir, we were able to drop all the power steering stuff along with the engine. We did have to disconnect one hose briefly to disengage it from the aforementioned brake line. But that was all. After we got the engine out, we were able to remove the power steering pump from the engine. So we were able to remove all of the power steering from the engine without having to disconnect any of the hoses.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bliss, aka Mutluluk


Bliss, aka Mutluluk. A fine film. In Turkish, with subtitles. Stars Özgü Namal, directed by Abdullah Oguz. Stars Ozgu, directed by Oguz. I shouldn't make fun, there are probably English names that exhibit similar characteristics.

Young woman shepherd from rural village is assaulted. According to tradition, she is tainted and condemned to death. They almost talk her into hanging herself, but at the last minute she backs out, just to spite her evil stepmother. The village leader decides they cannot kill her there in the village because there are too many soldiers around. They decide to wait until her half-brother returns from the military and have him take her to Istanbul and kill her there.

We've got some seriously screwed up folks here. Makes me wonder how they got this way. I suspect poverty has a lot to do with it. One less woman means that many fewer babies to feed and raise. One less woman makes all the remaining women somewhat more valuable. Not actually valuable mind you, just worth something more than nothing.

The story goes on, things happen, it is a bit of a Cinderella story. At the end Meryem talks for a bit, and it's like more than she has said during the entire rest of the film.


Quote of the Day

Rumsfeld Sorry for ‘Axis of Weasels’ Remark

by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace

(2003-01-22) — U.S. Secretary Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized today for referring to France and Germany as an “Axis of Weasels.”

“I’m sorry about that Axis of Weasels remark,” said Mr. Rumsfeld. “I didn’t mean to dredge up the history France and Germany share of pathetic compliance with ruthless dictators.”

The Defense Secretary said he was “way out of bounds” with the comments.

“I should have known better than to remind people that these two nations–which live in freedom thanks only to the righteous might of America, Britain and their allies–that these nations are morally and politically bankrupt, and have failed to learn the lessons of history,” he said. “It really was an inappropriate thing to say–you know, the Axis of Weasels thing. I really should not have called them the Axis of Weasels. I think it’s the ‘Weasels’ part that was most offensive…you know, when I said that France and Germany form an Axis of Weasels. Of course, I’m so sorry.”
I know this is old news, or rather not-news, but I just love it. With a name like Scrappleface, you know it's not true, and Snopes verifies it's falsisity. Which is really too bad. If Rumsfeld, shoot, if anyone in the administration had said it , I would be over the moon.

P.S. Scrappleface sees to be on hiatus. Last post was a year ago.
Update April 2017 Scrappleface is back in business.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Album of the Day


Father Frank Perkovich Presents Songs & Hymns from the Polka Mass

The Polka Mass? I am not sure I want to know. Scott from Post-Hip found this.

Chrysler Sebring Photos

Engine fully assembled and ready to go in.


 The jack would not raise the engine high enough, so we used the engine hoist to lower the car. We go the two to meet somewhere in the middle.


When we dropped the engine, the steering column simply slid apart. Putting the engine back in, we align the stub from the steering rack with the hole in the firewall. Then we raised the engine up. The steering column did not complain, and we had plenty of other bits to worry about. Today I thought we ought to check, and surprise, surprise, the steering wheel spins merrily without turning anything. As you can see in the picture, the two telescoping sections of steering column completely ignored each other. Fortunately, with a little pushing and prodding we were able to wrestle the rear suspension cross member far enough to allow the two pieces to connect. We did have to loosen a dozen big bolts, but the engine stayed right where it was, which was very good. Here is how it is supposed to look.


Acetylene, or Out! Dang bolt!

When I was in high school I lived on a farm, an apple orchard actually, in Ohio, and on this farm, in one of the barns we found a ten-gallon-sized steel drum with a Union Carbide logo on the side. It was half full of rocks. The rocks were calcium carbide, and if you dropped one in water it would give off acetylene gas. We got a few good bangs out of it. I don't know why it was there, and I am pretty sure it was still there and still half full when we left.

Once upon a time I heard a rumor that acetylene tanks were full of acetone which made them really heavy, like they weren't heavy enough all ready. Supposedly you could store more acetylene by dissolving it in acetone than you could by just pumping it into the tank.

Today (two weeks ago actually) we were over at Jack's house using his oxy-acetylene torch to remove the previously mentioned uncooperative bolts from the exhaust header, and Jack mentions that acetylene tanks are full of balsa wood because acetylene is explosive under pressure. Okay, that explosive bit is weird, but back up just a second. How you could weld a steel tank around a big chunk of balsa-wood without burning it to bits?

All these rumors got me curious about acetylene, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found some very interesting stuff. I collected the interesting bits on a single page for your reading pleasure.

E-Z Outs

We tried just heating up the broken bolts and then drilling, but we had no better results than John and I got the other day using a propane torch. Next we tried an E-Z-Out, because Jack had some, but that went nowhere. Then we got out the cutting torch and burned out the remains of the bolts.

Cutting with a torch is a tricky business. It requires a steady hand and the ability to understand what you see. I think both of these come from practice, and I haven't used a torch since I don't know when, so I was a little rusty. I got the job done with destroying the flange, so good enough.



When you are cutting, you are looking through very dark glasses. This is to protect your eyes from the very bright light of the oxy-acetylene flame. But what you really want to see is the steel, which to start with is only illuminated by the light from the torch. But it quickly starts to glow red, and this red light is your clue as to what is going on. Do you have a big enough puddle to start cutting? Or is that only a fragment hanging in the flame? Pushing the go button too soon and your cut won't start. When the cut does start you have to be Johnny-on-spot, ready to start moving the torch in the direction you want to cut. Mistime that and you simply get a small notch and get to start the heating portion all over. It takes practice to be any good at it.

Jack's father worked in the shipyards during WWII cutting steel with a torch, 8 hours a day, five days a week for four years. The thickest thing he ever cut was a 24 inch diameter propeller shaft.

P.S. Google Documents has forgotten how to format a page of text to display on a computer screen, so I stuffed my acetylene story on my new-ish Google web page.

P.P.S. ahab showed me a trick to display Google Documents. So here's the link if you want the printer-ready layout.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tumblr Does Not Like CMYK

Just for grins, I opened a Tumblr account and posted a few of my pictures there. Then I tried to post one of Cedric Delsaux's photos, and Tumblr choked on it. After going back and forth with the Tumblr help desk for a while it came out that the picture was encoded using the CMYK color model instead of the more usual RGB (Red Green Blue). I was surprised, because I hadn't done anything to cause this. I did a screen capture and MSPaint to crop it, and I may have used Picasa to trim it further, and none of them complained about it being some alien artifact.

A little poking around and I find some stories that lend credence to Tumblr's claims, but no actual proof. I still don't have any first hand evidence that the photo is using CMYK. If I had some real photo editing software, like Photoshop, they might be able to tell me, but nothing I have has said boo.

Heaven with Cate Blanchett & Giovanni Ribisi

The movie starts off with helicopter flight simulation, someone is training to fly a helicopter. The sequence ends with the instructor telling the student that you can't just fly straight up forever, which reminds me of a film I saw a long time ago that ends with a helicopter taking off vertically and flying straight up until it disappears, but that couldn't be this movie, because nothing else is familiar, except, wait a minute, haven't we seen that guy before? Why, yes we have. That guy turns out to be Giovanni Ribisi and he has been in a bunch of films (86 according to IMDB) and we have seen a bunch of them, like:
Back to the movie. Cate is angry because her deceased husband's friend is a major drug dealer who supplied him with the dope that he overdosed on, and the Carabinieri have not done anything about it, so she takes matters into her own hands and plants a bomb in the drug dealer's office. You know that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well, things go a-rye, four innocent people are killed, and the target escapes. Master criminal that Cate isn't, she is quickly apprehended. The stenographer (Giovanni) falls in love at first sight of Cate. We quickly learn that one of the high ranking Carabinieri is in cahoots with the drug dealer. We are a quarter of the way into the movie and I still don't remember anything about it, other than having seen the two stars before.

There is a very clever escape, and now I am beginning to catch a glimmer of having seen this movie before. There is revenge, flight, and then penance. They both get all their hair cut off. No big deal for Giovanni, he's a man, men wear their hair as short as they want, but Cate! OMG! All your hair! It is an affecting scene, even for a tough guy like me.

By now I know we have seen it before and it ends exactly as I foretold. I just didn't expect this to be the movie.

But what about the drugs that started this whole thing? I don't think drugs should be illegal, mostly because I think that making drugs illegal creates more problems than it solves. Sometimes I wonder what society would be like if drugs were legal. Would we have a nation of stoners? Dope fiends? What we would do for plots for our movies? I know alcoholics can become so addicted that they will drink themselves to death. Can the same thing happen with heroin? Of course, not everybody who drinks becomes an alcoholic. Not everyone who tries an an addictive drug like heroin, crack or meth becomes an addict. I imagine that some people are more susceptible than others. It would be nice if there were some kind of simple test, like a blood test, that could tell you how susceptible you were to becoming addicted. But maybe it's not a physical thing at all, maybe it's entirely mental, and we are a long way from figuring out peoples brains work. We might know the generalities, but how an individual's brain actually functions, I don't see that happening for a long, long time. Maybe not ever.

Update: One of the sites in this movie was Orvieto which I recognized because I was looking at it a little over a year ago. I don't remember why, probably because it was referenced in something I was reading. Anyway, I collected a several photos or the place, and here they are: