It’s just a dinky piece of brass that’s keeping me off the bike now

All I need to ride my bike now is to pump up the tires. All I need to pump up the tires is a small brass adapter that lets a Schrader pump fit a presta valve stem. All I need to get the presta adapter is to be able to walk the two miles to get to and from DART.

That’s it. All that is keeping me off my bike is the two miles separating origin from destination before/after using transit. And that I can barely get from the front door to the mailbox at the moment. Just walking to the kitchen from my office is A Pain. I’m not doing a “poor, pitiful me” here. I’m angry. What I’m angry about is the fact that a trip to the store is a 2 mile walk or more pretty much wherever I’m going, because this entire town is built around everyone driving everywhere in a car, for everything, and transit is kinda stuck wherever it will fit, not where it’s needed.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is some retail about 0.6 miles (1 km) from the house as the worm flies. There’s a Dollar General at that distance and also a C-Store slash gas station going a different route right next to a laundromat and donut shop, and about 0.8 miles to 2 more C-Stores/Gas Stations, a Family Dollar, and a couple of restaurants. But the round trip is still over a mile to anything. And that’s bad. Especially if the trip was to buy something heavy or bulky. That’s one reason why I have kept my ALICE ruck in good condition in case I need to grocery shopping and there’s nobody available to haul the stuff back while I can’t use Francis/es.

On to the Other Subject, the hot rod and talking to the computer after I do a Dr. Frankenstein and swap it out of the minivan and into the hot rod, where it will lose its mind. I did some googling and found there are many devices that will connect a cell phone to the computer to read and clear the codes and software that I can load to change the fuel/spark maps. I will need to add the SD card to my phone to load the software because it is a monster app, but that’s tons cheaper than the dedicated reader/writer hardware at the parts store. This part of the project just started looking a lot more do-able than it did at the beginning of the week. Now whether I’m going to be able to tell the computer just once that it is in a 1500 pound hot rod instead of a 3900 pound minivan, or if I will have to do that every time I have to start the car is a question yet to be answered. But the existence of the hardware and software at a price in my budget makes me feel better about the project.

I mean, 15 years ago whodathunkit? Connecting your phone to your car to fix the car? It would have been science fiction. But today it’s just hooking one computer to another computer to fix things that are controlled by the one computer. The facts that one computer is sometimes your phone and the other computer runs your car are incidental.

So, a rant about walkability and transit, and looking at the DIY wonder of diagnosing and repairing your car by using your cell phone. Lot of ground between those two subjects.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

While I was stuck in the house I did some reading

I was reading actual dead-tree format books on installing and calibrating a stand-alone EFI system. Now I’m bummed out. It is starting to look like my best bet is getting a scan tool and figuring out how to bypass the error codes that will pop up when the factory controller finds out it is no longer sitting in a 1996 Chrysler Town and Country minivan but something a lot less in terms of mass and systems. There is already one minor system down that’s causing the Check Engine light to come on, what is going to happen when almost everything in the car is disconnected? I mean seriously my car will have no climate control, no doors or windows to check to see if they are closed and locked, no alarms on the seatbelts, and pretty much no anything else that doesn’t directly contribute to making the car go or stop, and on the stop side none of the hardware used in controlling the antilock brakes either. I might have to use the factory dash to get working instruments on this thing (but I still want to use the fake AM radio for starting the engine).

Now why would I be all bent out of shape on this after reading some books? Because the books pointed out I’m going to be going into this with no baseline fuel or spark maps to load into my standalone engine controller and no information about the injector flow. They do say how to create those maps the way the OEMs do, there is just one stumbling block: I would need to rent a chassis dyno for as long as it would take to create those maps, which could easily cost as much as the rest of the car, one place advertises $179/hr, another $100/hr, and a third place advertises $150/hr. The place with the $179 rate has a flat rate $700 tune for a speed-density system (like the Megasquirt) and I don’t know if any of them could program a flex-fuel map that would let me refuel with 93 octane if E85 wasn’t available.

There are piggyback controllers that would let me remap the fuel and spark for E85 and also leave the original maps in place for fallback when E85 was not available. But I would still need to use a dyno to tune it accurately. I could just multiply by the difference in Stoichiometric ratios to get a ballpark figure for E85 and get pretty good performance, but that would still be leaving horsepower and fuel economy in the engine.

Well, it is late and I may have things to do in the morning. so bye! Opus the Unkillable

I did something to my foot, some more

Seriously I have injured my foot and can’t account for how I did it. The ball of my left foot is swollen and painful and sensitive to the touch to the point that I can hardly walk today. The fact that it’s on the same leg that got mangled in the wreck leads me to believe there is a connection, but I also believe correlation is not causation.

My working hypothesis for the moment is it might be a cumulative stress injury from all the walking I have been doing the last couple of months, and the fact that I tend to walk digitigrade on my left foot because of the length discrepancy. The heavy callus on the area is ample evidence to that fact. I had Mrs. the Poet take a look at the bottom of my foot and she commented it was hard for her to tell for sure how much was swelling and how much was callus without poking at it, which was painful as hell. But after poking a few times she pronounced it badly swollen and I used a new euphemism for swearing: “Dirty Words”. I mean can you think of a better euphemism for using dirty words than saying “Dirty Words” instead of dirty words?

Anywho, what this means is I am stuck in the house for a while until this gets better. Seriously, I can’t ride my bike until I fix my bike, I can’t fix my bike until I get to the bike store to get a good presta adapter, and I can’t get to the bike store until I can walk about a mile each way to cover the foot trips to and from transit and the bike store. Just getting to transit from Casa de El Poeta is a 0.42 mile trip to the closest stop, and then there is the 0.6 mile trip to the bike store from transit to factor in. Then the same thing all in reverse for the trip home. So I have to recover enough to make one trip to get the part so that I can recover some more. But first I have to recover enough to tolerate about 2 miles of walking. And since at the moment I’m having a hard time walking from my office to the bathroom I think that might be a couple of days.

So I have been spending a lot of time on the bed to keep my foot elevated which keeps the swelling down, reading on my phone. I do the blog from my laptop that requires me to sit up but as much as possible I do in bed. So time to shut this down and hobble off to bed.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

More reminders that I’m getting old

When I woke up this morning my foot was swollen and felt like someone had been beating on it, again, and my cognitive functions pretty much haven’t functioned most of the day. Part of the latter problem is despite being exhausted last night my brain was still firing away at 0500 when I had to get up at 0900 to get ready for church, and I haven’t been back to sleep since. It’s like a switch gets thrown at midnight from “wasted” to “creative” and if I can’t get up and do something like writing or building I just race through ideas all night until something else switches “off” so I can sleep. Now I’m wandering the house in a haze trying to put two thoughts in a row, and failing at a third.

And there is a cat (Clint) sitting outside my office door demanding to be let in to do what cats do in my office: pretend it’s the world’s largest litter box. Actually that’s not fair, he wants to Be With Me because I am His Favorite Person In The Whole World™. Clint shows his pleasure at being with me by clawing my legs and stomach trying to get situated in my lap both initially and any time I move, and shoving his face into my armpit constantly. I don’t object to armpit-butting and lap-sitting, but the waving of claws in ecstasy gets me in the chest, belly, and sometimes face and/or crotch. As a result I have invoked the “No Claws Clause” in the adoption contract that allows me to remove a cat from the room for using claws inappropriately.

Back to being creative, or else, I’m still trying to figure out the mid-Bucket (and how to spell mid-bucket, obviously). Testing various risers has shown that putting the gas tank under the seats raises the seating position too much, the ideal seat height is making the cushion 5″ above the floor and the 10″ riser puts me too high in the body as there would only be about a foot of body side between sitting in the car and getting tossed out of the car. Visually going from the 5″ riser to the 10″ is the difference between sitting in the car vs sitting on the car, looking like an adult in a real car to looking like a kid too big for his toys. That means I have to find a place to put the fuel cell, and a place to put the trunk, that don’t unbalance the car either visually or dynamically. The original idea was to put the fuel cell behind the rear axle and under the rear trunk with another trunk up front between the original firewall and the front axle. That one got dumped because of too much weight in the rear and no space in the trunks for a full-size suitcase. The current (pre-underseat) configuration has the fuel tank under a tiny front trunk and a bigger trunk in the back. Neither trunk is suitable for hauling temperature sensitive cargo like chocolate bars or rolls of photographic film in a TX August. The front trunk is right behind the radiator while the rear trunk has the hot exhaust on either side and the engine in front. Lots of radiated heat sources around the rear trunk to raise the temperature inside the trunk even though the main source of heat has been located on the other end of the car. So after thinking some more and consulting the fuel cell pages in the Speedway catalog I decided to put in a 16 gallon cell that will fit under the steering column and allow a small trunk behind the axle, but still allow me to run E85 and have enough range to get to Nashville from Casa de El Poeta without running dry at the projected fuel economy for the car of 20 MPG highway on E85.

There was a lot of material in my EFI books on setting up an engine for E85 (AKA Car Booze) including tuning to max economy at part throttle while maintaining max power at WOT in the same fuel/spark map. It turns out there is a lot of commonality between tuning for fuel economy and WOT power, and it is entirely possible to have both. It is almost a case of having your cake and eating it, too. And with what can be done with an engine set up to burn E85 you can get more power than any pump gas while getting a carbon footprint lower than pump gas without factoring in if the ethanol was not fossil-sourced, which it isn’t. Getting the most power and fuel economy from E85 will take an engine rebuild to install higher compression pistons to take advantage of the higher octane rating, higher flow injectors to give some leeway on the fuel/air ratio at WOT, and a camshaft that will bleed some pressure off at lower RPM to allow even more compression which increases the expansion ratio and extracts more energy from the fuel at low power settings. From all the hype about compression ratios what is really important in economy is the expansion ratio of the burned gasses. Ideally you would like zero pressure to a slight vacuum at the bottom of the power stroke in an Otto cycle engine. This is a fact I picked up in first-year thermodynamics in engineering school. To do that requires a really small combustion chamber and a really large cylinder, AKA a high compression ratio. Which is why people looking for power and people looking to get as many miles per gallon as possible both go for as much compression as the fuel will allow.

AAAnnnnnd that’s enough rambling for today, bye.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

OK here are the pictures before and after

Before I go for my walk today I’m going to make a quick post with the pictures of how the steering arms fit after a little filing on the register bits. This first pic is the one I did last night after finishing my walk. Note that the bits fit flat against the machined spots they are supposed to fit flat against on both sides now.
See how snug they fit?
And this is the one I didn’t do yet. Notice that the peg part of the arm sits on top of the machined hole in the spindle. There is only a few thousandths of an inch interference there but it is enough to make the part unusable without modification.
So close, but yet so far.

The difference is about 3 hours of work, 2 of actual filing and another hour of letting my hand rest so I could control the file better. I have to admit the ravages of age are catching up to me. I used to be able to rough shape bike fenders by pinching them with my fingers, now I have to take frequent breaks just lightly using hand tools. And this is the fun bit for me, the tedious fiddly bits that nobody will see unless they know where to look and what to look for.

Now that that’s done I’m going to get dressed for outside and go for my walk. My books on how to control the EFI on the donor engine came today so I have reading materials that have to be read soon, and the bike pump is due in tomorrow so I can cover more territory out hunting check-ins on my phone game, and get exercise without killing my foot.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

That was easy, time consuming but easy

I feel accomplished today. I went for a walk and picked up something for Mrs. the Poet, then got some tools (files) from the hardware for working on the mid-bucket and the Mini Sprint-T, got a present for the B-Day party I was invited to on Saturday, and fitted one of the steering arms to the spindle all by 2100. I had to walk 4.2 miles to get all of the stuff done that I had to leave the house to do, and then spend about 2 hours filing tiny amounts of metal off the steering arm until it fit flat against the spindle registers. It’s a snug fit, almost an interference fit, but fit it does. The material is so hard that there were no actual filings, just a dark powder that got my hands dirty but didn’t actually spread anywhere. I used a mill bastard file that was designed for precision work by the captive brand for Lowe’s, Kobalt. It worked very well. Tomorrow I will take some pictures of the arm I didn’t work on and the one I did work on and show the difference in fit on the spindle.

I also used the walk to rack up check-ins on my phone game that pays me money to play. I hit my limit again. I may not be racking up the big points, but I’m still racking up points to get more gift cards. And then next month I start selling plasma to make up for the gigs I lost in 2016. So Yay! me.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

Just chillin’

I need to go to the hardware and get a file or 3 to fix the steering arms so they fit the spindles, but right now my foot still hurts, so I’m sitting tight and just chilling and reading Twitter and web comics on separate devices. I prefer to use my phone for Twitter, and my laptop for webcomics, so until just now I was bouncing back and forth between the two like some kind of screen addict. Now I just have the laptop active while I do the blog post. The weather forecast is that tomorrow and Wednesday will be much warmer so I’ll do my walk then and get the files. Actually I’ll probably go to Harbor Freight on the bus and get a whole set of files. And I can also use these to make the Mini Sprint-T, files are useful tools.

So I just finished my walk to get the $$ for tomorrow’s shopping trip and it was about the same temp outside as it was in my office when I left, but now my foot hurts again. Tomorrow should be better.

PSA, Opus

I did something to my foot

I did something to my foot and now it hurts all the time. Well almost all the time, if I keep the foot warm and elevated, i.e. stay in bed, it only hurts a tiny bit. But when I sit up and try to get some work done on the computer it starts to throb. Walking on it is instant pain. I seriously can’t figure out what the cause might be unless this is old damage from when I was a kid coming back to haunt me. This is the foot that got minor frostbite when I was a teenager delivering newspapers in Utah (noodle incident), but I don’t know how much of that is related to now.

What I got is a throbbing pain across the bottom of my foot at the ball of the foot radiating into the second toe that gets worse in the toe when I walk. Again, no clue about why. Enough about my foot, I have more to write about.

Yesterday we had the opening run of the wake for the guy in our RPG group who died recently. We did a flaming shot in his honor, then set up the run. My character used to be the bouncer at the bar we meet at. Her skills are hand-to-hand combat, pistols, and astral combat. And lethal levels of snark and intimidation, seriously high levels of intimidation. Her seduction rolls require her to fail intimidation at half strength she is so intimidating. Seriously, her best bet at seduction would be to roll a critical glitch during the intimidation check. I’m RPing her as bi, because her original player was a bi female and I like to keep her consistent through adventures. The fun part is because she has so much trouble with accidentally intimidating instead of seducing her love life is “one of quiet desperation” except when it’s Not So Quiet Desperation. Think Darth Maul with boobs but over 7 feet tall and with a prehensile tail. Great as a bouncer or a domme, not so great at Looking for Love.

Anyway, the Run. The things we know about the run at the moment are we have been set up with some first-rate fake SINs connected to real bank accounts, and we communicate with the client through a burner phone that will be connected to the mark’s internal network at a specific point in their internal infrastructure. Technically we are going to bridge an air gap so the client can hack the mark, then retrieve the phone so the hack can’t be traced back to the client. The dangerous parts include getting inside the mark’s compound with the burner phone to the connection point, making the connection for the client (for which our Technomancer will be Doing His Thing, because connecting to the internal network is a high-level hack in and of itself that the client can’t do without being there when the whole idea is for him to Not Be There), and getting back out with whatever is loaded on the burner phone for the client. The promised payment is roughly a year’s pay for a middle-class salaryman each. At our lifestyle levels they would be enough to live on for years if not the rest of our lives. Right now we are in the planning stages of the run, getting supplies and equipment together and mapping getting in and out of the mark’s compound without getting caught. That’s where the session ended when we all had to go home.

And now I have to get ready for evening services, so bye. Before I go look up Unipiper Shovels Snow on to see a guy riding a unicycle playing flaming bagpipes pushing a snow shovel.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

WTF!?! Weather?

As I sit typing this we have snow falling and on the ground, 23°F free air temp and 9°F wind chill. A few days ago it was 82°F with a heat index(!) of 84. The office temp is 59°F so I actually had to put a shirt on to keep from getting too cold. Texas weather is highly variable at this latitude.

I used some of my gift card balance to order a bicycle pump so I can ride my bike(s). It looked like a good one on the web page, but then so did the toaster before it came. Anywho, the head screws onto the valve and the Presta adapter, which screws onto the Presta valve. This should prevent the situation of the pump head blowing off the valve that caused the demise of the previous pump.

I have been watching my phone game that pays me money to see if there are any bonus check-ins and as of this morning there were not. This loss of bonus check-ins happened last year, but only for a day or two, not this late into the year. This even affected places that have always been bonuses, like WalMart. I have also not been able to collect earned points from affiliated apps like Weather Dot Com. I have a bunch of points accumulated from just my normal activity with that app that I can’t collect. I am becoming concerned about the viability of this program as it was one of the better-paying side gigs I had especially when you consider I didn’t need to get punctured to get money. Maybe I should get into Bit-coin mining? I hear that is a good job for those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer.

Anyway, getting back to the opening paragraph, the weather is getting extremely cold for those of us accustomed to triple digit summer weather and winter lows in the high 40s. My really cold weather clothes are still in the laundry from yesterday’s walk, so I’m probably not going for my walk this evening so I’m giving up 125 points plus however many points I would have gotten from prize boxes I liberated. I used to have more than one cold weather outfit, but they gradually all wore out or didn’t fit, and now I only have the one. And to be completely honest, that one outfit was not the warmest one in the closet. Current conditions would be pushing the limits of what that outfit could protect me against, so I might have gone for a walk tonight, but probably no.

Y’all stay warm or cool as the climate dictates, Opus the Unkillable Poet

Well, poop!

My neck was feeling good, my hip would let me get a leg over the top bar of the frame of the new bike, but the tires were low. So I hooked the pump up only to watch the head get blown off the valve repeatedly every time I tried to pump up the tires. So my 12 YO bike pump has gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds and I still have a garage full of flat tires and nothing to ride.😤😱 Presta or Schrader it didn’t matter, that pump head was not staying put on the valve. So it appears my next purchase will be new bicycle pump.

Speaking of purchases one made it home yesterday. There was a pair of steering arms for my spindles in the Garage Sale section of The posted regular price led me to believe they were just the regular mild steel steering arms, and the discounted price was very reasonable for that. But when the parts arrived I discovered that there was an error in my favor. I thought the parts seemed rather shiny to be mild steel, and closer examination revealed them to be stainless steel instead, which have a normal catalog price more than twice what was charged in the Garage Sale.
Shiny, ooohhh!

Shiny up close, too!

Needless to say I’m moderately happy with the purchase. I’m not outrageously happy because of why the parts were returned in the first place: they don’t quite fit as they came from the warehouse. This appears to be a tolerance issue on the machining of the arms where they bolt to the spindles. You might be able to see recesses machined into the back of the spindle around the hex nuts and under the steering arm. This was done to give a flat place for the steering arm to register against. But as you can probably see on the bottom of the second picture that is not quite the case with these parts, they are sitting against the unmachined back of the spindle because the part that was supposed to fit inside the machined reliefs was left oversized. Therefore I will be forced to hand-fit these steering arms to my spindles in order to save 50% off the retail cost. Oh, the horrors! 😂 I will have to perform fabrication to use these reduced-cost no-return parts! 😈 However shall I manage!

I’ll break it off here because I need to take a walk and get more points. Those gift cards aren’t going to jump into my Amazon account on their own, y’know?

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Poet