Monthly Archives: February 2018

Another reason to wish I had a viable hot rod project

If I had a project like the Sprint-T sitting in my garage, instead of scattered around my office, I could distract myself from the idiots in power by puttering around on it instead of mentally screaming. At the very least I would be doing something useful to somebody.

Well I have been trying to get some work done on the Mini Sprint-T, as much as I can do given the condition of my cutting tools and measuring instruments. I really need to get new blades on my hobby knives and saws, and the battery in my calipers died making reading the distances more accurately than 1/16” a guessing contest. On a project where that scales as 1.5″ on the full scale prototype that degree of accuracy ain’t gonna cut it. But at least I can visualize where the bits will go on the real car. But yeah, 1/16” is the diameter of the frame tubes so I need to measure much more accurately than that. I mean .01″ is a scale 1/4” and you would notice in a heartbeat if the wheels were mounted that much off on the real car.

Tomorrow is the Daytona 500, aka “The Great American Race” aka “Opening Day”. Also my 40th wedding anniversary. But Mrs. the Poet has already said we aren’t celebrating tomorrow but rather on Monday, so I can watch the race and enjoy it without fear of reprimand especially since I’m buying dinner and paying for the bus passes to get there. I’m using the money from that one gig that pays in multi-store gift cards that work for the Red Robin in my neighborhood, and other places. This is also the same card I used to buy the lights for the kitchen, and the candy I gave her on Valentine’s Day. I can’t spend it everywhere, but I can get pretty good use out of it anyway.

Still no word on gun control, thoughts and prayers abundant

Well we’re coming on 48 hours since 17 people were killed by a deranged gunman who wanted to turn FL into a white ethnostate (WTF is a “white ethnostate”?). AFAIK this includes genocide against all the non-white residents in FL because I don’t think they’ll just all pack up and leave nicely. Leaving that aside, not only has there not been a vote for gun control, there has not even been a bill proposed to control gun access for people who shouldn’t have guns. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. I have voted on more gun control bills than Congress at this point.

Getting (more) serious at this point, there are 3 common characteristics of a mass shooter we know of for sure: Male, white, and domestic abuser/abused (one or the other sometimes both). So our gun control law has to block people who fall into all of those categories from getting anything more deadly than a single-shot .22 rimfire (action doesn’t matter so long as each round is loaded into the gun one at a time and has to be either fired or removed before another round can be loaded) because “right to bear arms for hunting”. Easiest one to work with is the “domestic abuser/ed” especially the “abuser”, because there are a lot of white males who own guns and are not abusers and don’t commit mass shootings. Incidentally this profile is also a close fit for people who use cars as weapons against cyclists and pedestrians, except for the minority of abused women who kill with cars. Maybe we need to have an annual review of domestic abuse and drivers to get killer drivers off the roads. But back to gun control, there used to be restrictions against domestic abusers having guns, but those were overturned, mainly because it caused too many LEO to lose their guns. Which is also troubling. I’m not sure what the intersection of the sets of deadly cops and domestic abusers is, but I’m pretty sure there is one.

The problem is there is no defined “domestic abuser” law that’s consistent from state to state, thus no registry of abusers to use to prevent abusers from getting guns or taking away guns from people likely to do a mass shooting. So that’s step one, making a national definition for “domestic abuse”. Step 2 is making a registry for people convicted of it, and maybe a “3 strikes” law that 3 accusations in a limited time puts you on the registry because in some places getting an abuser in jail requires a victim in the hospital for an extended stay, or even a body in the morgue. I can’t make people convict, but if there’s an arrest that means there was evidence of something worth arresting someone over, and 3 times in a limited period of time is the smoke that identifies the fire.

Now this is not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing, which is what we have now.

Yesterday was physically and emotionally exhausting

Yesterday I had to get up about 4 hours earlier than my normal rising time. That was just the start of a seriously shitty day. I had to leave before I finished my coffee, and barely had time to eat an envelope of PopTarts before throwing my raincoat on and heading out the door.

To pass the time enroute I opened my Twitter app on my phone, and was greeted by videos of a mass shooter making his way through a FL high school. Wonderful, another school shooting with a double-digit body count . Close to Over 2 dozen injured or killed yesterday. And that makes 19 times this year that a firearm has been discharged on school property…

So anyway, about that rain coat. Basically it’s vinyl windbreaker with no ventilation held closed with Velcro and held together with vinyl tape after as many years as I have had it. That means it’s a sweat generator, and the hook part of the front closure snagging on everything in range, and that hook part dangling loose after Mrs. the Poet borrowed it without understanding it was delicate because of the tape. So hot and basically catching on every fabric surface in a half-meter radius, because there was a misting rain and fog when I left the house that ended before I even got to the transit center to catch my second bus. I carry my wallet in a drawstring bag I throw over one shoulder, so I stuffed the jacket into the bag and had it under my arm the rest of the day.

This brings me to the visit with the Lab Rat Keeper. It seems that stopping the anti-depressants was a Bad Idea from a blood pressure point of view, as I have been asked to augment my current med (Byvalson) with the diuretic HCTZ to get back to the numbers I had when I was taking the anti-depressants. In case you didn’t know or forgot, I stopped the anti-depressants because I can’t live with the side effects of no sex life or sleeping all day and night. Whodathunkit? Depression is bad for your blood pressure.

And getting back to the school shooting, the shooter was 19 and legally bought his assault weapon after learning to shoot and maintain it as a cadet in JROTC. As a graduate of the Navy version of this program more than 40 years ago, I can say that wasn’t the cause, but it probably did teach him how to use the rifle. And since it’s more than likely his instructors were combat veterans he likely picked up the “run and gun” protocol he used from one of them. But how does a 19YO with documented mental health issues get that much firepower with multiple magazines and a brick of 1000 rounds of ammunition? I mean that’s the Mass Shooting Starter Kit, did nobody at the gun store contact the police?

And that’s all my stomach can handle.

I have been reading

Actual books, I have been reading actual published books that I paid money to keep and read. Well, keep on my computer and read on my Kindle app, which means “keep but not for long”.

Anyway, the list of titles is not very long. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the book about the Trump administration, I still haven’t gotten through. Turns out my tolerance for stupidity is just as low in print as it is in person. How to Build Motorcycle-engined Racing Cars (SpeedPro series) I’m skimming the text and looking hard at the pictures, because that’s where the meat of the information is. I mean he writes like me when I’m writing about the Sprint-T and the TGS2, but pictures convey that information better than words. I just can’t show you the pictures in my brain and he had decades of example pictures to choose from. And most recently Bite Me: Big Easy Nights (Wearing the Cape Series) is part of a Superhero series I started reading because it had an in-canon story crossing over with a web comic I read Grrl Power only this isn’t a comic. This is straight text, no illustrations. I already had the first and last books in the series when Amazon had a sale on this one, so I jumped on it. I bought it yesterday evening and finished it before I went to bed. And yes I prefer light fiction to the insanity in the White House. Superhero stories actually have to make sense and have a consistent internal logic, the Trump administration… “Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow.” Spock, in “I, Mudd”.

So, today I tell you about what I have been reading, tomorrow I tell you about my trip to the Lab Rat Keeper. And my trip to buy Valentine’s candy cheap to give to Mrs. the Poet on our anniversary.

Still trying to do the Sprint-T

My mind won’t let go of the plans for the Sprint-T, mulling over bracing and suspension pickup points. I know I have no chance of making enough money to build it at this time and for the forseeable future. I still want to build it. I have fifty years of unrequited pent-up desire that refuses to let go of the dream to build a T-Bucket, and over 30 years of wanting one to race in SCCA Solo racing, dating back to when it was called Solo2 to differentiate it from track days.

And that pretty much covers it for today. Nothing going on and not much to say.

Well, that was fun

The auto racing season is underway. The 40th Advanced Auto Parts Clash (originally the Busch Clash) ran at Daytona this afternoon (congrats Brad Keselowski on the win) and as I type this the semifinal rounds of the NHRA Winternationals are live on the tube flat screen. I have never been a drag racer, but they are fun to watch. As an engineering problem the physics are fascinating. The ultimate goal in drag racing is to reach the finish line immediately after the light turns green on the start line either 1320 or 1000 feet away, driven by the wheels in most classes. The chemical and physical bonds between the tires and the track, the thermodynamics inside the engine as fuel is turned into power, and the mechanical transmission of that power to those bonds at the tires, that to me is fun.

SCCA Solo racing is drag racing with left and right turns, so there is some overlap in application to my kind of auto racing in terms of execution but almost nothing in engineering. Drag racing has no lateral acceleration as long as everything runs right as shown when Brittany Force wrecked in the first round of Top Fuel. The word is there will be a report from the hospital at 0800 Pacific on her condition. I sincerely hope she will be OK. For a sport so embedded with fossil fuel use and abuse, there are a surprising number of bicycles in use in the pits and elsewhere in drag racing, so some of Them are really Us.

Brain shutdown thoughts have been on the fact I haven’t included the mounts for the rear springs and swing arms in my plans for the Sprint-T frame. They have a specific place they have to be because the swing arms have a fixed length and connect to something that has to be in a certain place, and they have to be braced in at least two directions so the rear axle doesn’t move around and steer the car from the back independently of what is input at the front. Which is the reason why I didn’t design in roll steer for the rear suspension, because roll steer becomes rear bump steer when you’re just driving down a bumpy road. The slight performance advantage possible racing is more than offset by the possibility of losing control racing or driving on the street. So, the swing arms are level at normal ride height, preventing roll steer or rear bump steer.

And the cat is trying to sit on the laptop so I guess I’m finished.

Grocery day again

And I bought a lottery ticket, because that’s my best hope of building the Bucket.

Check that, it’s my second-best chance. My best chance is going to Richard Rawlings with my parts and saying he can keep the car if I can drive it to Goodguys and SCCA Solo events with Gas Monkey on the sides. So I see that as slightly better than the proverbial snowball in Wichita Falls on the finish line of the Hotter ‘n’ Hell Hundred in the full sun. And given the odds on winning the lottery, that shows how much I believe that will work. “Hey I have a choice between winning the lottery and convincing a reality TV star to build my car, which do I think is more likely?” Obviously convincing the reality TV star is going to be easier more likely than winning the lottery, but not by a whole bunch.

On the groceries, I have noticed that corporate tax breaks haven’t shown up in consumer prices any more than they have in paychecks. Groceries are way up in the last few months, especially in the things I can cook and eat. We actually bought a package of fish fillets for the week, after buying a pound of ground beef last week. Milk is back up over $2.50 a gallon for the store brand, near $5/gallon for brand name. The little pizzas we buy have gone from $0.99 each to $1.49 each. Pop Tarts are stupid expensive, with the 8 count boxes almost $3, and the generic stuff is exactly the same price per pastry after you factor in the lower count per box. Sure it looks cheaper, but the store brand has 6 per box compared to the 8 of the name brand. At least potatoes are still cheap, but I noticed that dried beans on sale are more than they were regular price a year ago. I don’t know how I could lower my standard of living any more and still continue to eat.

And while we are on the subject of maintaining a standard of living, I still haven’t been able to find a plasma center that will tell me what I will make before I commit to their center. How can a person comparison price, if the price is a deep dark secret? Turns out the business is pretty much a cartel system with only 4 buyers who collude to keep buying prices as low as possible while charging as much as the market will bear for the collected plasma. That’s in this country, over in the EU donors are restricted to 1/4 the donations extractions allowed in the US and the per-extraction price more than reflects that. And I’m Just Some Dude so I have no say except to not participate.

And another cold front is moving through with more freezing drizzle, yay! I have no place to go so I’m mainly worried for my friends who have to travel for work tomorrow. And the forecast is high 60s when I head to the Lab Rat Keeper on Valentines Day, and near 80 the day after. Yay!Texas weather. 😛

Not much going on

I mean seriously, I went out to buy light bulbs and got a multipack of 6 for like $8.50, then changed all 4 of the dead bulbs in the kitchen so Mrs. the Poet can see to cook after sundown. Exciting, right? I used the card from that one gig to pay for the bulbs and some glue, and rode the bus both ways. Be still my beating heart, can you stand the excitement?

Spent time walking in the freezing rain yesterday

I went out and deposited some checks, and tried to check out a plasma center. But I got off at the wrong stop and spent about an hour wandering around and never did find it. As I was looking on the wrong street a cold front moved in and I spent the last part of my day walking in a freezing mist. Also I had beans in the slow cooker at home waiting for me to season and add the hunk of leftover ham and start the rice cooker. Even though I was wearing a hoody under my Air Force Surplus winter flying jacket I forgot to wear gloves and the wind was really bad. I didn’t think to check the “feels like” temperature, but between the 31°F dry bulb, the misting rain, and the 20 MPH steady wind it had to have been pretty brutal. And somewhere along the way I managed to lose $15 out of my wallet.

The good thing about yesterday was I made beans and rice, and had enough to make me feel full. I used a pack of Taco Seasoning Mix instead of my usual garlic powder and cayenne pepper to “do something different”, and it came out pretty good. Far from Cajun, fahrvergnügen, far from the madding crowd, but still good. Sorta Mexican-ish I guess, about as spicy as Mrs. the Poet can stand. But anyway, 2 cups of mixed beans, 6 cups of hot water going in the pot, and about 7 hours of slow simmering with about 45 minutes to cook a dry cup of brown rice in the rice cooker and one of Mrs. the Poet’s salads, we have dinner.

My brain shutting down for sleep still plays design variations on the Sprint-T. The theme it as been playing with lately has been wrapping the roll cage portion as close as possible to the body while still allowing space to slide the painted body inside the completed chassis without scratching the paint on either one, while keeping the torsional rigidity up and the total weight down. You know, as you do. Anyway, the plan is to put a kink in the brace from the top of the rear hoop to the bottom of the front hoop to tuck the front hoop closer to the firewall where it tucks in. That would require another brace from the frame rail to the kink point and from the bottom of the rear hoop to the kink point, and from the pickup point for the rear swing arm/radius rod to the point where the vertical brace from the kink point meets the frame, so everything is totally triangulated. Also playing are variations on the powertrain with the Pentastar V6. The 330 pound engine combined with a 100 pound Powerglide combine for lower weight than a SBC long block assembly, by just a few pounds. The 8 speed transmission usually supplied with the Pentastar weighs 198 pounds, which means the total is still lower than a complete ready-to-run SBC with iron heads, and no transmission. Deep down I still want to build the car, and probably always will. But the gulf between want and have is just too broad and too deep for me to cross.

Dingbats, it’s cold in here

I don’t have a way to use the Dingbat font in this blog, but it’s the comic strip and book substitute for swear words. And it’s cold enough in my office to make me want to swear. I have warmed my office up to 63°F from 54 when I first got here after getting out of my nice warm bed with all the quilts over it. I am the main heat source in the room right now, but there’s only so much heat you can radiate from a single human body, especially in a room as large as my office. Which is why I really want to get back in that bed with all the quilts on it.

My brain shutdown montage was cars again, but mostly the Sprint-T. I guess it is really hard to fully let go of something you have been working for for as long as I have been working on getting my bucket. This time it was about pitching the bucket build as an episode of Fast and Loud to Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage, and to run it as a GMG entry at Goodguys. Again one of those things that will never happen in the real world, but thinking about it helps me get to sleep at night. I fool myself into thinking the world isn’t going to shit on me forever, that I will have a purpose to continue existing beyond just being there taking up space and resources.

I got up early so I could check out the local places to sell plasma, but it was just too dang cold for the clothes I have without going to the long underwear. Basically all the cold weather gear I used to have is now worn out or Mrs. the Poet got rid of it because I “never wear” it. I have lots of summer wear, but not much useful when the temperature drops below freezing. So maybe I’ll try again when the temperature goes up at the end of the week. It would be really nice if I can get this to work since I can sell plasma twice a week.

On the depression front, I am. Still depressed, that is. The meds that used to work aren’t any more, or have side effects I can’t live with. Most days aren’t too bad, I mean I’m still alive, still fairly mobile, still married to my first wife and two weeks out from celebrating 40 years in that condition. Things really could be a lot worse. They could be a hell of a lot better, too. We got our tax documents back and we are living on about $12K last year, about $4K below the point where they start counting taxable income. But we have food on the table, a roof over our heads, and the full suite of basic modern communications: Internet, basic cable, cell service, and a land line. By some standards, we are rich. Hell I had a bowl of Cocoa Dyno-bites cereal mixed with vanilla yogurt for dessert tonight, I’m doing good. Still depressed though.