Monthly Archives: October 2018

Laptop was down

And I was annoyed, mainly because I used to be a Windows help desk operator and I had no idea of how to fix it, my training and experience ending with the introduction of XP, back in 2002, following hard on the heels of the disaster of ME and totally disrupting all the diagnostic and repair tools that had been in use since 98. So there I was a trained computer expert with years of experience and I am no better off than your garden variety N00B since my computer came minus documentation. I had no idea of how to get to Safe Mode, or if Safe Mode was still a thing in 10.

Basically what happened was while I was working and reading e-mail the bottom shelf disappeared, and when I ended the web browser I had a blank screen where the desktop should be. And when I restarted the computer I had a blank screen after the log-in screen. And since keyboard shortcuts I learned are not valid with 10 I couldn’t get anything running, or maybe they are valid but that was something else that wasn’t working. And because I don’t have any documentation I have no way of knowing if keyboard shortcuts are a thing anymore.

Anywho, as you can probably tell, I got the laptop fixed, but dang if I know how. The only thing I could find said to hold the shift key down to activate “sticky keys” and then hold F8 and reboot. After the third (or so) try I had a normal reboot and all my icons back. So here I am.

Other news, Clyde has learned to knock to be let in, we think. Story short, I heard what sounded like knocking at the front door a few minutes after I went to bed this morning, but when I got up to check there was nobody there, except Clyde sitting on the window AC unit. Clyde is not the kind of cat to hang around when people come to the door, even people he knows, so by process or elimination Clyde managed to knock on the window to get let in, or Clyde banged against the window whilst scratching an itch and got let in anyway. And as you might have guessed I didn’t win the $1 billion jackpot, but I’m buying a ticket for the $1.6 billion jackpot. Because, how can I not risk $2 for a chance at a billion dollars after taxes? The cash option is almost a billion tonight ($904 million) and will probably bust a billion by the draw on Tuesday. Not that I’m going for the cash option, I want every cent I can get because I could do so much good with that much money. And going by last week’s sales, we could see a $2 billion jackpot by the draw date. Even at 304 million to one odds I can’t pass that up. I mean look at what I have already lived through that I shouldn’t have, I must have some luck left over to win a little money, right?

Another dreary day weatherwise, but hope springs eternal

The MegaMillions jackpot just topped one billion dollars, and there is a valid ticket here in Casa de El Poeta. Since MegaMillions does a straight 30 equal payments it’s easy to figure take-home on at least the first couple of years. And the first year take-home is a staggering $22 million, actually a bit more but I didn’t feel like typing out all those numbers. That money if invested well would be enough to live extravagantly for the rest of my life, which leaves the problem of what to do with the other 29 payments. I mean how many apartment buildings for homeless people can you build? How many houses can you give to your friends and relatives? How many bungalows in out of the way villages in Canada can you buy?

Using the method I agreed upon with Mrs. the Poet many years ago, she gets 2/3 whether she likes it or not while I “make do” with 1/3. The reason I wrote “whether she likes it or not” is because of the responsibility that comes with money after you have enough to cover basic needs and a little for comforts. Which is why I mentioned apartment buildings for homeless people and giving away houses in the opening paragraph. I know that if I win and my name is published I will be covered up in relatives I never met in my life, people asking for money for various “charities” that mostly pay the people running the charity, and people like me who got a raw deal out of life for no good reason, but don’t have the manners to not try to con people out of the money they got via what ever means they got it. So I will preemptively put as much of my money as possible in projects that actually help people directly, by providing cheap or free housing and jobs that cover food and clothing and health care. And now I’m starting to sound like a politician…🤮

But at any rate it would solve my budget problems with the various T-bucket builds, and other toy projects like the A-Mod SCCA Solo racer and the fold-up camper/bicycle. And we could get the cats fixed.🙀 And various medical problems that Mrs. the Poet and I have that we were just “living with” because we don’t have money for treatment.

And it has rained all day, just for informational purposes. We are on high ground so we are free of the stream flooding that has plagued so many here in TX, but we still had soggy cats this afternoon. Unhappy soggy cats.

Going to miss the Fair this Year

Due to a combination of bad weather and finances we are going to miss the State Fair of Texas this year. It has been cold and rainy the past two days, to the point I’m actually wearing a shirt in the house, and all the AC units still working are now shut down. I even slept under a blanket for the first time in ages, April or May at least. The office temp has warmed up to about 64°F.

One of the reasons I go to the Fair is to look at the cars, both for ideas for the T-bucket, TGS2, or Sprint-T, and because we are also looking to change our car-free status some day. Mrs. the Poet is having more and more trouble getting around, so at some point we are either going to have to buy a car, or get a subscription to Lyft or Uber or something. The other reason we go to the Fair is to try the food. You know, some of that deep-fried badness that tastes so good and is so bad for your arteries. But Mrs. the Poet can’t walk so good and especially with the weather turning colder her mobility is even more restricted. So with the forecast calling for an 80% chance of rain, and temps in the low 60s or high 50s F it’s pretty much a no-go this year because getting to the food takes lots of walking. There is discount food on Senior Day, but to actually get a meal you have to go to several vendors, because the cheap drink is one place, the cheap dessert in another, and the award-winning main dish is all the way over on the other end of the food area that’s about a quarter-mile away, leading to miles of walking between the car show and the food chase. So, no Fair this year. And because of the rain we have been having there has been a lost of flooding, both from rising streams as well as flash floods because the soil is completely saturated and there’s no place for the water to go except into the streets and storm drains that are already backing up because of rising streams and rivers.

On other fronts, I’m doing beans and rice again tomorrow because I need to help the food budget and that’s about the cheapest big meal I can make. The ingredients cost about $3 including spices, and because I’m using a slow cooker I’m not using much electricity either. And I really like the end result after the 8-9 hour process. And I had better like it because the recipe I’m using now makes enough food for 2½ dinners, or 2 dinners and a side or light lunch. So if I don’t like what I fix I’m seriously out of luck. When Mrs. the Poet is out of town that goes double because that means 5 meals in total from that one batch of cookery. Now if I chose cheaper ingredients it would be even cheaper, because brown rice is expensive compared to white, and there are less expensive varieties of beans I could use, but it wouldn’t taste as good and as many meals as I get from one batch of beans I need it to taste as good as I can make it.

Getting back to the Sprint-T for a few words, the deal with the transmission on the EJ20 Subaru engine might be a few pounds heavier than other possible combinations, but the cost of the combination is less than the cost of a rebuilt T5 transmission alone for the RWD conversion of the Subaru, not to mention tons less work because I don’t have to make a new bellhousing that connects the Subaru engine to a Borg-Warner (now made by Tremec) transmission. The transmission is one of the few things on the Sprint-T that weight is less of a concern than cost or ease of installation, because it sits in the middle of the car front-to-rear and just has a negative effect on the power-to-weight ratio and doesn’t affect things like polar moment or balance.

Fixed what I could about my Shadowrun character

We had a break in the RPG group schedule that prevented us from playing, so I took the downtime to take care of stuff I should have but didn’t know how at character creation, specifically my contacts. I worked with the GM from my backstory to establish my guy for guns and armor at the TI armory, José. Basically José and I hang out sometimes and he asks me to evaluate new stuff because my character can shoot anything designed for a single human to carry and shoot, and a few things that are usually permanently emplaced, like weapons that straddle the line between “heavy machine gun” and “light automatic cannon” or the line between “anti-materiel rifle” and “light artillery”. Current examples of that are the M2 heavy machine gun in 15mm instead of .50 cal, and a Polish rifle chambered for 20mm Bofors that is usually set up on a tripod instead of a bipod like the Barrett BMG anti-materiel rifle. Also he has me check out lightweight armor but not as often. Anywho, when I need a new gun or an old one repaired I go see José. José is like everyone else in the game, much younger than I, but because we are both nerds about cars and guns we get along fine. In-game my character is 117 or 119 depending on if we are playing in 2075 or 2077. Right now I’m 117, and a major bad-ass. Also José is trying to talk me into doing a mod to make my CyberShot a belt-fed fully auto shotgun, that I could swap for the 12 round external magazine. As in plug this into my arm and I have even more massive firepower.

We also played a card based RPG that is an evolution of Settlers of Cataan, called Rivals of Cataan. It assigns resources based on resource cards that get advanced depending on a d6 roll, and a second d6 that has events printed in symbols on it instead of pips. I had an extremely luck draw initially and managed to get loads of resources early in the game and then used those resources to basically win the game without trying. That burned just about all the time I had, so we had cold drinks and a snack, then I walked back to the bus stop and came home. I got home just as Mrs. the Poet finished the mashed potatoes, so I didn’t have to wait for dinner, or put it in the microwave to reheat. So another score for today being close to perfect.

Well I could be better

But I have been much worse. The food budget was a bit restricted so snacks and desserts were 86’ed from the list, but the critical bits like bread, peanut butter, and yogurt made the cut. And I dug up enough change from the various places change hides around here to cover a Texas Lotto ticket. I still don’t know if I won, but if I do anyone in North America with the possible exception of the far northeast provinces of Canada and the state of Alaska will hear the yell.

When I write about building the Sprint-T I can pretend for a while I will actually have the budget to do it, and pretending and imagining while I’m writing are usually enough to make me believe I can really build it, and make me not as depressed as I would have been if I wasn’t writing. Hope is a hell of a drug, but the crash after is not as bad as other drugs. I’m not so sure about how addictive it is, mainly because of all the sayings about not giving up Hope. To read/hear about it, Hope is completely non-addictive, and needs to get replenished regularly. Anywho, at this point Hope is about all I have. I know I won’t starve, but things might get a bit… strained.

I’m still thinking about the Sprint-T, suspension, brakes, drivetrain, interior, everything. As I wrote, I feel better when I’m planning it out, which I guess is why I still do it. I would like to be able to find out how much the complete Subaru EJ20V engine and transmission combined weigh, just to get an idea of how much I would need to offset that to balance my 215 pounds (97.5 kg) with helmet and driving suit. But I can estimate from other transmissions how much the modified Subaru would weigh after removing the FWD bits that I don’t need that I need to add 100 pounds to the 250 of the engine for a rough idea of how far I would need to shift the engine to the right to balance everything out, and that works out to be about 7″ right if the math is right. And since the formula is so simple I’m pretty sure I got it right. I multiply my weight by how far my center is left of the car’s center to get a moment, then divide the weight of the engine and transmission into the moment to get back to a moment arm. Or as Jethro Bodine would put it use my guzintas of the weight of the engine/transmission into the moment. And if you understood that media reference you have to either spend too much time watching TV Land , or are about the same age as me.

I didn’t win the Dale Truck engine, or the Lotto

Drat my luck, I still don’t have an engine or transmission for the Sprint-T, and I didn’t win the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night. Didn’t match even a single number, so we are still p’ (too impoverished to buy a vowel). I don’t feel good about my chances at the Powerball this Saturday, and I blew off the Megamillions because everybody and their brother were at the local C-Store buying tickets. And my fundage is severely limited this week, so I might not even get a Lotto Texas ticket Saturday.

In news that is totally unrelated to my luck in games of chance, my hip is doing great after the third night of my experiment in mattress exchange. The guest room mattress is not as thin as the futon and doesn’t bottom out like the futon even though it is initially much firmer than the futon, so I don’t get pressure points like I do on the futon. I still have one tender point over the hip, but I have to push on it to find it. That’s the good news, the bad news is Mrs. the Poet refuses to join me on the mattress until it gets moved to our room.

In still other news, I’m working on how to map a tune that will run 87 octane regular gas on the EJ20 JDM Subaru engines that are sold locally for cheap, in the unboosted part of the engine’s performance curve, and also run E85 and lots of boost and a dry-ice chilled air-to-liquid intercooler at low RPM for racing. As I explained (poorly) earlier to stay close to best power on E85 I need to run about 40% more fuel by weight and 42% more by volume than on 87 octane. Now with the $314 ECU I can run a supplemental 16 X 16 engine map under boost to go with the 16 X 16 map for no boost, or build a more coarse 16 X 16 engine map with fewer cells for either boost or no boost that runs richer for E85 with no boost and also has cells for under boost and switch it on at the races, or spend an extra $314 for a second controller to swap to when I get to the race rather than buy a more expensive single controller that can be set up with separate maps for 87 octane and E85 and can switch automatically between the two. Looking online at what is available for <$650 and under I'm not seeing anything with close to the capability of swapping out controllers with race and street maps programmed in. The one that is right on the border has PWM control over adjustable cam timing in hardware, but still won't switch between a race map and a street map with drastically different fuels. Looking at my options I think my best choice is to buy 2 of the $314 controllers, and set one up with a map that gives me maximum fuel economy on the highway with 87 octane and no boost while the other gives best power at low RPMeverywhere in the RPM range with E85. To get best economy I need to get a whole bunch of map cells around cruise RPM and program them for best power at “Best Fuel Economy” mixture which is about as much lean as best power is rich of stoichiometric. And I need a bunch of cells because I might have to swap to a larger injector to handle the fuel flow for E85 at high boost which means I would need tighter control of injector timing at cruise running regular unleaded 87 octane gas. The improvement in actual gas mileage would be small, but the improvement in my peace of mind knowing I had done everything possible to reduce my fossil fuel consumption without actually giving anything up would be, eh?, a little bit.

Doing an experiment and saving my favorite pair of shorts

I have been experiencing much pain in my right hip that I believe is caused by sleeping on a worn-out futon. So I have been sleeping on the bed in the guest room to test the hypothesis, which after two nights is partially confirmed. I woke up this morning with only mild tenderness in the hip muscles over the actual hip joint instead the actual crippling pain I was waking up to. I felt so good I walked to a place about a mile away where I could by the cats food with the money I had in the card I got from the one gig I had that I can’t even describe without violating the NDA. While I was there I also picked up some shoelaces to repair the drawstring in my favorite pair of shorts. So anywho, I had some problems with getting tired at the end of the walk that affected my balance, but my hip was primo.

And I should have slowed down and taken some pictures of the repair job, but the frayed drawstring is now in the garbage can and the shorts tested just fine when I did the pull-down test after I pulled the drawstring up as tight as I could get it. The repair was actually fairly easy, I pulled as much of the drawstring out of the shorts as I could get, put what is called a bight, basically a u-turn for the string, and threaded the end of one shoestring through it to make a square knot. Rinse, repeat with the other end of the drawstring, then tuck the knots inside the waistband so they don’t come undone later. Then voila my favorite shorts no longer fall down around my ankles when I sneeze, inhale, or bend over and stand up straight quickly. 😈 I can now walk to get the mail without fear of arrest for indecent exposure if I get an allergy attack on the way back to the house from the box with only one hand free.

I mentioned walking to a store a mile away for a 2 mile round trip today, well this was the second 2-mile day in a row after taking the long way out and back to buy a Lotto ticket yesterday, with no hip issues at all either day. So Mrs. the Poet and I are discussing what we need to do to get the good bed into our room. I just want to swap the mattress to the futon frame and the futon to the box spring, while she is saying to move both beds from one room to the other. I’ll update you on the final outcome of the debate after we come to a conclusion.

I’m feeling my age plus a little

I’m sure by now you know I have taken a few knocks along the way, some harder than others. Well the weather has been going through some drastic changes as we have passed the Equinox. And as the weather changes my old injuries are complaining painfully. My left knee and right hip are making the most noise, with the left hip and calf also making their grievances known, and both feet occasionally throwing their $0.02 into the conversation. And yesterday everybody was talking at once, with the metaphorical cacophony lasting into the afternoon today, in spite of the fact that the weather is worse today than yesterday. I still hurt but it’s subsided to a level I can sit down at a desk or table and get some writing (typing on the computer) done.

I’m periodically reminded all those injuries happened and I’m stupid for doing the things I was doing when I got injured. Everybody knows what I did to make all the parts on my left leg hurt, that event is the precipitating cause for this blog in all of its many permutations. The other injuries are more obscure. The right hip was from chi gong class, something I was doing to try to maintain flexibility so I could ride my bike better that ended up making it so I couldn’t get on the bike at all. Both knees are from a series of mishaps starting when I was about 16 that as was discovered later tore my cruciate ligaments, but not all the way through, resulting in floppy knees that caused cartilage damage and arthritis as I got older. My feet are repetitive and cumulative stress from all that walking on concrete and pavement I did, tens of thousands of miles over the years. I also used to run until my knees forced me to quit that. That was the point I started riding my bike again.

So I spent most of the day yesterday and into the afternoon today in bed trying to not move or roll over on the old injuries so they would not hurt as bad. Fortunately I had both phones charged up for doing the internet things I need to do that don’t involve massive amounts of typing, so it wasn’t completely wasted time. There were lots of things I should have been doing but didn’t because I can’t or won’t do them on a phone, but everything that could be done on the phone was done. And everything I needed to say today has been typed into the computer to broadcast over the internets, so I thin we are probably done for today. I did think about building the Sprint-T again but it is all stuff that would be technobabble straight outta Star Trek to most of my loyal readers and basically would be a rehash of stuff I wrote earlier in excruciating detail, concerning tuning for unleaded regular and E85. It’s not a secret but if I told you you might want to kill yourself 😈 Seriously, unless you’re doing this stuff it’s boring as Hell to read about, and even if you are doing it it is not exactly riveting reading.

Saying is one thing

Doing is another. Apparently telling myself to not think about building the T-Bucket is about as effective as telling my senators to not vote for a serial sex abuser for the Supreme Court. And that is about as much as I’m going to say on that subject. Anyway, even after I decided to stop I still thought about building the Sprint-T. As in thinking about how much power the JDM EJ20X Subaru engine made stock, 260 on 93 octane at 12 pounds of boost, and the factory compression ratio is a very 87 octane friendly 9.5:1 for driving around at zero boost. So the plan to tell the engine to leave the waste gate open and dump boost with 87 octane and pump up the jams with tons of boost on E85 is sound from an engineering perspective assuming the ECU I buy is compatible with that 2 map scenario. I know the Microsquirt has a second fuel/air table that can be mapped to boost as in a separate table that starts at 100 kPa (sea level atmospheric) and goes to whatever the MAP sensor I install stops reading, which with the GM 3 bar MAP is 300 kPa (100 kPa is the same as 1 bar) and the Microsquirt comes from the factory calibrated to the GM 3 bar sensor. This would result in off-boost using the 87 octane fuel map, which would be leaner than what would be best for full power with E85, but there’s no way around that except swapping $314 controllers for racing or buying a controller that costs more than buying two $314 controllers. Incidentally one of my overboost control schemes is pushing the injector pulse width to 100% to possibly stop the engine from firing because of too much fuel, or to at least make it run really bad and keep it from blowing up. This is a “Last Stop” scenario, as in last stop before the engine destroys itself. A good engineer tries to prevent disasters before they happen by doing what I do best, thinking about things, in this case things that could go wrong and what could be done to either prevent it or undo it.

I was also thinking about the gas tank/fuel cell some more, specifically how much room I had to the left of the centersection of the quick change rear axle. This is important because I need to have clear access to the centersection to change the spur gears to adjust the final drive ratio and tune for the course. I made the executive decision that rear overhang was not an issue as long as it was stuff that wasn’t heavy for racing, regardless of how much it weighed for normal street or in-transit driving. Also thinking about range between refueling and that possible transit across Wyoming for whatever reason, I made the SWAG that the Subaru engine in the Sprint-T would get 27 MPG highway. I did that from 2 data points, my old Hyundai with a 4 speed transaxle without overdrive got 33 MPG driving to and from Nashville from Dallas back in the early ’90s, and even the Hemi engine in a Ram pickup is rated at 22 highway. With the QC rear axle I could pretty much select my cruise RPM no matter what transmission I eventually got so the big problem would be the drag of the exo-frame around the bucket body. And I bundled all that and extrapolated 27 MPG. My sitting limit is about 5 hours depending on how supportive the seat is and how hydrated I am, so I really want to have about 5-7 hours of range, just in case, and tossing all those numbers in a blender set on Puree gives a range of tank size of 12 to 20 gallons, with the cheap and available 16 gallon cell falling right in the middle with 430 miles from full to tank dry. And with the product I intend to use for the fuel pickup tank dry is really tank dry.

I really, really want this car built, and I want to be the project manager for the build. And I want to race it at Goodguys and SCCA regional and national Solo races after driving it there without putting it on a trailer. Trailers are for cars that are not really street cars.

And this is the twelve pack of microfiber cloths I bought at Harbor Freight.
pack of microfiber cloths for washing things

When you don’t want to write about the only thing you can write about

Yep, I’m hitting the wall on the Sprint-T. I have a ton more content to write about, but just writing and not building is starting to get to me, as in frustration that nothing is getting done. This is a familiar scenario for me: planning for something for years and then having to drop it when it becomes inescapable my finances are not going to stretch far enough to allow completion of the project. I thought this time was going to be different, because I had a large reservoir of money to draw from when I bought the body. Then my parent’s house sold for about 1/3 of the appraised value and I lost $125K instantly from the budget, which was about 4 times what I had budgeted for the project. Projects don’t go very far when your budget goes more than $90K in the hole before you even get started. Then it looked like we were going to get a chunk of the money back, not all, but enough that I could finish the car, and I bought a few more parts like the axle and steering arms, and things beyond my control tanked it again. Now if I’m lucky I’ll have enough money to keep paying the taxes and insurance on my house until I’m no longer able to live here.

So, I don’t want to write about the car, because I’ll never even get a decent start on the car, much less drive it. Which makes writing about it rather pointless, don’t you think? Until I get enough money to finish it writing about it is a work of fiction. Low fantasy fiction, a fabrication of words instead of steel, aluminum, fiberglass and other stuff. It’s at this point that if I was sane I would be tearing out my hair in frustration, but since I’m already crazy I’m past going crazy from frustration. I’m so tired emotionally I just can’t muster the energy to pitch the fit I need to pitch to clear this from my system. Yay depression, saving the world from my anger. 😛

Considering the length of time I have been wanting this, and the cumulative time I have been planning this (this is the fourth go-round for planning this build since 1987) experiencing frustration should be considered normal. I have a sketch of what I was planning at work in 1998 back when I was working as much as 20 hours a week overtime and hauling down some big bucks working for TI making logic chips. but that job went bye-bye. Then I had the MiniMax ultralight airplane project to distract me for a while, plus I was a spoken word poet (Opus the Poet was my stage name for years) for several years, and I built and sold custom bicycles for about 4 years until that dried up in the recession of 2006. So I had some creative outlets to distract me. And as the saying goes, want in one hand and poop in the other and see which hand gets filled first. So wanting is not enough, learning fabrication skills is not enough, writing incessantly about the project for years is not enough, none of it is enough if you don’t have the money. It all comes down to money, which is something I have only a passing relationship with. As in I wave as it passes by.

So, what long-term subject should I write about now? Covering bicycle wrecks almost pushed me over the edge sanity-wise, can’t go back to that. Brain damage killed my ability to rhyme and use scansion, so poetry is out. And in spite of how depressed I am I’m not going to commit suicide. There’s a really good reason why my character in Shadowrun is nearly immortal. And getting killed really hurts as I know from experience. I can’t seem to get a coherent narrative going for writing fiction that isn’t about building an imaginary hot rod, but I do seem to have a decent ability to world-build and outline. I just can’t write dialog to save my life. So, gentle reader I implore you, what’s next? What should the Witch on a Bicycle who can’t ride a bicycle anymore write about? Anything but politics. 😛