Monthly Archives: January 2019

Today I go pay taxes

The forecast for the AM is great, PM starts to turn cold and possibly rainy by late afternoon. So the plan is stay up all night and go pay taxes in the morning. I am hopeful I can get this all done by noon and only have to buy an AM pass instead of having to buy both halves of a day pass (one AM and one PM pass are the same cost as a day pass). It’s supposed to be about 45°F (7°C) when I leave, rising to 60° (15.5°C) by the time my AM pass expires. Like I said I hope the lines are short enough to get through by noon so I don’t have to spend the money for a PM pass to make my costs the same as a day pass. And yes I’m “frugal” (AKA “cheap”). You can’t live on $10K/year without being frugal to the point of being “cheap”. Old family brag: We pinch a penny so hard Abe squeaks.

I don’t like paying taxes out of savings, but I like what happens if taxes aren’t paid even less. Now I’m not talking about civil or criminal penalties, I’m talking about what our property taxes buy, like streets and libraries, schools and police and most especially the fire department. Real life has shown that while these can be done by private industry, it costs less and is done better by people not out to make a profit out of it, because inevitably the money for the guys on top doubles or even triples the cost of the service compared to government-run services. Because let’s just admit it when we let “free enterprise” control essential services the guy that runs/owns the “service” is going to “service” himself financially first and foremost, maybe pay the workers half of what they would get from the government or less if he can get away with it, and spend as little on equipment as possible. I’m not making this up, this is what has actually happened in places where fire and ambulance service is provided by non-government providers.

So, after the sun comes up I’m going out to pay my taxes because I like what taxes buy.

Not dead, just not doing anything worth writing about

Life has been very uninteresting lately, it’s winter and that uncomfortable kind of cold that can’t be dressed properly for. I’m either still cold, or sweating because I have too much on, or both because the temperature can’t figure out what it wants to do. I still have to pay my property taxes now that I found out that at least one of the offices does not accept debit cards and I managed to track down my checkbook that I hardly ever use except to void a check when someone prefers to pay by direct deposit.

So I have my checks for whenever the weather improves to the point I can do the walk between the three offices on State St. in Garland. In good weather it’s a nice walk from 5th to Garland Ave, less than a mile. And there are bus stops on both ends but it is only a short walk from Downtown Garland station to the first tax office, less than a quarter of a mile.

And at some point I really need to stop at a CVS or other store that carries butane to fuel the torch that heats the bender for the plastic rod I’m using for the frame of the Mini Sprint-T. And while I’m on the subject of cars I found a really good intake manifold for a SBC to use should I wind up running a SBC on the 1:1 Sprint-T. This manifold is an evolution of the TPI GM intake from the late ’80s early ’90s, that produced prodigious low-end torque but ran out of breath above 3000 RPM partially because of the state of the art for EFI at the time. Well this version breathes all the way up top, with “top” depending on displacement but generally higher than a factory cast crank will live with. The tech person I was in chat with says for a 383 the “top” is above 6000. The tech manual advises against using E85 but the only thing I can find that might not be compatible with the fuel is possibly the fuel injectors or the rubber injection lines supplied. Those are all easy to replace with alcohol rated devices or materials. The crank and piston kit I’m looking at has a max continuous of 5200 RPM or a short-burst redline of 5500 RPM.

Finding a kit to build a 383 that runs on 87 octane NA is another problem entirely. Most of them are too high a compression ratio for 87, or built for forced induction and cost too much because they are designed for higher HP than a NA engine can make on either 87 octane or E85. Sure that makes for an engine that is unlikely to fail even during racing, but I could buy a kit not made for boost that would be just as reliable and a bunch less expensive if they would use the same parts they use for 93 octane except for the extremely dished pistons in the hyper eutectic material instead of forged used in the boost-capable kits. Locally the difference between 87 and 93 octane is $0.30-0.50/gallon, or about 20-30%, and E85 is about a penny more than 87. Depending on tune it might be cheaper to run on E85 all the time using the 93 octane kit if I wasn’t concerned with availability for long trips. But for that I have the possibility of running a storage tank in the tire trailer to extend the range enough to get between E85 stations on the Interstate when driving between races, and there are plenty of places to refuel locally.

Progress, but without pictures

I know, pics or it didn’t happen, but I forgot to take pictures. I still haven’t gotten any butane for the bender, but I’m working on making diagonals to fit smoothly to look like both crossing diagonals are one continuous piece. It’s tricky, and kind of a cut and try thing to get both halves to match up. Many mistakes were made and discarded.

I have been so busy with this I forgot to take pictures, forgot to watch the Formula E race I recorded, and would have forgotten to eat if Mrs. the Poet hadn’t made dinner and yelled at me to come eat after I checked to see if the meat was done enough. I have been seriously spaced about this.

And now I need to check e-mails and get caught up on the day.

Another place-holder post

Not much to say, I got the butane torch and a pack of AAA cells (some people call them batteries, but some people also say the Earth is flat, and we never went to the moon (the first set is entirely contained within the second set)).

I wasn’t able to find the kind of gloves I was looking for because I had to go catch a bus or spend another hour waiting for the next one, and it was raining. So I made a quick dash down the glove aisle at Harbor Freight but didn’t stop to take a close look at anything. What I was looking for might have been there but I didn’t take the time to look hard enough.

We tried to play some Shadowrun, but the files for today’s game were not in the folder when the GM tried to set up today’s running. So we watched while the GM spent a few hours trying to track down the files before coming to the conclusion she either deleted instead of saving, or that she dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing. Then we spent some time discussing side effects of psychiatric medication (of which everyone in the room and on the chat had experience with) and then discussed ordering out or going out to eat. That was settled by doing a time analysis and deciding we didn’t have time for either one before my drop dead for transit time. I live 1:45 by bus away from where we play, so time-management skills are paramount.

Another skill I need to work on is battery-management for my cell phone, because I left the game site with what was supposed to be 2 hours of battery remaining, and ran out of battery before I got to the bus stop. Fortunately the drivers believed me when I said my GoPass was active with a valid pass when my phone died.

Then I got home and put my phone on the charger and ate dinner.

Got all wrapped up in practicing

And then found out one of my tools had made like Elvis and left the building. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say needed another tool to maintain the one tool, as everything came to a grinding halt because I didn’t have anything resembling a sharp pencil to make lines with.

Seriously, I needed to mark out the placement of parts on the bottom level of the practice structure because part of “practice” was putting parts where they would be in a plan, and without something capable of making accurate, repeatable marks,that was not in the plan. Well that was exactly the plan but the inability to make those marks threw the plan out the window.

I also tried cold-forming the styrene rods I’m using to represent the frame tubes, and I’m getting good bends as far as radius and roundness are concerned, but they don’t retain their shape. I actually bent one in a 180°+ loop and in about an hour it had straightened out so much it wasn’t even a full 90°. So I’m making the trip to Harbor Freight for that butane torch to replace the one that was “put away” after I already put it away where I thought it belonged, and picking up a few more things while I’m there. I also need to pick up a replacement Christmas gift for one of my RPG group, the guy who sometimes gives me rides home when it gets too dangerous to walk on the streets near where we play because there are no sidewalks and the speed limit is “50% of pedestrians struck at this speed will die within 30 days” which I know does not apply to me, but “not dying” doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt (there is a character who uses that quote in “Dan and Mab’s Furry Adventures”, but I can’t find the page it appears on). So we bought him some sword fighting gloves for his Renny job, but they were ridiculously small on his hands and too small even for my hands which were Medium/Small glove size when I was in the Army back in the ’80s.

That was a sidetrack. So, Harbor Freight, butane torch, other things like gloves and batteries. And a pencil sharpener if they have one. And if they don’t I get a mechanical pencil with really small “lead” someplace on the return trip.

Another place-holder while I do something else

OK this is just here to have an actual daily “something” here to attract attention from the bots that eventually read and classify everything on this blog for search engines. What I’m going to do after I finish this place-holding post is make a structure from the rods to get more practice with the file method of generating a cope in the plastic rod, more practice in getting a decent close-up from my phone camera (I should probably invest in a macro lens for said camera), and see just how rigid a structure I can build using the styrene rods and sheet.

OK now off to practice creating things from plastic shapes.

I found the files

And I used one to make copes in the rod I’m using to represent the tubes of the frame. I need more practice, but I got one that fit well and looks almost like the 1:1 Sprint-T will look when completed. Now the 1:1 car will use tubes of different wall thickness for areas of the frame that are loaded more or less with the wall thickness adjusted accordingly, but since they are all the same OD but different ID I use just the one size rod for everything on the frame. That is the same stuff I’m using for practice because I have tons of it, and I need to get those joints as close to perfect as possible.

This is the leg that had the cope that was better then the cope on the other side. The joint in question is the one on front and to the right of the picture.

Now the joint is in front and to the far left. You can see the fit of this side is not as tight as the other.

Not much to say except I used the back side of a triangular file to form the cope and the melting effect of solvent plastic cement finishes the actual cope when I force the joint together. Once I got it down it worked surprisingly well. The second try worked perfectly and also auto-aligns the joint to the center of the vertical member, or whatever orientation the coped rod is forced against.

In other news Mrs. the Poet’s new vacuum cleaner sucks, and that’s a good thing because that’s why we got rid of the old one that stopped sucking, sucking up the dirt. She made a test run and then did the entire house while I was doing my first search for the hand files. She is much happier to have a vacuum that sucks again.😁

Insert Monty Python reference here but there is still not going to be a post

You know the bit I’m talking about from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and I’m not talking about the grail-shaped beacon, nor “enormous tracts of land”. That last one is a meme all by itself.

“I’m not dead yet”

Basically I spent most of the day looking for my files to get the joints tighter with smaller gaps, which are not where they used to be after I bought them, so I still can’t do the next round of test joints. And I’m tired, my back hurts, and I’m frustrated at my lack of progress.

So, end result is no post today. Sorry.

Finally getting some work done on something

It wasn’t much, but it took a while to do and then more time to photograph. I did some experiments with the nippers and building junctions where tubes intersect on the real frame to see how close I could come to IRL appearances with the tools and materials I have.

The one to look at here is the one with the vertical sticking up on the far right

The one we are looking at here is the one I did first with the non-flush side of the nippers, where I failed utterly in getting a smooth junction. That is the one that is on the right side of the picture, the gaps are huge.

Again on the right, with the junction made from the flush side cut

Again the junction in question is on the right side of the picture, this time the smooth side of the cut from the flush cutting side of the nippers. This is a much smoother junction than the other cut but still has undesirably large gaps. This is a very simple to construct junction compared to the first junction. Just do the flush side towards the work piece when making the cut and stick it in there facing the junction.

This was two 45° angle cuts facing each other and the vertical member on top and on the right side of the image again

This time I cut the flush side towards the work piece at a 45° angle and put those together like a mitered joint and glued the vertical on top. This was the smoothest junction yet, but there are still some large gaps showing. I have one more junction to do before moving to other cutting methods, the 45° like the mitered joint but against the vertical instead of under it. I’m cutting and gluing that joint between sentences of composing this post. And I’ll post the picture in this post tonight if I can.

Looks pretty good from the outside

Focus problems but you can still see the large gap on the back side.

This is almost as clean on the mitered joint on the outside but there is still a huge gap on the inside because the geometry just doesn’t work to join round stock with straight cuts. The mitered joint with the vertical member on top was the best so far as gaps and other fitment issues are concerned, but still not even close to what can be seen in the real 1:1 world. Basically I need to use rounded cutting tools like files or sanding sticks to make the joint fit like it does in the 1:1 version.

So the next step is to use the miniature files I bought a few years ago for this project to cut some “copes” in the stock to get better looking joints. Or just call it an engineering model instead of a display model, and don’t worry about the appearance. The lengths of the members would be outside to outside, or inside to inside depending on the orientation of the joint and would be made with the flush cut side of the nippers against the work.

What do you think?

No game yesterday because reasons

Well game didn’t happen again this week because one critical player needs brain meds and his insurance company did the prior approval bullshit on him and he hasn’t had his meds in about a week and as a result has difficulty following conversations and formulating plans. Or as he himself put it “It’s like walking in a fog”. Since I’m still trying to keep this a PG-13 rated blog I won’t repeat what I said about the insurance company execs that came up with this process, except that “practicing medicine without actually having contact with the patient” came up a few times between graphic depictions of medieval forms of execution where death was the sweet relief from the rest of the execution.

We had a great lunch, and shared the second Giant Reese’s Cup. The hostess prepared a ton of fried rice with tilapia, and vegetables, but I neglected to get a picture of that.
8 Oz (227 g) of sugar overload

Because the GM was bored and didn’t have anything to distract her the two former boyfriends got our eyebrows “done” with tweezers, well eyebrow changed to eyebrows in my case. The monobrow that extended from forehead to the tip of my nose was subdivided into housing lots by plucking a street down the middle. In not as colorful terms where I used to have one eyebrow and a hairy nose I now have two eyebrows and a bald nose. I’m not showing that in case my bi-eyebrowed doppelgänger reads my blog and wants to make an angry comment about how he looked better and I should quit copying him 😈. [Sheldon Cooper] Kidding of course, he’s never left a comment about either of our looks. [/Sheldon Cooper]

On another front I need to contact my bank about doing a temporary increase on my debit card to infinity so it doesn’t get declined when I go pay my taxes. That would be embarrassing to say the least. Since the one tax office is closed until next Monday that errand will probably have to wait until Friday, so I can get everything dome at once.

And I really need to get some practice time with the new model-building tools so this seems like a good time to take a break. I know I write fascinating prose 😹 but I will return tomorrow.