Monthly Archives: April 2019

Still not dead, but going off-air for a while

I haven’t been posting for a while because I have been studying technical manuals and not doing anything else otherwise beyond the essentials of existence. That does not make for compelling reading.

Also I need to get away from everything for a while so I’m packing the computer away and breaking out some physical books, with paper pages and some actually have hard covers. Shocking, I know, but they still exist (in spite of the majority of my reading purchases being Kindle format). So, anyway I have about a week’s worth of books to get through, both technical and fiction, that will keep the mind occupied and the fingers busy turning pages so I won’t be reading screens of any type for a while. That means I’m also going silent on Twitter and Facebook, so don’t be looking for anything from those platforms, either.

Anywho, see you in a week or so.


I got to go with Mrs. the Poet for jury duty

In case you were wondering how I “got” to go with Mrs. the Poet, it’s almost but not quite the exact opposite of “simple” (and I stole that from Douglas Addams description of the beverage dispenser on the “Heart of Gold”).

Mrs. the Poet has a back condition that precludes her from walking to the bus stop 0.42 miles (0.676km) from Casa de El Poeta, and Mrs. the Poet does not have a smart phone which precludes her from hailing a ride share. I have a smart phone and the Lyft app. Guess who “volunteered” to get Mrs. the Poet to the courthouse for her jury duty? Guess who further “volunteered” to get up less than an hour after normal get-to-sleep time to hail said Lyft? Yep, little old nightowl me.

The only thing worse than jury duty is having to go with someone to make sure they get to jury duty but not able to actually do anything useful once you get there. I wasn’t just bored, I was B-O-O-R-E-D all caps and extra vowels and hyphens to extend the pronunciation and emphasize how mind-numbingly tedious it is. Seriously given the choice between taking someone to jury duty, and say having a tooth extracted, go for the tooth. It will hurt less and there will be something of value attained, assuming the costs are roughly equal. Seriously.

Other news I’m still perusing the manuals for installing and programming the Microsquirt ECU, the latest version of the firmware allow for self-learning to get the VE tables set to the desired AF ratio. This will make tuning for 87 octane easier, and give me a better start for tuning the E85 table. The Microsquirt controller has a flex-fuel setting that I can use for doing the E85 tuning, not the actual tuning but using the algorithm they use to adjust fuel and spark to set partial throttle tuning to get close to the spot on setting and good enough to use for off-throttle driving that doesn’t require top power or fuel economy. I mean they post it right in the manual under “flex-fuel” that they just multiply the fuel setting by 1.63*Ethanol% to get the injector time and just add 4 to 6 degrees of advance to account for the slower burn rate of E85 compared to not-enriched gas, which is a good starting point for a performance tune. I’m also working with the knowledge that while the burn rate is fixed, the time available for the burn is less as the RPM increases and more advance is needed as the RPM rises until it reaches the point that there isn’t enough time to burn the fuel before the exhaust valve opens without the rising piston on the compression stroke having to fight combustion pressure, the compromise then being having as much pressure working for you as possible on the power stroke to overcome the pressure working against you on the compression stroke. So, that’s my place to optimize for power and economy, minute adjustments in ignition timing in the 87 octane tune at the eventual cruise RPM, while watching the AFR like a hawk to keep it at the “economy” setting that’s slightly lean of stoichiometric.

And it’s gotten late and I have other “stuff” to do since Mrs. the Poet is dog sitting for a neighbor while her husband is in hospital…

Been working on the Sprint-T but nothing I can show

Whatever engine I get will most likely need an ECU of some type, and I have been studying the installation and operating manuals for the Microsquirt, which costs about the same as the OBDII dongle needed to reprogram OEM ECUs. I will have to build a harness for the engine not matter which ECU I use, even if it’s the one from the donor vehicle the engine came with, because the engines I can afford are on the older end of the spectrum and the harness is likely to be dry rotted. Unless someone gives me a totalled-out vehicle with an engine and transmission I can use of recent-manufacture that still have decent wiring, which is a low possibility scenario. Given my luck I’m not going to say it’s impossible, because there have been a lot of “impossible” things happening to and around me, but realistically, yeah that’s not gonna happen.

Now the funds I have dictate $800 max for the engine with all the electronic bits and bobbles stripped off, $330 for the Microsquirt, and $40 for the bare harness plus finding and buying the various plugs and terminals, plus either an old-school non-electronic transmission or a standalone controller for the computer-controlled transmission, or if a 4l80e bolts up some kind of logic cam that attaches to the shifter and turns switches on and off to match the physical position of the mechanical shift control inside the transmission so that I can change the gears. Now this would be lots cheaper if I could roll around in the dirt at a junkyard and get these parts myself, but that is another thing on the list of things I can’t do anymore as a subset of “things that require being able to get up off the ground unassisted”. So I have to pay for someone to roll around under cars in a junkyard for me which eats into my budget.

But getting back to the premise of this post, I have been working on stuff I can’t show you because it consists mostly of reading .pdf files uploaded to my computer and taking notes in another file on my computer and apparently Notepad is no longer a thing in Windows but Word is? And WTF is Sticky Notes, is that like Notepad? And yes it has been ages since I did anything offline with Windows. Anyway I know Word, sort of, and that is what I have been using to take notes on using the Microsquirt. The files aren’t as compact as with Notepad, but I have almost 400 GB free space on the hard drive and another 90 GB free on the USB drive, I got all the space I need for anything short of video editing. So word files that use too much space compared to the amount of text are not going to be a major concern.

And this afternoon I’m going to get the tickets for the trip to see my friend for the last time before he moves to be with his wife in DC and won’t have room to put us up when we visit any more, and maybe pick up another one of those portable light switches that stick to the wall. The desk lamp in the room isn’t connected to the wall switch and the lights that are need fixing, so I’m going to slap one of those $3.00 lights on the wall so I don’t trip over anything trying to get to the desk lamp. So it’s nighty-night time for this poet/engineer. Speaking of poet/engineers I have a bone to pick with Howard Taylor about engineers and poetry. Prior to getting killed I was an in-demand spoken word poet and a decent shade-tree engineer.😛

Not dead, just nothing to say

That’s basically all I have to say right now. I have been looking at an engine controller that costs less with the tuning software than the OBDII Dongle to control the factory controller for the LS Family of engines. But I still don’t have an engine to use it on, so …

Taxes are done for the year

And minimum tax payments have been kicking my backside last year, but our combined incomes didn’t even break the standard deduction, so we get it all back. What really was bad was the IRA tax payment that was triggered by my turning 60 last year. Taxes were being taken out on income I hadn’t gotten, which is a major bummer and would not have been refunded if I didn’t start making at least quarterly or more frequent withdrawals.

But long story short because it’s 0330 and I finally got my words back to make a post, we got a refund of over $2K on an income of just over $15K, which even just looking at the unfairness leaps out at you. That’s a marginal rate of 13+% on a sub-poverty income. Granted we got it all back, but $2K is a lot of groceries, haircuts, and massages not gotten because I didn’t get the money during the year. In fact, doing a quick calculation, I had more taxes taken out than I got in income from the trust. By my calculations I got about $1800 in non-exempt income from the trust and the IRA, but there was right at $2100 ± a few $ taken out in taxes. That’s a tax rate of more than 50%, roughly 54%, and last I checked the top bracket was only 37%. And something’s definitely rotten in DenmarkDC when my little pittance has withholding at more than the top tax bracket.

In non-news I didn’t win the Lotto again, and I still don’t have the bits for the Sprint-T. And it looks like I will have to spend the refund on plumbing problems and a cat with a skin condition.

RPG Group yesterday

With this group we spend more time planning than doing, but because we spend so much time planning there usually isn’t much that needs to be done. Last night’s Shadowrun session was a good example of that. We were going up against a force 12 spirit that cursed us for moving a magical artifact a few runs back, and has caused loss of life (mine) or destruction of materiel (everybody else) for the party, so it had to be destroyed because it was created as a guardian for that magical artifact and can’t be negotiated out of doing what it was created for. So the potions we got from the previous run were not “Curse-be-gone” but actually a way of merging the astral and physical planes for a short period so that we could pull the spirit physically into our reality where we could shoot it.

The way that worked was to find a confined space with walls and sturdy doors that would confine the spirit within the area of effect of the spell released when the vial containing the potion was smashed on the floor. Otherwise the spirit could just wander away and we couldn’t hurt it, but it could still hurt us. So I moved the vehicles out of the garage under the house and we set up our ambush there, the garage having walls of reinforced concrete several feet thick and a bunker-strong outer door and inner door to prevent unsavory people from getting into the house through the garage, which would make it good enough to confine most embodied spirits who were below god-level strong. So after selecting ammunition that would do great damage to the spirit but not have a large enough area of effect (for fragmentation ammo, I had to just use slugs for both the grenade launcher and the Cybershot because other ammunition had too large a blast radius to use in the garage) we activated the potion to trap the curse spirit in the garage. And in less than a full round of initiative the curse spirit was no more. Seriously, I was fourth in initiative and I never got a chance to fire a round because of how well we selected ammo and weapons, that and a little dice karma wiped a force 12 spirit in less than one initiative pass.

Now we have to return the Pink Purse Poodle to the rich bitch we swiped her from a few runs ago. I’m trying to get the party to use the animal rescue in the back to get her to come to us and retrieve her dog. The tentative plan is to have the party member with the highest charisma stat “working” for the animal rescue when Ms. Rich Bitch comes to get her dog from the rescue, because I have the charisma needed to seduce orc and troll women, but that’s about as far as I can push it. Even in the 6th world, healing powers and plastic surgery can only do so much when you lead with your face into deadly situations. The plan so far is after the ransom is confirmed Ms. Rich Bitch gets a call the next morning saying her dog was identified as hers during a routine scan for ID chips, and she could either get it herself or send a pre-identified minion to pick it up. The alternative would be to use the regular employee and just tell them the story we want them to know so there is no need for anyone on our side of the transaction to be untruthful.

So that was my night last night, how was yours?

I was going to do an April Fools post

but changed my mind. After yesterday’s almost stream of consciousness post of almost 1K words about the Sprint-T I was considering a mock diatribe against bicycles, but considering the almost 8 year history of bicycle advocacy in this blog that would be about as believable as a Presidential Promise.

Basically there was nothing I could post that would work as an April Fools post, because to be effective a good AF joke has to be believable, as in “Is this a joke, or actual (news, sports, whatever, content)”. And because this blog has wandered in so many directions since departing from bicycle wrecks and advocacy it would be very hard to put something up I hadn’t already treated seriously. About the only thing I haven’t mentioned at length is my love of anime and manga. That’s just an offshoot of webcomics, which I have a plethora of links for in the sidebar.

So there’s no joke here, just me. Enjoy the day and be careful, because the difference between a good April Fools joke and disinformation is practically nil.