Monthly Archives: August 2020

Tonight I will celebrate with brownies, ice cream, and Shiner

After a meal of chicken patty sandwiches, sweet potatoes, and some other vegetable we will celebrate [Monty Python] I’m not dead yet [/Monty Python] for nineteen years. I still have three bottles of Shiner Bock left from the last 12 pack we got in July I think(?) so I will have plenty for the party. Actually one will probably be enough, I’m not big on drinking. That will leave two more for celebrating my grandson’s and my birthdays this month, his is tomorrow, mine is the 22nd.

That reminds me I still haven’t made my birthday list of things I want. Well it isn’t a very long list, and some of the things won’t be ready in time for my birthday, but will be done in time for Solstice/Yule/Christmas.

1. World peace and an end to the pandemic.
1a. Trump’s political ass on a platter. The platter can be non-physical, you don’t actually have to put anything on a physical platter.

2. An LS or LT engine and matching automatic transmission and all the supporting electronics, and any programmer needed for tuning to run in a sub-ton mass car. Now I have been contemplating building a super-long runner intake manifold to get a super-wide powerband for an LS engine, but don’t let that color your decision if you have a screaming deal on an LT engine.
2a. If you stumble on a great deal on a Pentastar V6 and a manual transmission, the combined lower mass and shorter engine length would allow enough footroom for three pedals so I could use it in the Sprint-T. Basically the engine is short enough that if I install it with the front of the engine in the same place as the front of an SBC or LS engine most of the bellhousing would be in front of the firewall of the T-Bucket body and there would be plenty of room between the transmission and the inside of the body before offsetting the engine for balance to stuff in 3 pedals.

3. A rear axle with disk brakes in either a 5X4 1/2 or 5X4 3/4 bolt circle. There are several Ford axles in junkyards that would fit and also be strong enough to hold up to racing with any of the stock LS or LT engines. Now what I really want is a Winters V8 magnesium center and aluminum axle tubes with the 5X4 3/4 bolt pattern aluminum GN hubs in 60″ hub to hub and 3½” right offset so I could use the brake floaters and the brake calipers to decouple braking forces from the axle.

4. Buc-Ee’s Dark chocolate covered Beaver Nuggets Or you can save a bunch of money by stopping at a local to you Buc-Ee’s and spend like a third of the amount, plus shipping. The only reason I’m even putting these on the list is they are just outside of where I can get to by transit and it’s so annoying to almost be within smelling range, but out of reach.

And really that’s all I want that I can’t get for myself, excluding the Beaver Nuggets, I can get them I just can’t see spending that much money on something that is less than $5 in the store. Now go celebrate that you’re “not dead yet”. “I feel happy!”

Doing more thinking

Still thinking about the LS powered A/Mod car, so you can get back out from under whatever it was you got under when you read I was thinking again. I was also thinking about making the Sprint-T less expensive by retaining the stock water pump while just using an alternator, instead of installing an electric water pump and just sticking the alternator on the right side of the engine.

The difficulty lies in that the stock water pump is designed to be driven opposite engine rotation with the back side of the serpentine belt. Now for the Sprint-T the problem is that puts the alternator to the left side of the engine where other things want to be. For the A/Mod car this puts the alternator where the driver’s legs want to be. For the Sprint-T this can be overcome by not putting the stuff where the alternator needs to go to drive the waterpump in the correct direction. I’m not sure how to fix the problem for the A/Mod car because the interfering components can’t be relocated away from each other, there are limited options for the alternator and for the driver’s legs. The front of the engine will be about just below the knee which if this engine didn’t have the exhaust going over the driver’s legs the solution would be to have the driver in a knees up position. That puts the driver’s knees in the middle of the exhaust header, which is another unworkable design. Moving the engine forward or the driver back have other problems, like bad balance if the engine is moved forward and hitting the rear axle for moving the driver back.

OK I just got finished watching the NASCAR Gander Truck series and the Indycar series from Gateway, and while I was watching the Indycar race the solution to the alternator problem on the A/Mod car just jumped out at me: if the driver is obstructed on the left side of the engine swap the driver and engine sides and put the driver to the right. It’s so simple, which was probably why I didn’t see it at first. There are no rules about driver position left to right, just that the driver’s feet have to be behind the centerline of the front axle and ahead of the centerline of the rear axle. I can hang the driver outside the wheels in an armored pod like on a Indycar design by Smokey Yunick if I can get it to balance. But this time all I need is to put the driver on the right like I was making a UK road car. The driver’s feet can be in front of the engine without having any issues with the alternator. Now if I had an unlimited budget I would put the electric water pump on it and stick the alternator on the right and the driver on the left like my original vision for the car, but driver right and saving $$ will work, too. I also took some measurements and the left side alternator will clear all the parts I was concerned about clearing for the Sprint-T.

Another thing: at 0119 Monday (tomorrow as I compose this) it will be exactly 19 years since Some Asshole driving a pickup truck tried to kill me for the “crime” of riding my bike on the same street he was driving on in the opposite direction I was riding. He had to drive down to someplace he could cross the median separating the two directions of travel so he could be on the same side of the street and hit me from behind, or he could have just ignored me like I ignored his outburst to “Get off the F***ing road!” and lived whatever kind of life he would have lived. Instead he hit me and then less than 2 years later he died in a single vehicle DUI wreck with either a tree or a telephone pole depending on who’s story you want to believe. I want to believe in Dharma (which is kinda like Karma, but it bites your ass in this life instead of the next), but I also want to believe in a criminal justice system that puts people like that in prison, but they probably were never even looking for him. His dying from a DUI is probably the most “justice” I could expect to get. So anywho, to celebrate the fact that I survived someone trying to kill me, tomorrow we are having brownies and ice cream, and next year to celebrate 20 years [Monty Python]”I’m not dead yet!”[/Monty Python] Mrs. the Poet wants to throw a proper party that we couldn’t this year because COVID and because next year will be two decades, a full 20 years “not dead”. As I explained to Mrs. the Poet, the celebration is not because I died, it’s because I didn’t stay dead. Here’s to another 20 years of “not dead”.

Now how was this supposed to work, again?

We here at Casa de El Poeta have been living frugally and staying within our means for so long we no longer have a credit score. Our FICO is a literal 0 (zero). So, one of the things that was suggested was to open a store account like at NFM, and since our couch was made about the same time as I got killed it’s not in any better shape than I am. So we went to NFM to get a couch and open an account. We have the couch, but we paid cash, again.

I even tried to get one of those sky-high interest rate credit cards offered through PayPal and got denied. And I think this rant is about played out. I complained and I don’t see any satisfactory way to conclude this except to say we tried to establish credit, but didn’t.

My steering box is on indefinite backorder

AFAIK Speedway Motors is having similar problems with China as I am in that what used to be a Sure Thing is now Vaporware. My steering box can no longer be considered a viable option, and the people I used to work for no longer have a working web site. E-mails sent to them come back as undeliverable and there is no solid date on stocking my steering box either. Both of us are up the proverbial unsanitary tributary.

Which means I can stop sweating about my bank balance getting below the amount due for the steering box order because it won’t be due any time soon. The good news is Speedway will honor the price I placed the order at including discounts in effect at the time of the order. The bad news is they have to get a new supplier and won’t be able to ship my order until they get the parts from the new supplier.

In other good news (really good, not sarcastic “good”) I got in contact with the person I got the LS7 I’m using to make the Mini Sprint-T to purchase another and a scale Powerglide transmission to build the A/Mod SCCA Solo Racer. I think I might have mentioned the LS/Powerglide combo a few weeks back when I was thinking about how to balance my weight against the powertrain weight from side to side with my legs in a pretty narrow footwell next to the engine and letting my shoulders hang out over the transmission so the total polar moment was as low as possible. Anywho, I decided to build a model because I’ll never be able to build the full-scale version while I’m building the Sprint-T. The plan so far is to have the left side exhaust run over the driver’s legs like the right side of a supermodified. And also to have insulating blankets between the manifold and the driver’s legs, like in the supermodifieds. With the short runs in SCCA Solo Racing that’s probably overkill, but it doesn’t weigh much and it increases the safety margin over just wrapping the pipes with exhaust wrap which I was going to do anyway because of the performance benefit.

Last thing before I drop this on you, the remnants of the hurricane passed far enough to the east that we only got one brief shower here that was dried up before I finished. The walk was dry when I went to get the mail, that’s how brief the shower was. Also someone dropped this link on me and I liked it, so I think I will pass it along.

If I get up and move, I can keep moving

If I can endure that first few minutes after I stand up, I can keep going until I get tired. Honestly, all I have to do is not fall down when the back spasms start and continue for about 5 minutes, then they go away until exhaustion sets in and they start twinging again.

I discovered this when I had to go transfer money back into my checking account after some more delayed payment purchases drained my account below the balance needed to pay another delayed payment I have been keeping track of because it’s a backorder instead of a purchase with a delayed payment. Actually I discovered it when I had my toes done and walked almost a mile home from the nail spa, I just verified it today when I got out to do the transfer at the ATM at my credit union. Moving I was fine, standing not so much, sitting good, going from sitting to not-sitting was really bad because that triggered the spasms.

Other news is Mrs. the Poet went grocery shopping yesterday, her first trip out of the house that wasn’t to our daughter’s house since beginning of March. She was tired, but not exhausted, which was good. Also we did some online checking of sofas because the one we have now is literally falling apart.

And I’m about to face plant in the keyboard again, so this is probably time to put the post and myself to bed.

Mission accomplished, toenails are now short

Well the headline pretty much covers the actual news, but there were things I learned during the process that are also useful. First thing is that even though it doesn’t feel hot a heat index of 95°F is still dangerously warm. As in hydrate or die dangerous.

Second thing I learned is that I need to go for a walk, like at least every other day, so my back feels better. I walked about a mile and a quarter yesterday and once I got going nary a twinge out of my back. Getting going had lots of twinges and worse, but once I got the muscles moving and warm, I was pain-free. Like taking a hydrocodone pain free. I think finding time for a daily mile walk, maybe early in the morning before the heat gets as bad, is my best idea for keeping moving.

And speaking of keeping moving, we are fast approaching my Death Day, the anniversary of the thing that walked like a man trying to murder me for riding my bike on an empty 6 lane road on the other side of the median from him. Aside from his being a raging (literally) asshole I have no idea why he tried to kill me as I was riding home from work, he just did.

Now the bigger question is what can I do about it?

There is still hope

I try to not get too political in this space, I save that for my Twitter (@opusthepoet, yes I snagged that one first, too), but I do get into politics frequently out in meatspace. I was watching Biden accept the nomination for the Democratic Party, and in spite of his speech impediment he still has better cadence and vocabulary than That Other Guy. From what I understand he’s a regular bike rider as well as a Car Guy, meaning we share common ground in transportation issues. I’m still not hep to his opinions on M4A to replace the ACA, but I’m sure the GOP will be happy to tell me how much of a “socialist” he is…

Anyways, wanted to get that off my chest hairs, and also let you know I finally got through to the SSA to set up my Social Security payments. My appointment is 9/11 at 1405, so I have to somehow stay awake or be awake when they call. I’m hopeful I can get things running by October or November.

And I need to shower and change to get my toes done now, so this is it for a while.

Still on a modified daywalker schedule

Yep, I’m still sleeping mostly at night, and awake, more or less, all day. I discovered I really, really need to get my toes done, so in the morning, after I get up and shower, I need to go to the nail spa. I did my fingernails myself in the morning, but toes remain out of my reach. Particularly now that I have the scar tissue on the surgical repairs getting tight and even deep tissue massage won’t loosen them up. I can get almost folded up enough to do my own nails, but not enough to get all of them done. I can barely get the piggy that had roast beef, but not any more piggies, and the nails are all jagged and catch on my socks and the sheets in the bed because I can’t get a good angle on them with the clippers.

Also I didn’t get to the Lowe’s on the way home from the massage because of the deep tissue massage. It makes things work better the next day, but boy howdy does it make things not work right after (except my neck, it worked perfectly). I had to take a day to rest and recover because I am apparently old now. Also speaking of my neck, the deep tissue massage showed how much damage Chris Christie caused me. No, not the politician, the other useless lump of ugly fat that was taken off my neck a little over 5 years ago. Well there are muscles that are still borked from that trauma and I can feel that during the massage, particularly the deep tissue work. The fiber bunches in the muscle have gotten, I don’t know how to describe it but “bunchy” is the best word to use. The part that isn’t damaged has everything homogeneous, but the damaged muscle is all stringy and things move in clumps instead of smoothly. And I can feel those clumps sliding by each other during the massage and if I try to move too fast or too far after the massage. But for a couple of days after the massage my range of motion is way up, and my neck pain is way down. This is day two after the massage and I can still gaze lovingly at the pictures of my grandson above and to the left of my desk.

Well, anyway, the plan is I leave a little before noon to catch the bus to the nail spa, get my toes done, and walk back because why not, it’s only a mile from the house if I take the long way, just over 0.9 miles if I take the short way. Mrs. the Poet needs some help with her back in the shower, so this is a good time to put this to bed, and then Mrs. the Poet and me.

Sleep schedule totally borked

After doing the stay up to deal with daywalkers routine and take care of that job, I went to bed about 1500 yesterday because I hurt so much I had to have a little lie-down. I woke up again about 2000, took my “sleep with little pain” meds and was back asleep by 2130. I woke up again at 0330.

I was expecting to be awake early-ish but not this early. I was planning on running up to taking the bus to the massage place I can get to with one bus, and stopping by the Lowe’s on the way back to get something to mount the pedals that connect to the steering wheel controller so that when I go for the brakes the brake pedal is still in the same place it was the last time I used the brakes also I need to get some other screws to connect the nose sides to the mock-up radiator, and probably some washers to fit under the heads of the screws so they don’t pull through the nose sides and mess things up. But it will be many hours until the massage place is even open, so I have much time to murder until then. So having time and something to write about, here we are.

I have also been thinking about mocking up a footwell similar to what I will have in the Sprint-T but I’m still planning that out, trying to see where I will put things to clear what will be on the other side of the firewall, or maybe run the master cylinders under the driver’s seat so they don’t run into the back of the engine and also so I don’t have to crawl on my back inside the car to fill the brake fluid. Brake fluid is nasty stuff that can strip paint and burn skin, so as coordinated as I am these days I probably don’t want to be crawling on my back pouring brake fluid inside the car, raising my hands over my head and pouring while trying to look where my neck won’t let my head point. There is a remote pedal master cylinder mount that separates the master cylinders from the pedal allowing them to be mounted almost anywhere that is structurally stiff enough to not flex from the pressures placed on the pedal and the geometric leverage forces transmitted.

Well it is getting close to the time I have to take a shower before I go to the massage place and do all the other things, so this is probably a good time to stop and hit publish,

Another round of “Not dead yet!”

I took an extended break from social media and my computer to try to do something about my mental state, and it turns out the only thing helping my mental state was connecting to people through social media and this blog.

OK a big part of my problems are related to lack of touch, and a lack of access to people who would touch me in ways that were beneficial for me, and that is something I can’t get from social media. But it is something I can get from massage. Which is another reason why the closing of massage places was so hard on me. At this point between social distancing and so many of my friends passing on for many reasons, finding someone willing to touch me for free is pretty much impossible. And given my current economic state finding money to pay people to touch me in ways that help me is another impossibility.

I guess if I stop buying things online I could save my money for my phone, meds, and massages. But seeing that stuff I buy online is allowing me to go outside (masks), and/or is contributing to the goal of building the Sprint-T by paying for components that will eventually go into either the full size or scale version (Mini Sprint-T), so obviously I need more money to be socially adjusted, and have more than a fat chance of finishing the Sprint-T. But if I get more money I also have obligations that suddenly appear as a consequence of having money. It’s like the universe conspires against my ever getting the car I have been dreaming about literally for a half century. The car has changed as the technology has changed and as my preferred form of competition has changed, but the only thing that has changed about my preferred form of competition has been classification and the existence of the Goodguys sanctioning organization strictly for vehicles like hot rods like the Sprint-T and traditional street rods. So I have more places to play with the toy I have been wanting for more than a half-century.

I saw a movie on TV in 1968, and knew I wanted something like that, not the turbine car, or the jet dragster, but the cheap hot rod from the start of the movie. As I grew up, I understood the engineering and physics behind the T-Bucket and Sprint cars, and their inherent economy of form. Basically the design ethos of the two cars is “does it make the car faster? is it necessary to make the car go?” and if there is not at least one “Yes” answer it doesn’t go on the car. Now before someone jumps on me about the full cage around the bucket body and asks are they required, the answer is they are “yes” to both questions. I drive faster when there are reduced dangers and I drive faster when I’m comfortable. The cage protects me and makes the suspension work better by transferring weight from one corner to another with no losses from twisting or bending, by making the entire chassis stiffer because the forces are reduced on individual frame members by the geometry of integrating the cage as a crossmember of the frame. Certain parts of the frame are going to be heavier than required from typical loads imposed because of rules requiring roll cage members be of a certain minimum thickness to prevent distortion from crash loads, but the change in weight is a few pounds out of a couple of hundred more or less for the full frame.

The brakes being as large as they are even though this adds a few pounds in a very bad place to add weight, brakes being both unsprung and rotating weight, the additional stopping power will let the car stop quicker, which will lead to lower lap times because less time and distance stopping mean more of the lap is under power. A bigger proportion of the lap under power means that part takes less time, and that means the whole lap takes less time. That means bigger brakes make the Sprint-T faster. That’s why I have the biggest brakes that will fit the parts I have already bought because those parts make the car I build a T-Bucket. And unless I build a T-Bucket, this build is stripped of much of its meaning.

And that looks like a really good place to stop, because I’m paying more attention to Michelle Obama on TV than I am to my writing.