Monthly Archives: December 2020

Waving a single-finger salute to the departing year 2020

If any year deserved to be sent off with a 21 bird salute, this was the year. Any one of the many threads to this year would have earned “the finger”, but “all of the above” earns 10 people flipping the double bird while one guy waves a flag in his free hand and flips the bird with the other hand.

Let’s start at the beginning. God created the heavens and Earth. Nope, that’s too far back. Fred Trump either didn’t buy one or bought a cheap condom, leading to the birth of Donald, an anchor baby for his immigrant mother. Fast forward to the end of the XXth century when The Donald gets in hock with the Russian mob, and needs to get out from under them. He has a moderately successful reality TV show, and several failing casinos and golf courses that are perfect to launder money through for the mob, but he is such a poor businessman that he can’t even keep a casino afloat while literally shoveling buttloads of money through it. Someone suggested at some point that a political campaign is an even better way to hide buttloads of money by funneling it to certain PACs that are not required to report their donors or their recipients, created after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case. This, along with some Russian hacking of the reporting systems for the election, leads to Agent Orange “winning” the election in 2016. This is followed by rampant fraud and grift, more violations of the Hatch Act than I could count (in the thousands total), and a total disregard for the rule of law.

In parallel to this another group has been feeling unencumbered by things like laws and regulations and is letting their prejudices also run rampant to the detriment of the POC community. As Agent Orange got more and more blatant, so did they, eventually getting to the point of assaulting people in the streets with cameras going, because they felt disrespected as police, and then getting to the point of murdering people on camera because they thought they were Judge Dredd (“I am The Law”), and beyond such petty concerns as evidence and trials. 

So on top of all this we get Mother Nature lacing up her steel-toed waffle stompers and setting a pandemic in motion. Now in ordinary times this would mean a few dead people and some minor inconvenience, but as was already set out this was about as far from “ordinary times” as we could get. Agent Orange lived up to his nick and ignored the pandemic and ordered the people in charge of mitigating pandemics to take a permanent unpaid vacation (“All you losers are fired”), resulting in months of lost time when we could have been preventing the spread and preparing for the disease by stockpiling PPE. Then came the insanity of first denying the pandemic existed, claiming it was “just the flu” and would go away come warm weather, then weaponizing it against political enemies in states with large Democratic populations. This kept going until we have almost 400K dead, over a million permanently unable to work, and another million or so only able to work light work at part time, meaning when the pandemic is over there will still be holes to patch in the employee infrastructure. That means when the economy comes back it’s going to come back slow.

Now the good stuff: Agent Orange has been neutralized, we have an effective vaccine, two of them even! We might have the upper hand on the pandemic by Fall, or early Winter at the latest. And I’m hoping the DoJ does a RICO prosecution on the GOP over the influx of Mob money… And that’s going to mean getting rid of the Democrats because the only thing worse than having fascists controlling one of the two political parties is having only one political party. I have lived in such places that had only one legal political party, and it was the worst, because you couldn’t just go vote for somebody else if the current party platform was not appealing. We have a chance of getting the economy more egalitarian with a more progressive tax structure and a ratcheting minimum wage that’s set at “living” instead of “bare survival”. We can only hope…

I should get some writing practice in

And in case you didn’t realize it, I practice here in my blog because, why not?

I actually have several topics to write about, some car building related, some just on surviving physically and emotionally during the pandemic. And some are a little from column A and column B.

So, it has gotten more and more uncomfortable to walk with shoes on because I need to get my toes done, but I couldn’t get an appointment at the nail place I get my toes done at. And also, no I’m not Metrosexual, I can’t stay bent over long enough to do the toes on my left leg because I’m no longer flexible enough to cut my own toenails. I have been so long unable to reach my toes with clippers that I’m not even sure what year was the last time I did my own toes. I’m thinking maybe 2013 or 2014? Anywho it has been a while since I could cut my toenails the way I like them, which was shortly before unable to do them at all. But that’s neither here nor there, I went to the nail salon and had my toes just shortened a bit and now my shoes fit much better,

Speaking of shoes I have had fuzzy slippers on my gifting list for at least 3 years now, and the ones Mrs. the Poet ordered were on backorder again this year. So I went shopping online until I found the kind I want with lots of fuzzy lining on top and a warm felt type lining on the insole and open back heels so they’re easy to put on and get off but that don’t fall off. They should get here sometime around the inauguration of the sane-ish President.

I’m still thinking about that LS/Powerglide, 4 wheels and enough bits to keep everything pointed in the right direction A/MOD solo racer, and how to keep it close to the minimum weight of 900 pounds with my butt in the driver’s seat. I’m checking the weight of the tires I’ll need to stick all that power to the track. Even a mildly tuned LS has about 400 HP at the flywheel, stock, and some do even better with an LS7 making a guaranteed 505 flywheel HP before fiddling with the conservative factory emissions-legal tune. The LS376/525 uses a hot cam to get 525 flywheel HP with the factory tune, but can get more with some playing with the fuel and spark maps in the computer. The bad thing is there is a lot less power below 5000 RPM compared to even a stock LS7 and power below 5000 RPM is what gets you out of tight corners. Anywho, what I’m looking at for this build is roughly 1000 pounds without a driver, which is about 300 pounds overweight. The class minimum is 900 with driver, which is about 700 pounds without me. Since that’s only a smidge over the engine and transmission by themselves and less than the engine, transmission, and the lightest rear center section that will take the power of anything not originally from a truck or SUV in the LS engine family, I’m thinking that I won’t need to add ballast for this build.

Anyway, things have been Not Too Bad so far, aside from taking care of my kidneys making frequent trips to the bathroom to pee part of my normal. Between coffee and diet colas and straight water I’m doing about 2 liters of water a day, and while this is good for keeping stones out of my kidneys it’s Hell on my bladder. I’m right on the cusp of having more pain from the strain on my bladder than I would get from the kidney stones. What scares me is I might still get the stones even with the highly stressed bladder, but that is an extremely low probability as long as I watch my calcium intake.

I think this is a good place to call a halt to the post.

Is 2020 the background to a horror story?

I know for many of you 2020 IS the horror story, but I can’t shake the feeling that there will be future stories that will basically start out “Because 2020 happened…” like for a while there were stories that were basically “Because the Great Depression…” Like Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath about the Dust Bowl Okies, who didn’t have money for food, but they always had money for gas and cigarettes…

And for some reason WordPress seems disinclined to accept my categories and tags for this post in spite of having used the categories in the past. Experimentation shows it dislikes my tags of Year in Review and Because 2020. I’m going to try one at a time to see which is the offensive term. It wasn’t Because 2020, so either it was Year in Review, or the combination of the two.

And Mrs. the Poet is arguing with the people in the newspaper articles saying Trump won the election, that Gawd will decide the election, and who carry AR15s to protests… I think she needs more interactive media, but she’s too much of a Luddite to get on Facebook and Twitter. She has a smart phone that she only uses for … Nevermind she only makes phone calls from it, otherwise it’s not even turned on. The only thing she uses her smartphone for that can only be done with a smartphone is getting pictures of the grandkid, which are usually deleted shortly after she gets them because she won’t learn how to save them to her phone, or how to hold her phone so she doesn’t delete texts while reading them. I’ve been trying to teach her about this for years, but it doesn’t seem to be sinking in. She needs saving and wants to have been saved, but isn’t putting in the work she needs to not have these problems with her phone. I don’t know what to do about her.

[Monty Python]I’m not dead yet![/Monty Python]

I’ve been prepping for the holiday we celebrate today all week so no computer time at all except for web comic sanity breaks. I’m so far behind on my emails I might never get caught up.

I hope you got the good stuff this year, because I certainly did. My daughter that still lives in this country got me a new insulated coffee and tea mug set with my initials masked into the decorative coating, in 12 and 32 fluid ounce capacity. This continues a trend in insulated mugs from this daughter over the years. This is the third insulated mug and the first was 24 ounce, the second was 32 ounce to the brim but somewhat less inside the lid, and this year the capacity was 32 ounces under the lid. The next size up is a 44 ounce mug under the lid but that one is hard to track down and I probably won’t get that one for a while because now that we have the dishwasher back up all the older mugs look almost brand new and I have an actual brand new mug. This year’s mugs have really good insulation, Mrs. the Poet made me a cup of tea in the smaller cup and an hour later I still couldn’t drink it because the tea would still burn my mouth, and the sides of the cup were still only slightly above room temperature. I don’t remember exactly where my daughter found the cup and mug set, but she got good ones.

I’m still working on the frame for the Sprint-T, trying to minimize weight while maintaining stiffness, using wall thickness variation so that in places where I’m not constrained by safety rules I use enough material to carry the load with a safety factor, but only that much. That means 0.120″ in the roll cage, 0.060″ in most other places, and 0.39″ in a couple places that are only carrying a very tiny load to brace another structural member against buckling. The fun part of this is when I run through the loads and reduce wall thickness in places where I don’t need the material I frequently find the loads in those members get less as the weight of the surrounding frame is reduced. It’s strange how when you reduce the weight of something the stress that member has to resist also gets reduced, even if the outside forces don’t change. Stresses at the applied load points don’t change, but somehow some stresses at some intersections are drastically reduced. I use a spreadsheet to do the calculations now because I used to forget some intersections, but with the spreadsheet I don’t lose any intersections. Now the trick is to make sure I enter all the intersections into the spreadsheet.

And I have noticed a sharp decline in my writing ability since I lost the translation cleanup gig, more runon sentences and less holding a coherent thought through a paragraph. I also notice I’m having trouble hitting the keys, leaving letters out of words and missing punctuation. Fortunately I spend time proofing before I hit publish, otherwise these posts would look even worse than they do with the bad writing.

Merry Yule

Please celebrate responsibly, monitor alcohol intake, and for [$DEITY]’s sake use a condom so you don’t plant a spawn in a drunken stupor. They’ll love hearing about that.

I’ve been having strange dreams

Strange but not disturbing dreams. Dreams about flying cars, cars I almost owned, dreams about flying bikes, dreams about just flying. Before the wreck I used to fly, things. Mostly airplanes, some hang gliders, some ultralights, a helicopter for about 5 seconds before I gave the stick back to the guy really flying it. Helicopters are not flying machines, they are contraptions that somehow remain airborne. And this was about how the dream went, flitting from one scene to another, taking in a red Honda Civic for an oil change, flying a car over a bridge to an island that was extremely urban with lots of tall buildings (not the red Honda, it was dark silver) I was just sitting in the car someone else was flying, just flying between the buildings of the city without the car no segue, just went from flying in the car to just me by myself without anything except some insulated jumpsuit and harness and maybe a helmet? Then I was flying a bicycle somehow that hovered while I was looking for a place to park, and was just a regular crank-forward bicycle when it wasn’t flying.

I woke up about 0445 because Mrs. the Poet was pushing me out of the bed. I should have taken a picture where she was in the bed when I got out. Her head was barely on her pillows and the rest of her body was angled towards my side of the bed so that her feet were almost sticking out of the covers on my side. I also woke up because my bladder was full, and standing over the toilet was almost like the scene in “A League of Their Own” where Tom Hanks drained the main vein for over a minute of screen time. Yay visuals!

Somehow we seem to have a pantry full of ants again, and we lost a full, new box of crackers to the pesky beasts. Not the small box, the “family size” box of Cheezeits that we had just bought and Mrs. the Poet didn’t get to eat even one of them. She was very mad about throwing away food we had just bought yesterday. She was hollering about the “stupiDANTS” and that was exactly how she pronounced it, with the “d” appended to the “ants” and emphasized “DANTS”, making it all one word. When I look at it from an emotional distance it’s funny, but I know it isn’t funny for her. “StupiDANTS!”

We have come to grips with the fact that the kittens have either died or just ran away. We last saw Clint in late July when he stopped coming back after we changed food in an attempt to do something about his digestive issues, and Clyde left a couple weeks later when Mrs. the Poet declared him “feline non grata” for his digestive issues leaving little poops everywhere and we had to move his food and water dishes outside. After we moved the dishes outside he refused to come back in for petting, even though he really wanted to be petted. So we are looking for another cat, older and calmer that doesn’t scratch the furniture that has its shots and already neutered. Mrs. the Poet says this time we need to start with all new cat stuff, not leftover from 2 previous generations of cats. She thinks this might result in a cat that’s more comfortable with where it lives and doesn’t need to mark everything as “mine”.

A little under the weather

I got to bed at the usual time this morning, but when I woke up I felt like an assault victim. My face hurt like I had been punched, my head hurt from the base of my neck across the top to my face and my lower back was all in knots. I have been sleepy all day, even after I got my morning cuppa. We were out of coffee so I had tea instead, but there is almost 2/3 of the caffeine in tea as there is in coffee, so I’m not too behind in that.

Speaking of which I have been tracking my average fluids intake, and it’s been a bunch. Depending on which cup is clean I get a minimum of 24 fl. oz. of coffee to 32 fl. oz., and I go through 3-4 2 liter bottles of diet cola a week, so roughly 1.8 liters fluids each day. And I’m fading here, so I’m going to go drain my bladder, again. Then I’m going to go to bed.

Mrs. the Poet wants a broom for her B-Day

Seriously, she came into the computer room just to tell me that , and show the sad state of her current broom. Which broom is in a sad state, all frayed and twitterpated.

Twitterpated is a real word in spite of what my spell checker is trying to tell me, I have a much larger vocabulary than it does. IIRC “twitterpated” means to be in a state of mental disarray, related to the word “confuzzled” which is a portmanteau of confused and muddled, which pretty much describes the mental state of twitterpated. Twitterpated is often illustrated by birds flying around the head of a victim of the condition. It is mostly associated with a blow to the head, but can also be induced by an Abbot and Costello sketch like “Who’s on First?” or “Hertz Hire Car”. (“If it hurts why do you do it!?”)

Anyway Mrs. the Poet is finally giving me suggestions about things I can give her for her birthday on Friday. Nothing like giving me time to get stuff together, eh? There’s a local restaurant that I have been looking to try out called Hawaiian Bros and I’m hoping I can get it delivered, or we can just call the place a little down the street, China Harbor, that we have been getting food from since before my mother died in 2004. I have been accused of being in an ordering rut since I get some version of fried rice from them, but Mrs. the Poet gets Lo Mein either beef or veggie every time, so I fail to see what the problem is.

To close, I haven’t had my toes done since early October, and I’m having troubles with one toe getting caught on the inside of the shoe while I’m walking and I have errands to run for Mrs. the Poet. So I probably need to get outside today, but it was below freezing this morning and still chilly for TX out there right now. So I’ll do it but be unhappy about doing it…

My laptop is terrible for photo editing

It’s crap, but it’s all I have at the moment. I managed to edit the routing for the belt on the Sprint-T.

The squiggly blue line is what drawing with a crappy touch pad looks like with the editing program that comes with Windows 10. But it does manage to show where the belt will go on the Sprint-T. You can see that unsupported run from the idler to the alternator that is bothering me, plus the reduced wrap around the drive and driven pulleys that also bothers me. It might work, might not, won’t know until I try it.

As the saying goes Eureka!

I was wondering about doing the waterpump/alternator only belt routing without adding tons of idlers to the front of the Vortech junkyard engine so when I woke up in the dark this morning I looked up where the pulleys are on the engine as it sits in the truck. Run a straightedge from the idler at about 2 o’clock from the waterpump to the AC pulley and everything clears.

I’m not enraptured by the long unsupported run from the idler to the alternator mounted where the AC compressor is on the diagram, and I’m sure there might be some slippage when things get hot, but this is doable! As in things won’t get in the way of the belt and there is some wrap on the waterpump.

I looked this up on my phone and used the “optical straightedge” of holding my phone up to sight where the belt would run from the tensioner sitting above and to the right of the waterpump in this diagram. From how I looked there was clear space from the AC compressor pulley to the idler. I was so excited I got out of bed at 0600 and started downloading the image and composing this post. I then verified with a straightedge made from a folded piece of paper held against the image on my computer that there was clearance (but I’m still unhappy about that long unsupported belt run to my alternator placement). The good thing is I can move the alternator up and tight to the block to reduce the amount of unsupported run and still use the alternator as a tensioner in the system, or use the tensioner that’s already on the engine in the truck to do the same thing. I’m also not thrilled with using the tensioner from the idler, because that puts the most belt wrap on the idler and tensioner and the least on the drive and driven pulleys on the crank, waterpump, and alternator.

I’m still thinking about it, but at this point the routing is crank, waterpump, idler, and alternator doubling as the tensioner in the system. If I find something else out when I get an engine I’ll have something else to write a post about. Also, doing it like this also allows just using the alternator on its own tensioning a 2 pulley system, crank and alternator, should I get the fundage to install an electric waterpump.