Category Archives: rant

Pardon me while I get political

I was sitting in the Lab Rat Keeper’s office reading Twitter and there is a mass shooting in VA. Then a couple refreshes later there is a mass shooting in NYC, nobody killed. Then there is a mass shooting in CA. That’s 3 mass shootings in one day within a few hours.

Three mass shootings with more than 20 victims and one never even gets covered because the shooter was a bad shot and nobody died so it kinda gets lost under the other two. What country has so many mass shootings that there has to be a body count to get news coverage? Just one, us. That one shooting I know literally nothing about except multiple people hit outside the Barclay’s Center and nobody died, from the original tweet.

And what country has more than one mass shooting in a day? Just us again. We Win! USA! USA! USA!

We don’t win we’re just the most spectacular losers.

You hear this America!?! We are all spectacular losers! Every other country has figured out how to protect their people from Crazies With Guns and Too Much Ammo, except us. What makes us the Short Bus Kids of the world on this one? “Our” representatives literally voted to allow crazy people and domestic abusers to buy guns and as much ammo as they can carry because “duur, Freedumb!” In fact one of the victims of the VA shooting helped write one of those bills, Steve Scalise. He literally wrote the law that put a gun in the hands of the guy that shot him. Dharma (that’s when life kicks you in the balls for what you did in this life AKA Instant Karma).

And as much as I would like for Dharma and Karma to take care of things, there is just too much collateral damage to let it work that way. What we really need is a way to not let fuckups like that bill get through legislatures at all levels. What I’m proposing is Instant Review. After a bill is passed and signed, then it goes to either SCOTUS or another court specifically set up just to do this. Most of the time it will literally be a rubber stamp job, but then you get things like the PATRIOT act and other laws like that, that require serious nit-picking. Hell, Donnie is dropping bombs based on the AUMF Congress gave George after 9/11, that should have had a “don’t use after” date on it. You see what I mean?

My next post will be about building something, the indignities of being a lab rat, or something funny the cat did if I can ever get the cat to do anything.

We interrupt the post I was working on for another terrorist using a motor vehicle as a WMD

As I was composing the next post I got an alert about another terror attack in London using a motor vehicle as the primary weapon. The initial report had London Bridge “covered in mangled bodies” with another 20 transported with serious injuries. Multiple People Dead After 2 Potential Terror Attacks In London

While the headline classifies this as 2 separate attacks later reports have it as moving the attack from the bridge to nearby establishments and renewing the violence.

And stuff like this is why I keep asking how long we are going to allow WMD to roam freely on the streets. Words fail me in communicating my anger and sorrow. I mean seriously, from long past posts and recent posts you know I love cars, but I hate the things people do with cars. This is just another example of the things people do with cars that I hate so much.

Opus the Unkillable (but not the Unfeeling)

Thinking about ways to save money and weight (but mostly money)

I have been thinking again (dangerous), and I was thinking that if I can get enough throw (movement from side to side) out of the steering rack on the minivan I can save a tiny bit of weight and a lot of money over buying the Vega-replacement power steering box. One thing for certain, the rack out of the minivan will be 100% compatible with the power steering pump from the same vehicle, which then would also be one less thing to buy, and fit to the engine.

I could also use a single gas tank instead of putting one on each side of the steering box which would also save money over buying two smaller tanks. Now mounting the rack would get tricky, but that would mostly be a bracket problem to be solved at installation. There is also the problem that to clear the gas tank the rack would have to be mounted much higher than the axle centerline and that even running the drag link in the top position the bracket on the rack to the drag link would have to hang down quite a bit to line up for no bump steer. Again not a major problem, or even a real problem, just a detail.

And I have been in the habit of throwing my loose change on my desk when I get home from shopping then using the silver for bus fare and the like. But because nobody likes it when you pay for things with pennies they have been accumulating and falling down when I’m typing vigorously (aka beating up my computer) like I did in the previous paragraph. Well it has been getting annoying lately so I stopped and counted them into my backpack for taking to the change machine at the store. All 170 of them are now off my desk and in my backpack for when I take my walk this evening. I left a couple for doing exact change at the store sometimes, but most of them are in the backpack.

Back off the penny tangent, mounting the rack high will let me make the car more survivable in a head-on wreck. I can run the steering shaft on the left side of the car but the steering wheel in the center and put a big bend in the shaft with a u-joint so that in a wreck the steering shaft goes off to the left instead of straight back into the driver (me). This is a good thing because AFAIK I’m not immune to death by impalement. Also I can get the steering wheel at the height I want it instead of where the input shaft from the rack points more or less. One thing for sure I know from moving the donor vehicle from one place to another while camping there will be enough assist for the steering quickener. 😈

There will be some modifications required to make the rack work with a drag link most of which involve cutting bits off the rack that don’t connect to anything, thus making the rack even lighter.😈 It will require placing the rack in a hard left turn and then cutting the housing and rack off then welding the end back on the housing to use as a mount, only shorter. There will be careful measurements involved before assaulting the rack and housing with an angle grinder and cutoff wheels, but cutoff wheels and maniacal laughter will be involved, along with smoke and sparks and bits of flaming metal. That might make a good YouTube video… The idea is to cut everything off the right side of the rack and housing to the right of the teeth of the rack, aka useless dead weight. That’s because on the donor vehicle the steering wheel is on the left and there’s extra added to the right to make it reach all the way across. And because my car will be center steer I don’t need all that extra junk.

And it is about time for me to take my walk and convert my pennies to something easily spendable.

Anchovies and Sardines! It’s World Penguin Day!

Have you stocked up on canned sardines and anchovies?

It's the fishiest day of the year!

Today is the day we celebrate my namesake. He prefers herring, I prefer sardines and anchovy pizza.

And gallons of coffee, I am a writer after all.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

I must have died again and didn’t notice

Today in the mail I got a frequent traveller card for the ferry on the river Styx. I tried to take a picture.

You can see the dents from the card on my fingertips but not the actual card

Now either I have lost count of the times I died, or I am the butt of an elaborate prank. Buuuuuut I don’t know of anyone who can make an object I can see but not photograph. I don’t know of any physical process that would allow me to see but not photograph an object I can hold in my hand.

Now as to why I have a frequent traveler card for Charon’s ferry (I had to translate from the Greek on the card) I have no real idea, but a couple of hypotheses. One is my next career is going to be a Psychopomp, a guide of souls to the afterlife. Since I don’t actually see dead people like the kid in Sixth Sense that’s not high on the list of probabilities. Another possibility is I am literally immortal but will sometimes get “knocked out” to be dead for a little while and this card is to identify me as “just visiting” the afterlife. That one is not good because getting killed hurt the last time I can remember. Well, not the being dead part, that was fine, and the actual getting killed was so quick I really didn’t notice. The coming back alive to a body that was badly broken, yeah that shit hurt like a [$UNPRINTABLE]. So yeah if you find yourself dead I strongly suggest staying dead because there is probably a pretty painful reason why you died.

So supposition time: why do I have a frequent traveller card for πορθμείο του Χάροντα, and why can’t I take a picture of it? Is it because of the number of round trips I have made or the number I will make in the future? If I have died more than once why can’t I remember? This whole line of thought is disturbing. BTW there are boxes on the back with marks in 3 of them and something in Greek on the tenth box, so I get a prize? What kind of prize do you get for dying 10 times? And does 3 marks mean I have died twice in such a way as to “not know” I’m dead? That’s even more disturbing than knowing I died once and came back.

So, what would you do with a frequent flyer card for the afterlife?

Opus the Unkillable

I need a pussyhat

Seriously. I want to show my support, I need a warm hat for long walks at night, and I can’t knit. I also don’t have the funds to buy one even if I knew where to get one. Also I strongly disagree with and disapprove of Cheeto Jesus. For a guy who sponsored a bike race he doesn’t seem to care much about actually being able to use bikes.

Also I got a PM on Twitter (@opusthepoet) that I should do a political blog. Sorry but while I care about politics to a degree I care much more about what politicians are doing to things I care about, like clean air and clean water, and my grandson not having to swim to work when he grows up because of sea level rise due to climate change. I really don’t care which political party is in charge as long as the things like that and personal liberties are protected. Unfortunately we seem to have one side that only protects corporate profits ahead of clean air and water and personal liberties.

On yet another front, my new pump doesn’t work. Instead of using a compression fitting for connecting the gauge to the pump they used a pipe thread fitting. Both of those connect and hold air, the difference is you can’t “clock” the pipe fitting to make it tight when facing a particular direction like you can with a compression fitting, and the gauge keeps hitting the pump frame during the pump action and getting loosened up. The solution of course is to get a hose with a female pipe fitting on one end and a male fitting on the other and use that to bridge the gap between the gauge and the pump so they don’t hit. I could ask for my money back, but I got almost the cheapest pump on Amazon so I guess this is as much my fault as theirs. On the bright side I can use this as practice for building brake lines for the hot rod, and the extra hose length will make using the pump easier as I can hold the gauge in my hand as I pump instead of trying to read it on the ground as it bounces back and forth from being on a foot pump.

On the hot rod front I have discovered the hub spacing using the stock drive axles is going to be too wide for the front axle. I have four alternatives: buy a wider front axle so the front and rear widths match up (expensive, requires custom manufacturing), 2) make the de Dion cage so that the rear axle width matches the front and shorten the stock drive axles to fit (tricky but barely within my capabilities), or 3) get the widest front axle width available without spending for the custom work and live with the difference as it will actually reduce the theoretical difficulties I was having getting the front and rear grip to match through the middle of a corner. Getting a wider front axle also reduces a problem I was trying to work around for wheel lock. Not lock as in too much brake but lock as in how far I can turn the wheel from side to side, in this case wider is better as the frame is a fixed width, and the further I push the front wheels out the more I can turn them from side to side, without hitting the rest of the car. 4) Mix of 3 and 2. Buy the widest axle and then narrow the drive axles to fit. Cheaper than 1 with all the work of 2 but the car will look right. Handling would still be interesting to sort out.

So, tomorrow I have meetings about the church, then grocery shopping, looks like a busy day.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

OK I have a problem with my familiar

I am having a problem with Clint that is peculiar to feline familiars. I can deal with the sloppy kisses, but he’s a year old and still hasn’t learned how to hug without using his claws, or basically display any kind of affection without using his claws. I look like a cutter who is also a contortionist. Or maybe like I bulled my way through a briar thicket in the nude. Protagonist in a slasher movie? After-battle survivor extra in a gladiator movie? I have lost count of the number of times I had to invoke the “no claws clause”, spank his paws, and toss him out of bed or my office for clawing me. I’m running out of hand sanitizer to disinfect the wounds. Mrs. the Poet is getting upset about the torn sheets and pillowcases and the bloodstains. Usually I can see the blood before it dries and sets in but we have a couple sets of sheets that will never be the same. But you can probably figure out he’s not trying to injure or cause damage, he’s just waving his paws around because he’s so happy to Be With Me.

And when I have the door shut so he can’t get in, the noise he makes! He howls like he lost his last friend on earth if he wants to see me and can’t get in. I tell you it is the most pitiful sound on the earth. I mean I know I’m his “Favorite Person On The Whole Earth™“, but I have to do things without his being there, like use the toilet.

I know this all sounds like I don’t like Clint, but I really do, and I worry about him when he gets in fights and the local squirrels beat him up. As Mrs. the Poet says, he’s a doofus cat. And I can’t really help but love him.

For cat lovers everywhere, Opus the Unkillable (but it still hurts)

It’s just a dinky piece of brass that’s keeping me off the bike now

All I need to ride my bike now is to pump up the tires. All I need to pump up the tires is a small brass adapter that lets a Schrader pump fit a presta valve stem. All I need to get the presta adapter is to be able to walk the two miles to get to and from DART.

That’s it. All that is keeping me off my bike is the two miles separating origin from destination before/after using transit. And that I can barely get from the front door to the mailbox at the moment. Just walking to the kitchen from my office is A Pain. I’m not doing a “poor, pitiful me” here. I’m angry. What I’m angry about is the fact that a trip to the store is a 2 mile walk or more pretty much wherever I’m going, because this entire town is built around everyone driving everywhere in a car, for everything, and transit is kinda stuck wherever it will fit, not where it’s needed.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is some retail about 0.6 miles (1 km) from the house as the worm flies. There’s a Dollar General at that distance and also a C-Store slash gas station going a different route right next to a laundromat and donut shop, and about 0.8 miles to 2 more C-Stores/Gas Stations, a Family Dollar, and a couple of restaurants. But the round trip is still over a mile to anything. And that’s bad. Especially if the trip was to buy something heavy or bulky. That’s one reason why I have kept my ALICE ruck in good condition in case I need to grocery shopping and there’s nobody available to haul the stuff back while I can’t use Francis/es.

On to the Other Subject, the hot rod and talking to the computer after I do a Dr. Frankenstein and swap it out of the minivan and into the hot rod, where it will lose its mind. I did some googling and found there are many devices that will connect a cell phone to the computer to read and clear the codes and software that I can load to change the fuel/spark maps. I will need to add the SD card to my phone to load the software because it is a monster app, but that’s tons cheaper than the dedicated reader/writer hardware at the parts store. This part of the project just started looking a lot more do-able than it did at the beginning of the week. Now whether I’m going to be able to tell the computer just once that it is in a 1500 pound hot rod instead of a 3900 pound minivan, or if I will have to do that every time I have to start the car is a question yet to be answered. But the existence of the hardware and software at a price in my budget makes me feel better about the project.

I mean, 15 years ago whodathunkit? Connecting your phone to your car to fix the car? It would have been science fiction. But today it’s just hooking one computer to another computer to fix things that are controlled by the one computer. The facts that one computer is sometimes your phone and the other computer runs your car are incidental.

So, a rant about walkability and transit, and looking at the DIY wonder of diagnosing and repairing your car by using your cell phone. Lot of ground between those two subjects.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Weather has been here, wish you were beautiful

The title is the punchline to a very old joke from before I was born, and accurately sums up the situation here in The Beautiful Suburbs of Hell. The highs and lows have been swapping places with highs less than the previous day’s lows, and lows higher than previous highs. I went from long pants and long underwear to shorts and t-shirt for my daily walks on consecutive days and back again to long pants and underwear. Yesterday I went for a walk at night in shorts and t-shirt and was a little chilly, today I went in the middle of the day with a sweatshirt over a long-sleeve T and still my hands got cold, much worse than yesterday’s walk at night. Mrs. the Poet has a condition she calls “changing weather crud” that in the past she got once in the fall and again in the spring, this year she has had it the entire month of December with no end in sight.

In other news I spent the majority of my Xmas money buying parts I don’t have the equipment to fabricate to the level of precision required, at a reduced price because someone bought the wrong parts and returned them after trying to install. So I’m getting them at 20% off original price. Maybe more, there was a discount code I tried to use that wouldn’t work that would have taken another 10% off the already discounted price that will probably get refunded when they get real live humans reviewing the order next week. Anywho the parts are steering arms that attach above the axle on the reproduction early Ford spindles I got last year. The main difficulty with making these on my own is the thickness of the stock used, the arms made for bolting to the bottom of the spindle are cut from ¼” mild steel and bent so they bolt through tabs with nuts, the ones for the top look like they’re cut from 1″ plate and are threaded so they don’t need nuts or bent tabs. My cutting tools are pretty much maxed out at 3/16″ thickness plate or 0.125″ wall tubing. Sure they will cut thicker stuff but my ability to make the tool go where I want to go instead of where it wants to go declines sharply when I exceed those limits. And don’t get me started about my hole-drilling abilities with my 3/8″ capacity hand drill. And I picked up a big bottle of Shiner Holiday Cheer beer to toast in the New Year tomorrow for $3 at my local grocery store. Since Mrs. the Poet will probably only drink an ounce or two (30-60 ml) and I’m not a big drinker either so the 32 oz. bottle will be more than enough for our private little party.

Stay warm or cool as the case may call for this NYE, and consider every driver on the road a drunk stoner on 2 days without sleep, because they’re out there and you don’t want to be the one that gets hit. I’m an unkillable badass but it still hurts like a mutha’ to get hit. You most likely are not an unkillable badass. ‘Nuf said.

BTW I have a playlist loaded to You Tube, labeled “Opus’ fun junk”. It’s 71 pieces of all kinds of music with electronica, EDM, trance, Classic Rock, New Wave Jazz, and some stuff that just defies classification other than the origin of cartoon music themes.

Peace out, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet

OK, Seriously Bummed By This

Mrs. the Poet has placed her foot squarely on my dream of building a hot rod and ground it to flinders. I am not allowed to build my hot rod on the property where we have our house, and I don’t have any budget to build it any place else. So free parts car will have to be abandoned. Plans for the mid T will have to be discarded. Dreams of competing in Goodguys autocrosses are ruined. Hundreds of hours calculating frame member sizes wasted.

And the worst of it the $500 model T body sitting in the living room is now a literal white elephant (with a few spots).
Me in happier days
Dreaming of actually driving this thing.
Some of the spots
Here are some of the spots from the parting lines from the mold.

One thing that won’t change is moving forward on the Mini Sprint-T. I have to make a run to the hardware for another tube of mock-up glue (that I’ll also be able to use to repair Mrs. the Poet’s damaged Hummels she inherited from my mother) but the drills and adjustable collet I got for my Dremel tool have already been put to use cleaning up some parts and doing a little bracket fabricating. The dead toasters we got are being used to make a vacuum-forming machine to crank out modified bucket bodies in scale. (Three heating elements in a toaster, of which 2 can be used to make a heating unit for a vacuum former.) And I still have the 3 scale engines I can use (the SBC for the most-likely version, the LS7 for the “ultimate” version, and the Coyote Ford for the “Ford in Ford” version). The Coyote was dropped from consideration for 1:1 construction after doing a weight comparison to the LS series and actually seeing how far it hung past the sides of the bucket firewall. Not a good look without “blinging” the heck outta the engine to make it look goodbetter. Now don’t get me wrong, the Coyote is a good-looking engine, it just is Really Wide when installed in a T-bucket which makes it kinda dominate the visuals, forcing a cosmetic makeover.

And in other news I’m taking a day off from my walks, mostly because my left foot feels like it has been beat on with a big stick and my butt feels sore on the right side b/c I have been walking without the lifted left shoe. It has been years since I did any kind of walking without a lift on my left shoe to make up for the loss of about 17mm in my left leg from the crash, and the bottom of the foot is having to get used to just having a normal thickness sole between it and the concrete when I walk. It’s also really disconcerting when I walk in the house in my slippers and I hear rice crispy sounds with each step, but that’s the reality that has been getting louder the last 15 years. Part of that is just the reality of getting older unrelated to surviving getting hit @ 60 MPH with a truck.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass