Not doing nanowrimo again this year

For those not in the writing community NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where you set out to write a 50k word “novel” in 30 days or about 1500 words a day. I can’t do that.

I mean, yeah I can write a 50k word document in 30 days, but get a story out of it? Last time I tried to write a story it took years and had like over a million words, and then the hard drive it was on crashed so hard it caught fire. My story existed in completed form for less than 12 hours and was never seen again. The opening chapter is still on this blog from many years and 3 computers ago, but the rest is random molecules on a stainless steel platter, or whatever they used to make the platters in that model hard drive.

So I’m not pursuing my dream of writing The Great American Novel, because that wasn’t a dream it was a nightmare.

All you other vets, this is for you

Thanks for leaving me a country worth serving.

News from the Lab Rat Keeper

I got two things to report from today’s trip to the Lab Rat Keeper. First thing is I am now down to 191 pounds (87 Kg), which puts me almost 30 pounds down from January. Second thing is they are testing a different kind of med for reducing hypertension that controls the stress reaction that raises blood pressure. I had an aphasia attack so I couldn’t ask if this was something that blocked the cortisol reaction or something else, but it is something that gets into the chain of hormones released by prolonged stress which puts the cortisol reaction square at the top of the list of suspects. Since my BP has been spiking throughout the election and pandemic, I’m a prime test subject for this med.

In less grim news I’m still plugging away at trying to make the front bulkhead and steering box mount both light and rigid. I’m not going into soporific details, just that I’m using as simple a structure as I can, tying it in as many triangles as I can, as cheap as I can. I’m not going to the ridiculous extremes I did back in 1975 when I triangulated the webs of a box beam in a structures contest (it did prevent failure in a twisting mode that wasn’t part of the contest), but I did triangulate in multiple planes. Given no failures from manufacturing defects (that’s saying if I can make it right, and I didn’t make anything undersized for the forces involved) that steering box ain’t going nowhere the entire car doesn’t go with it.

And that pretty much covers everything I needed to say today. Lost weight, new med, and hope I got it right on the mount. Oh yeah, one other thing. You don’t need to thank me for my service until we know if we have anything left to save after Trump leaves.

Is it over yet?

Everyone I know is cautiously peeking through the figurative bunker door hoping against hope that the election is over and that Trump is going to accept the results. Mrs. the Poet is celebrating a little early, I think. I’m still not taking full breaths yet.

What I have been doing is going over the Sprint-T front bulkhead over and over, looking for places to reduce weight/increase rigidity. I haven’t come up with much, as I have gone through this process hundreds of times already. Basically I’m going through and seeing if there is a way to beat the “choose two out of three” dilemma from the “cheap, strong, light” triad by changing size of the structural members. And I’ve got it down to “it depends on where the volume discount starts”, on the price difference between the sizes of the raw stock. Because of the SCCA rules I have to make some parts out of 1.5″ diameter 0.120″ wall DOM round stock, but the rest of the car I can make from 0.060″ wall, which will be more than enough if I use corrosion prevention to maintain wall thickness. But I can save weight even more by using smaller diameter stock for bracing, up to a point. 

Some of the bracing will be easier and cheaper to make as an extension of the main frame members using the 1.5″ diameter 0.060″ wall stock, but some will be lighter/strong enough if I use 1″ diameter 0.060″ wall tubing. It’s basically a case of which is cheaper when I buy the stock, meaning I need to get both choices fully designed down to the BOM. 

And I’m starting to fade, and have problems seeing, after a very exciting championship race for the NASCAR Cup, with congratulations going out to Chase Elliot. Chase wasn’t who I was rooting for, but with the way he won his way into the Four, and the way he dominated the race after getting moved to the back after failing his first two trips through tech, I concede his worthiness, especially when my choice finished 4th out of the four. Denny Hamlin is still the best active driver to never win a championship, a distinction I hope he loses soon next year.

I’ve been preoccupied

I know I have neglected posting for a while. Part of that is because I have had other things on my mind than what is my normal focus for the blog, but most of it is just because I don’t have the spoons for making a blog post. I don’t like the spoons hypothesis, mainly because I work under a different paradigm, processor cycles. That paradigm states pretty much the same thing: we have a fixed number of processor cycles every day, and if you waste them on unimportant things you don’t have enough to get the important stuff done. And I have been spending a lot of processor cycles on this election.

From my point of view, we are voting between fascism, and democratic corporatism. Or basically, the lesser of two evils. Fascism is authoritarian corporatism, with heavy controls and limited personal freedom. Democratic corporatism has more personal freedom, but not much. Neither is the form of government I want to live under, but given the choice some freedom is way better than none. I’m not that big a student of history, but even I can see where Trump & Co is headed, and I don’t like it.

I’m still not used to having politics in this blog, after years of reporting death and destruction of cyclists trying not to be political about it. And that was a struggle, because there were others who treated dead cyclists as just another cost of doing business. But for me as a victim of road violence and a cyclist it was very hard not to take it personally. And now as a member of an oppressed minority I take things like BLM and LGBTQ issues personally, too. And other minorities, like First Nations and Native Hawaiian, I take personally when they are denied rights. Now if I was in a position to do anything about it that might mean something, but I’m just an impoverished slob in a Texas suburb with zero political clout even on a local level. The most effective thing I can do politically I did today in the voting booth. But I don’t know how much longer that will be effective.

Things in the kitchen that only I use

I mentioned the crock pot and how I was the only person using the slow cooker yesterday. Well there are some other things in the kitchen that I’m the only one using them.

One thing I’m the only person using is the rice cooker. I think that might be because I bought it a while back with money I made with M-points, back when they were still a thing, and that gives you an idea of how many M-points I got, that first I could pay for a rice cooker and second that the rice cooker was high enough quality to last this long. Or it could be that Mrs. the Poet really doesn’t like to use the rice cooker/vegetable steamer for some reason unknown to mankind.

Now this is an odd one, but I’m the only person using the Keurig, for anything. I use it for many things that don’t include making coffee, like teas, soups, and other hot drinks. I can use it to get 2 cups of decent tea out of a teabag, and every once in a while we actually buy the K-cups and I make coffee with it. But that is rare, mostly because we (I) drink a lot of coffee and making it one cup at a time in the Keurig is Ex$pen$ive and for the most part not as good as making drip coffee by the pot. I drink coffee from a mug that holds almost a quart, Mrs. the Poet has an 8 oz. cup once a day. So unless it’s coffee that someone has given us, or a nearly free buy at the local grocery, we don’t use the Keurig to make coffee.

So we have 3 kitchen appliances that Mrs. the Poet doesn’t use but I do. Make of this what you will.

I did a delicious experiment today

The experiment was making stew in a crock pot slow cooker.  I already knew making stew in the slow cooker was possible, the experiment was would it taste good? The best receipes are simple so I assembled stew meat, potatoes, carrots, and half a large onion and added enough cold water to cover, then added salt and pepper to what I hope was to taste. I turned the cooker to high until a slow simmer was attained, then to low, and as the sun was rising and the local school kids left for school, I went to bed.

There was a great deal of activity in the house today, so my sleep was non-contiguous. That’s a fancy way of saying it took me a long time to get enough sleep. Hence the need to be in the bed almost 12 hours to get enough sleep to not feel like I had been punched in the face. That’s the easiest way to tell if I had enough sleep, if my face hurts I need to get back in bed.

But enough about me, you need to know about the stew. The stew was …acceptible… but by no means outstanding. I needed to use more salt and pepper, and some herbs would have helped. But as I understand it there are several variations on the concept of “stew”, and “just salt and pepper” is one of those concepts. There are other concepts that shuffle the veggies that accompany the meat, different meats, as well as different ratios of the various veggies. This particular combo used pork, a couple of medium-sized spuds and a couple of handfulls of baby cut carrots and that half onion, with about a half teaspoon of black pepper and a full tablespoon of salt. I was concerned that I had too much salt and pepper, but as it turned out I needed more salt and pepper.

On the one hand it’s a good thing that I can make stew with the crock pot, especially since Mrs. the Poet melted the stove down by putting it on self-clean for 3 hours. On the other hand, Mrs. the Poet does not like the crock pot, so it’s mine and I’m the only one who uses it, so I’m doing a lot more cooking around the house. I don’t want to be the main cook because that takes a lot of the enjoyment out of cooking. It’s fun to cook when you want to cook and there’s something you want to make. It’s much less fun to cook when you don’t want to cook and you don’t know what you’re going to cook. That’s the situation much too often at Casa de El Poeta. On really bad days there is also the problem of inventorying what is still edible before deciding what to cook. And this highlights the difference between when I cook and when Mrs. the Poet cooks,  when I cook it’s because I want to, when Mrs. the Poet cooks it’s because she has to. If this experiment is successful there will be more days where I want to cook than Mrs. the Poet has to.

Freezing my assets off

There was an arctic front moving through yesterday and last night, meaning my arthritis decided to immobilize my fingers until I acclimated to the change in weather. That’s my excuse for not posting, and I’m sticking to it.

Seriously though, this cold front really messed me up. The overcast days preceding the FROPA prevented my resets from working and my sleep schedule was basically 2 hour naps 4 or 5 times during the day, until the front finally came through. And my brain was basically running on minimum power until I finally got reset. That is doubleplus ungood for everything except basic life support like eating, maintaining hydration, washing hands after using the bathroom, and putting clothes on. Composing a blog post just required too many processor cycles to work, or “too many spoons” for followers of that paradigm. I’m still running on a processor cycle deficit, meaning each sentence has required several attempts to match a subject to as predicate. I’m basically running just above “See Spot. See Spot chase the ball.” levels right now, but I am running at a literate level again. Yesterday I was processing at “Consume web comics” level. Today I’m at writing about consuming web comics level, which I assure you is at least a step or two up.

Something else that has been impaired by the local weather was the NASCAR Cup race that was supposed to run on Sunday. It’s now Tuesday and they still haven’t been able to finish running the race, because the rain and the cold weather have prevented track drying from being completed. When it’s so cold and wet jet engine exhaust won’t dry the pavement, it’s too cold and wet to race on an oval track. And looking at that sentence tells me I’m still only barely exceeding “See Spot run” because I still have several thousand words in my functional vocabulary. That sentence was about as primitive a construction as English can get, and yesterday I couldn’t even write that good. That is a slightly frightening thought.

Well, I still am only writing at grade school levels, I really don’t have anything important to write about beyond what I already wrote, and I’m boring myself reading my own writing. That seems like a good reason to stop writing and hit “Publish”.

I haven’t been well lately

My sleep schedule is still borked, and I’m still getting muscle “not feel goods” and a bunch of other things. I mean nothing really hurts, just a whole bunch of things that don’t work anywhere close to “right”, and it really annoys me. I’m supposed to be able to do almost anything to my body and still have it work right, and this recent bout of “not working within design tolerances” is just really pissing me off.

On things that are not my body, I think I might have the mount for the steering box nailed down so it won’t flex under load and cause steering to be imprecise. I mean it’s probably overkill by several magnitudes, but I’m pretty sure I have enough bracing so that it won’t move when I make rapid changes in direction. Moving the box in front of the axle made a big difference, because now I have structure above the mount I can tie into and prevent side to side flex in the mount. There’s not even a possibility of other movement, because first of all there are no forces in those directions to speak of, and second because for all the other forces there are already massive trusses in place just because that was the easiest way to build the mount.

On the steering arm, still waiting to purchase cutting tools large enough to handle the 1/4″ thick stock needed for the forces involved, because basically I’m looking at buying everything I already have all over again, but bigger/heavier. I’ll need a new drill press, new saws, bigger drills, the whole shooting match. This means about a thousand dollars in tools, maybe a little less if I buy used. But looking at Harbor Freight, getting a drill press big enough to handle drilling the holes for the 5/8″ heim joints is the big $$ item. The cheapest press is this one. And it barely fills the bill.

I think maybe I can use my angle grinder and metal cutting wheel for rough cuts and the grinding wheel for the fine shaping, but it will be slow work and there will be many chances at messing up the part because of how thick the stock is. For cutting thicker stock they have a bandsaw that will do the work, faster than a cutoff wheel but still pretty slow. I’m going to have to think about the bandsaw, but the drill press is probably a must just because my other drills are not up to handling the size of the drill bits needed for the job. The biggest bit my hand drills will handle is 3/8″ and the drill for the 5/8″ threaded hole is 9/16″ while the non-threaded hole is the full 5/8″. I don’t know what the chuck capacity is of my current drill press, but the piece is pretty much worn out from building bicycles. If I try to drill too fast through even just thick wood the chuck falls out of the press. It worked fine for a long time, but it’s just worn out now.

And I guess I have run out of things to write about, other than because of the weather change it is now in the 60’s F inside my office. My thermometer/clock says it’s 67°F in here and my fingers are not as nimble on the keyboard as they are during the summer when even with the AC on it stays 76° in the house and my hands and fingers all work perfectly without hesitation🤣. That’s a joke, nothing on me works perfectly or without hesitation. Everything is out of whack to some degree, but most of me works best between 75 and 78°F. Above that and I start sweating, too much below that and things start getting stiff, and then they get painful. And we are at the upper boundary of stiff and painful today.

Well I’m going to call this the end of the post, you should go have a nice day or something.😉


This is annoying

We get these muffins from the Tom Thumb cheap, and they taste good, but there is a problem.Muffin Fallout

As you can see there is a great deal of fallout from eating one of the buggers, all of them. It’s just that with chocolate chip the fallout is easier to find than with Banana Nut, or especially Blueberry, those crumbs are practically invisible on these floors. I swear there are more crumbs than muffin, or at least more crumbs on me and the floor than there was muffin I ate.

And that’s my tiny little rant for the day. Petty, I know, but this is something that has been bothering me ever since they started putting these muffins on this super hot deal, nine muffins for like less than $6. It’s a great deal, just over $0.60 a muffin, but it seems like I never get to actually eat the whole muffin. Before they put the deal on the muffins we didn’t buy any because they were like $1.10/muffin.