Bye-Bye Money

Today was a fun (not fun) day. After making sure we had money in the bank to cover the checks I went and paid all our property taxes today. Almost $3K flushed down the government sewer. All I can say is all that BS does a wonderful job of making the grass grow. I’m mostly upset because that was a large chunk of change, not for what happened to it. As someone pointed out from before I was born, taxes buy an important thing, they buy civilization. Without taxes we have no government, without government we have no laws, no streets, no water systems, no sewers, no public education, NO CIVILIZATION! So, yeah I like paying taxes, I just don’t like paying so much in taxes.

Naturally I had to do a lot of walking as it was about a mile between all the offices and while there was a bus it only ran once an hour, so it was tons faster to walk. Inhale. After spending close to two hours doing the tax thing (including walking between offices) I grabbed a bus to get the latest issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and since it was after 1500 and the next bus wasn’t until 1551, I grabbed a bite at the burger place on the corner. Inhale. Also between paying taxes and heading home I picked up some high-point check-ins on my game.

On the hot rod front I found there was an LS series engine built for transverse FWD cars, the LS4, and a special automatic transaxle to go with it. It was installed in the GM W-body cars in the early 2ks and made famous as the “You get a car!” car on Oprah. Anywho the LS4 is slightly shorter than the standard LS V8 and puts out just over 300 HP in stock, new form. Thing is that because it’s an LS engine there are tons of GM and aftermarket performance parts to pump up the power until the transmission turns to shrapnel in a few seconds/feet. Using this combination results in a power unit that weighs right at 700 pounds, or slightly lighter than the 350/350 standard for T-Buckets, by about 10 pounds. Most of that is because of the aluminum heads and block of the LS compared to the cast iron block and heads on the SBC 350, because that 4T65E transaxle weighs more than the TurboHydromatic 350 by 94 pounds. But the final car would still be even lighter than the 350/350 Bucket because like with the minivan powered bucket there is no 120 pound rear axle, or driveshaft. So maybe 1600 pounds or a touch less for the LS4/4T65E bucket, basically 100 pounds less than the SBC 350/350 bucket. And I could get the same HP out of the 3.6L DOHC V6 Mopar engine that weighs more than 100 pounds less. Less low-end torque, but that’s why the 62TE transmission has a 4.1 1st gear and the 4T65E transmission has a 2.61 1st.

And It’s time for me to go to bed now. I have a busy day coming tomorrow.

Billed@€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

I’m gonna go for a wa-alk!

Read that headline in sing-song voice like you were taunting someone because that’s how I typed it. Yesterday was pretty painful but this morning I wasn’t feeling too bad so after dinner tonight I’m going to take a short (just >2 mile) walk. I can get 19 out of the 25 possible check-ins on my phone game, just not any bonus point check-ins, for a maximum of 95 points and a good walk. This particular walk seems to be my best compromise between exercise and damage to my body. I’m still waiting on that new pump to arrive so I can pump up the other tire and get some real exercise on my bike.

In other news there ain’t no other news I can report in this blog, so I covered it in my Twitter account. Twitter is not a good medium for me. I mean I can do it, no problem but I have a tendency to reduce my written communications to sound bites as it is and the 140 character limit per tweet makes this even worse. I mean, have you ever read “Famous Novels Redone As Single Tweets”? That’s what my tweets look like if I’m not careful about stuffing too much information into a single tweet.

I’m still unhappy with Mrs. the Poet over the hot rod thing, but I don’t see any way to compromise with her “no!” stance. My opinion is if I have to give up something I have dreamed about for half a century then there should be something Mrs. the Poet gives up in exchange, but she doesn’t have any such long-held desires. I mean the most I could do would be to tell her she can’t clean up the garage any more since I won’t be building anything in it now that I can’t build my hot rod. I have design sketches for the T-Bucket that are over 20 years old, she has nothing. Well nothing she hasn’t already got. Her big thing was getting the kids raised and grandkids, which she sorta has now. The only place she’s fallen short of her dreams is we only have the one grandkid, where she was hoping for several. Anything else she has wanted has been discarded like a used tissue. I’m still here, so I guess that’s good.

And my walk beckons so this is the last paragraph sentence.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

That’s why it broke

After I got the message that I was getting a warrantee replacement on the failed tire pump and I could throw the failed pump away I went ahead with the post-mortem on how and why it failed. I poked at the junction between the hose and the gauge where all the air was leaking from and there was a definite discontinuity in the hose at that point. So I carefully cut away the fabric braid over the hose and found the hose barely attached to the gauge with most of the diameter separated and some degradation of the rubber hose in that spot.
See the crack? That's where it failed first.
You can see a crack that developed at the point of first failure. Something has deteriorated the entire hose as far back as I can peel the braid covering and there are lengthwise cracks all over the hose that don’t show up in pictures I can take with my phone because it doesn’t have macro capability like my old flip phone. And I can’t change the resolution to match what I can post here to save storage space like my old flip phone. Anywho, the hose has a slightly sticky surface and has other signs of physical deterioration like those cracks. Hypothesis: the hose is not of recent manufacture and has succumbed to age. Second hypothesis: the hose has deteriorated rapidly because of environmental contamination. Conclusion: either or both hypothesis are correct as the hose may be old but not old enough to fail unless deteriorated by environmental contamination. Unfortunately there are no markings indicating country of manufacture anywhere on the pump, so I can’t say if pollution from lax regulations in China may have caused my pump to fail.

Anyway, yesterday I went for another 4.3 mile walk to get bonus points on my phone game while I paid for my phone service and I woke up this morning feeling like my feet had been beaten on again, so tomorrow’s walk will only be about 2.2 miles and just get 19 out of the 25 possible captures per day. I still need to get the exercise and also need to get as many points as possible. All this will be far easier on my feet when the replacement pump gets here (and hopefully, works) and I can ride my bike to the places that have the bonus check-ins. They are easy bike rides away, but long walks that hurt my feet.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Fornicate it!

Yeah I wanted to use another word starting with the letter “F” but that would make for a bad headline.

I have decided that since I can’t do the hot rod the way I wanted, or the alternative way that was offered, that doesn’t mean I can’t continue working on either one. I will work on BOTH switching back and forth as my interest waxes and wanes. It would not be the first time I have built something in my head I couldn’t make IRL. There is a lot of cross-pollination already between the two projects in frame design. And the good thing about building in your head is there are no budget restrictions unless you decide there are. That’s kinda what I was doing with the LS7 version of the Sprint-T. And for the Fantasy version of the mid-Bucket what should I use? There is a DOHC 4-valve per cylinder 3.6L Mopar V-6 in the current minivans that puts out 283 HP through a 6 speed OD transmission to motivate 4500 pounds of minivan, supercharge that to 350 and drop it in a 1500 pound bucket… But there are other transverse mounted V-6 and V-8 options out there I should be considering…

And recent events have me pondering if something or someone is trying to tell me something. I have been trying to ride this bike since early fall of last year and I still haven’t ridden it since I got it home and fell off trying to get off the bike when I got home. I have been trying to build a hot rod since the 1970s, and you can see how well that’s going. It’s like the things I want are the football, the universe is Lucy, and I’m Charley Brown… D:

Well I need to go pay for my phone and get a bit of exercise so I’ll cut this off before I get to crying in my Shiner White Wing.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

It never rains but it pours, my luck

OK I was going to get the extension hose today so I removed the gauge from the pump to take the fitting to the parts shop to get the right sizes on the hose. After I got it off I thought just for due diligence I should leak test the unit to make sure of where the leak was. So guess where the leak was? The end of the hose where it joins the gauge. Now if the leak had been on the other end of the hose or the other side of the gauge I could fix it, but where the hose connects to the gauge is a crimped connection and not something I can fix at home. So now I have to do a warrantee replacement of the pump so I can ride my bike. Fortunately Amazon is sending a replacement pump assembly.

Getting back to the design of the pump, this pump was designed to be non-repairable. What I thought was a male pipe-thread fitting on the gauge turned out to be a self-threading fitting with a sealing ring at the top, sorta like the legendary self-sealing stem bolts of ST:DS9 . This means they didn’t need to worry about clocking the installation of the gauge because it would clock itself without leaking. That also means I can’t just stick another original gauge and hose in there because the threads are already cut and probably wouldn’t match up to the new unit. And to make matters worse the hose connection to the gauge is not one that can be done or undone in your average home shop. So I’m screwed, and not in the fun way. The only thing I can do is see if I can screw a hose into the pump and run the pump without a gauge. But I’m still going to see if I can fix this one because that’s what I do, play with busted stuff and see if I can make it work. I have a brand-new pump that just needs a hose and chuck to work. I WILL make it work.

On the hot rod front, I have sustained a setback but I’m only out about $90 including taxes because everything I bought since the design change to a mid-engine will work with the more traditional design except for the car cover for a 1990-2005 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van. The books on reprogramming the Chrysler PCM are generic enough that unless I end up with a carb instead of fuel injection I’m still good on that, so that brings it down to $45 for the car cover and tax. The steering arms will work because the front suspension and steering are the same for the front and mid-engine versions except for springs and shocks, which I haven’t bought yet.

Something all the design work for the mid-bucket has made me want to do is to use something like the engine and transmission to make a SCCA Solo racing A/Mod car. There are very few rules in A/Mod: 72″ minimum wheelbase, 42″ minimum track, 900 pound minimum weight with driver, roll bar minimums and maximums, and all 4 wheels have to be sprung. There are maximum wing rules, driver coverage body rules, but nothing that would keep me from doing my thing. I really wished over and over I had the budget to do both the hot rod and the A/Mod car. Towing the A/Mod car behind the hot rod would be doubleplus rad.

And I think I have gotten everything out of my system for today.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

Getting my feet back under me after getting the rug pulled

I don’t know if any of you caught it Saturday, but Mrs. the Poet pulled the rug out from underneath me on the hot rod. Basically she just took my part of the family budget and said “we need to spend this otherwise”. This strands a ton of money in non-returnable parts because I bought a lot of my parts on close-out and returned to save money. I had a very tight budget before and was pinching every penny until Ol’ Abe screamed for mercy, but now I don’t even have that.

I mean, just look at what's left of this penny!

And yes, that penny is the same diameter as a nickel now.

I’m still processing this on an emotional level. On my intellectual level, yeah, we could use the money for other things but all the things she mentioned I have pulled money out of my trust to pay for several times now and she still hasn’t done them, so why should my budget get wiped for things I want when she gets unlimited raids on my trust fund for the same thing? I mean I have taken money out of my trust on several occasions to pay for things she mentioned in the justification for wiping my budget, so why wipe out my budget now? Especially when I was on the cusp of making as much money on my own as Mrs. the Poet’s retirement brings in.

I don’t mean for this to sound like I’m dumping on Mrs. the Poet, this is my way of processing this. In fact this blog was started as a way of processing my getting hit and the guy apparently not getting punished for trying to kill me. This blog had been running for years before I found out what really happened. And then I had to process why they would withhold the information from me and why I still don’t know the name of the guy who tried to kill me after more than 15 years. I’m mainly just kvetching now.

In summation, I ain’t got no money, Mrs. the Poet is being mean to me (not really), and I write to work things through I can’t process any other way. Oh! and I can’t get money until I replace my ID card.

Opus the Unkillable

Who are you cheering for in the big game tomorrow?

Are you Ruff or Fluff?

What, you thought I was talking about the football game? I’m talking Puppy Bowl XIII on Animal Planet channel. Basically it’s watching 2 hours of puppies playing with dog toys with a half hour of kittens in the middle, and everybody not human in the show is up for adoption. I have no idea how they determine a winner except by counting how many members of each team get adopted during the show, maybe?Anyway Team Ruff is looking strong and aggressive this year, I pick them to go all the way.

There were Girl Scouts and cookies at the grocery store today, we picked up a box of Dos-i-dos (the peanut butter sandwich cookie here) because Mrs. the Poet already bought Tagalongs (chocolate covered shortbread cookies with a peanut butter filling, kinda like a Reese’s Cup cookie).

I’m still working on the hot rod. I was offered a much later model minivan today for trade-in value. It also has a bad transmission or transmission controller that is making shifting sluggish and it hesitates before going into gear from a stop. This is something I can fix, I have the instructions on rebuilding one of these transmissions and the only tools needed are a metric socket set and a pair of snapring pliers, and I got all that. And if that doesn’t do the trick the transmission controller is part of the PCM that I’ll have to reprogram after I put it in the hot rod. So basically I get a much newer engine an transmission with the same problems as the other car. Unfortunately Mrs. the Poet just put the kibosh on actually buying a donor car, so now… ugh! 😛

So, I guess in the meantime I get to fix the tire pump by running to the parts store for fittings and a hose that fits the fittings.

PSA, 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

Happy Imbolc! and something to do with large rodents

I don’t know if this was on-purpose or serendipity, but the made-up US celebration falls square on the Pagan holiday. We Pagans of many stripes can celebrate our minor fertility festival on the same day as the muggles lose their minds on a groundhog seeing his shadow or not, and most people can’t tell the difference.

Incidentally this fertility festival mirrors the harvest festivals in the Fall. We have the trios of Lammas/Lughnassad, Mabon AKA My Birthday, and Samhain in the fall and Imbolc, Ostara, and Beltain in the spring. Here in TX you plan your crops in Imbolc, plant your crops near Ostara, and cheer for your crops on Beltain.

So, what are you planning to plant this year? Literally I still don’t have a garden here so I don’t plant food crops, and I don’t plant flowers either because I get allergies. As for the other I plan on doing the plasma gig, playing the cell phone game for every cent I can pull out of it, and keep trying to get writing work. I really wish I could still write poetry as there has been a large upsurge in demand this year. But Rhyme and Meter were both knocked out of my head in the wreck, and if the driver was still alive another one of the things I would have sued over losing. I’m still a fairly competent technical writer, I think, but it has been years since I picked up one of those gigs. So a small income stream is infinitely better than no income stream, but a big income stream beats the crap out of a small income stream.

So, my planting this year will be things that can grow my revenue stream(s). I will be starting the selling plasma gig, continuing the cell phone game gig and the gig I can’t talk about because NDA, and keep looking for writing and modeling gigs in the hope that I can still do those things.

Back to the recurring story about the hot rod, it seems there are good things about having insomnia. “Buh, wha’?”[whiplash] Yeah, it turns out being in bed in a dark room just… thinking, is a great way to solve problems. One of the problems I needed to solve was adjustability for different uses. For normal street and highway use a touch of understeer is good and makes the car more stable. In the past Detroit carmakers mistook “touch” for “kill it multiple times with a sledgehammer” leading to sedans that plowed like a farm implement under hard cornering. For autocross driving a touch of oversteer makes the car faster through the twisties, just enough to change direction quickly. A good way to adjust over/understeer is moving the rear roll center up and down. So I designed a cheap and simple way to adjust the rear roll center height quickly the other night while waiting for brain shutdown and sleep involving a chunk of 1″ allthread and a matching nut that acts as the pivot for the center arm of the Watt’s link. As I crank the allthread the nut moves up and down, but even if the allthread can’t turn except when I crank on it the roll center won’t change enough to affect handling as the nut turns while the arm pivots because the nut only moves a fraction of a turn which translates to a fraction of a thread spacing. To change the roll center height enough to change from under to oversteer and back requires moving inches, not a tiny fraction of an inch (< 1mm). Not that the allthread not moving is a high probability but I like to make sure I cover all the bases (as in "what is the worst that can happen with this design?"). "The worst" in this case was the allthread bending under the load and failing leading to a laterally unrestrained rear axle, but the way to deal with that is to size the allthread so that other things fail first, things that don't normally fail except in a wreck. I figure that 1" is enough safety factor to prevent that from happening, especially since the fixed-mount kit through Speedway uses a ½" bolt in single shear for the center pivot. There will be roller bearings in the top and bottom brackets for the allthread to turn in and a 3/8” square carved into the top of the allthread for a ratchet to drive the nut up and down.

But now we are entering the minutiae of car design (aka “brass tacks”). I don’t usually get into things this nit-picky until much later in the design but I was just laying there staring at the ceiling in the semi-dark of a suburban night unable to sleep and nothing else to do but think and this is what I thunk.

Y’all have a good night, Opus the Unkillable

This was a mixed kinda day

First the good news, I got out of the house and I’m not in horrible pain. In fact I feel pretty god physically right now. Now the Bad News, I lost my wallet with my ID and ATM card. And my bus pass and $10 but I managed to get home without the bus pass and the $10 can be replaced. I was fortunate that on my way back I was never asked to present my bus pass and the same guy that sold me my pass remembered me on the return trip to the house from the transit station.

On other good news I got the presta adapters and the tire is pumped up now, I’ll get the other tire tomorrow then go out and collect high-point check-ins. I was fortunate to have a large handful of loose change I grabbed off my desk before I left the house to pay for the adapters. I’m also fortunate that there will be a Starbucks to wait around in near the big point check-ins so I can keep warm when the temperature drops tomorrow.

And I need to go do Other Things now so time to put this post to bed.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable