I did something today

Well it’s today as I compose this, but it will be yesterday before I can finish it.

There has been some speculation that stores will no longer allow customers without masks here in Dallas County to protect their workers so I went on an expedition to buy some, just in case. To save time I will just cut to the chase And let you know all I found were signs saying all masks and gloves were donated to local first responders (Lowe’s), or local hospitals (Harbor Freight). This presents me with a quandary: I might need to have a mask to shop, but all the places that sell masks were out, and places that sell stuff to make masks are closed as non-essential. The only thing I have is a scarf that wraps several times around my face but doesn’t do that good a job of keeping things in or out.

Another thing I was looking for was some place to get my neck rubbed. The last time I got a massage was 3/4, and life has been a huge pain in the neck since then. But one of the categories of businesses deemed “non-essential” is massage places. And every one I passed going to or from the places I was looking for masks was closed with the lights off. So right now I’m holding my head at an odd angle because I have muscles in my neck that are spasming and won’t let me hold my neck straight, courtesy of my tumor Chris Christy and Arthur Dent that was left after, and also the fact that I’m almost 62 years old. I understand that being old is also a major pain in the neck. Some humor implied there.

One of the Not Good things about the Social Distancing order is in order to buy ready to eat food you have to be in a car. Drive throughs are open but most places you can’t go inside to place an order to go, which is rather annoying to people Not Wearing A Car. Most places have online ordering that requires an app on your phone for every restaurant you want to buy food from, which can quickly result in a phone that basically won’t work because it has no free resources because you have too many apps on it. Which is also a bummer. For both of us, because the restaurant loses a sale, and I’m walking around hangry.

Another annoying thing is DART has made Doing Things By Transit even worse, by changing the headway on all routes. Basically it’s like they are punishing people for not driving, even though people are supposed to be Not Driving during the pandemic. It’s annoying and counter-productive for trying to maintain social distancing. The worst part is they have changed headways and schedules so that you have the maximum amount of delay between routes, twice I just missed the 402 after completing my business at one store and going to another store on the route, with an extra hour to wait between buses. One of the things I had to do was see if our Stimulus Check had been deposited, which I couldn’t because I didn’t have Mrs. the Poet’s ATM card to check her balance. I thought we had left it in my wallet after the grocery run, but I didn’t.

Allergies are bad this year

Not much to say today. Mrs. the Poet’s incision from her back surgery is healing nicely and she may start PT as soon as they start allowing home visits by the Physical Therapists, which are stopped because of the COVID19 pandemic to prevent transferring the virus to people who are medically fragile. As the headline stated my allergies are bad this year, this was the first time my eyelids were so swollen that one split over next to the corner. Other than that and some pains in the reconstructed hip I’m doing good. I’m not sure but I think the pain in the hip has something to do with sleeping 14 hours on Wednesday followed by much walking around Thursday.

picture of the split near my eye

Speaking of running around on Thursday, on the way home the bus took me through the local large shopping area, what was built to replace the promised mall but is only several large retailers in close proximity and sharing parking lots. Anywho except for the places selling food with drive-throughs the place was a ghost town with literal acres of empty parking lots. Local retail has been clobbered by the shelter in place order for Dallas County, and will take years to recover if it ever recovers.

On the Sprint-T I have been designing a fairing for the front tires that also houses the headlights and supports the front edge of the front fenders. It’s simple, a half cylinder to split the air in front of the tire and a tapered rear fairing at the rear edge of the tire, with a flat or slightly curved top, all made from HDPE sheet. I checked TX regulations and purchased some headlights that are legal, LED replacements for the 4656 sealed beam headlight. The have both low and high beam and are above minimum and below maximum lumens so are legal in TX, about $40 shipped with tax for a set of 4.

Now to install them on my car I need to run by a junkyard when they open back up and get a headlight assembly for one side of a quad rectangular headlight car, because I only need one per side. I need to get the plate the buckets mount on, the adjusting screws and springs, the buckets, and the bezels that retain the headlights to the buckets. I just need to mount the backing plate to the vertical piece at the back of the half cylinder and between the side pieces of the fender in a place that clears the tire at full bump and full lock in both left and right. Nothing to it. I just need to make a drawing of the tire at full lock in both directions and on top of that drawing put the headlight at the height it would be in relation to the tire at full bump which is about 1.5″ higher than normal ride height. I know the vertical part of the front fender fairing will be a little forward of where the front of the tire will be at the straight ahead position so that it will clear the tire at full lock. I have been thinking about making this part slightly curved for more clearance at lock, and more rigidity. This is also why I was thinking about curving the top part of the fender, to make it more rigid in use.

Now something else I have been thinking about is making the front fenders quick-release for when I’m racing, because light weight is way more important than reduced drag in the kind of racing I’m building this car for. The courses will never allow anything even close to top speed where drag reduction is more important, all of the sanctioning bodies require top speeds on course be no more than normal street or highway speed and one body requires no more than 30 MPH. So especially for that one sanctioning body, light weight is more important than drag reduction. On the street drag reduction is less important than light weight, on the highway light weight is less important than drag reduction but I need fenders and headlights either way. Now for this kind of racing being able to see my front tires is a slight advantage for placing my car on the quickest line, maybe a half second on a 1 minute course. That is a good enough reason to make the front fenders and headlights removable. But I’m still cogitating about how to do that and not change headlight aim when removing and replacing the fenders. More thought is required and maybe wasting some raw stock on different prototypes to test for rigidity and repeatability when removing and replacing.

Allergies are kicking my backside yesterday

I slept 14 hours yesterday because of tree bukakke as the VP of my church used to put it. Most people call it a pollen bloom, but it’s actually tree sperm sprayed into the atmosphere and landing on us. Anywho, there was some of that, that I was especially allergic to, that gave me aches and pains and just made me miserable. I would wake up and not be able to open my eyes because of how swollen my eyelids were. Yay, me! And just go back to sleep.

Things here in my state are getting pretty bad as far as government services go. The new UI applications are about 630 TIMES usual volume. This is like all the other states and all of Europe decided to run their UI through TX phones and computers. This is the worst it has been since the 1930s as far as people out of work is concerned, they didn’t have unemployment back then but they still counted how many people were working compared to how many were looking. And it wasn’t as bad as what we are dealing with now. Now if people don’t get crazy greedy about getting paid NOW! and we can just let things ride a bit until this blows over everybody can just pick up where we left off and no big thing, especially if the GOP decides to give most of the bailout to people instead of companies. Granted companies are going to need some cashflow to keep the doors open and pay the mortgage, or we could just put everything on pause until after the lockdown is over. Banks aren’t paying for much, so use the bailout money to cover their costs but only just their costs, no profits. Let the stimulus money pay for the things that have to be bought while everybody is out of work and also pay “hazard pay” for the people keeping us alive.

Enough of the ranting about political stuff, I also have been thinking about making things while I couldn’t open my eyes. I mean like how to stuff an LS engine into a sprint or midget chassis, or a shaft drive motorcycle into a live axle frame of some kind, or some kind of independent rear suspension thing for SCCA A-Mod (all of those for A-Mod), and riffed off of those to do mutants that were some of A and a little of B and a whole bunch from out in left field. As I was mostly asleep this was fun, but not recordable or shareable.

And I have basically run out of things to say. I’ll post something again when I have something more to say.

Still not dead, but not much worth writing about

The excitement for the week consisted of playing an online version of “Cards Against Humanity”. And also going grocery shopping. Other than that I have been mostly on the computer and mobile device reading news, comics and Twitter. And still working on the Mini Sprint T, as I have discovered I didn’t document my design notes for the rear frame. I have strong ideas about what I want to do, but I didn’t remember to write them down or put a notes document in my computer.

Now the reason why I need to do this is the upper rail has to go someplace behind the rear hoop to brace it from collapsing backwards if the car flips while at speed, and also so the fuel cell is protected from a rear end collision. To that end I have been also doing detail design for the bracket that connects the upper rail to the front and rear hoops. The main thing about that is the thickness of the plates and the wall thickness of the tubes needs to be equal for the stresses to be equal to welding the rail to the hoops directly, and the gaps between the ends of the bracket and the hoop also has to be filled and an air bleed hole and access for rustproofing placed somewhere near the bottom of the bracket. This also makes for a place for condensation to escape to prevent rust. I have been strongly considering painting the bracket with a weld-through coating like Steel-It to protect against rust inside after the car is finished.

The other thing to consider is running a tube between and roughly parallel to the top and bottom rails to mount and protect the fuel cell in a rear end collision. The way I’m seeing it now, that tube can be the thin wall because it will be in compression in a collision and is a parallel load path to the upper rail that intersects it where the two pieces connect to the rear bulkhead and one of them needs to collapse to direct the forces of a rear end collision under the car to prevent whatever hits the car from behind from going into the driver compartment. In fact there is a whole lot of structure that needs to be lighter than optimal for stiffness to make the vehicle more crashworthy.

Something else interesting that is going on is the woman who used to rent a room from us is having difficulties applying for UI after the used clothing store she worked for went belly-up because of the social distancing lockdown called by the county. We tried doing the 800 number thing, but the menu selection needed to check for an active account is no longer available. They direct callers to the web site which is down because of too many people trying to access the site because of the number of places that did the same thing as what happened to the lady who used to live with us. I am so glad I don’t have to go through that mess as I’m disabled and Mrs. the Poet is on retirement. But the web site remains down even at 2030 as people are overwhelming the site with trying to find out if their applications have been approved. The other interesting thing is technically the woman is retired because she is a few days younger than Mrs. the Poet and eligible for SSI and her ATT pension from when she worked there. So she has enough money to live on, but not enough to maintain her current lifestyle, and probably not enough to live on if she has to change domiciles if the person she’s living with decides to change to a senior apartment instead of the house she currently owns.

We are weird here,our wine and liquor are not running out

But the cookies and ice cream stocks are almost depleted if not completely gone. Seriously, I’m looking at buying beer, bread, there’s a screaming deal on Oreos we want to get, and a few other thing including Lysol trigger spray and yogurt.

And this is as close as I’m gonna get to an April Fool’s Joke today, because nobody can top the joke in the White House. Sorry to get political on you, but seriously, that dude has been making me slightly crazy with all his nonsense.

On less political subjects I have been watching people making things on YouTube, mostly fabricating things on or for their cars. I don’t have access to raw stock of any kind except for lumber so for me to actually build anything, because while the lumberyards are essential the metal supply is non-essential and I ain’t got none handy to build with. I need lots of 1.5″ tubing, because I know what I’m building now. I’m figuring out how much of each size I need by building the mini Sprint-T and measuring how much of the plastic I need and multiplying by scale factor, but I need to figure out how much bend and length I need for the upper rail. I’m still trying to get the lengths and bends right but I’m going through a lot of raw stock because the bender only works once without making the stock too thin. I’m doing the bend after the rear hoop and in front of the front hoop. The upper rail attaches to the hoops with two brackets on either side of the hoop that puts the tube across from and in line both legs of the hoop and a stub tube to meet the bend, and I’m debating putting a boxing plate from the leg of the hoop to the upper rail. If I do that I probably won’t need to do the stub from the rail to the outside of the bend on the hoop if I plate the top and side and I save a whole bunch of complexity.

This is boring

I have been mostly staying in and taking care or Mrs. the Poet as she recovers from her surgery, and she’s slowly getting better. And as she gets better there is less and less to take care of because she’s trying to assert her independence while she’s recovering her mobility. But I’m still cooking dinner.

The lady who used to live with us was laid off from her job as the owner decided she didn’t have the money to ride out getting shut down by the city as a non-essential business. Which pretty much describes her used clothing store in a nutshell. It’s a “nice to have” rather than “essential”. I mean when the new clothing stores are “non-essential”, used clothing is definitely not essential. Which means she needed help to navigate applying for unemployment, applying for a new job, and also finding a new place to live as the place she lives now is also downsizing for what I understand is the person who owns the house wants to sell and move into either a smaller house or an assisted-living apartment, the person relaying the story was not very forthcoming on that one. So after much pulling of hair trying to do the computer things with so many other people trying to do the same thing, we cued up some movies on the DVD player we had to buy because we couldn’t keep on the internet with the laptop also playing DVDs.

I got to catch up on some movies I hadn’t seen, basically all of them, I haven’t been to a movie since the last How to Train Your Dragon came out. We saw Secret Life Of Pets 2, SWTLJ, and another movie that made so little impression on me I can’t remember the title. Also some parodies of Batman V Superman done with cats.

And I bought things online. I just got a case of Cactus Cooler via Amazon that you can’t get in stores here in TX because we are outside the distribution area. If it ever gets to local stores I would definitely buy it in 2-liter bottles, because it costs too much in 12 oz cans, but it was definitely worth the $30 I spent to get the case to find out if I liked it. I wonder if they have a sugar-free version, because it’s basically flavored corn syrup diluted with carbonated water in the state I bought, and that’s a bit heavy for me.

I’m still waiting for the hat I bought online to get here because it was delayed by the CA shelter in place order only allowing 3 people in the warehouse to ship stuff which is way under the regular staff. Last update my hat should get here tomorrow.

Something else I should mention is my appointment was moved to May 26. So about 4 months after the last appointment I get back, which is twice as long as was planned and also a month longer than normal, but I have an appointment.

My side gig might still survive

I just got an e-mail from the middleman of my side-gig saying a client had requested me to be available for their new announcement next week, at the regular rate of $40/page. Since this usually only takes like a half hour or so per page, this is a good hourly wage. I just wish the jobs were a little more frequent than they are, as I seldom get more than one or two of these a month, and sometimes I get none. For the client this is also a bargain, because they don’t have to maintain a jobforce capable of doing this everyday even if they are paying premium rates for each document.

I’m not sure, but I think the people I work for have marketing departments, they’re just not staffed with native speakers of American English, and as I have mentioned the documents I get look to be badly machine translated. So they do the creative part, send it through some algorithm to translate their market-speak to American, and I clean up their poetry to something Americans will understand and if I’m good their customers here will fall for it just like their native customers fall for theirs. I’m not good at advertising copy, but when given something to work from I can do a decent enough job. My NDA prevents me from mentioning even the industries I work for, but I get to cover a bunch of different ones. I’ve never had to do any cosmetics, and now that I wrote that I probably will.

Another thing I’m not sure of is how many other writers are “in the stable” as it were. I mean there are thousands of medium-sized and small companies in that part of the world, but they can’t all be releasing products at the same time so that large numbers of writers like me would be required. But until recently I had a steady stream of projects to do without any big surges that would imply seasonal spikes in product releases or long gaps that would imply quiet phases between seasonal spikes, everything has been sorta steady if sparce, as I wrote earlier they come about once or twice a month. So instead of spending too much time thinking about it I’ll just enjoy the easy work and the small amount of money I get, that basically pays for an occasional fancy takeout or delivery meal. And speaking of which I need to order some fried rice and lo mien this evening from China Harbor so they will still be there when this mess gets back to normal.

Now about what I did yesterday. The local grocery has reserved shopping for us olds and other people who can’t do hand to hand with the Karens over toilet paper and hand sanitizer, so I did another stay up until noon to get Mrs. the Poet things we couldn’t get Saturday, including allergy pills. Well by the time I got done I was exhausted nigh unto collapse. Seriously I was having problems staying on my feet. And while you would think that would result in dropping off quickly into blissful slumber, you would be quite wrong. I was too physically tired to toss and turn, but my mind still wouldn’t shut down and let me sleep so I mentally tossed and turned while my body couldn’t. It. Was. Annoying.

OK this is getting surreal now

We here in The Beautiful Suburbs of Hell are now under a “shelter in place” order. That means all the things I was going to do this week are now illegal. I had an appointment with the Lab Rat Keeper, I needed to get my toes done, my neck is a bundle of knots that kneed untying, and all of those are now illegal because of the restrictions on activities because of COVID19. All barbershops, nail salons, and massage parlors have been closed. With fast food being closed except for delivery and to-go that eliminates just about everything I have to do this week, because they have also banned trips to a doctor that aren’t “urgent need”.

On the good side the RPG group has been “remotely meeting” for a while now. The service we use to meet with is having technical problems as basically everyone is trying to use it at the same time, so we had all kinds of audio problems, and by all kinds I mean of the list of issues they show on the logout screen, we had each one at some point during the game. But we managed to get a good game session in before the person with the most brain problems had to check out and take her meds. I managed to take out several bad guys without injuring any non-combatants. The last stronghold is taking longer because there are more people and this is the first place that had more than one non-combatant to look out for. I’m finally getting some use from all of that training in urban warfare from over 45 years ago. This is just like some of the classroom training we got way back in the 1970s. Not entirely like it, because in the training sessions we didn’t have to worry about not damaging the drugs, in fact it was exactly the opposite. Because it was the ’70s, and Nixon. You really had to have been there… I’m not getting any bad flashbacks, because we basically were just pretending about the urban warfare back then. So no dead people or anything like that to haunt my nightmares. Most of the stuff we did in that class we did after school and on weekends.

But getting back to the game, we were trying to shut down a drug gang in what used to be Arlington, hitting places where they sell drugs and prostitutes to disrupt their operation and stop them from sending money back to their big bosses in what used to be Mexico and Central America. So we have been tracking down all their drug distribution centers and whorehouses and destroying them, stealing the drugs and setting the prostitutes free. I think the reason we are getting paid for this is this puts a crimp in the cash flow for a megacorp. Not a serious interruption, but a noticeable interruption. Because we keep finding large stashes of drugs and large amounts of cash, and our Mr. Johnson never mentioned turning either one over to the client, the only thing I can think of why we are doing this is 1) we are trying to get the megacorp out of local organized crime or 2) the GM has a power fantasy about disrupting drugs and prostitution, or some from column A and some from column B. But anyway this last building is a little tricky because of the non-combatants, and one member of the group thinking my character is going to let any of the worse drugs back out on the streets.🤣

I’m resetting my diurnal cycle

Yep, another 34-36 hour “day” in an attempt to get my body more on the same schedule as Mrs. the Poet, so I can take better care of her while she recovers. I think I might have mentioned a time or two she finds my “normal” sleep cycle “not-very-normal”. And she refuses to change to my schedule, so I must conform to hers. My signal that it’s time to torture myself again is when I get up at 1600 instead of 1200-1400. That’s when I’m far enough out of sync that I feel the need to reset to going to bed at 0000 instead of 0300 or later.

And I need to pick up some hardware for the steering wheel mount at the Lowes. For some reason it wasn’t included with the mount from Speedway Motors but that just means I get to pick up the strength grade I want instead of what their accountants think I need. Since the mount is made from some grade of aluminum alloy I’m thinking that the higher grades of bolts will just result in pulling the threads out of the mount when the system fails instead of the bolt breaking.

And Clint just left a “deposit” on my leg as part of his ongoing digestive difficulties, which means I must change my pants, and this is also probably a good time to take my shower.

My side gig has gone under because of COVID19

You would think that a gig that was internet-based where the principals never saw each other and all the work was transmitted electronically would be immune from impact by plagues, and you would think wrong. Turns out that when factories are shut down they don’t introduce new products and don’t need user manuals and advertising for the new products they aren’t making Etc. & etc. Basically my services are not needed until after the crisis are over and new production restarts. The problem is I am not certain my intermediary for this gig will survive until everything is running again. They say they are good for the next month, but if Asia stays shut down past that they aren’t promising they will be there to route jobs to people like me, and the companies might decide to just do what they can without us polishing the turds that they sent us before.

So, I’m basically looking at this as my “pin money” gig has gone to the big scam gig in the sky. I’m not getting any more jobs through that channel for a while, maybe ever. Ah well, I have lost jobs before through no fault of my own, this is not the first time, and probably won’t be the last if I get another job instead of just collecting my social security. It was nice while it lasted, now it’s probably gone, c’est la vie.