perhaps you also enjoy fixing things and/or are a dude

ted | chicago,house,junk,the wrath of math | Thursday, December 27th, 2007

We’re dudes, which means we like drinking beer and scratching ourselves. And occasionally, we fix something. Or make it worse. But then the leaking gas line helps give you ideas of what else to fix or perhaps make worse.

Fortunately Sears has a coupon for $5 off most things over $5. I printed out a bunch of these and used six of them this afternoon on some hand tools. Getting $90 of tools for $60 is nice, even if the mouthbreathing register jockeys had to ring up each item over $5 separately. One of them was keeping her cell phone in her cleavage, I shit you not.

my favorite christmas songs redux

ted | junk | Friday, December 21st, 2007


And fortunately a video almost as annoying as the song itself.

I like fixing things

ted | chicago,driving,house,junk | Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I like fixing things.

I like things not being broken first and foremost, but if they are, I like to set them proper again. I especially like doing simple fixes on the cars.

The 2000 New Beetle TDI we picked up last year had a check engine light on for a bad glowplug – the common P0380 code. When Jason did the timing belt (only 20k miles overdue, stupid-assed previous owners) he swapped it out for a known good used glowplug. Eventually that GP failed again, so I ordered a new set of Beru GPs from TDIParts and Peter was nice enough to bring them with him to a wrenching GTG in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Didn’t get them installed that day, as Matt was nice enough to reset the CEL and it didn’t come back.

A few weeks later, the CEL came back.

At that same GTG, I installed a zerostart kilowatt coolant heater in my 2006 Golf TDI but didn’t finish wiring it up.

This past Sunday, 2007 Dec 09, I fixed both issues. I had to venture out to get a 1/4″ drive 10mm deep socket and a can of P’Blaster, but otherwise everything was completely straightforward, as such:

  1. Remove engine cover (2x10mm nuts)
  2. Remove glowplug harness. Pull hard, it’s on there but good.
  3. While engine is still warm, spray the base of the GPs with P’Blaster.
  4. Test GP resistance with multimeter. Notice GP in 3rd cylinder measures 24 megaohms while everyone else measures 0.3 ohms.
  5. Ponder if GPs are numbered backwards from cylinder order, such that cylinder 3 (3rd from timing belt side) actually has glowplug 2.
  6. Remove a GP with the deep 10mm socket.
  7. Put a TINY dab of antisieze on the new GP’s threads, gently place it in the hole and hand tighten. Make sure you don’t let any crud fall down in there. Tighten further using your hand on the center of the ratchet or with a torque wrench to 15 Nm (11 ft-lbs). That ain’t much. Be careful.
  8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 for the remaining 3 GPs, put the harness back on and start it up to listen for leaks.

Still need to get the CEL reset, but there might be a copy of VAG-COM in my future.

The Golf got the final electrics installed for the Zerostart and it works perfectly. It’s on a 1500W appliance timer to turn on a few hours before I leave for work. Tried it out yesterday for about 1.5 hours before I typically leave and the temp gauge was above the “cold” side at initial start, then dropped down a bit but was back up over them by the time I passed Western Ave. This morning with 3 hours of preheat, it was almost completely warm and only a slight dip in temperature once I got going. Thermosiphon really works well for circulation & having a car that’s already 60% warmed up by the time I start the key is great. Just need to get a reliable parking spot at work near an outlet and I’ll be a happy camper all winter.

old grey mule just ain’t what she used to be

ted | computer,house,junk | Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

New cell number in effect as an effort to stay ahead of theman, email me for details. Banana will be getting a fresh format soon, so if you have anything on that machine, I highly recommend you move it elsewhere. AFAIK I’m pretty much the only person that uses it, but you have been warned.

Things fall apart, it’s scientific

ted | computer,junk | Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

My late 2002 vintage iBook is probably dead.

It has finally succumbed to the very common logic board GPU solder failure common to the dual-USB G3 iBooks. Oh, and not only is the charger plug all bent to hell and back, the charging cord is almost worn completely through – so much so that it started arcing a bit.

Yes, G3. I’ve been using a 700 MHz G3 iBook for over 5 years now. For what I “need” a laptop for, this is plenty of muscle. After I graduated, my computing needs at home have been limited mostly to browsing the intertubes, listening to musics, deleting ads for boner pills and sshing into my linux machines. I have simple needs, but a 5 year old iBook without the ability to display video or charge does not fulfill any of them.

I “need” a new laptop. I don’t care about that widely-used OS from Redmond – we already have a wintendo around the house. I’m also sufficiently tired of Apple’s douchebaggery and excessive asshole tax to opt for something else. Lixnu should fit my needs well and has fairly recently become good enough for most Real People to use as their only OS.

I got a couple options. Option zero, which doesn’t solve any problems, really, but might be kinda fun, is to “resolder” the failing solder joints on the logic board with a votive candle and some white gas. This doesn’t solve the sparky charger and most certainly doesn’t solve the 5 year old laptop problem. Lil’ sparky could be replaced for about $20 on fleabay. So for a cool Jackson plus some flammable fun I could have a functioning iBook again… but for how long?

Option one is to see if work would sell me my 4 year old Dell Latitude D400, which I am budgeted to get replaced next year. I might be able to score it from the fine folks in the IT department at work for a couple hundred bucks – they’ve been going on fleabay for about $2-300. Aside from the buzzy little hard drive and paltry half gig of RAM, it’s in good shape and of the 12.1″ screen variety I prefer in a laptop. Drop in a 100+ GB drive and a full gig of RAM and it should be in pretty good shape. However, this hinges on being able to buy it for cheap. Upgrading to a gig of RAM and a big hard drive would tack on another $200 or so to whatever I paid for it and then I’ve still got a 4 year old machine. I’ve also read that the included Broadcom wireless sucks to make work in linux.

Option two is an Asus Eee PC, which would not only be stylish in black, but energy efficient, silent, compact, lightweight, almost entirely open source (by now, or very soon). Low storage capacity and horsepower, true, but I have plenty of storage capacity on other machines around the house and it would be faster than the machine it replaces. Not to mention purchasing said machine from Costco would afford me 90 days to return it should it not work out and a full two year warranty on it.

So,  given a low budget  and low demands, what would you do?

Of course, there’s always option three: use my evenings to practice the banjo, ride my bicycle, cook a delicious meal, enjoy refreshing time with my lady or pet my cats/dogs rather than be on a computer by default.

five for fightin’, another followup followup followup of a followup

ted | junk | Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Oh, heh. Baron Willrad von Doomington sent me these questions back in April. Whoops.

Waffle House seems to serve as a convenient marker for the North/South cultural divide. Will they spread northward (or recede southward) as the cultures integrate (or clash), or is this divide permanent and immovable? In short: will the North ever get their hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered?

Probably not. In fact, I recently read an interview with one of the founders (I don’t recall if it was Joe Rogers or Tom Forkner) that they purposefully stay out of the snow belt.

When I win my Mega Millions, however, I will totally open one in Chicago, their wishes be damned.

Being the Chief Engineer of the American Booze Council, have you ever considered building a still and distilling your own boozes? What would you make?
I have considered it, actually. It ain’t rocket surgery. You just need something with alcohol in it, a boiler and a condenser. Put stuff in the boiler, heat it to at least 78.5°C and relatively pure alcohol comes dribblin’ out the condenser. Repeat a few times and you can get it mighty strong.

Should I ever engage in this activity, I think it would be naught but blasphemy if I did not make my own corn liquor to honor my heritage.

Smokes: awesome, or completely awesome? Why? Do you ever plan to quit?

Awesome and repels noxious self-righteous non-smokers at the same time! I believe Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said it best, “The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.”

I’m sure I’ll quit in some capacity at some point. Sometimes I switch to cigars or to my pipe. Sometimes I don’t smoke at all for weeks.

Can biodiesel save us from the coming Peak Oil Wars, or is it just an expensive way to produce french-fry-smellin’ exhaust and self-satisfaction?

In its current state, no, it can’t ever save us from the coming Peak Oil Wars. Any fuel that competes with food crops is not going to work. Using it, however, shows a demand for alternative fuels and the only way we’re going to be able to get to second-generation biofuels. 2nd gen fuels can be made from damn near any organic matter – corn stover, wood chips, lawn clippings, rotting fruit, human bodies – and the cracking process can be tailored to produce whatever fuel you want. 60 cetane zero sulfur diesel fuel from what I was gonna throw out yesterday? Sign me up. If anything, 2nd gen biofuels will be less energy intensive than current biodiesel (~3:1 NROEI) or ethanol (~1.3:1 NROEI) production since you won’t have to use nearly as much fertilizer or good arable land to compete with food crops.

If you had one coupon good for One (1) Night Kickin’ Back And Drinkin’ Beers with any living person, who would it be? Similary: how about a coupon allowing the bearer to administer One (1) Ass-beatin’ Yelldown Warhellride?

Crapola, you pigeonholed me into living folk.
1. Chillin’ & Hell of Drinkin – David Lynch. I enjoy his films and every interview I’ve ever seen with him, he seems like a nice enough guy with all sorts of wild stuff in his head. Even if we just hung out at the Bob’s Big Boy he frequented and had hell of coffee and got all hopped up on sugar & caffeine to hear his weird ideas, awesome.

2. Thrashin’ Within An Inch of His/Her/Its Life – Dick Cheney. No explanation necessary.


ted | junk | Monday, August 6th, 2007


I love this video.

If one is good, two must be better

ted | junk | Thursday, June 28th, 2007

So, we have decided it would be in our – my dear Wife, myself and our greyhound, Mingus – best interests to add another greyhound to our house. It also just so happens that a greyhound rescue near Oklahoma City has a greyhound puppy up for adoption. Add to that a car that can get upwards of 700 miles on a tank of diesel and a weekend of cooler weather and you’ve got a recipe for a weekend roadtrip.

Yes, we are going to drive nearly 800 miles with our adult greyhound in the car to take a look at this little guy and maybe drive back with him in the back of the Golf.

My buddy Ken, who lives in OKC and will be putting the three of us up for the night this Friday commented that that little widder looks “like you transplanted a door wedge onto a headless puppys’ neck and shocked it to life” and I couldn’t agree more.

My lady is lobbying to call him “Monk”. After the hard bop jazz musician, not that retarded show. I got no beef with that but I think I would rather call him “Thelonious”. I’m also kicking around the idea of “Cannonball” or even “Julian” (Cannonball Adderley’s real first name) for the jazz and TPB connection.

Upon hearing about this plan, my Internet Lawyer, one Hazen Hammel, Esq., remarked “What are you, nuts? This is sounding more insane by the minute.” Today he provided me with a horrifying story about how to transport a large dog Romney style. While I do have a roof rack for my car, from my experiences with a rooftop carrier, this plan would cause a tremendous strain on my fuel economy and I would rather keep the dog(s) in the car. Not to mention, y’know, the disregard for animal life and borderline abuse.

what the fuck, livejournal?

ted | junk | Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

So most of y’all get this via the livejournal feed, syndicated by miz R. Love who recently got married and is FURIOUSLY trying to defect to Canadia. However, I just noticed that LJ doesn’t syndicate the “extended entry” that MT has, so just as an FYI, you might be missing the good shit, like the pictures of me being dirty and mechanic-like in the last post.

So, y’know, LJ-users, Fuck Your Ignorance.

five for fightin’, another another another followup

ted | junk | Friday, April 13th, 2007

From Firebase Igloo, a transmission was barely audible over the background static:

1) You are being sent on an engineering job at a very remote and isolated location. You are unsure of the nature of the work once you arrive, but you will need to build something – maybe a building, maybe a machine. There will be ample raw material at the jobsite, but no tools. You will access to the internet via satellite.
What are the five tools you bring?

Since I will apparently have electricity for internet access I infer I will also have it for running tools. I also surmise since it may be a building or machine, it would be wise to have the capability to cut and join metals & natural composites. I also believe you want to know what major tools I would bring and not individual screwdrivers or six penny nails.


One – Combination mill/drill/lathe, a big one. You can cut, drill, tap, turn & mill metal, plastic & wood on one of these. Not the most elegant or efficient tool but an awfully useful one.

Two & Three – Triple process arc welder and air compressor. Not only useful for stick, arc & TIG welding, but the air compressor lets you use it as an air arc rig to quickly cut through massive steel beams with ease. The air compressor is useful for all sorts of weird tasks, not the least of which is powering a die grinder to deburr parts or clean up welds.

Four – Calibrated tape measures. Give me three of them and I can draw most any angle or geometric shape.

Five – a big fat black Sharpie. Doublecheck your trig on the side of a 2×4, mark places to drill and tap, sketch a layout on a sheet of rusty carbon steel. Not as accurate as a scribing line but no need for messy bluing and more useful on more surfaces.

With these five, I believe I could probably manufacture any other tools necessary. Probably.

2) Tough shit, I am going to ask you a history question. As an engineer, how did the development of the American rail network after the Civil War contribute to American science and industry.

I think you have a typo. I believe you meant to type, “War of Northern Aggression” instead of “Civil War”. Simply put, without the ability to move machinery over long distances relatively easily (compared to using a horse & buggy), industry would have been concentrated only at sites that had direct dock access to steam ships. The entire right, left & central coasts would be jam-packed with industry and there would be nothing in the center of the country. I also suspect the waterways would have turned into instant superfund sites should that have happened.

As a barely-related aside, when rail equipment began to be standardized after the WNA, rail tracks had to be put to the same gauge. Most tracks in the northeast were roughly at our current standard gauge of 4′ 8-1/2″ (1435 mm). Most tracks in the glorious south were at roughly 5′ (1524 mm). Aside from a few spurious outliers anywhere from 4 – 6′ gauge, these two were the norm. After huge amounts of arguing and debate, the entirety of the Southern railroads were switched to the new gauge over the course of 2 days, starting 1886-May-31. Tens of thousands of workers pulled up the westmost rail of all broad gauge tracks, moved it three inches east and respiked it. Why change the South? Other than being the nation’s whipping boy, it is easier to move rails in on their ties than to move them out, potentially past the end of the tie.

However, should the entire nation have adopted the broad gauge of the South or even a wider gauge, it would allow for much wider rail cars meaning more cargo in each car, less tipping of the center of gravity if one rail dips a fixed amount and generally all around better for freight transit.

3) What are the techniques you use to deal with the stupidity of non-engineers?

Never go into detail. If someone doesn’t grasp how gears work they damn sure won’t understand how the involute shape of gear teeth actually allows for force to be transmitted tangent to the base circles of both gears at the very same time and permit this to happen even with varying degrees of shaft misalignment.

Draw lots of pictures. I’ve used a piece of soapstone on the side of a railcar, a sharpie on a placemat, ball-point pen on a bar napkin and a my finger in the dirt to make crude illustrations to help get my point across.

If you’re talking about a concept or bit of equipment someone isn’t familiar with, always have a sample to show them. I once had a girlfriend who had her car tuned up before a long trip and it didn’t fix her grinding brake noises. I quickly suggested they did not machine her brake rotors. When asked what that was, I simply took her out to her car, showed her the parts I was talking about and explained why brake rotors must be flat. Apparently it impressed the hell out of both her and her Mom that I would not only explain things such that two very non-technical folks could understand it, but I would show her exactly what I was talking about.

She uncerimoniously dumped me a few months later. Life is hard.
Suffering through college to get an engineering degree is harder.

4) What are the techniques you use to stand living with all those Yankees? Ok, Chicagoans aren’t really dyed in the wool Yankees, but it is very cold there and they don’t know how to cook. Thoughts?

The very fact they have enriched white hominy on shelves here and bother to call it grits only galls me more, but the ample food and beer helps temper my rage. They do know how to cook up here, just not the right things – I have to bring up my own grits from my native South. I can get some excellent Greek, Korean, Indian, vegetarian or authentic South American food less than 10 miles from my house. Having loads of other choices helps to make up for lack of staples.

I try not to laugh at their silly sayings. Up here they call soda “pop”. Sweet fizzy drinks are all collectively referred to as “coke”, like god hisself intended!

5) Is religion incompatible with the world view of a thinking person, well grounded in the natural sciences? Is the continued position of cultural primacy for religion a threat to our contemporary technologically advanced society, or is it beneficial?

The view that religion and natural science being mutually exclusive is an awfully narrow-minded view of either. For an example that has been beaten to death a thousand times, I can easily see how Christian creation mythologies fit in quite nicely with the Big Bang Theory.

My major beef is with folks what think the Bible dropped from the heavens, leather-bound with gold inset lettering on the cover. It was written by Man and heavily edited by folks that, well, probably had an ulterior agenda.

Back to my example, I can see it right up to the part where he creates woman out of man part. I don’t know any man that would let somebody take a rib from him.

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