The joys of a clean installation

ted | chicago,driving,travel | Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’ve had Sirius satellite radio in my 2006 Golf now for two years and an in-dash touchscreen GPS for a year – the best two upgrades I’ve done to it. Probably. Unfortunately, a bit messy. I had the Sirius S50 on a Panavise mount to the right of the HVAC controls and the iPod cable strung out under the dash. Add in a RADAR detector and I had 2 items pulling power from the cigarette lighter, an antenna cable & audio cable to the S50 and the iPod cable dangling out. It was messy and frankly looked like poop.

old installation

My lovely wife gifted me with my headunit-specific Sirius tuner & bluetooth module for this year’s presentmas and I took the opportunity last weekend to put them in place and greatly neaten up this mess of cabling. It also didn’t hurt that it was almost 21C and I had my in-laws’ garage to work in.

So, first things last – a list.

  • Pull existing iPod cable into glovebox.
  • Install Bluetooth module.
  • Install & activate new Sirius module.
  • Run key sense power to headunit & all accessories.

So here’s what I did.

  1. Purchased a generic 12V automotive relay, heat shrink tubing and ancillaries. I brought my butane-powered soldering iron & silver bearing solder. Found the key sense power cable exiting the steering column, stripped off about 1cm of insulation with my pocketknife. Wrap new bare wire around this joint, solder in place, wrap with electrical tape. Make leads for positive 30x terminal (fused), ground point under dash & 12V out to units. Crip on spade connectors, fit everything up, shrink on tubing, test with multimeter.
  2. Discover that removing the glovebox requires removing the entire center console. Curse VW. Find directions, discover it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. And it makes cleaning the center consoles MUCH easier when they’re out of the car.
  3. Remove entirety of center console & glovebox, run iPod cable into glovebox.
  4. Replace entirety of center console & glovebox. Clean each part before replacing.
  5. Wire up everything and see if it works. Discover why Pioneer color-coded the IPBus connectors.
  6. Shorten all wire runs wherever possible, stuff under driver’s side kick panel.
  7. Put everything back together.
  8. Drink lots of Canadien Club & Coke Zero. LOTS.

I did the above across two leisurely days, including family socializing, eating huge meals and the usual holiday stuff.

So my car went from how it looked above (functional, but messy) to this, mid-installation:



To looking like this: a much, much cleaner installation. And everything works perfectly, as it should.



The car itself is mighty dirty still, and letting my bastard red greyhound loose inside it with muddy paws didn’t help anything. I still have nothing but good things to say about the Pioneer AVIC-D3 but with the addition of the Pioneer-specific Sirius, iPod & Bluetooth modules, it’s a much nicer package. It makes my little Golf TDI a much nicer place to spend 5 hours in ultra-dense fog on I-65, but that’s another story.

Tired, but not sleepy

ted | chicago,junk,travel | Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Insomnia? I dunno. Tired, but unable to shift that into sleep.

Great weekend, tho. My homeboy Mark came into town, as he’s been stuck out in Mongolia Wyoming Iowa Quad Cities Peoria for a while and he had his special lady rezendevous at my place for the weekend. Katie’s a hoot by herself but the two of them together are great. They even brought cookies & beer for us and bourbon for me. We had fun playing tour guide on Saturday and went out for a big fondue dinner at Geja’s. They had the good sense to want to see the Christkindlemarket/giant Christmas tree downtown, so we were able to walk off some of the boiling oil stank.

Today was a British morning, all tea & steel cut oats. They took off about 11ish to meet up with a different friend for lunch, so we took the rest of the day to install the iPod connector and the Sirius tuner box in her car. It’s so much cleaner looking now. We’re (thankfully) getting rid of the Sirius S50 (plus ancillaries) and I look forward to having EVERYTHING integrated into my headunit soon – I’ve already got the iPod connector, but we’ll soon install the Sirius tuner and blootoof module.

So, yeah. Always a treat to see Mark and especially so to meet his special lady. Hope y’all had as good a time as we did this weekend. If nothing else showing somebody else around really drives home what a great city Chicago is to live in.


Oh, hi

ted | beer,bike,chicago,computer,driving,food,HAMLOG,house,junk,travel | Monday, December 8th, 2008

Yeah, it’s been a while. So what’s new?

  • Turns out the bike/car wreck was my fault, according to the eyewitnesses. Whoops. Needless to say, it has been handed over to my insurance company for them to deal with. I’m 99% physically healed but my ego is still bruised… as big of a stickler as I am for Same Road Same Rules Same Rights, I caused a wreck. Damn. I am making everything right on the car repair side and turning my mangled Raleigh Grand Prix into a parts bike for a road frame Charlie gave me years ago.
  • My Senator got elected to be the next POTUS which delights me greatly.
  • It’s cold here. And snowy. Just in time, too – I like seasonal weather.
  • We had Fakesgiving III/Bullshit Thanksgiving 2008 at the home of Pete & Miz Royal. Fried a turkey in the chilly 15°F weather, had a couple Manhattans courtesy of Mr. Scott Action (Anton LaVey Jr.) and a great time was had by all.
  • I’m keeping track of what I eat again. And losing weight again. I need to do this, badly. I’ve got two data points from this year. One where I signed up for fitday last year and one where I got weighed for a weight-loss contest at work in August. I’m back down near my August weight but have about 20 pounds to go until I’ve erased 2008’s ravages from my body.
  • Out of homebrew. For now. Apple juice should start getting really, really cheap soon which means it’s about time to make another keg of hard cider.
  • Work’s keeping me busy. One of my projects entails modifying some of our equipment, including getting the die set out of one of our presses, and nobody there has had it out before – fun, challenging and downright scary at times. You go elbows-deep in an 80 ton press and tell me it ain’t scary.
  • My buddy Markh is comin’ up this weekend with his special lady in tow, which excites me. I haven’t seen Mark much since I moved 700+ miles away. Funny, that.

In short, first I:

But now:

And soon I shall again be:

I’m proud to announce…

ted | junk,travel | Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

…that I have never read The Da Vinci Code.

I suffered through another one of that hack’s book once, on my honeymoon in 2005. I started reading it on the plane from Chicago to Boston then to Keflavik and finally to London. When I finally finished Digital Fortress, I threw it across our hotel room near Kensington High Street and loudly proclaimed that Dan Brown was the worst hackjob of a writer that I had ever been tortured with, and that includes wading through the miasma of a rural Georga public school education. I’m fairly certain I also yelled that we should shut off BBC 4, don our jackboots and head down to the corner Sainbury’s for more lager and a curry takeaway on the way back.

Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks Mr. Brown writes like two shits in a biscuit.

Reading comprehension ain’t your strong suit, James

ted | driving,travel | Monday, July 7th, 2008

All comments on here go to a moderation purgatory before I get around to deleting all the ones that are ads for boner pills, real fake watches, official Windows 98SE floppies & noodie pix, I often find one or two from a real person. I’m still amazed anyone reads this, honestly, much less that they comment on anything. Turns out I may have struck a nerve with someone when I posted about how I wasn’t happy how two guys in a company truck were driving very dangerously and when informed of this, their employer made the decision to terminate them. Instead of letting his/her/its comment stay buried in obscurity at the end of that post that’s over a year old now, here they are for your reading enjoyment.

The first comment, posted at 12:49 AM on 2008-July-02:

I read your blog and feel that you should be proud of yourself. By your whining and bitching you got 2 people that work hard for their money fired. Yes they came to close to your bumper because you, the dick, decided to drive the speed limit. You should share your story with others that are not in your eco friendly circle. The rest of us trying to get home at 5:30 and we live way far away from where we are at 5:30 can truely apreciate the likes of you. I hope you get a DUI after having your white whine spritzer. F you you prick. Pat yourself on the back and think about the the mortgage and kids welbeing shots and all the other shit that didnt’t get paid because someone came to close to your Jetta that got 47 mpg because it went rediculaously slow on a major expressway. FUCK YOU, YOU PRICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the follow-up comment, posted 3 minutes later at 12:52 AM on 2008-July-02:

IF you didn’t get it before, you are and asshole. If you were going below the speed limit on a major road at 5:30 the you should be flipped off, called names, etc. You are a prick that may have gotten 2 people fired for waiting for some prick to drive the speed limit. I hope some one makes you late for something very important to you. Take the side streets if you care so much. F U

Both comments came from “James”, who gave his email address as and posted from I can tell this is actually which means it’s someone in the vicinity of Elmhurst IL redback and on AT&T/SBC/Ameritech/IL Bell/AT&T network. So, “James” please permit me to refute your points. I won’t even begin to ridicule your terrible grammar, sentence structure or your obvious failure to read and comprehend. In rough order:

  • You claim I got two people fired. Not so. Their employer pulled the records from the truck’s built-in GPS recorder and based on that data, they (the employer) opted to terminate their employees. It’s true I was the catalyst for this investigation, but it’s entirely plausible that after a periodic review of the GPS recorder’s data, they would have then been terminated anyway.
  • You also claim they worked hard for their money, which is pure conjecture.
  • I have been categorized as “whining and bitching”, which is a matter of opinion. I feel I framed my email in the most professional matter possible. Driving like they did was extremely unprofessional, a fact corroborated by their employer.
  • Fortunately, we are both in agreement that they did come close to my bumper. Why they did so was not because I decided to drive the speed limit (I was actually going 10 mph over the limit) – I have no idea why. I was in the far right lane with an open lane to the left of me. They were welcome to pass me at any point.
  • I was trying to get home as well, safely. At the time I worked 32 miles away from home. You are assuming (again) they had a long distance to drive.
  • You aren’t the first person who’s wished harm or injury on me, but I think you are the first to wish me a DUI after having a “white whine spritzer”. I can’t tell if that is a humorous double-entendre or just your bad spelling at work again, but I don’t drink much white wine and never a spritzers. I also take pains to drive when I’m legal to do so. So, it’s doubtful. But I’ll keep you updated.
  • The drivers’ “mortgage and kids welbeing [SIC] shots” weren’t my concern before this happened and they aren’t my concern after it happened. It is again conjecture on your part that they had mortgages, children & imminent vaccinations.
  • I drive a Golf, not a Jetta.
  • IL-394 isn’t a major expressway and I wasn’t going “rediculaously [SIC] slow”. IL-394 is a standard two-lane divided state highway, not a limited-access interstate highway. As I stated before, I was already going 10 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone with a $375 minimum fine and points assessed.
  • I did get it before, thanks.
  • Apparently you weren’t. I wasn’t going below the speed limit on a major road at 5:30. I was going over the speed limit on a major road in the rightmost lane and still being tailgated badly. I did get flipped off and I’m sure I got called names, too.
  • I’d like to point out (again) that I may have been the catalyst for the GPS data review, but it was the employer that terminated their employee’s employment. Blame the Production Director if you want to blame anyone for the actual firing. Or blame the employees who were willfully and repeatedly tailgating, speeding, driving recklessly and doing so IN THE COMPANY TRUCK.
  • I’m late to plenty of things on my own volition, or due to trains, school busses, traffic jams, bad drivers causing accidents, etc…
  • The side streets don’t get me where I need to go. Were they an option, I might take ’em.

So, “James”, who might be, from, I can appreciate the fact that you think I’m an asshole. I’ve never considered myself otherwise. But honestly, you missed the point here. I’m guessing you’re one of the guys in the truck or a friend of a friend or something. Maybe a guy who has to drive a company truck all day, tired of us slowpokes in your way all the time. Any way you slice it, the guy driving the truck should be responsible for his actions at all times, especially when driving a company truck. Everyone is free to tailgate and drive like a moron in their own vehicle, but when you do so in a work vehicle, your employer’s name is on the line, not yours. What they choose to do with you is not my concern.

I guess I should also point out that it was in a construction zone. 21 highway construction workers died while on the job last year. While 2007 data isn’t available yet, the DOT says in 2006 there were 6,317 commercial vehicle crashes in Illinois.

And please, if I’m driving the speed limit in the far right-hand lane, for fuck’s sake, pass me on the left, be on your way, have a Coke, a smile and leave me alone.


ted | chicago,Gravity's Rainbow Death Pact,travel | Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I’m back from France. More details to come later, but suffice it to say, I really enjoyed it. The cats are really happy to see us back (Miebutte curled up on my lap right now) and the dogs are very tired from over a week of playing with other dogs. Otherwise the trip was entirely unremarkable in that our house is intact, all pets accounted for and despite being encased in a solid 2cm sheet of ice, the Golf fired right up and got us home safely.

I reckon it also bears mentioning that on the flight back, I finished Gravity’s Rainbow somewhere about 200 km north of Quebec City. This book has a message and that message is STAY AWAY.


ted | travel | Friday, November 23rd, 2007

I’m really damn tired, also in France. Aside from the screaming baby with moron parents across the aisle from us on the plane & ancient craptastic 767, things have been great, especially the ultra smoov quiet fast sleep-inducing TGV ride from Paris gare du l’est to Nancy. Yeah, that’s the train line they set the rail speed record on – 574.8 km/h.

That’s real fucking fast.

And so far the people have been very nice, the scenery beautiful, shit is expensive (thanks, Federal Reserve!) and our travels utterly unaffected by the rail strike, despite taking two different rail lines.

Back from the subcontinent

ted | travel | Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

India is hot in mid-June, real damn hot.

Missing music

ted | travel | Monday, March 19th, 2007

I’ve got a big stack of cd liners from discs that were stolen from me during my long hot years in Atlanta, but the one that I’m missing the most right now is that of the defunct Josh Joplin Band’s album “Boxing Nostalgic”. If you’ve got a copy, drop me a line.

Oh, Canada

ted | travel | Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Why must you horde all-dressed chips and poutine? May I not have these delicious comestibles in my native country? Surely we have the all-dressing technology for potato chips and poutine sauce manufacturing capability!

The trip was fine, altho a bit busy. The biodiesel at the Truck Town Terminals in Milton (west of Toronto on the 401) was mighty fine stuff indeed – B20 made from Canola oil – and I netted nearly 44 mpg for the entire trip. Not bad, considering the amount of 80mph driving combined with the low-calorie B50 I was using to drive around town (and drive around town I did plenty of). The B50, btw, was from the Stohos station at 1001 Queen St. E in downtown Toronto.

Our one year anniversary was excellent and we had a very nice dinner at the CN Tower, despite it being an antenna.

Visited my buddy Jeremy who spent the long hot summer of 2003 in Auburn, Alabama and lived to tell about it. Got to hang out with him and his lady in the non-industrial-wasteland side of Hamilton, go walking in the rain, eat more poutine and generally have a nice time. My lady got sick, unfortunately, which necessitated a stop at an urgent care clinic in darkest Indiana. One hour, three prescriptions and one very ethusiastic dog walk later, we were back on the road, heading for home.

Canada, I will be back this weekend. Please have a bucket of poutine and some beers ready at the border.

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