Sunday, January 29, 2006

More Preparedness

First, go read this from Kim:

Now, I'm in Tarrant County, not Hood, but I'm pretty close. This weekend ended a 165-day span in which North Texas had not had an inch of rain in a day... in other words, we're in a friggen' no-shit drought. Risk of fire is VERY real right now, even after this weekend's decent rainfall.

Honestly, until recently, I hadn't considered massive fires as a possible SHTF scenario - Lisa and I live in a well-developed part of Fort Worth, and there's a fire station maybe half a mile away from our home. My biggest nod to the possibility of a fire was to get all my ammo and volitile reloading components into a fire-resistant safe, so things cooking off wouldn't scare firefighters away in case our home DID catch fire.

But with the way fires have gotten out of control in this area recently, that's something to think about.

My biggest concern so far has been tornados, followed by a terrorist attack on downtown FW, or the Joint Reserve Base Whatever (used to be Carswell Air Force Base).

Now, Lisa and I aren't as prepared as I want us to be. Given the 30 minutes that was mentioned in the story Kim linked, I think we'd do ok... Water, Food, Meds, Clothing, Shelter, 4 dogs, 2 cats, food for them, First Aid, weapons, ammo, spare fuel... We could probably manage a 3-day get-gone with 30 minutes' notice. My goal is to do all that in under 10 minutes. We ain't there yet, but we're working on it.

And I spent part of tonight working on our pop-up trailer that I mentioned before... presuming we can get to it, the goal is a month of self-sufficiency, that I'll only need to back the truck up to, hitch up, and haul ass.

That will (when I'm done) give us good shelter, plenty of food and water for us and the animals, spare clothing, communications (FMRS, CB, AM/FM radio, and cell phone), first aid, ammo, and some level of comfort. About all we'd need from home is our daily meds, and weapons out of the safe.

Not there yet... but I'm workin' on it!

More time oddities

Weird... I published that last Spinnin' Wrenches post at about 0244 Central 29 Jan. But it was timestamped 1749 on 28 January.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Spinnin' Wrenches - Taurus, verse Five

The Taurus has officially been nicknamed "Aaron's Favorite Little Pain in the Ass".

No bent valves that Cap'n Mo or I could detect. Valve faces were pretty well trashed, though - heavily pitted (not sure WHAT caused that).

Lapping the valves into the seats far enough to eliminate all the pits would have resulted in poor seating surfaces, and burned valves in probably about a month.

SOOOO... tonight I finished putting the valves, springs, and keepers back in the heads. Monday we'll take them to exchange for a set of re-man'd heads, with new valves, seats, and guides.

Hopefully we'll then be able to reassemble everything semi-easily, and AFLPITA will run properly.

AFLPITA. I may have to engrave that somewhere on that car. And I have an engraving tool to do it, too... *evil grin*

Friday, January 27, 2006

A blogpology

When I started this blog, back on New Year's Eve, I had a couple of goals:

1) Have a place to vent, other than somebody else's forums
2) Spend some time thinking about what I wrote, and then write intelligently
3) Get some of the poison out of my system, that had been building up since Taylor's and Daddy's deaths
4) Save my marrige, by getting that poison out, in a way that wasn't directed at Lisa.

I had some encouragement ahead of time, most notably from Rivrdog... He told me I should be writing my own blog back when I just sent him updates of my trip. I didn't believe him at the time, thinking, 1) I didn't have enough interesting to say, and 2) I didn't have the time to dedicate to writing a blog that was worth anything.

Thus, Rivrdog gets the place of cussing-honor in my blogroll.

Kim du Toit is my other inspiration, though, and he's the one this apology is meant for.

When I emailed Kim, telling him I'd started a blog, his most important piece of advice was "Post something... anything... every day".

I understand that... gotta have a reason for readers to keep coming back.

But life gets in the way. Some (many?) nights I just have too much to do after work, and don't have the time or energy to write.

So I try to make up for it on nights like this... when I don't have much to do, and I'm not too tired, so I'll hit various topics on things I've been accumulating.

If I'm lucky, somebody will think "Quality is better than quantity"

Of course, that's assuming anyone sees Quality here.

Maybe somebody else will recognize that the muse and the available time have to coincide properly in order to get something out.

Sorry Kim, but it's not every day.

Hopefully, something every few days, that incorporates some effort, is the next best thing.

Hamas in Charge, and views on religion

As anyone who follows any kind of news knows, the terrorst outfit Hamas recently won control of the Palestinian Authority.

Given that the PA has been recognized as a "state" by the UN, and multiple anti-Semitic countries, this now means that the PA is officially a terrorist-supporting state.

There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth that I've seen in the blogosphere about Hamas winning in the recent Palestinian elections - and I'll admit, I started to do the same thing.

But the AnalogKid has the right take on it, I think.

I used to think, "Israel, be careful in your attacks - be careful to only target known terrorists, and leave the rest of the Palestinian people alone, or you're going to generate more problems than you solve".

Well.... The Paleoswinians (h/t: Misha) have now voted into power a known terrorist organization.

That means three big things:

#1: The Paleoswinian civilians, ie the voting public, is no longer off-limits to the Israeli Defense Forces. They voted to put in power a bunch of asswipe terrorists.

#2: It is now illegal for any US organizations to fund the PA, since the PA is now officially a terrorist organization (and yeah, Hamas is listed on the TO "Illegal to Fund" list.) This includes the US government - so the PA just lost one of their major backers, finanically. Let's see how that works out.

#3: The Paleoswinians are now, according to popular vote, officially a terrorist state. Israel has no more obligation to treat them as human beings, as their POPULAR VOTE endorsed terrorism specifically against the State of Israel.

Note to my Israeli readers (as if I might have any), and to any Jewish readers who stumble upon this blog:

I'm a Christian. We don't believe all the same things, but we worship the same God. Ok, fine. Yanno, I'm a big fan of the First Amendment of the US Constitution... we don't have to believe the same things. But you worship the same God I do, so that makes me think you're ok... and I hate splodeydopes who want to tell us we can't worship the way we want. So even if we don't believe exactly the same, you're going to find me front and center defending your beliefs, since you don't try to force them on me.

Same thing goes for every other religion in the world. You worship your God, in your way, and leave me alone to worship my God in my way... and we'll get along just fine. This especilly applies to my fellow Christians. And MOST especially applies to Islamists.

Israel, taking action against a so-called "state" such as Paleswine, or Iran, who has publicly said that their goal is to eradicate you, is not aggressive. It's in your own self-interest. Do it. You will, I promise, have at least this Texan and this American backing you.

And I will DAMN sure vote against ANYONE, Democrat or Republican, who says you shouldn't have hammered either Hamas or Iran.

Israel, it's now officially a TARGET-RICH ENVIRONMENT. Go for it. I'll be cheering for you.

MSM is beyond worthless... they're traitorous.

I'm sure none of you who would read a blog like this one need any reminding.

But for the most part (I'm holding my brother-in-law as an exception), the journal-jizzmers are trying their best to make sure we lose the GWT.

Rivrdog spells it out pretty well.

Just in case Rivrdog uses too many words for your poor little mind to understand, I'll say it (in a quote, unfortunately I don't remember which of our Generals said it) more simply:

"Iraq went from having the fourth-largest army in the world, to the second-largest army in Iraq, in about 100 hours".

Think about that for a few minutes, you leftist, defeatist, pieces of... well... ok, I'll be nice, since I found out tonight that Mom actually reads this blog. I'll just say that my four dogs leave more useful things in the backyard than you will ever amount to.

Carnival again!

Yep, the newest Carnival of Cordite is up... and it'e #45! Guess what that means...
I'm guessing you know that means most of these posts will be near and dear to my .45ACP heart...

Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition

... Yeah, I stole that title from Chris.

What can I say? It's a good title. Chris, please don't sue me or shoot me.

Kim posted about this too.

Read 'em both, they both bring up good points. I may or may not come up with anything useful to add, but here's my thoughts about it:

In: .45ACP
Out: 9mm
This is a GOOD THING. Get rid of the damn Europellet. When a soldier has to go to his sidearm, S has officially HTF. Give that soldier some knockdown power, not something that may bleed his enemy out sometime in the next few hours! Give the soldier something to get the Jumpin' Jihadi off his ass, RIGHT NOW, and give him time to get to a real weapon, and hopefully (as Chris said), a radio to call in help!

Assuming decent shot placement, the .45ACP always has been, and always will be, superior to the 9mm in terms of knockdown power. In other words, the 45 says "Get your turbaned tumblefucked ass OFF ME RIGHT NOW" with a LOT more authority than the 9mm can muster.

Now, there are definately tradeoffs. And I take issue with some of them in the request that the military put out.

1st - magazine capacity. The .45ACP is a big, fat cartrige. You can only stuff so many of them into a gun that most people can handle. The 9mm is a little, skinny cartrige. It'll hold more in the same sized gun.

However - the military sidearm, as I said earlier, is an absolute last-ditch weapon. As I've heard before (don't know who first said it, sorry) "A pistol is the weapon you use to fight your way back to the rifle you shouldn't have set down in the first place".

As a last-ditch, final option weapon, a pistol shouldn't need a great ammo capacity. IT SHOUDLN'T BE USED MUCH! 8 rounds should be plenty - 15 is ridiculous.

15 rounds in a 9mm is nice. They're wee tiny little cartriges, and you can stuff a lot of them into a normal pistol butt. And you're likely to need them all, since those wee tiny little cartriges push out wee tiny little bullets.

8 rounds in a .45 is also nice. Single-stack magazine makes for a slim grip-frame. Easier to handle. And each of those 8 rounds says, with authority, "Fall down NOW!"

Anecdote: I'm about 3 inches taller than Dad was, and steadied out at about 20-25 pounds heavier than him. He's actually much closer to the average American than I am, in terms of body size. And he liked the grip on my single-stack 1911 better than his double-stack Ruger P85. The double-stack was too big for his hand to feel comfortable, but my 1911 fit his hand perfectly.

I'm 6'0" tall, and bounce between about 180 and 195. I'm no giant, but I'm taller than average, and my hands are bigger than average. Dad was about average.

Double-stacked .45ACP will be DIFFICULT to shoot well for the average person. Also for the average Army recruit. BAD IDEA!!!

Next gripe: Top-mounted rail
Let's look at where this works. *looks around* Ok, the ONLY place I see top-mounted rails are on competition raceguns. Do those things look to you like they'd survive real-world conditions? They don't to me!

Oh, you say, the military wants the rail mounted on the slide, not some Frankensteinish bracket coming up from the frame! *cough*bullshit*cough* Two MAJOR problems there:

#1: If the rail is mounted to the slide, how in the hell are you going to see the normal sights?!?
#2: If the rail (and presumably, the optics that are supposed to go on it) are mounted to the slide, how the hell are said optics going to survive? The slide on a semi-auto pistol is a pretty violent place - go from still, to tremendous acceleration, to stop, reverse, tremendous acceleration again, and slam to a stop in battery. Hell, cheap scopes don't hold up under recoil, on rifles where the scope is mounted to a NON-MOVING part! I don't know of ANY optic that can stand up to the G-forces a slide is subjected to on EVERY SHOT.

This top-mounted rail idea makes NO SENSE AT ALL for a combat pistol. Sure, it's good for raceguns, but those are designed for games, not for combat.

Honestly, now that the military has acknowleged that the 9mm Europellet isn't a combat-worthy round, it's good that they're looking at .45ACP again.

But they should be talking to the likes of Colt, Springfield, and Kimber to find their next pistol. Something based on the tried-and-true 1911 platform, originally developed by Saint John Moses Browning. It served our Soldiers well through two World Wars, and has served its duty unfailingly since then, for damn near 100 years now. The only improvements I've seen on the M1911 have been incremental, not revolutional. Use it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kids Gone Wild -aka- evidence of a severe shortage of spankings

THIS makes me shake my head in disgust.

I'm not familiar with the term "yobs" - my guess is "Young and OBnoxious", in the plural.

SO many ways to deal with this problem... from right now, and going back 15-20 years.

The most difficult and resource-consuming would be if the worthless cops recognized a problem, and imposed a curfew.

Or if the parents just kept their little hell-spawns at home.

Or severe ass-beatings by local homeowners (given the gang mentality mentioned in the article, would probably require a neighborhood-watch style organization, with many ass-beatings handed out simultaneously). And no, I'm not talking about curb-stomping here - I'm talking about adults turning adolescents over their knee, and paddling their asses. Humiliation, not hospitalization.

Or, we could go back in time, back to when these hoodlums (or yobs) were still in their diapers (I guess the Brits call them nappies), and start spanking them THEN. About as soon as the toddler in question could start making cause --> effect connections. "Mommy says don't do that, or you'll get spanked"... --> *SPANK*

Guess what? Everywhere that's been tried (which has been pretty much everywhere up until, oh, maybe 20 or so years ago), IT'S WORKED!!!

Set down solid ground rules for kids. Keep them consistent. When the kid breaks the rules, there's punishment, and the punishment is also consistent. Of course, the punishment has to be unpleasant - a timeout in the corner, where Mommy quits bitching at me for a while, IS NOT PUNISHMENT.

I might be unfairly generalizing here, but I doubt it: The worthless POSs in the linked article scream at me "Children who were never disciplined", "Children who were never taught to respect others' property", "Children who were never taught that their actions have consequences".

So the children are now worthless POSs, instead of an up-and-coming productive generation.

That isn't the kids' fault, although they should still be punished for their actions. Somebody, somewhere, has to START setting them straight, unless we want an entire generation of nothing but worthless crap.

But honestly, the fault lies with the parents who never taught them any better. THOSE assholes should be held criminally and civilly liable for the havok that their minor-aged, never-taught-to-be-part-of-society spawn is wreaking on this village.

Same goes here in the States - if you can stick it in, you can take responsibility for it. If you can pop it out nine months later, you can take responsibility for it. If you fail to take responsibility, you WILL be held responsible for acts that your minor offspring commits - both civilly and criminally, as each applies.

Of course, for this idea to work, we've got to get rid of the idea that spanking is "child abuse". Best way I can envision to do that requires some assembly though: Child Abductive Services worker, rope, tree.

Lisa and I both grew up with corporal punishment. Neither of us is in therapy, or scarred from our upbringing. But we both know right from wrong, and we both know that actions carry consequences. And our children will be raised the same way.

I triple-throw-down-double-dog-DARE any Child Abductive Services piece of walking human excrement to EVER show up at my door saying I'm abusing my children by giving them spankings when they break well-established rules. Anybody who volunteers for that duty should be taken OFF duty, immediately, and put on suicide watch. Anybody who's assigned that duty should immediately put in for combat- and hazardous-duty pay. And if you don't get it, refuse the assignment, for your own well-being.

Ugh... I'm pissing myself off just by writing this. I'll pursue it more later.

But the original point I wanted to make was: If these "yobs" had been raised with any sort of discipline (which may be illegal in formerly-great Britain), they probably wouldn't be having this kind of trouble.

h/t: Kim

Monday, January 23, 2006


Didn't know about this one, but there is a Carnival of Cars.

And of course, don't miss the Carnival of Cordite.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary!!

It's a few days early, but Cap'nMo and the Wench will be celebrating their tenth anniversary later this week!

Of course, the Taurus that the Cap'n and I have been Spinnin' Wrenches on so much lately is the Wench's normal car.

It appears that the last remaining problem is valves and seats, and possibly valve guides... So Lisa and I are presenting the Cap'n and the Wench an anniversary present of me fixing this as though it were mine... and we're having the heads milled to equal deck heights, and new valves, guides, and seats installed. Then when the Cap'n and I get everything back together, the Wench should have ZERO problems out of this car.

At least, that's my plan. Cross yer fingers that it turns out to be so.

Oh, and BTW... if you ever get a chance to eat the lasagne that Wench makes... DO SO. I got treated with it tonight, and I'm still full, and still smiling thinking about it :)

For that matter... if you ever get a chance to eat ANYTHING that either the Wench or Lisa makes... EAT. You won't be sorry :)

Anything made by Cap'nMo or myself, however... well, if we didn't cook it on the grill, you're probably better off saying "No, thanks, I just ate a little while ago".

But if either of us grilled it, you'd be missing out if you turned it down. And that's OK! (Means more for me!)

Winchester, and my first GGP

Like Og, I found myself fondly cradling my favorite (ok, only) Winchester after I heard the news.

Now, this isn't my "old Winchester". In fact, this rifle only gained a place in my gunsafe AFTER I had a gunsafe. However, it is AN old Winchester - based on what I was able to research from the serial number, I think it was manufactured somewhere around 1924. Which means, theoretically, I might own a 100-year old rifle before I die, if I can hang around long enough.

Sad story about Dad, good story about good friends to follow:

On June 24th 2005, Dad called me, said he was in a lot of pain and needed help. Unfortunately, when he called me, Lisa (my wife, in case you haven't been paying attention) was in surgery to find out what went wrong when they removed her gall bladder earlier that week.

I said on the phone, "Daddy, Lisa's in surgery right now, I can't leave here. But I'll get you help." I called one of my oldest, bestest friends, Dave, who was about to get off work, and asked him to go check in on Dad. He did, and shortly thereafter, determined that Dad needed to go to the hospital.

Dave called 911, then followed the ambulance, and escorted Dad through the BS hospital crap until I could make sure Lisa was OK post-op, then get to another hospital, and get my head in the game there.

Looking back, the ER docs told me that night that Dad was dying... they just didn't say it hard enough for it to sink in. What I heard was "He's in bad shape, and he's not leaving here anytime soon" or something like that. Anyway, what I came away with, before Dave left, was that nobody would be at Dad's house for a while... and all of his guns were unsecured. No safe, no nothing. So I asked Dave, as I was cutting him loose from hospital duty, to do me one more favor that night (and it was late at this point... shows what kind of GOOOOOOOD friends I have, which I'm eternally thankful for) - I gave him my keys to Dad's, and asked him to take all of Dad's guns home with him and lock them in his safe until further notice.

Dave, being the great good friend that he is, did so. He went significantly out of his way to go back to Dad's, either late at night or in the wee hours of the morning (at this point, I don't remember which), collected all of Dad's guns, and took them home with him and locked them up in his own gunsafe to protect them.

Daddy died the next afternoon.

Dave then kept Dad's guns for me until I got my own gunsafe a month or so later... and that's when the Winchester Model 94, in .32 Winchester Special, among others, actually came into my possession.

Incedentally... I need to go shoot that '94 a bit more. Daddy didn't like it; he was fairly sensitive to recoil, and it does push a bit (I'd hate to see what he had to say about my lightweight .308 Tikka boltie)... but as I remember, that's a pretty damn accurate rifle. Need to do more shooting of it :)

Of course, I have to balance that with the fact that .32 Win Spl is relatively expensive... need to get a set of reloading dies for it and make more :)

Dallas/Fort Worth NOR members, or any NOR members who'll be in DFW in the forseeable future... anybody want to come shoot a bit of history with me?

Just as an historical footnote - the .32 Winchester Special and the .30-30 were developed as sister cartriges. This was during the transition from black powder to smokeless. The .30-30 was developed to be a smokeless-only cartrige; the .32 Win Spl was loaded with smokeless, but designed to be reloaded with black powder. Thus the difference in rifling twists - going from memory here, but I seem to recall that the .30-30 was designed with a 1-in-12 twist, and the .32 Win Spl, designed to be reloaded with commonly-available black powder, had a 1-in-18 twist. Other than the propellant, and the diameter of the bullet, there is no difference in the .30-30 and the .32 Win Spl... which means .32 Win Spl can be reloaded using .30-30 cases, necked up to .32. Something I'll keep in mind, and the rest of my reloading audience should too...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Let's hear it for the eleventy-seven layers of fact-checking editors!

This made me groan out loud - so loud, Lisa thought something was wrong with me. And she was in another room at the time.

Crap like this makes me ALMOST embarassed to admit that my brother-in-law is a journalist. Now, in his defense, he's never spouted this kind of stupid crap that I know of. And it's not like he and my sister have any shortage of things to be embarrased about ME for, and that's for stuff I'VE done, not just other folks who share my profession. So no rocks thrown on this point.

But obvious ignorance like this just makes me cringe.

For those of you who don't notice the immediate problem with the linked article, there are two, both in the first two paragraphs.

First, the Metal Storm system can NO WAY fire 240,00 rounds per minute... the barrels come pre-loaded with several shots, and when they're empty, you have to CHANGE BARRELS.

Second, and a MUCH MORE SERIOUS mistake, is that, by contrast, "That's compared to 60 rounds per minute in a standard military machine gun."

News flash to Pamela Hess, aka stupid bitch that needs to learn to do some research:

Discounting the time for magazine changes (which is normally done to find rounds-per-minute firing rates) I can fire about 120 AIMED rounds per minute from my mostly-stock Colt Commander - a semi-automatic pistol whose design is just nearly 100 years old.

Again, discounting reload time, I can fire 60 AIMED rounds a minute from my pump-action 12-gauge shotgun!

And both on the pistol, and shotgun, I'm not even that good. Adequate at best. (If you want to see GOOD, Google Tom Knapp and Jerry Miculek.)

I mean, think about it... 60 shots/minute is 1 shot/second. Look at your watch, look at the second hand, and think about a MACHINE GUN that only fired once per tick of the second hand. Even the most primitive machine guns, predating WW1, fired faster than that.

This twit either had a typo, which her eleventy-seven layers of vigorously fact-checking editors overlooked, or she doesn't know what the hell she's talking about, and couldn't be bothered to even apply a little common sense (which is notoriously UNcommon among our elite journalistic class, who are the ones who are rightly educated enough to tell the rest of us what to think).

I said earlier that obvious ignorance like this makes me cringe. Cringing is my first reaction... Once I think about it for a while, (as I've done in writing this post), it makes me PISSED. Frikken' idiot journos, who couldn't find their ass with both hands, a map, and an ass-finding machine, are shaping public opinion.

While people who actually know whereof they speak are discounted by edujizzmers and journaljizzmers as "anachronistic" and "right-wing whackos".

This is rapidly progressing to RCOB status. I think I'd better wrap this up and go take my blood pressure meds.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Today in History

Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Being Prepared

Ok, the other day I left a teaser about something Lisa and I had done, but then never had time and energy together to write more about it. So here goes:

Yep, it's a little bitty pop-up camper trailer. According to the title, made in 1967, and according to the decals, sold through Montgomery Wards.

Two full-size beds slide out to the sides, and it's tall enough for all six feet of me to stand up in. About a 4'x6' open area in the center when everything's open.

Canvas pieces all seem to be in good shape, although we plan on replacing the "mattress" pads and the shag carpet somebody put in the floor.

Clean title, good tires (and three spares!!), current tags, and everything (including the trailer lights) appeared to be in good working order upon my moderately-detailed inspection. Still need to examine the wheel bearings; those tiny tires spin WAY fast compared to the tires on my truck.

And it's light. How light? Well, I can pick it up and push/pull it around by hand pretty easily. So light, that if we decide to, I'm confident that Lisa's Mazda Millenia could tow it without a problem (although if we did that for whatever reason, I'd be stepping up the service interval on her transmission dramatically).

So, how does this relate to being prepared?

Well, Lisa and I enjoy camping. She didn't know this *grin* until our honeymoon, when we rented a (IIRC) 28-foot RV and spent most of a week on the Texas coast. In an RV, even getting lost can be fun - but that's another story.

We went tent-camping for our first anniversary last spring, at Lake Whitney State Park - and had lots of fun, except that the weekend of 1 May, a cold front came through that damn near froze us, and did its dead-level best to flatten the tent while we were in it.

We went tent-camping again the opening weekend of Dove season. At our lease, there's no electricity, no plumbing, no nothing. And here in Texas, it was still hot as Hell. We both still had fun, but we were both starting to think fondly back to that RV we took our honeymoon in...

We've also been working through SHTF scenarios, plans, and preparations. We don't yet have everything that we'd like all squared away, but we're probably 80% of the way there, with plans and materials for food, water, comms, first aid, and weapons. Also backup plans in case the SHTF scenario is a tornado that spreads all our primary preparations here at home over the next three zip codes, including comm channels, and agreed-upon courses of action if those comms are down and we're not together when trouble hits.

I think I need to talk to Rivrdog about this... the more I think of what we've done, the more I think it might be worth a post on Paratus.

Anyway, one of our "weak points", as we saw it, was ready-to-go supplies and shelter if something happened that made our preparations here at home unusable. (Most likely candidate: Tornado scrubs our home to a bare slab. Not inconceivable here in North Texas. And that would immediately render the vast majority of our prep work GONE.)

Enter the Preparation - Early stage.

One of Lisa's co-workers started talking several months ago about a small pop-up trailer he and his partner had bought, but that (due to ailing health) it didn't look like he'd ever be able to use. Lisa immediately asked him if he wanted to sell it - knowing that we'd like something a little sturdier than a tent, both for recreational camping, and for disaster prep. Hem, haw, hem, haw, partner still wants us to use it, hem haw, I really can't, hem haw... until about a week and a half ago, he made up his mind. Sell it for what he paid for it.


Now, during the hemming and hawing, Lisa and I had been squirreling away a little extra money at a time, hoping we might be able to get a decent trailer for a song. When the co-worker finally made his decision, we had the $400 ready to hand over. WE WERE PREPARED. Prepared to move immediately, not ask him to hold it 'till payday, not borrow any money, just take advantage of a deal when it was presented.

Now... honestly, we didn't get a steal. We got a fair deal. That trailer's not what I had hoped for, but considering the clean title, good condition, spare tires, current tags, and working lights, I figure $400 is a pretty fair price to both buyer and seller.

Now, we have sturdier shelter that we're storing off-premises. Highly unlikely our home and the trailer will get taken by tornados at the same time.

We also have a place to store backup food, water, first aid, weapons and ammo, IN A PORTABLE SHELTER, in a form that only requires backing one of our vehicles up to it, hitching on, and getting the hell out of Dodge, if that's what the situation calls for (and I've set Lisa's Millenia up to pull it).

Right now, it's not worth a WHOLE lot of capability. But that will change in the near future (as it's the subject of a few Spinnin' Wrenches posts), and will eventually be worth FAR more in capability to us, both as emergency equipment, and also as a recreational asset, than that $400 was worth.

But having the $400 set aside was key to our being able to acquire it in the first place.

Time test

This is being posted at 1922 Central time, Thursday 19 January 2006.

[edit] Wierd... the post directly below this one, "Visceral", was posted about 4 minutes before this one was.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I'm not a big fan of football. I'll watch a game, if it's on anyway, or if I'm with friends who want to watch, but mostly it's something I can take or leave. Unless a game runs long, and screws up my DVR recording of the season premier of "24", in which case neighbors start wondering if they need to call the cops.

However, Rivrdog has a damn good observation.

Go - look at it.

If that doesn't make you feel something between the breastbone and the spine, and between the waist and the neck, go see a doctor.

It has a little added impact for me - those fighters are F-16s, for those of you who don't recognize them. Dad spent the vast majority of his career at General Dynamics, and then Lockheed when Lockheed bought the F-16 program, supporting the delivery of that exact aircraft to the USAF and our allies. Those airplanes were Dad's livlihood since about 1976.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quick post, re: We Need Ideas

I'll try to keep this one fairly short:

I posted before about how we need more ideas, and less screeching, from the liberals - note I differentiate between Liberals and liberals.

I also differentiate between Conservatives and conservatives.

I'm basically a Republican, Lisa's basically a Democrat.

I'm a conservative, she's a liberal. Note the lower-case designations there.

Our home is a perfect example of where this country needs to go - we talk about politics on a semi-regular basis, and frequently, we'll both come away from a discussion with changed viewpoints.

Because we TALK, we don't SCREECH.

We trade IDEAS. And we frequently point out something the other hadn't considered, that requires a shift in our worldview to incorporate.

This is what happens when intelligent people with different viewpoints sit down and talk together.

What happens when people just yell? We get more polarized, and move closer to using violence to determine who's right. In other words, another Civil War.

Lisa and I regularly avert a civil war in our home, by talking and discussing, as rational people with different points of view. Very often, our points of view wind up closer together after these talks than they were before.

That's what we need to do on a national basis - find the rational, intelligent people who we don't agree with, and sit down and talk to them in a rational, intelligent conversation.

To my knowlege, the only time screeching has ever accomplished anything is when an owl paralyzes its prey.

I ain't ready to screech, or listen to screeching. Rational talk goes a lot farther.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Be Prepared

Yeah, it's the Boy Scout Motto.

And Liberal whinging notwithstanding, the Boy Scouts is a pretty classy organization, and teach some pretty useful things.

This ain't about the Scouts though.

Rivrdog writes about preparedness quite a bit, both on his main blog, and on Paratus.

There are many different kinds of ways to be prepared - Rivrdog focuses on one area, and does a pretty fine job of it, in my opinion. I've posted (albeit briefly) on pistols and rifles that work well together in emergency situations. Kim has posted regularly about SHTF preparations of many kinds, and Doc Russia has a couple of good posts about first aid preparedness.

One other way to be prepared, is to be able to take advantage of a good deal when it comes across your path. In other words, having some money set aside, not earmarked for anything, and not part of your emergency fund, will sometimes let you become more prepared in a more specific way.

Lisa and I did that last one tonight... I'll post more about it tomorrow, because accomplishing it tonight kinda wiped me out. But here's a hint... our bug-out bags now have wheels!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Spinnin' Wrenches - Taurus, 4th Verse

Ok, so it appears that the Taurus has a bent valve, from back when it jumped time.

This is not yet positively confirmed, although all available evidence points that way:

- It jumped time. Prime candidate for a bent valve.
- It runs like crap. Just as a bent valve would cause it to.
- (Real evidence) - Intake manifold vacuum bounces between -10 and +2 - it should be somewhere around -30, and relatively steady. The low vacuum # could be due to any number of vacuum leaks, most of which Cap'n Mo and I have eliminated as possibilities. The +2, and the bouncing, on the other hand, indicate a bent intake valve. This allows the compression and exhaust strokes of the piston to pump air back into the intake... thus the low overall intake vacuum, and its bounciness, and it's negative vacuum (positive pressure).

Yesterday, I borrowed a leakdown tester from Uncle Alex. Later this week, I'll use it to tell me exacly what's going on with these valves... maybe bent, maybe just not enough clearance after the machine shop shaved .080" to make the head flat again. We'll see...

Did I mention I HATE borrowing tools?!?

Sometimes it's necessary... like now. Buying one for myself from Matco would be $117. From Snap-On, it's about $300. Incedentally, the one Uncle Alex loaned me is a Snap-On. Yeah, he buys good tools; always has.

And I'd likely only use it once every few years, if I bought one for myself. So it makes sense, financailly, to borrow it.



I hate not having the right tool for a job. I hate having to be supremely careful, since this tool isn't mine. I mean, I take pretty good care of my tools... (Dad taught me that, sometimes at the end of his belt when I didn't)... but this isn't mine, so it requires extra care. Not to mention, I have to find SOME way that Uncle Alex left the care of this tool lacking, so that I can give it back better than I got it... and with Uncle Alex, that's DAMNED TOUGH!!

Did I mention that I HATE BORROWING TOOLS?!?!?

But... in this case, for something I might use every couple of years, I simply can't justify the expense.

Further updates to follow... Now it's time for 24 and dinner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Updates, and Emergency Wrench Spinnin'

Ok, so on the Spinnin' Wrenches - Preview post, I said I felt like I was leaving something out, and I just realized what those were - the two that run!

- '79 GMC 3/4 ton - Uglier than homemade sin. Meaner too. Once, when my daily driver was down, and I was driving this behemoth to work, some dingbat coming out of a side street sideswiped me. Then ran. I got to work, called police to report a hit-n-run, officer came out, I showed him the truck, he said, "Which dent did she make?" I looked again, blinked, looked again, pointed to a fist-sized dent near the gas filler door, and said, "I think it was this one".

After she hit me, I saw in the side-view mirror most of her (2000-something Grand Prix, or something shaped kinda like it) passenger-side fender was flapping next to her passenger door.

And no, I'm not making this up. Nor am I exaggerating.

Daddy and I never could decide whether the truck's brown paint made the rust less noticable, or the rust made the brown paint less noticable.

It also has a 454, rock-crushing four-speed manual, 4.11:1 rearend (with positrack), and a Gear Vendors overdrive.

It's set up with (iirc) a Class 3 receiver hitch. I can say from experience, it takes about 6000 pounds attatched to that hitch before you notice you're towing anything.

Mean-ass, bad-ass work truck. I love it dearly. I sure wouldn't like driving it to work every day (BTDT) nearly as well as I like my '02, but when there's a SERIOUS job to do, I'll lean on Brown Truck where my Silverado might leave me wondering about whether it's capable. And if you read about my trip to Mississippi, you know I think pretty highly of my Silverado's (proven) capabilities.

-93 Chevy Caprice - This was Dad's daily driver. Former State Police car (I forget if it was New Mexico, or Arizona; it's on a sticker inside the trunk lid). Caprice 9C1, for those of you in the know - for the rest of you, 9C1 was the factory designation for "police package". It included lots of stuff, from the suspension, to additional cooling capacity, to a monster alternator to power all the cop electronics. Yeah, it's the updated version of the Mopar in "The Blues Brothers". It was worn slap-out when Dad bought it, and still kicked ass. Then he dropped in a new GM crate motor, had the transmission and rearend rebuilt (and rebuilt MEAN), and he and I replaced large portions of the suspension with even stiffer aftermarket stuff. Toss in a set of wide by huge, low-profile (think Pro Touring, not ricer) wheels and tires, and that 4000-pound whale is now almost a G-machine - with PLENTY under the hood. It can get ya in trouble if you're not careful. Oh yeah, and it's comfy to ride in, too... just don't get in the back seat if your buddies in front have a mischevious streak - the inside door handles still don't work (cop car legacy). :)

Did I mention it still has the spotlight mounted on the driver's side A-pillar? :)

{Blogpause while the doggies get their evening treats} I just noticed I have a red shop towel hanging out of my back pocket. That makes me smile for some reason... but I'll get back to that.

Anyway, that's what I forgot from the "Preview" post. I have some things I want to do on both of those vehicles, but mostly it's just keeping them in good shape.

Another Update - the Taurus. That @#$^&*^$@ ever-lovin' Taurus.

*shakes head... it'll be ok...*

Last Friday, as I said, Cap'n Mo and I got everything back together. No major issues to report, all looked good.

Saturday, we started it up to test. Bradumdumpdabadumbadubradadadum.... SONOFA... why's this thing running like crap!?!?!?!

It sounded like a cylinder was missing, but I couldn't identify which one by pulling plug wires. Thrice-cursed sideways V6, don't even know which way it's s'posed to point... ARGH!!!

Cap'n Mo and I twiddled, and tweaked, and tested, and couldn't find an obvious answer. Couldn't find a semi-obvious answer either. Before long, everything started looking like a nail*, and as Uncle Alex (the best mechanic I know) was going to be over the following day anyway, we decided to call it quits and get his opinion on Sunday.

His immediate thought upon hearing it run, given that it had jumped time, was at least one bent valve, and recommended a leakdown test. He had a couple of other ideas, but he said that was, unfortunately, the most likely.

Crap... I don't have the right tool to do a leakdown test. YAY! I get to buy a new tool!

Given that I was sick the first part of this week, that's as far as we've gotten... so that's where we stand on updates to the Taurus Saga.

Now, about the Emergency Wrench Spinnin'... remember that this Taurus, which is undrivable and has been for a while, is Mrs. Cap'n Mo's car? And that without wheels, she can't take care of the daily family operations?

Also, remember from earlier in this post, when I talked about the pretty darn capable Caprice, that up until 25 June last year, was a daily driver?

Like chocolate and peanut butter... the Mrs. could use the Caprice, while the Cap'n and I got her own wheels back under her.

Only one problem... and this is, to date, the most embarrasing thing I've written in this blog:

I basically let Daddy's car sit for nearly six months after he died.

In other words, I did the worst thing you can do to a car. I let it dry-rot in the garage. Then, I gave it a quick once-over, short checkout drive, and let the Mrs. have it.

This morning, while I was pulling on my boots, about to leave for work, the Cap'n called me. "The Caprice has a problem." "What's wrong?", I asked, with a sinking feeling in my stomach - in my attempt to loan my friends a solution, I'd loaned them a new headache instead. "It's dumping transmission fluid - A LOT". Oh crap... my first thought was that the disuse had let the tranny driveshaft seal go hard and/or dry, and I now had TWO cars needing major surgery, and Cap'n Mo, the Mrs, and their 3 kiddos, my godchildren, were down to relying on a single-cab F150 for transportation.

"Where's it coming from?" "Looks like a couple of lines coming off the transmission and going forward on the car".

OH... *whew*... ok, I think I probably know what that is. Somewhere along the line, the steel lines connecting the trans to the tranny cooler got cut, and they're now joined by 6-8 inch pieces of rubber hose. Probably the rubber hose dry-rotted during the Neglect.

"Ok, get the kids to school... does the Mrs. need the car today?" "No, she and my Mom are doing stuff, Mom can drive". "Ok, we'll fix this after work today".

Cap'n Mo left work a bit early today, to get a good look at things while it was still daylight... and it was those rubber hoses. Both were dryrotted and cracked, and easily replaced. All in all, an easy repair... but I've got those rubber hoses targeted, they're going to be replaced with flexible steel lines before too long. Right now, there's new rubber in place, and the Caprice should take care of Cap'n Mo's family for the forseeable future.

Right now, though, I'm just really embarrased that I loaned my friends a problem. If I could hook a generator to Dad's feet, I'll bet I could power a good chunk of downtown Fort Worth... he must be spinning in his grave SO FAST, that I let his car go downhill, and then loaned it to a friend (by the way, he thought pretty damn well of Cap'n Mo too) in a treacherous condition...

I'm just glad this one was an easy fix.

*shakes head* I gotta do better.

And I will.

*: Some law, I don't remember which one, says "If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

Corrollary to that law: The more a problem looks like a nail, the more likely one is to use a hammer on it.

Ugh, I hate being sick.

Left work at 1pm Monday after hoping lunch would make me feel better, and being horribly disappointed.

Got up Tuesday, not much better, so stayed home.

Good news is, when I woke a little bit ago (after sleeping LOTS in the past 36 or so hours), I think I've kicked the flu in just over 48 hours. Probably 'cause I sidelined myself about as soon as I realized what it probably was.

Bad news is, I missed a day and a half of work, plus half a day of being mostly worthless 'cause I felt like nine miles of hammered dog crap.

Anyway, I did catch a couple of movies I hadn't seen, as well as lots of History Channel and Science channel stuff during the times I couldn't sleep...

War of the Worlds (new version): Steven Spielberg can take his views on gun control and *self-edited to keep this blog within some semblance of family-friendly*. Tom Cruise, again, played "Tom Cruise playing some part or other". Pretty special effects... but I think I like the original movie adaptation better, even though I've never seen the whole thing and the special effects seem cheesy now.

Hitch: Cute romantic comedy. Personally, I like Will Smith's style. Otherwise, several cute moments, typically predictible romantic comedy.

More than a few shows I drifted in & out through, unmemorable.

Anyway.... Gonna try to catch a few more Z's before getting up for work in the morning... hopefully I'll be back to more interesting stuff soon.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sets of Four

No, nobody smeared any meme on me. I'm not that important yet. But Kim took the time, so I will too:

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Pizza chef, Pascal programmer, Key Grip, Network Engineer

Four movies you could [and do] watch over and over: Um... tough. I guess I watch Star Wars Ep. 4 , 5, and 6 repeatedly. And The Matrix.

Four places you’ve lived: Arlington, Tx; Grandview, Tx; Virginia Beach, Va; and Fort Worth, Tx.

Four fiction books you can’t live without: Not many I can't live without... preferred to keep would be The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Four non-fiction books you consider essential: The Federalist Papers, The Bible, Factory shop manual for 2002 Chevy Silverado, and Factory shop manual for 2001 Mazda Millenia (last two subject to change as Lisa and I change daily drivers)

Four TV shows you love to watch: 24, House, Mail Call, American Dad

Four places you’ve been on vacation: Texas, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Texas

Four websites you visit daily: Instapundit, Rivrdog, Misha, Kim

Four of your favorite foods: Steak and potatoes, Pizza and beer, Brats and saurkraut, and Hamburgers

Four places you’d rather be: In Dad's Garage (duh!), on the shooting range, at my reloading bench, and in bed with Lisa (not particularly in that order!)

Four albums you can’t live without: Actually not many. I play Alice's Restaraunt every Thanksgiving, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Christmas... and "From This Moment" on mine and Lisa's Anniversary... and I guess I need to get "Good Ride Cowboy" to play on June 25th.

Good Time Sunday

Ok, last post notwithstanding....

I had a hell of a good time today.

As I've written before, Uncle Alex and I get along QUITE well... and he looked up to his big brother about as much as I looked up to my Dad. And both of us considered it a compliment when Daddy would mix our names up, and call me Alex or him Aaron.

So it was good to have him out at Dad's Garage today... we went through a lot of Dad's stuff, and reminisced about a lot... and Alex told me some about some antique tools Daddy had from my Great-Grandfather, that I knew were family heirlooms, but didn't know the stories behind them.

All in all, even though parts of it were tough to deal with, it was a good day.

And I'm looking forward to more Sundays with Uncle Alex, working on project cars in Dad's Garage.

Priceless, or Worthless?

Man, today was tough.

For ALL of my life (35 years and counting), Daddy pretty much always had the right tool for the job. Way back to when I was a little boy.

I've been working since my late teens to accumulate my own collection of tools... and once Dad's Garage was built, and our rollaways were next to each other, you'd have to get into some real specialty shit to find something that neither one of us had.

That's priceless.

Knowing how to do a job, and having the right tool to do it... good Lord... that's how I grew up. Daddy knew how to do EVERYTHING (at least it seemed so to me as a little guy), and he always had the right tool for the job.

As I grew up, I found jobs Dad didn't have the right tools for... or jobs *I* didn't have the right tools for... and getting the right tool for the job was sometimes a stretch, financially. But it always pays to have the right tool for the job.

These days, with the combination of my tools and Daddy's tools in Dad's Garage, it's a pretty rare that I don't have the right tool for any given job. Still happens once in a while, but not frequently.

Today, Uncle Alex and I did an inventory and evaluation of Daddy's tools. Honest eval, as in, "If these were all to be sold, how much money would Jenni and I split?" I'm keeping all the tools, so she gets their value in cash from Daddy's estate... Dad, Jenni and I talked about that when he was working up his will, and we agreed on this method of fair valuation.

I have NO rocks to throw at Uncle Alex... I suggested using him to valuate tools, as he's a professional mechanic, and knows what tools are worth... and he's not a beneficiary, so he can be a neutral voice.

What hit me so hard, though, is how little Daddy's tools are worth, if we were to sell them and Jenni and I split the money. Nearly worthless, in many cases.

But they're priceless to me, in terms of what those tools let me do.

Those tools turned Daddy into Superman. There wasn't anything he couldn't do!

Now they're my tools, and it's my turn to be Superman... and... well, Daddy taught me how to use them, so maybe I'll be able to fill those boots.

Bottom line is... those tools are priceless.

And it kinda hurt... no, it hurt a lot... to face reality, that those tools that could turn an Average Joe into a Superman, were only worth a few bucks if they were to be sold and Lil' Sis and I to split the money.

That's the bottom line of what hurt... the tools that Daddy accumulated over his life, and spent as much as he could to acquire GOOD tools, really aren't worth that much monetarily.

You could almost, but not quite, call them worthless, if you don't know how to use them.

But to me, since Daddy taught me how to use them, they're priceless.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gun Pairs

Rivrdog has a post up about a set of paired pistol and pistol-caliber carbine he's going to be testing.

I LOVE the idea of a sidearm and longarm sharing ammo; it's even better if they share magazines. Especially in a SHTF scenario.

Unfortunately, I've not executed that idea very well here in my house. Why? Expense.

Looking to myself first, because I'm the gun nut in this house... *g*... I've had my Colt .45ACP for a LONG time. That's my carry gun probably 90% of the time. The only carbine I know of (Gentle Readers, feel free to comment on anything I've overlooked - PLEASE!) that shares ammo and mags with that pistol is the Ruger Camp Carbine .45, which Ruger ceased production on for some unknown reason. And which now sells for north of $500. So, my SHTF rifle is my $85 SKS - which I happen to like quite well.

Lisa's pistol of choice is the Ruger P85 9mm I inherited from Dad... and which she (unsurprisingly to me) scored 246 out of a possible 250 with in her CCW class. Yeah, as long as she's got it handy, I'm not too worried about her being mugged, assaulted, raped, or murdered. Bigger concern is the civil lawsuits that will be filed against us by the dead goblin's family.

But again, pistol-caliber carbines that take that magazine ain't cheap. And she also likes my inherited M1 Carbine pretty damn well, and shoots it quite well. So I'm not in any hurry to spend multiple hundreds of dollars to replace a rifle she likes, just to get the ammo and mag commonality.

Now, if I were starting from scratch, and had to fill all the checkboxes in my "Classes of guns we need to have for each of us", I'd be more willing to spend the $$ on compatible firearms. But, I started with some, picked up some others for super cheap, and at the moment can't justify the money to replace one good gun with another, just to achieve ammo/mag compatibility.

I may go ahead and do so in the future, and in fact I'd like to, but since all of our NEEDS (except for a shotgun Lisa likes) are currently filled, I have a hard time spending our limited discretionary income on gun WANTS.

Maybe that makes me a bad gunblogger - but hey, for right now, our shooting budget goes to ammo. Still need to get Lisa a shottie she likes, but that will likely take some more research.

Spinnin' Wrenches - Taurus -3rd Verse

Well, the Taurus is now all back in one piece.

Cap'n Mo and I worked 'till about midnight tonight after we got off work, and got everything put back together.

After eating some delicious chicken enchiladas and refried beans that Mrs. Capn' Mo brought over... YUM!

Tomorrow we'll run a change of oil through it, and flush the cooling system, and make sure there's no lasting contamination from the blown head gasket... Hopefully, it'll be ready for Cap'n Mo to take home tomorrow afternoon.

I'll keep ya posted!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Spinnin' Wrenches - Taurus - 2nd verse

Fairly laid-back night... cap'n mo and I left work, went home to our wives for a while, then met back at Dad's Garage. Objective: get everything ready for reassembly tomorrow.

In the process, I came up with a new Law of Physics (or whatever you want to call it):

Neal's First Law (yeah, I might come up with more later):

The likeihood of a leak, whether it be oil, coolant, or any other thing you DON'T want to leak, is inversely proportional to the amount of time spent cleaning the sealing surfaces.

Yeah, I'm sure all of us grease monkeys know this instinctively... but I've never seen it written before, so I'm claiming credit for it!

Anyway, Cap'n Mo and I spent an enjoyable evening cleaning gasket residue, shooting the sh1t, drinking beer, and talking about the terrors we went through with our firstborn sons.

His firstborn son is now my godson. And I'm pretty damned proud of him.

My firstborn... he's our littlest hero. That wasn't fun to talk about, but Cap'n Mo listened like the true friend he is, and let me get it out.

Anyway... the Taurus is ready for the new parts we'll bring to tomorrow night. We've done as much Murphy-proofing as we can think of, so hopefully everything will go smoothly. Get it back together, and find no leaks, no problems. I'll keep all of ya posted on that :)

BTW: To the Ford Design Engineer who decided the pushrods should trap the intake manifold gaskets - I owe you repeated kicks to your balls.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Spinnin' Wrenches - Preview

Dad collected cars.

Not Collector cars, by any stretch of the imagination - more like, anything that fell in his lap, that he thought "This might be fun to work on someday".

Now, that collection is for me to deal with.

So, here's a preview of things my Gentle Readers will (eventually) see here... it's gonna take a while to get around to all of them, but I have plans for each and every one.

- '55 Chevy pickup. Not sure whether to Rat Rod this, or customize it to the "T" - or maybe I'll do one, then the other. Gonna make it fast, though - see below.

- '69, '70, '71, and (I think) '74 VW Beetles - Dad and I both loved these cars. I'll probably keep two of them. Not sure what to do with the other two. Probably build one as a slalom racer (mine, and it's mostly done), and one for the dragstrip.

'83 Chevy Malibu - this was a former State Police cruiser. Dad had a BADASS 383 built for it, and installed. Unfortunately, the engine builder wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. He also didn't know boo about wiring, and ran full alternator output through a gauge in the dashboard, through too-small wiring. I managed to set the dash on fire a few years ago. This car will be rebuilt, from the dash forward, and I'll put the damn engine together right (hopefully with Uncle Alex's help) and make it a Holy Terror.

'72 Chevy Caprice - this is the car Daddy bought from Alex a couple of years ago. He wanted the 400ci smallblock, and the TH400 tranny out of it. I'll probably pull them both, transplant them into the '55 Chevy truck, and scrap the body.

'74 Ford Maverick - This was the car I learned to drive in, at age 13. It also got totalled when I was 14 (according to State Farm), and that I rebuilt between ages 14 and 16, and was MY car when I was in High School. It has a 250ci inline-six, and a 3-speed manual. I intend to replace those with a late-model Mustang powertrain, preferably a 302 with a six-speed manual, and feed it a good dose of nitrous on top of that. Bottom line: It's gonna be fast.

'66 Chrysler Newport - Anybody want it? It ran last time we turned the key off (although it does have a burned exhaust valve - known issue). Great highway legs, but I'm not real interested in this one.

'80 or so Chevy truck - unknown drivetrain condition. This was given to Dad by a friend who had one too many drunk-driving convictions. Body's halfway ok, I think it has an inline six. Not too interested in this one either; I'll probably be getting rid of it.

Seems like I'm forgetting something, but I can't think of what right now.

Hey Car Craft... want to feature any of these? You buy the parts, I'll do the work, take pics, and write it up for ya!

Anyways... there ya have it. The PROJECTS (as opposed to keeping my buddies' cars running) that will be worked on, and featured in, Dad's Garage.

TV, Collectivism, and Charity

Ok, doggies are eating dinner.

Earlier this evening, Lisa and I watched this week's episode of "House". You know, the show about the asshole-genius doctor, who can diagnose the most difficult of diseases?

I love that show. I love to see geniuses getting to be assholes, just because they can, because nobody else can do what they do.

This episode had a character I thoroughly despised. And it was written well enough that I had FUN despising him!

The sick person of the week is a doctor who works in Africa, treating TB... and comes down with TB and something else that's tough to diagnose (of course).

But what makes me hate him is he is a classic collectivist - near the beginning of the episode is a scene where he's addressing a pharmaceutical company's board, trying to get them to donate more medicine. Board member says, "We already donate ten thousand doses a year-" "But it's not enough", interrupts the TB doc. "Noticed you have a new sports car - saw it on the way in. Expensive, huh?" "Don't make this personal", says the board member. TB doc - "German - lots of expensive red tape, wasn't there?" Board member - "Unlike you, I don't mind earning a living."

Classic collectivism.

"If you produce something, of have something, you OWE IT to the people who don't produce anything, or have anything - just because you have it, and they don't, so you shoud GIVE it to them."


In this episode - "Oh, you evil pharma company, you have warehouses full of this stuff that people need - give it to them!"

Nevermind what it cost the pharmco to make it.

Nevermind what it cost the pharmco to DEVELOP IT. That's the real cost of pharmaceuticals, in case any of my Gentle Readers didn't know it. A drug maker can work for years, or DECADES, trying to develop a treatment for a given disease. Years and DECADES of paying for expensive researchers and chemists, years and DECADES of building and maintaining expensive research labs and the associated equipment. Years and DECADES of work, with no payoff in sight. Yeah, high-profile diseases like cancer and AIDS get plenty of donations and gov't grants that help pay those costs, but they don't cover them completely. Drug makers fund that research, in hopes of a future product they can market, out of their PROFITS. Yeah, the ugly (to the collectivist) P-word - profit. Guess what? No profits, no future research. Not to mention that most drug makers are public corporations, and if their boards GIVE AWAY all their product (aka profit), and harm their shareholders by doing so, not only will said drug maker lose in the stock market (and thus have less capital to invest in research), they will be LIABLE, civilly at best, criminally at worst, for mishandling their investors' money.

Drug makers are in the business of selling pharmaceuticals for a profit. They are not a charity organization, and they shouldn't be. Charity organizations don't come up with answers to fix problems, they use other people's money to treat the problem, usually without fixing it.

Don't get me wrong - charity is a GOOD THING. Most pharmcos make generous donations, either in money, or in their product, to charitable organizations. But FORCED charity is theft.

Personally, I'm more in favor of 1-on-1 charity - find someone that needs help, find out HOW they need help, and provide help that they need.

That was Dad's preferred form of charity, and it's mine too - that was the impetus behind my trip to Mississippi last year, as well as how Dad (indirectly) and I took care of one particular Katrina victim who ended up here in the DFW Metroplex after being evac'd from New Orleans.

There's room in this world for BOTH profit AND charity.

Leave charity to those who are motivated to "care for their fellow human", and leave finding answers to those who are motivated by being paid for said answer. Things work pretty well that way.

YUM! -or- Beef - it's what's for dinner

I'm not much of a cook.

Now, I managed to never starve myself during the times I lived alone - but really, I'm not much of a cook.

Not at all like Chris. Just reading about his Recipes for Real Men causes two simultaneous reactions - my mouth starts watering, and my arteries clog.

I've made a deal, I think, with Mrs. cap'mo to make the Macaroni and Cheese next time cap'mo and I are spinning wrenches - probably Saturday - I'll buy the ingredients if she cooks it. Should be enough to feed me, cap'mo, Mrs. cap'mo, and the kiddos, and hopefully some leftovers.

But tonight, I did ok. I know my way around steaks on a grill - not quite so good with chicken, IMO, or maybe I just prefer steak - and tonight Lisa made some twice-baked potatoes and crescent rolls, and I grilled a couple of steaks TO PERFECTION. If I do say so myself.

By the way, if you like grilling, and don't mind paying for excellent cuts of meat, check out Omaha Steak Company. And no, this isn't a paid ad - I'm just a customer. I can find cheaper stuff at the the grocery store, but this is definately a case of "You get what you pay for". And since it's just Lisa and I, it doesn't add up to much extra. But we've NEVER gotten anything from them that didn't turn out first class. And as Lisa just pointed out - it's home delivery. That means I don't have to go to the grocery store, WOOHOO!

The doggies were outside with me while I was grilling - they seemed quite jealous. Speaking of which, it's about their dinnertime. I'll post more later.

We need ideas!

Lisa and I just had a fairly short (for us) political discussion.

I pretty much agree with Kim - Republicans are the Stupid Party.

But Democrats are the Stupider party - they've been the majority for so long, they've apparently forgotten how to be an opposition party.

There are SO MANY things the Republicans are getting wrong - all it would take is for a Democrat (or preferably, many Democrats) to say "That's a bad idea, here's a better one". That would make conservatives like me sit up and take notice, and respond to polls in ways that would pull the Republicans (probably kicking and screaming) back on to the right track.

But instead, just about all the Democrats have to offer is "WE HATE BUSH!" They don't offer up better ideas. They don't even offer up viable alternative ideas, which could spark real debate over IDEAS - the best they can do is hate Bush, or regurgitate tired old disproven ideas.

PLEASE, Democrats - give us something to DEBATE. Not just ANTI-BUSH. Give us something, anything, idea-wise, to counter the mistakes the Republicans are making. Something that makes sense, is pro-America, and pro-Constitution. Please?

You're the OPPOSITION party. I know you're not used to that anymore... but it wouldn't take much time on the Blogosphere to figure out where Moderates and Conservatives have a problem with the current Republican leadership. Use that. It might not get you back in charge, but you can, and should, use IDEAS to reign in the Stupid Party's current excesses. Just like they used to do back when you were in charge.

Give us IDEAS, and we'll talk about them. Hating Bush is not an idea, it's an ideology, and we're not going to talk about it, except to ridicule you.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

And speaking

...of Gun-Banning Idjits...

Pardon me. I'm having a bit of a schadenfreude moment here. *gigglefit*

h/t: Kim, via Drudge.

Bump - a reminder

Just reminding everyone about the gun-banning hypocrite arrested for illegal gun possession.

h/t: Bitter @ Publicola's blog.

I finally made it to Kim's!

His blog, that is...

What he didn't publish from the email I sent him - I actually sent a collection of pics. The really cool thing, though, is that for Christmas, Reagan's parents gave me a framed print of the pic Kim used.

Talk about a personalized gift! It's now on my desk at work, next to my pic of Lisa. They remind me of the REAL reasons I show up to work every day.

Charter Communications vs MSM

Lisa was flipping channels Sunday morning, when she came across this. I quickly snapped a pic with my phone (sorry for the poor quality), but this is one of the most accurate show descriptions I've seen on Charter.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Car Craft gets it wrong

You won't hear that from me very often - I think Car Craft , as a print mag, is one of the best car magazines out there. At least for those of us who like working on our own stuff, and have a fondness for older cars.

But in the Feb '06 issue, they talk about camshaft-less engines, and a company called Valeo.

Quote from CC:
Ever heard of Valeo? Most people probably haven't. The automotive supplier has revealed technology that would make the cam a novelty item. The company's new technology for reducing fuel consumption and emissions by 20 percent involves a cylinder-head design that utilizes Smart Valve Actuation rather than the mechanical operation of engine valves by the cam belt, camshaft, and hydraulic-cam followers.

By being camless, each engine valve would operate separately by an actuator that is placed on the upper surface of the cylinder head, above the valveguides. The actuator would be linked to an engine-mounted valve-control unit that is in charge of positioning the valves and power-drive function. The idea is that by being able to control the residual gases, reducing pumping loses (sic), and deactivating cylinders and valves, it's better for the environment and also overall performance (a boost in low-end torque). We might see this as soon as 2009. So we can figure out how to bypass it by 2010. (Emphasis mine)
CC didn't give a byline on this passage, unfortunately. I suspect the writer got to the point about it being good for emissions, and quit thinking.

I actually had this idea a few years ago, but didn't pursue it - reliability was the big hangup in my thought process. I mean, timing chains (or belts), camshafts, lifters, pushrods, and rocker arms are all pretty well-developed technology, and pretty dang reliable. A solenoid pushing the valve open and pulling it closed? Dunno about that, in that harsh environment.

BUT - think back to when Electronic Fuel Injection was becoming mainstream. Yeah, it took a little while before it could match a good carburetor in terms of reliability and performance. Pretty much from the word go, however, EFI beat carbs on emissions and driveability. After a few years, EFI proved it was ready for primetime, and match a carb on reliability and performance, and kick the carb to the curb in terms of emissions and driveability.

Camless engines are next.

A camshaft, and using it to open and close valves, is a major power thief to an engine. Overhead cams are a little better than pushrods, but only a little. You've got pretty large friction losses, but the big baddie is pushing valves open against a heavy-duty spring.

Solenoid-actuated valves would get rid of all that, but that's not the BIG issue.

The BIG issue is control! When building an engine, you choose a cam. That's an art and/or science (or maybe voodoo) all its own. And compromises to be made on every choice. You can have something ready to go 6000+rpm and make power, or you can have an idle that won't shake your fillings loose. That's just one choice, they are myriad (I actually don't know crap about spec'ing a cam, when it comes time, I'll call Comp Cams, tell them what I want from the engine, and buy what they tell me to).

With electronic valve control, you don't choose A cam - you get them ALL. With a mechanical bumpstick, you make your choices, and your sacrifices, when you build the engine. With electronic control, you can map valve timing, duration, and lift to other engine parameters, such as RPM, throttle position, and vacuum signal, just like you can with EFI. You won't have to compromise anymore - you can have it ALL.

I expect we'll go through the same growing pains with electronic valve control (EVC - you saw it here first!) as we did with EFI. There will be reliability issues. An engine is a pretty harsh environment, after all. There will be performance issues, as the first valve maps will be unsophisticated, and designed primarily for fuel economy and emissions performance.

But EVC, as a technology, will mature, just as EFI did. And the aftermarket will provide us with the tools to alter the valve maps. And then, Granny bar the door. We'll have musclecars with new tech that have street manners like a 2012 Lexus, but when you hit the loud pedal, they go like a raped ape.

And at the same time, we'll have even more options - like shutting down cylinders. For example - I drive an '02 Silverado to work every day. I really like the V8 under the hood when I'm trying to match traffic flow, or get around some slow idiot, or hauling a heavy load, or pulling a trailer. But when I'm going back and forth to work, about 16 miles of my 18 mile drive is on the highway - that strong V8 is just loafing, but all 8 cylinders are sucking gas. I wouldn't mind at all if, under those conditions, four of the cylinders kept their intake valves shut, their exhaust valves wide open, and I only actually fed four cylinders. Or however cylinder deactivation works, I'm not really familiar with that technology.

We'll have to wait and see how this all shakes out, but I'm pretty excited about it.

The last sentence of CC's writeup should have been "So we can figure out how to re-map it by 2010".

Spinnin' Wrenches - Taurus

Oooh how I hate auto design engineers.

If I start describing all the stuff you have to take apart/remove on a 2001 Taurus, to get to the stuff you actually need to work on, I'll be here all night. But trust me, it's a LOT.

"Eight pounds of crap in a five pound sack" is a pretty accurate description of the Taurus engine bay.

We did pretty well today though - went from a car that was running (albeit very badly), to having the 1-2-3 cylinder head pulled in about 5 or so hours worth of work.

Of course we had the pleasant interruptions of fixing the target stand for my godson to shoot cans with his BB gun, prepping the grill, cooking, and then eating grilled bratwurst, and the obligatory trip to the parts store for something I didn't have.

I've never actually had to disassemble a fuel injection fuel rail before - having the right tool to take the fuel line off the rail is pretty much required; you can't "fake it" with something else that's close. Not easily anyway, and the tool is only about $10. So now I have one.

Also got to show Lisa what a combustion-driven coolant/oil mixture looks like; she'd (fortunately) never seen that before. Also showed her how just a LITTLE spot messed up on a head gasket can completely screw up an engine.

Tomorrow, cap'mo and I will take the head to a machine shop at lunchtime. Hopefully it's not warped, and a new gasket is all that'll be required. I initially suspected a burned exhaust valve, but didn't see evidence of one. I'll have the machine shop double-check that as well, just to be sure.

All in all a good day - and earlier, before we started working, I cleaned off the rolling cart I gave Dad. Two shelves and a drawer, about 1'x2', all on casters - so as we disassembled things, we were able to keep parts and tools organized. Unlike last time, when the bay the car was in looked like a bunch of monkeys had been loose throwing crap all over.

One other gripe I have, though - the Taurus uses "torque-to-yield" head bolts - apparently, you torque to a certan ft-lb rating, then TWIST the damn things. So each time you remove them, you throw them away and buy a new set. One more friggin' expense cap'mo's gonna have to pay.

All in all though, a good day spinnin' wrenches. And a day spent in Dad's Garage, helping out a friend - something I think he'd approve of :)

It's a new year.

OK, the holidays are now officially over.

Any of you who know me, either personally or thru comments on Kim's blog, or by the little I've written here, know that losing my son Taylor and losing Daddy less than a year apart has got me pretty down, and I'm not dealing with those two losses real well.

But this is a new year!

I'm going to do my best to look forward, instead of back, and have more fun, and do more fun things, and when I do look back, do so in a celebratory way instead of a mourning way.

So from now on, I'm going to try (we'll see how it turns out) to make this blog more of a fun thing.

Again, we'll see how it goes... but I'll try to write stuff that makes you, the reader, either smile or laugh, or be pissed at stupidity, instead of just writing sad stuff.

WOOHOO 2006!!! Grab it and hold on, 'cause here we go!

New Year - kicking 2005 to the curb, and good riddance!

Just got home from today's travels, and finished feeding hungry dogs, so now I can write.

In my family, New Year's Day has always had special meaning.

My paternal grandfather's birthday is 1 January.

So is my Father's.

I was less than two weeks away from it - close, but no cigar, to being three generations of first-born Neals born on 1 January.

Anyway, we have normal New Year's stuff, plus Happy Birthday for Daddy and Granddaddy.

Today was the first time New Year's Day didn't include Daddy, for me and Jenni, and my Uncle Alex, and my Aunts Susan and Liz - and the first time in 60 years that Granny and Granddaddy couldn't include their first son.

It was tough for all of us. Susan and Liz have a tradition they've created of putting pink flamingos in people's front yards on their birthdays... they did that to Daddy about 5 years ago, IIRC, and he bitched them out about climbing his gate to do so. So they didn't do that anymore for him.

Well, he can't bitch about it anymore... so Susan put tiny pink flamingos around his headstone sometime late last night or early this morning. :)

I shared a beer with Daddy the day after Christmas, and was going to do the same today, as well as clean his and Taylor's headstones off (dirt tends to collect between the letters, and in the crannies and crevaces) - and when L and I got to the memorial garden, there was an open beer sitting on Daddy's headstone. Based on the brand, I said, "Uncle Alex has been here earlier today", and smiled :)

So I had a cigarette and a beer, and shared mine and the already opened one with him, and cleaned off the headstones while I talked to my Dad and my Son, and to L, and she talked to both of them also.

Then we went to visit Granny, and had a nice time there, and then visited Granddaddy, and had a nice visit there too. Also visited with both my Aunts, and ate black-eyed peas for luck, visited with Uncle Alex and his wife Gail, and spent quite a lot of time there. I talked a LOT with Alex... he looked up to his big brother about as much as I looked up to my Daddy, and we both miss him REAL bad. It's kinda funny... when Daddy would get to talking about serious stuff with either of us, and was thinking more about the topic than who he was talking to, he'd call Alex Aaron, and he'd call me Alex, if he wasn't paying close attention. Alex and I both consider that a compliment.

Next week, Alex will be with me at Dad's Garage, (the source of the name for this blog), helping evaluate all the tools Daddy left me, so my sister J can have a fair dollar equivalent. That should be fun.

And I got to exercise my soldering skills, helping my cousin's friend work on a tiny motor in an RC car... apparently, these things are highly customisable, but require a fair bit of detail work. Nate had gotten to the point where looking at little parts had his eyes crossing... so I finished it up for him. That was kinda cool.

I don't feel like it right now, but later I'll figure out how to post pics here, and show the pink flamingos :)

Hey, I just started blogging - cut me a LITTLE slack, willya?!?!

UPDATE: Pic added. Thanks for the advice, commenters!