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Sunday, March 30, 2014

putting a little life back in the car

I thought I had three problems with The Great White Whale... transmission, engine, and The Mystery Choking (fuel?).  it was almost undriveable.

last weekend, I noticed the plastic capsule around both ignition coil packs was cracked and peeling.  $180 later for two coil packs, it was better for a couple days.  then I started getting chunks and sags again.

so today, plug wires.  the box didn't have the longest one, of course, two shorties.  ohmmeter said I had some life left in that wire.  shotgunned the rest.  there was a screaming tubload of rust and crud in each spark plug well, which I had to blow out.  two hours later, it's running smoothly.  oil change and a new air filter, after blowing out a ton of leaves in the housing, and we're up to 19 mpg from 15, and it's running well again.

there was some corrosion on the connection of #5 plug, which unfortunately is in a Heli-Coilled repair of a stripped cylinder head, so I scraped it with the old plug wire a few times.  it's all better now.  there are two coilled plug holes, so I didn't want to mess with them.

for the first time in months, I test drove with the overdrive enabled, and there is no transmission issue, either, it was all misfires.  only one cylinder lit up the check engine light, but basically everything had to be honking off periodically for the engine to run that badly.

an oil change finished off a wonderful 60 degree day in the sun.  tomorrow, thunderstorms turning to snow.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

life in the great plains: winter

been a while.  same old same ol'.

this has been a cold, snowy winter so far.  had to have 2nd son Eric over with a buddy and a Bobcat to push the snow back so we can blow any new stuff (expected Sunday night) off the driveway.  it was too high for our one-lunger blower to get over the top.  now we have some semi-spectacular ski hills in the front yard, but just enough visibility to see cars coming.  season total 40.4 inches.  today, just a trace.  Sunday, another inch or two overnight into Monday.  as usual, Monday commute should be a screaming bear.  back to locking out overdrive.

we probably have 16 inches standing.

have some pretty good rust-outs on both cars, so Springtime will be a time of Bondo and screen, sanding and primer.  her car's got it the worst.

in the Hulk HATE 8! department, any advice I can get on keeping Windows 8.1 from jumping out the Charms menu and going Modern while I work on the laptop would be appreciated.  rumor has it Microsoft is going to make that possible with whatever they call 8.2.  the third party stuff I've tried either is not sticking, or prohibits starting up Chrome, so we're not making good progress.  in a perfect world, the geniuses of Redmond would finally admit that touchscreen torture on a machine that does not have a touchscreen is abject nonsense.  but with Ballmer and his billions in MS stock still on the board, I don't expect much.  just stopping frickin' Charms from jumping out when I mouse to the left is quite good enough, for almost any next move hops you away from doing anything useful, and back into the tiled Modern window, which folks, is really Windows 1.1, or maybe Presentation Manager v2.  1980s stuff.  GEOS stuff.

I have become kind of appalled at the support back home for people with cash flow issues.  my sister's car is suffering mightily, and there is no aid apparent to diagnose and fix the dying for minutes after warmup issue.  I did a long tune-up in October, which apparently only works for her at 32 and above.  there are a zillion things that could be at fault, from low-resistance injectors to sensors to oxidized plug connections, and it's a bottomless money pit to stand back, throwing parts, and seeing if any of them stick.  she and I don't have bottomless money.  in larger cities like the Twins, there are annual and semi-annual fix-it days donated, replacement cars, and the like.  not in the 250,000 metropolis that is Fargo-Moorhead-Dilworth.

so that's where we are at on my birthday.  oh, yeah, there's taxes.  this year, we owe what we usually get back from refunds, because we maximized cash at payday to take down the cards used in fixing DeBasement.  with God's help and our own, we will get through.  our quarter of beef for the year is just two weeks away.  we have half a tank of fuel oil, love, and the Cat Show is always on if we get bored.  it's OK.

God never throws anything at you that you can't handle.  I joke that I wish He didn't trust me as much.  but we always get through it.

if by chance you are not getting through it, it's way past time to give God the chance.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

a very merry Christmas

despite 3 inches of new snow, we had some family over before I went off to work, double time and a half.  this is the celebration of Christ's birthday, and we had a great day for it.  hope you did, too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

what is a BiteCon worth?

I don't believe in the pseudo-cryptic "currency alternative" called Bitcoins.  or around these parts, BiteCons.  no backing and no insurance, no fleets of auditors certifying there is actually any billions of dollars of anything behind them.

here's two interesting questions for all and sundry: you can get BiteCons either by passing over real money, or by mining. mining involves doing a metric-load of mathematics to catch a cache that releases every 10 minutes.

(1) what are these calculations really worth,

(2) and to whom, for what?

inquiring NSA searchers, do you want to know? suppose they are hydrocodes?  a cross-reference table of "if part A, then part B is the crack" for every piece of encryption in commerce?

is this just a miracle of multiplication that some person/team of unknown origin put out a paper on, or is there some Iran or Wackostan behind the game with alterior motives.

all unknown.

this could be a mere Ponzi scheme, and on day X, whoever is behind this takes all the "real" money that bought BiteCons and run for the islands and some hammocks and rum.

finally how many Flooz buys a BiteCon?

and how many folks really believe they get something for nothing?

Friday, November 15, 2013

winter's coming


$1300 in fuel oil, and two trips by the furnace guy, and we still have an intermittent someplace in the furnace startup sequence.  something is failing, but we have to either wait it out, or start schlepping in parts... $200 here, $800 there.  neither the serviceman or I are parts slingers, so I check the stat when I get up and when I get home.

Cheryl's car has started to sputter, so it's time for Techron in both our tanks.  I sloshed some in my sister's car last time I was in the hometown.

we have leaves 2 to 6 inches thick in the back yard, and we hope to beat rain Saturday morning and get them taken care of.

laid in my winter kerosene for the Ham Cave, so that can stay warm.  I have redone the cable entry so there is a PVC wiring box and that ought to cut down wind infiltration.  get my internal common ground bar hooked up this weekend, and should be tweaked up enough to see if my antenna does anything useful besides receiving.

got two weeks to get all the pictures hung in DeBasement, and we should be about ready in case this is our year for Thanksgiving company.  I have to work 6am-2pm, so there won't be anything really special cooked, unless we get into the ham.  our Thanksgiving will be on the Saturday otherwise.  emergency backup plan is probably pizza.

still adjusting to a new Win8 laptop in the Ham Cave, and it periodically does stupid things like jump out of this edit to Lord knows where.  I suspect I won't ever adjust, Cheryl has the same issues with her Win7 laptop.

and that's going to have to be in, from here, for now...

Friday, November 1, 2013

got a new contract, so I'm moving up

... well, sorta.  the contract we rejected is basically the one our union accepted, so the money in savings can be spent on what we should have done while we were waiting for a contract.

so the fuel oil guys will come Friday or Monday for our winter fill.  the Ham Cave computer is going out of support on the last big piece, Windows XP, so it was laptop time (price-sensitive purchase, of course.)

have fed the neighborhood ghouls their yearly allotment of free candy.

the cats just killed a red cactus.

and other than that, there is nothing of significance going on around here.  things we have to catch up on, but that's happening in little bits.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

the more intense wait

vote is in... 54% NO, 46 % yes, and the tentative contract is rejected.

CTL workers in the old 14-state Qwest area, who were former Qwest/US West contracted, are now in the 96 day cooling-off period, working through October 3rd at this point.

this is a time of checking medicine cabinets and getting things ordered that you can.  I'm in pretty good shape for everything except the asthma stuff, which I messaged my doctor about.  get it refilled while I've still got time.

there are cracks in the clouds... the company could impose the new contract, which is acceptable for some of us.  there could be quick renegotiations to patch the worse hits and a revote, in which case we would continue the old contract day by day, as we have for 12 months.

or CTL could impose some rancid piece of crap like "two bucks a month and all the abuse we can dish out," in which case we'd just walk out.  they could lock us out.

I think the district 7 website will get close to melting down over the week.  there will be busy signals at the locals' progress numbers.

in the meantime, however, we just get 'er dun.  our last CEO in Qwest was quite fond of the Bell System painting series "Spirit of Service," and that's how we do our jobs.  that won't change.

there are a lot of anti-union consultants giving companies the same old bash-em, smash-em, be glad you're not in Bangladesh mimeo sheets on how to kick worker butt.  CTL gets those services.

the only way to protect ourselves as workers is to be Union Strong, all day long.

and if I have to put my 6 red shirts in the back of the closet and reach for the snake shirts, I can do that.