Sunday, March 31, 2013

That was the week that was.

And it was very nice too, having a week off to collect my thoughts.  Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped, but all of the big "must be done during business hours" things got pretty well wrapped up.  On the last day, finished out things with another long woods ride.  Obligatory bike-in-woods photo:
At the end of the Couch Trail

Back to work tomorrow.  This staycation was sorely needed, and I'm feeling a tad better.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Garden Planted. Mostly.

Peppers, watermelons, and tomatoes.  Lots of tomatoes, Brandywine heirloom and cherries.  We'll see how it goes this year.  Much bigger than last year's garden at 150 square feet, versus the former 65-ish.  The layout's also better than in past years, there's plenty of mulch, and there's a leave-it-alone soaker hose dedicated to each of the three beds.  Toss in a UV flashlight for spotlighting hornworms, and the whole thing should go a lot easier than last year's effort.

Still some stuff to do.  The fence mesh needs to be properly stretched and hung on the T-posts, but it's good enough now to keep the bunnies at bay until I can get back to it.  Got to build some supports for the tomatoes.  Think I'll make tripods out of bamboo growing in the side yard for this; easier and cheaper than stakes.  Maybe some more mulch.  And the rest will just take time, water, and sunlight.

Friday, March 29, 2013

In the Woods Yesterday

Here's the obligatory bike-against-tree pic:
The weather was too damn beautiful yesterday.  Started riding at 1pm, with the temps in the high 60's.  Sunny, dry but not dusty trail conditions.  There were a few folks out there, but not so many that it turned into a ride-sapping social occasion.  May have sold my tires (which don't suit my riding style) to a guy from Ocean Springs who was out there – just as soon as the new tires (in 2.1 width) are in.

Thirty good miles and my back feels fine.  Full Suspension: Don't turn fifty without it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cleaning up, packing down.

Last fall's re-flooring has been a rousing success both then and now.  But moving all the house's contents into a POD and back has been the equivalent of being re-decorated by a pack of drunken over-caffinated moneys.  Got the big stuff back in and properly placed, then jammed the rest in where it would fit and went back to work.  Haven't been able to find anything for months, which inevitably leads to thrashing, almost a textbook version of the computer science concept translated to the physical world.  Net effect is that the prep time for most activities is 3x what it should be.  Weekends are too short as it is already!  (Although Congress is doing its very best to lengthen them for my coworkers and me.  Thanks guys!)

Taking a week off to rectify this problem, and to take a breather before the final push on a project at work.  No guarantees of success, but I did manage to find the bedroom floor by yesterday afternoon.  Things are moving in the right direction.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mustang Round-Up

So, what's a tuner and what's it do?  It reprograms the engine's computer, mainly to advance the timing (and thus require premium gas), moves some of the fuel/air/spark settings from the 'good mileage' end of things into the 'good performance' corner, and (if you have an automatic, which I don't) changes the shift points to higher RPM's.  If you want more detail, there's a brief article over at Wikipedia.  Here's a video of the net result, showing the same car before and after.  The manufacturer is claiming an 18 HP increase, but if I'm doing the kinematics right it looks closer to 24.5 HP for this case.  Maybe the guy just had a suboptimal baseline run, making the tune look better than it really is.  And while I have not dyno'd my car since the upgrade, I assure you that the difference can be felt.

Now for the burning question: if the 2011-onward V6 puts out 305 HP, and the 2010 GT V8 puts out 315 HP, who's going to win a quarter-mile drag race?  Answer here.  Nice test procedure and a nice video, except for the music overlay.  What about if we repeat this after a few common mods to the two models?  Two videos of these results, here and here.

OK, that's all the hotrod action for now kids.  Eagerly awaiting the strut tower brace (backordered), but that's more of a handling thing.  After that, maybe tires next year and that's about it.  But remember: leave this stuff to the certified insane trained professionals, and don't try this at home.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

ACME Parts All Installed

Parts list described earlier completely installed and functioning.  (hat tip to Mike the IT guy)  The results are all that and a free cigar.  Bonus Points: initial testing survived, didn't even get a ticket.  Mind you, it was very hard to drive like a sane person down to the bridge to open it up.

[Latin name explained here.  Especially apt in this case.]

OK, there's always a more powerful muscle car out there somewhere, and ultimately the king of the hill isn't even street legal.  Right now in the neighborhood of 335 HP, this one's performing at the rated level of a '69 428 Cobra Jet (you'll have to scroll down to find the specs, it's the "Q" & "R" engine options).  If that's not enough engine, hell, you need to go be an astronaut or something.

Next up: Strut tower brace, unfortunately out of stock at the moment.  Tighten up the steering a little with one of these and the whole package will be good to go.  At least until the itch strikes again.  And that big blank plate in the middle of the brace will look great with "ACME" stenciled on it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

PhD Comics visits Comic-Con San Diego

And talks to several people doing graduate research on various aspects of the whole comics/superhero world.  Mostly, as you might guess, on the psychological aspects of it.  It's a nice 10 minute view of things, probably worth your time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

He's right, no freekin' idea.

permalink back to xkcd.

Shop Roof Pics

From the front/side:

Oblique from riverward:

And finally, from riverward:

Phase I nears completion.  Should be on to Phase II within a month.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Precious! O my Precious!


But it really does go easier when you stuff the little wretch into a garbage bag first.

[yes, I had to pull the book to get the exact quotes]

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shop Repair Pics

I took lots of pictures of the Shop building while in Apalach, but many are redundant or just for documenting the repairs, for later reference.  Here are the highlights.  Click any picture to embiggen.

Outside of building near side door facing Post Office.  You can see how far it had to be jacked up.

Same place, from the inside.  There's a solid concrete footer that's been poured to hold up the new sill.

Overall doorway, from the outside.

One more shot from the inside, other edge of doorway.

Back by where the stone was, showing similar reconstruction.

 Typical under-floor pic.  I took lots of these, but they all show about the same thing: solid joists and nothing rotten or scary.

Under where the stone was.  The floor here had been mushy for decades, but all's solid and good to go for another century.

Action picture back by the stone.

Back corner of building, under where the darkroom was.  Shows how the building was jacked up while footer concrete was being poured to make a new foundation segment.

Overall roofline, showing that about 75% of the sag is gone, and re-roofing is underway.  Some of the exterior concrete sidewalk has to come up this week to get the rest of that rotted sill out and finish the leveling.

After all that, it was time for a walk.  A view of Apalachicola bay, at the river mouth and the boat basin exit.

Overall, a very successful trip.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A long day on the road.

But it was a successful trip.  Pictures of the building tomorrow or at least soon.  Mustang averaged 28.2 mpg, and that counts stop-and-go through Panama City and a steady 75–80 mph along I-10.  The new bits seem to help, especially in smoothing out a former rough patch in the throttle under hard acceleration.  Worth every penny.

But now I need a beer.  Found a new brand, think I'll try one now:
What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cleaver's Up

Reminder: the March edition of the 4th Ward Cleaver's up.

Browsing the Acme Catalogue Again.

Hmmm, interesting.  Probably worthwhile.
Now that really seems to help.
Why, yes.  Sounds cool, at least that first model.
Parts are in as of this evening.  I'll let y'all know how how it works once I get a chance to bolt it all on and wring it out.
Assuming I survive.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Other Big Dog robot videos.

After last week's video of a Big Dog robot chucking cinder blocks, you should take a look at this, in case you somehow missed it earlier: Big Dog in action.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Performs as expected, performs as hoped.

30 miles, no back pain.  The suspension system on this bike just plain works.  The air/air system and "Brain" rear suspension kept bobbing to a minimum while smoothing out the trail into a magic carpet.  The 29" wheels roll over things more easily, and handled just fine in tight trails like The Briar Patch.  As far as I'm concerned, the old 26" wheel standard is as dead as disco.  Unexpectedly but pleasantly, the 29's float over loose sand much more easily than 26's.  The 27.8 lbs weight didn't feel noticeably more heavy than its predecessor's 25-ish lbs (-ish = depending on tires).  The 2x10 SRAM drivetrain shifted nicely, and the hop between the two rings was usually in the ballpark for a quick uphill/downhill shift.  On flat land, set it and forget it on the big ring, then fine-tune with the cogs.  Jury's still out on durability.

The world has turned and the mountain bike has changed.  Oddly, it's not radically or even much noticeably different than anything available a decade ago.  (The preceding decade had much more evident change, though not all of it good.)  It's just that it's all integrated and smoothly working together.

Got to change out those stock hardpack tires for something a little more apropos of the sand and mud on the local trails.  That's a shame, because those stock S-Works Fast Traks are darned nice tires, and they are pricey.  I wish Specialized would just slap some cheap test skins on, and assume that riders will pick the right tire for their conditions.  Just like they do with pedals.  So now I've got to buy something more like this, and either save those fancy stock tires for some hypothetical future trip out west, or try to unload'em on ebay.  Whichever the case, they unexpectedly dumped my ass in a clay mud crossing, and they must go ASAP.
ps- An informative review of both of these tires.

But that's a small, easily fixed quibble.  The rest of the day, the rest of the bike performed brilliantly.  I'm a happy camper, ready to go do some camping.

BBC World Service: Joe Strummer Edition

I've long known that Joe Strummer DJ'd a show – aptly named London Calling – on the BBC World Service, and regretted that I'd jumped into shortwave too late to listen in.  Then this morning over coffee I thought "somebody's got to have archived that somewhere on the web."  Yep, and here it is courtesy of the Radio Clash site.  A little over 9 hours' worth (the episodes were only a half-hour), still broadcast to the world free for the listening.

It's not Clash music, or even punk rock.  It's a jumble of music Strummer though was significant, or at least interesting.  Here's some commentary on the series over at the BBC.

Why the hell am I blogging this right now when it's a beautiful sunny day and I've got a new mountain bike to go ride?  (First time out on the trails with it too, after being cooped up by rain last weekend.)  Well, it bottomed out at 31 degrees last night, so I'm giving it a few extra minutes to warm up this morning.  No point in rushing these things some days.  Trail report and pictures later today!

Back to London Calling, the quality is perfectly good.  A little hiss in the first few episodes, but what the hell.  Bet it sounded better yet straight off the BBC's Ascension Island West Africa transmitter.  Ah, the bitter regret of the good things I've discovered after the fact, but better late than never.  Ain't the web grand?

Friday, March 1, 2013

I don't care where you stand on the sequester...

...this is funny:

Hmm, maybe they don't have any minds to meld.  That would explain quite a bit.

Obligatory link to Nimoy.

Well that's vaguely disquieting.

Big Dog robot now has powerful arm, chucks cinder blocks.
Interesting to watch the thing move.  Don't try this at home, kids!