atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4332: Reading more Clancy

Over the past several days I've been reading, here and there, Cardinal of the Kremlin. It's the first book that Clancy wrote that took place after Hunt for Red October in the same world; Patriot Games took place earlier and Red Storm Rising was set in a different world (which is to say, Jack Ryan wasn't in it. Nor was his progeny).

The last book of Clancy's that I read all the way through was Red Rabbit; after that the focus of the stories shifted to Jack Ryan's son, Jack Jr, and though I tried to read Teeth of the Tiger I found that it did not hold my interest, and gave up a few chapters in. That was the last novel Clancy wrote by his own bad self; afterwards his books were written "with" another writer.

Anyway, CotK is a worthwhile read, and it's been more than a decade since I last read it. In the process of cleaning out the basement I came across a box of books (many of which I bought from Read Books in Cedar Rapids, the platonic ideal of a used bookstore which has since gone out of business, worse luck) and CotK was among the haul. I still haven't found my copy of Red Storm Rising, nor have I found my Clancy hardcovers--most of them--but I still have a pile of junk to sift through, and I'm confident they're down there somewhere, patiently awaiting discovery.

The thing that amused me most about Hunt for Red October was the obvious lack of editing that had been done to the book. It looks as if the Naval Institute Press gave it a token edit before sending it to print; one of the things I noticed was the (typical) confusion of discrete for discreet, something that a good editor won't miss; besides that I noticed a bunch of other errors, such as blatantly incorrect words being used, words that didn't make sense in the context of the sentence. I noticed more than one basic typographical error; the one that comes to mind just now was "tje" where it should have said "tie".

The other thing I noticed: Clancy used some amateurish constructions here and there, including the cliched "They had no idea that they were DOOOOOMED!" type of foreshadowing, and frequently mashed paragraphs together that should not have been.

Of course, this is a book that sold 2.3 million copies, so who am I to judge? In any case his writing got a lot better subsequently; I'm not sure how much is due to experience and what came from having a major market publisher who figured that it was worth spending the money on a really good editor for his books. Does it matter? Clancy died a very rich man, since all his books hit the best seller list, and I'm sure the movie rights garnered him more than a couple of shekels.

But he told entertaining stories (at least I thought so up until Teeth of the Tiger) and if you can do that much, people will give you money, because people like to be entertained.

* * *

Economic doom-and-gloom department:

Mortgage applications are at a 14-year low. Whee!

Halfway through 2013 there was a step function in mortgage interest rates--from below 4% to above 4.5%--and that seemed to precipitate a drop in new mortgages.

That chart seems to rather neatly encapsulate the housing bubble, though.


Worst retail sales figures since January and this time we don't have blizzards and polar vortices to blame. You don't suppose this has anything to do with the fact that THERE ARE NO JOBS AND NO ONE HAS ANY FUCKING DISPOSABLE INCOME, do you?



Related: the average price for a pound of bacon is now over $6. Okay, this past weekend my wife decided to buy a couple of very nice steaks, and they were $7 a pound. WTF kind of world is it where bacon costs almost as much as freakin' Porterhouse?

* * *

Last night I counted chain links and used my fancy chain breaker/riveter to knock two off the chain I bought. The bike needs a 104-link chain, but they were out of 104-link chains in the size I need at the price I was prepared to pay, so I ordered a 106-link chain with the knowledge that one can always make a chain shorter if one has the proper tools...which I do.

It took perhaps five minutes, four of which involved reading the manual, assembling the tool, and disassembling the thing and putting it away again.

Today I am hoping to get out to the garage and replace the old chain with the new one, and set the chain tension according to the specification in the manual.

The problem I have here is that the manual is woefully unspecific about how that's to be done. There is one diagram, showing a relaxed chain, and two marks delineate where the measurement is to be made.

The problem is, there is no indication of what you're to measure, exactly; do you measure the position of the bottom of the chain when relaxed and compare it to the bottom when taut? (Which is my first assumption.) Or do you measure the top of the chain when taut? The manual doesn't say, but the top line in the diagram appears to be tangent to the circles made by the valleys between sprocket teeth on both driving and driven sprockets...and that line would be more-or-less coincident with the top of the chain. It'd be helpful if there were text explaining this, but it doesn't say.

If my first assumption is wrong, that would explain why I have the chain slapping the swingarm on deceleration when I have 20-30 mm of slack measured at the bottom of the chain. If the thickness of the chain is part of the measurement then I actually need about 6-16 mm of play at the bottom of the chain.

So what I'm going to do is to put the chain on and adjust it by gauging the droop from the tangent between sprockets I described earlier, then see how noisy it is. If that is the correct adjustment then it ought to be quiet, with no slapping and none of that worrying "wsh-wsh-wsh" noise it makes when the chain is too tight.

But again, a well-written service procedure would obviate all this guessing.

I would have put the chain on yesterday but when I went outside to cut the grass I discovered that the mower had a flat tire, so I drove it around to the front to put air in it. While doing that I heard the telltale hiss of escaping air and discovered that the tire had a foreign body lodged in it, which was the cause of the flat.

This, of course, necessitated me spending time fixing the flat tire. The tractor has tubeless tires on it, so I was able to use a plug patch, but I was short on vulcanizing compound. I was able to get the tire patched, but it was still leaking a bit. I managed to get the grass cut, even so, but the tire will be flat again (if it's not already flat as I write this) and I'm going to have to get some Slime to seal the leak. Also, I need to buy more plug patches and vulcanizing compound. And it wouldn't hurt to get some oil change supplies and change the Jeep's oil. And I still need to have another gander at the front end, and this time I'm going to take the track bar off and inspect the bushings for wear. And--


* * *

Wonderduck wisely advises us not to mess with Rondo Hatton. That's good advice, because Rondo Hatton will fuck you up.

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