November 15th, 2007

#713: Thursday noon hodgepodge

I bit my tongue in my sleep. It woke me up. WTF.

And I wasn't even dreaming about food.

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Re-virgined! Women in England get hymen reconstruction surgery for free from England's National Health Service (NHS) (AKA "Hillary-care lite" because the British can buy better health care if they want to. Hillary wants to make that kind of thing illegal if she ever gets to socialize medicine here.) Isn't that wonderful? A woman loses her virginity somewhere along the line, but when she gets married she wants to appear virginal to her husband so that her family isn't shamed.

Wow, that's so...deceitful. Well, at least she can make someone else pay for it! She doesn't have to pay out of her own pocket in order to have her hymen reconstructed; she just goes to a government hospital and has it done! Hell, while they're at it, they may as well have breast implants and a tummy-tuck. WTF! If one kind of cosmetic surgery is covered, why not all of it?

Another reason not to buy Maxtor hard drives. They come with malware pre-installed at the factory for your identity-theft convenience.

Ann Coulter. Enough said. Just read it.

McCain's campaign tries to make hay after the Clinton News Network (CNN) comes down on McCain because someone asked him "How do we defeat the bitch?" and he didn't immediately say "WHY YOU MEAN-SPIRITED EVIL PERSON HOW DARE YOU?"

C'mon. CNN, founded by Ted Turner, super-rich ex-hippie and husband of Jane Fonda--what do we expect from them?

Military casualties in Iraq compare very well to peacetime training accident deaths. According to the Defense Department figures, in 1981 and 1982 combined the military had more deaths (mostly training-related) than we've had in Iraq so far.

One reason generals get the big bucks is that they have to be able to weigh the value of the objective versus what it will cost in terms of the lives of his men. Men are not expendable; but when you are fighting a war, some of them are going to die and there's nothing you can do about that, so you do what you can to minimize casualties. Ultimately you have to consider how important the objectives are.

D-Day (in 1944) was a very important attack. We lost thousands of men in the assault but it had to be done, because you can't win a war without attacking the enemy, and it's better to attack him where he is than to wait until he comes to you.

9/11 was the result of us waiting for someone who had declared himself our enemy to come to us.

College students have to pay for their own birth control! How cruel Bushitler is! You see, female college students shouldn't "...have to make a choice between their birth control and their cell phone bill or their birth control and their gym membership and their birth control," Ortiz said. "These are choices women that women [SIC] shouldn't have to make."

How can Bushitler justify war in Iraq when University of New Mexico women have to pay for their own birth control? They shouldn't have to choose between the luxury of having a cell phone and the luxury of having otherwise unprotected sex! They shouldn't have to choose between the luxury of a health club membership and the luxury of otherwise unprotected sex! They shouldn't have to pay for birth control because it's just not fair that they should have to make choices like that.

(And when the birth control fails they shouldn't have to pay for their own abortions, either.)

Here's an idea: stop having sex if you can't afford the birth control. Or if you don't like the idea of not having sex, get rid of the cellphone, or get a cheaper plan. Or if you can't live without your phone, learn how to exercise without access to $50,000 worth of equipment. (Here is a hint: your body has mass. There are exercises you can do which take advantage of this apparently little-known fact. These arcane maneuvers have mystifying names such as push ups and sit ups.)

Part of living in the real world includes living within your means. But I guess if they haven't figured that out by the time they're in college, they're never going to learn it, anyway.

BTW you can get a box of two dozen condoms for about $15-$20. That's enough for about three weeks' worth of trysts, assuming you do it once per day. If you can't afford that--and you have both a cellphone and a gym membership--you need to learn how to budget.

I'm getting sick and tired of people acting like "free love" is a human right and that it's government's responsibility to ensure we don't have to "suffer" the consequences of sex.

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I have been using this keyboard since late March, and it already has a worn spot on the space bar where my thumb goes. Either the plastic is too soft, or my thumb is too hard--or I just type a lot. WTF.

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The other night I was thinking about acceleration and deceleration.

Specifically, I was thinking about the ultimate car. I figured it could accelerate at the limit of its tire adhesion and brake at the same rate--and that they should be equivalent. So I started thinking about accelerating and stopping distances.

Assuming the car can go 0-60 in two seconds flat. 60 MPH is 88 feet per second; so that would be 1.375 G. How far does it travel in that time?

The equation for that is simple: distance equals 0.5 times the acceleration multiplied by time squared: D=0.5*a*t*t.

The answer is 88 feet. If you go 0-60 in two seconds, you've traveled 88 feet by the time you get to 60 MPH.

If you do it in one second, it's 44 feet. Two and a half seconds, 100 feet. And so on.

Now, this hypothetical supercar--I figure it's fusion-powered and has a 250 horsepower electic motor hub-mounted at each wheel. Electric motors work both forwards and backwards, so instead of using mechanical brakes, just apply the motor in "reverse".

This car--I called it the "Scorpion"--would have an adaptive suspension, traction control, and all kinds of other nifty technology to maximize traction at all times. And I mean a really adaptive suspension, not just something that changes shock valving--a suite of terrain sensors would read the road and adjust the suspension geometry to suit what the road is like and what the car is doing at any given moment, thus allowing the car to perform to the theoretical maximum limit of its performance envelope.

The car would corner like an F1 car, accelerate like a top-fuel dragster, and stop on a dime. It would run on deuterium and get several thousand miles to the gallon.

So what about braking? Well, if the car can accelerate to 60 MPH in 88 feet it should be able to stop in a similar distance, shouldn't it? 88 feet isn't a perilously short stopping distance but it's on the short side for most vehicles. Figure a typical car can stop in about 130 feet from 60 MPH. (Assuming the "typical" car has a skidpad rating of 0.85g, that would mean the car would take 3.1 seconds to stop. Given the appropriate motor it could then accelerate to 60 in an absolute minimum time of 3.1 seconds--theoretically. Putting it into practice is the hard part.)

Where I ran into trouble was with the calculations. I was laying in bed, trying to sleep, thinking about all this...and somehow I came to the (erroneous) conclusion that higher acceleration increased the distance. I was awake enough to realize that wasn't right, that it had to be shorter, not longer...but I couldn't find the fault in my calculations.

Thinking about physics in situations where it is inconvenient or dangerous to whip out a calculator has done much for my arithmetic skills. When I was commuting 50 miles each way every day, sometimes it would occur to me that X meant Y, but in order to do the calculations to demonstrate it to myself, I had to do math that was beyond "6x4=24". So I learned how to do arithmetic in my head, something I had never been able to do until then.

I could have turned the light on, grabbed pencil and paper (I keep one of my $0.062 notebooks by my bed) and done the math to find my error, but I was trying to sleep for crying out loud. So I just tabled it.

Still, I considered the matter again when I did have time, and discovered that I had, indeed, made some mistakes, but not what mistakes. Anyway, it was fine that my instincts had been correct.

But now, looking at the column of numbers I generated, now I want to do a plot of distance-versus-acceleration to confirm my suspicion that it would be an asymptote. This stuff just never ends.

#714: Redundancy is supposed to prevent this kind of thing.

Ever since my brother used it to move his snowmobile the van has had leaking brakes.

I'm not saying my brother broke the van. Brake lines are made from mild steel and they rust pretty easily, especially if the vehicle isn't used a lot. That van has been driven about three times this year.

Today I finally got out and started working in the driveway. Escort needed tires pumped up and battery charged, but I was able to squeeze the van out and get it to the top of the driveway so I could yank the left front wheel and see what was leaking.

To make a long story short, I replaced the hard line from the antilock motor to the place that the flex line to the caliper attaches. I bought a 4-foot section of line and used three feet of it. I bought a double-flaring tool because the flaring tool I have only does single flares. I re-used the antilock-end fitting because all it needed was some cleaning with the wire wheel on the bench grinder. It took me less than an hour to bend up the line and install it.

Problem is, there is another leak.

Most vehicles have a single brake line going to the rear end. Just one--most of the stopping force is provided by the front wheels, and the last thing you want is for the rear brakes to lock up in any situation, because then the vehicle will start to fishtail. In most cases, vehicles are set up so that the only time the rear brakes lock up--assuming no ABS, of course--is when the rear tires unload in a panic stop, in which case the fronts have probably already locked up themselves.

This single line has blown open, apparently, because there is a second leak towards the rear of the van.

Now, I had Mom step on the brakes while I was looking at the left front brake line and I saw the little jet of brake fluid from that leak, so I knew it was leaking. But the rear line is buried in the frame under a bunch of other stuff, out of sight (the gas tank is in the way--thanks, Ford engineers) and impossible to inspect. So I replaced the front line, literally praying that the fluid I saw leaking from the rear had come from the front and just ran downhill.

No such luck, though. Got the new line in, pumped the brakes, lots of fluid dripping out back. Had Mom step on the brakes while I looked at the general area and I could hear it coming out back there. *sigh*

So tomorrow I get to go buy a lot more brake line and fab up a new brake line for the rear. Argh etc.

The rear line goes from the antilock motor back to a flex line over the rear axle. The flex line goes from its body mount to a T-fitting on the rear axle itself, from which two lines extend to either side to the rear wheel cylinders. So I should only have to make the line that runs from the ABS motor to that flex line fitting.

Should.

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As for the Escort, once I got enough juice in the battery, it started right up without a problem. The right rear tire is thumping a bit because it went nearly flat and stayed that way for several days, but that should go away after it's been driven a bit. I drove it to the parts store, to McDonald's, and home. It's definitely an easy car to drive, easier than the Jeep is, but I don't know how much of that is "well-designed, small, light car" and how much is "I've driven three of them for a total of 14 years".

Once I've taken care of the van's brakes, then I'm cleaning the Fiero; and after that, half-assedly reassembling the '86 and executing those plans as best I can. If I can get the '85 into the garage by Sunday and the '86 into the driveway under a cover, I'll be sitting in butter. Err, Bob will be my uncle, that is.

I'm also going to get the Christmas tree out of the garage. Thanksgiving is a week from today.

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This is the first time I've ever had to replace the brake lines on a family vehicle. I did it for money in the summer of 2005 when I had a "part-time as-needed" job as a mechanic, working for a guy who did repairs out of his own garage. I learned a lot from that job, too, including how to install an engine when you had nothing to do with removing it....

So now I've removed two engines and installed one. I've got to improve that ratio just a little. Hopefully I can put a rebuilt engine into the '86 Fiero next spring.