November 16th, 2007

#715: Fixing brakes, day two.

I bought 18 feet of brake line and several couplers and spent my afternoon making the van's brake system fluid-tight. Now it no longer leaks.

My brand-new-only-been-used-twice double flaring kit decided it would no longer flare 3/16" tubing, of course. When I put the two 5' sections of tubing into the van they overlapped by about 8 inches. I measured about an inch and a half beyond the meeting place and cut there, then went to put a flare on the end.

Tube slipped out. Cut off mangled end, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Swear a lot, drop new flare tool, get old flare tool and use "bubble" die with it, make proper flare, install pipe...

2" too goddamned fucking short.

The nice thing was that there is a short s-shaped pipe from the antilock motor to the pipe that runs from a union there to the rear of the van, so I didn't have to fab up one big piece, saving me some serious effort--and this also saved me now, becuase I just fabbed up a new S-pipe that was a bit longer to account for the too-short pipe.

Put it all together, got the air out of the rear pipe...and it leaked. Where did it leak? at the freaking flare I'd had trouble making. So I took the damned pipe off, cut the end off, and made yet another flare there, went to reinstall it...

WTF! It was an inch too short again! I only cut off about 3/8 of an inch at the most, so why the fucking hell....

...but the rear pipe had some slack I could use, so I simply bent things a bit differently, got them joined, and tightened everything down again.

Tested the system; no leaks. Good. On to bleeding!

Right rear wheel: no problem. Left rear wheel: no problem. Right front wheel...er...this bleeder isn't moving--okay, likelihood that there's air in that pipe anyway? Probably close to zero, since it's on a different circuit than either the left front caliper or the rear brakes, so there probably isn't much if any air in that line, anyway. I'll just do the left front and see that that'll--

snap

[lots of cursing]

The bleeder screw--after I hit it with penetrating oil and held a propane torch on the bleeder boss for about ten minutes--snapped right off.

This is why the going rate for mechanics is around $60 per hour, by the way. This kind of nonsense happens all the time. I'm no stranger to any of this stuff and it's taken me over seven hours just to get the brake system not to leak, and I'm not done yet because the brakes still don't work correctly.

This is how a "simple" brake job ends up costing people $500; "A" leads to "B", which leads to "C", and all it takes to set up this kind of chain is for the vehicle to be 15 years old and driven through nearly every Illinois winter since it was new.

But the other factor is that the caps for the bleeder screws--which keep moisture and dirt out of them--are missing from all four wheels, and look to have been missing for quite some time. That's never good; it lets water get inside the screw and rust 'em solid.

Anyway, so tomorrow I'll go back to the auto parts store for a caliper and a set of front pads, and hope that I can get it back to 100% without having to replace the passenger side caliper. This means that I will have spent three days out of my week off on one project. Argh.

#716: South Park got me again.

I watched "The List", an episode which revolves around a list--generated by the girls--which ranks the boys in the class by how good-looking they are.

Kyle is dead last on the list.

Stan tries to help him by getting Wendy to try to get his position on the list changed, and then they show a meeting of the girls "List Committee".

It's one of the most bizarre things I've seen on that show, which is saying a lot.

Bebe is the head of the committee. Here's a sample of how the meeting goes:

Bebe: Today we're going to work on list B-35, "who has the cutest purse". Does that sparkle with everyone?
other girls, in unison: Sunshine!

W...T...F.

And so Stan, having seen this in action, uses the terminology in his own speech. Wendy goes to one of the girls' houses to see if she still has the "vote cards" from the "who's hot" list vote, and the girl gets angry and tells her "Just drop it!" and slams the door.

Stan: "I guess that didn't sparkle with her."

I just about lost it.

I like how fearless the writers of that show are. They're not afraid of putting in weird stuff without bothering to justify how or why--it just is, and they're really good at getting the audience just to accept the weirdness.

Okay, example: the Chinese guy who runs the China Wok is asked to build a wall around the town; he does. Then Mongolians show up (on horseback, no less) and try to tear down the wall. "Every time a China man build a wall, Mongorians try to tear it down! F*** you, Mongorians!" And so half of the episode is about this Chinese guy trying to defend his wall from Mongolians!

Another time the boys need to get somewhere, so they go to the City Wok because the guy also runs an airline out of the place, and Kyle talks the guy down to something like $40 for taking all of them someplace.

And Chef's Dad: "What? You give him a dolla? You can't give the Loch Ness Monsta no dolla! Now he ain't never gonna go away!"

But I have liked the show since I first saw it, because it's hilarious. I don't get to see it very often these days.

#717: Cinnamon rolls

Pillsbury makes cinnamon rolls which have the "Cinnabon" name on them, and they are a pretty good substitute for the real thing. They're addictive as hell, too.

Cinnabons are a holiday treat for me. I try to get a 4-pack of them on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas morning I can have a Cinnabon. Otherwise I try to stay away from them; I'm already a big guy and I don't need any extra insulation. (All of this was started by my first girlfriend. She did this to me. Argh!)

Let's face it: the dough is typical dough, maybe a bit sweeter than average; but they then spread a layer of butter, sugar, and cinnamon on it before slicing it and rolling it. Then they bake it; and when it's done and cooled, they spread on frosting which is more butter and sugar.

Face it: they're mostly fat and sugar--that's why they taste so good!

And I always get extra frosting, too.

The Pillsbury version costs about $3.70 for five rolls that you bake yourself. It's well worth it, because if you go get a real Cinnabon it won't cost you less than that for one big roll. The Pillsbury version is perhaps half the size of the real thing, but the flavor is pretty damn close.

* * *

In Diablo 2 I wanted to run around and kill a lot of stuff, so I made yet another Sorceress. You give a Sorceress the "Nova" spell and she can kill a lot of monsters really fast, especially in "Normal" mode.

I named her "Tummy-Tuk".

I started the character on Wednesday afternoon, and by 11:25 Friday I'm about 3/4 of the way through Act 5. One more good push will get me to the end of the game (again).

I imported the too-powerful charm that gives an extra 461% of experience for each kill, so Tummy-Tuk is 45th level now.

But what the hey; I'm having fun with it.