September 4th, 2008

#1245: Jalopy joys, part XYZ[theta]

Recall, if you will, my pre-trip electrical system issue with the Escort, where I shut it off at the bank and it wouldn't re-start until I wiggled the battery cables? Well, it's acting up again.

After watching Rudy Guiuliani and then Sarah Palin give excellent speeches at the RNC, I decided it was time for some burgers; besides, the Escort needed a fill-up. I jetted over to the gas station and filled it, then went to McDonald's.

I was back, in my chair, with ep 5 of Umisho playing before I realized that they'd gotten my order wrong. I had ordered three double hamburgers, ketchup and mustard only; what I got was two double cheeseburgers and one double hamburger, ketchup and mustard only. where in my original order did I ever say the word "cheeseburger". This falls under the "will you just freaking LISTEN already?" category. *sigh*

McDonald's uses good beef in their burgers, but their cheese is only technically cheese, so I went back out to the car intending to take them back and get what I fricking ordered.

Halfway up the block I noticed that the battery light is on and the headlights are dim. Swearing, I turned around and parked the Escort behind the van, went in for the Jeep keys, and took the Jeep instead.

I got my order corrected (three fresh double hamburgers, no cheese whatsoever) and returned home. I'll look at the Escort tomorrow.

The wild-ass guess is that the battery cables are acting up again, for whatever reason. Failing that, maybe the alternator has crapped out--WTF, it's a 1995 car; the alternator is 13 years old and it got shorted in 2006 when I was getting the red car drivable. It's just possible that the alternator has died.

If so, no biggie; it's on top and easy to replace. And I'll get a rebuild kit for the other alternator and make sure it works, too, so the next time this happens I can just swap 'em.

All of this, by the way, on top of the shock absorbers for the Jeep. And of course it happens after I fill the gas tank and top up the oil. *sigh*

First priority for tomorrow, though, is to get the grocery shopping done.

* * *

Work Friday; no work Saturday. Yay. And next week's the same: work on Monday and Friday. I can live with that.

* * *

I have already begun my laptop shopping, even though it'll be several months (at least) before I can go ahead and take the plunge. I've narrowed it down to two models.

One is the Gateway MT6733, which has a Pentium T2390 dual-core processor running at 1.89 GHz with a 533 MHz front-side bus. It comes with 2 GB of RAM and 250 GB of hard drive space, and has a 15.4" screen. Price: $650.

The other is a Dell Inspiron 1525. It's running a Pentium T5250 dual-core processor at 2.0 GHz with a 667 MHz front-side bus. Screen is also 15.4". It comes with 3 GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive. Its current advertised price is $600.

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

...except that the Dell has a "regular" price of $950, and by the time I can actually lay out the cash for a laptop, that price is likely to have expired. When I am actually ready to buy--which will probably not happen before January or February--I expect these prices to be long gone.

Still, it gives me a good baseline against which to compare other machines. These two machines represent approximately what I'm looking for--a modest amount of power in a portable package, something which will do everything I need without costing an arm and a leg--and when it's actually time for me to buy I can look for something that approximates these specifications.

Of course, if I were able to buy now, it'd be the Dell, hands down--slightly faster processor, more memory, $50 cheaper, hell yeah.

I suppose I should consider other brands--Lenovo, perhaps, and Toshiba--but I won't buy a Compaq or an HP. (Unless, perhaps, maybe, I see a deal I can't pass up. But it would have to be a pretty spectacular deal. I wouldn't count on it.) The machine has to have an Intel processor; I won't use AMD. (I know AMD's processors are perfectly fine; I just prefer Intel.)

I do occasionally see Toshiba laptops on sale at Best Buy.

But what I do not want is a laptop with a 13" screen. My Inspiron 8000 has a 15" screen and I've gotten used to it. The problem with "budget" laptops is that many of them skimp on display size; the Dell and Gateway that I am looking at, however, do not. And, really, they shouldn't, as 15" LCDs are getting less expensive as world-wide demand for flat panel displays has increased and production capacity has followed suit.

15" is pretty much "big enough" for a laptop, IMHO. For a desktop I want a BIG monitor--I got used to that when I was a tech writer at Rockwell-Collins--but while I was in Maine I found that I could quite acceptably watch anime and play D2 on a 15" laptop screen without problems.

* * *

One of my coworkers, whom I had liked and gotten along well with, got fired. It turns out that she was marking down merchandise and buying it, which is almost as bad as stealing.

I'm disappointed; I thought she was smarter than that. Yeah, there's a ton of stupidity at that place--but there's stupidity everywhere, and even if you're disgruntled it doesn't make it okay for you to do crap like that.

I thought about how I felt and realized only now that "disappointed" is indeed the right word to describe my feelings about the matter. There are plenty of ways you can "stick it to the man" without resorting to fraud, or even to doing things that'll get you yelled at. This woman worked pretty hard; all she had to do was to slow down a bit, work her scheduled hours and no more, and F it if the work wasn't done at quitting time. They can't fire you for working your schedule but giving not one iota more.

Giving yourself an extra discount--when everything you do with the inventory system is tracked by computer and linked to your employee number--is just dumb.

* * *

Monday night annoyed me, though. I had to do Backstock during the unload; then I got to do Softlines (what my fired coworker used to do) all night. The AC in Receiving broke again, so it was infernally hot; and to make matters worse, the boss dropped about a dozen cases of bleach off the top rack, spilling perhaps ten gallons of the stuff.

(I'll say it again: there are two kinds of people who work in Receiving: those who have dropped stuff, and those who will drop stuff. This stuff happens to everyone, and it didn't happen to the boss because he's stupid. It happened, in fact, because Receiving hasn't been done properly for more than a month....)

For the first time in my life, I was having trouble due to chemical odor--by the end of the night my throat was burning. He'd opened the main door to ventilate the place but crap, it sucked to be in that heat and that misama of bleach. WTF.

So I got home Tuesday morning, took a shower and a short nap, took Mom to her doc appointment, and then finally got some sleep...but I was still wiped out today. And in fact I still feel tired, so I'll probably be going back to bed in a little while.

* * *

While I was in Maine I saw some neat cars, though, including some 1940s models that looked pretty good. Someone was selling a really nice-looking TR7; but the TR7 has a reputation for being unreliable, which is probably why so many of them end up with Chevy V8s.

I also saw a rusty '49 Mercury which was just begging to be turned into a hot rod. In fact, I'd wager that's what was happening to it, as I saw it in the lot of an auto repair place with no windows....

I saw three Fieros. One was a red bumperpad notchback; one was a GT without taillights or ground effects, which was at a paint place and clearly undergoing repair/restoration of some kind; and one was a GT in a guy's driveway.

My sister's Jeep Cherokee is a 1994. She's also got a 1993 Cherokee, which has about 250,000 on it; and the only reason it's not usable now is that she parked it in 2004 and stopped driving it. If she'd kept driving the thing, it'd likely still be going, despite the rust in the rocker panels.

The 1993 has a manual transmission. I wanted to ask her how long it's been since the thing's needed a clutch; the 4 liter L6 is a torque monster and I'd like to know how the clutch stands up to that. (My brother insists that he went through a clutch in his Camaro every 30-50 thousand miles because it was a "sports car". My green Escort never needed a clutch, and I suspect that the red car has never had its clutch replaced, either. So I'd like to know how well the clutch holds up in a Jeep that's been driven around the mountainous territory in Maine....) The problem is, it's likely that my sister wouldn't remember how long it's been since the Jeep had a new clutch, if ever. She's a talented and capable artist--she's got a couple of watercolors she did of houses hanging near her front door, and they look photographic--but you could put all of her mechanical knowledge into a thin notebook. This year is the first year she's ever had to worry about those sorts of things; I had to teach her how to check the air pressure in her tires--so if her old Jeep had its clutch replaced, she would not know much, if anything, about it.

On the plus side, the newer one has a bit more than 100,000 miles and is automatic. And she even likes the color. Heh.

* * *

Finally, it's September 4th, and it's now been (counts on fingers) five months since I placed my pre-order for Yawara! box set 1. What the fuck, AnimEigo?

#1246: Proof of leftward bias in the media.

You want confirmation? There's your confirmation!

And the article from which I got it.

But why be surprised? "US Weekly" is a trash rag of tripe, but it's merely doing what a bunch of other media outlets are wanting to do. In its own way, it's funny.

"US Weekly", we congratulate you for being honest about your bias.

(Michelle Malkin does something I thought about doing myself....)

* * *

The really nice thing about the left's PMS (God love you, Anchoress) over Sarah Palin is that it will serve to energize the conservative wing of the GOP.

Here's the deal: many conservatives were turned off by McCain's nomination; McCain himself is a moderate-to-liberal Republican, frequently going against the party, which is why the press loved him so much before he got the nomination. Sarah Palin is clearly a conservative, and what's more, she's obviously energized the party to a considerable extent, one that few observers could (or would) have predicted.

The press is falling over itself to hype Barak Hussein Obama and to help the Democrats destroy Sarah Palin, and this will anger many conservatives enougn to make them vote for McCain instead of staying home.

So please, please, keep this kind of nonsense coming, guys. Keep up with the sexism and the pounding of the asinine conspiracies and the demagoguery. The last two elections had razor-thin margins and your unfounded attacks on Sarah Palin may energize the GOP enough to hand us a victory in November.

Stop smearing Sarah Palin, say female Republican leaders; but I say the opposite: keep it up. Please. Not only will you further marginalize yourselves, but you'll also hand the White House to the GOP in November.

* * *

Ann Coulter approves of Sarah Palin.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Democrats' quest to overturn the civility of US elections fired another shot at President Bush. Biden promises that if he and Barak Hussein Obama are elected, there will be investigations and charges and scandal and prison (and executions?) for the Bush Administration.

Biden himself says "'Have you figured out what is worth losing over?' he said. 'Because if you have not, it's just raw ambition. Barack [Hussein Obama] understands what is worth losing over.'"

Does he now? Barak Hussein Obama has reversed his positions on a lot of issues. I don't think any issue that important to Barak Hussein Obama has come up yet. What would it take?

* * *

Suck it, Taliban POWs! According to the peaceful religion of Islam, dogs are "unclean"; this therefore is a "war crime".

How many islamic psychos respect the religious beliefs of their prisoners? I think that number approximates 0.00; and in any event I doubt that religious considerations are part of the Geneva Convention, which doesn't even apply to terrorists in the first place as the Geneva Convention specifically excludes combatants who don't wear uniforms and who hide behind civilians, innocents, and non-combatants.

If they want to claim protection under the Geneva Convention, these idiots should first form a real army, in which case they'll all have to wear uniforms. Of course, it's impossible to smuggle a Semtex vest through a security checkpoint if the guards see that you're wearing the uniform of the Glorious Army of Psychotic Retards; screams of "racial profiling" only work in countries that don't have serious terror problems and your attempt at suicide bombing will end up with you being arrested. You might set the vest off and take a few security guards with you, but that won't meet your goal of killing a bunch of innocent women and children, now will it?

If you're fighting a war and you get captured, guess what? You don't get to choose where your captors hold you. (John McCain kind of found that one out in Viet Nam.) So if you don't like the fact that you're being held in a dog kennel or a pig pen, tough fucking shit, asshole.

* * *

Lastly, Dan dispels a few myths about the mercury hazards of compact flourescent bulbs. This also explains why people can handle mercury and not immediately turn into raving lunatics or corpses--the pure metal is not so easily metabolized.

This comes as a relief to me, but not a surprise, to be honest.

Despite that, it's still true that mercury is not something you want leaching into the water table, and replacing all the incandescent bulbs with CF bulbs will result in tons of the stuff being released 10, 20 years down the line as the bulbs burn out and are thrown away....

Maybe I'll get out my little blob of mercury to celebrate.