August 31st, 2009

#1705: It's Monday, and I'm sleepy.

I managed about 3 hours of sleep before waking up with a headache. Fortunately the headache is gone now, having succumbed to an egg-and-bacon sandwich, but I'm wide awake and tired. *sigh*

I have to go order connecting rod bolts before I can sleep.

Besides ordering connecting rod bolts, I really need to cut the grass, too; and I have to make a run to the store for bread.

I was doing so well, too, going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up around 6 or 7. What happened? I'll tell you: I was working on the light novel again.

Sometime around 1 or 2 AM I thought, "Well, son, you can either watch anime or write; which will it be?" I thought anime would take longer, so I decided on writing; and then I realized that writing would probably take just as long as the anime.

It took longer.

Once I get started, I have trouble stopping. That makes sense because I frequently have trouble getting started: inertia! But it makes sense if you think about it: you get your brain into an alternate world and the words start to flow, and you don't even notice that you're typing everything as soon as you think of it. The next time you spare a glance for the clock, three hours have passed and there are eight more pages of story....

I got to bed around 5-ish, and slept until a bit after 8.

Now that I think of it, I realize that's what is so awesome about being a writer: the process of writing is immersive and distracting. That may be why I don't need to drink. (And why I'm suddenly interested in writing fiction after a long dry spell.)

I feel sorry for people who both write and need to drink. (Or use drugs.) Those people are screwed.

* * *

So, how much of an SOB was Ted Kennedy?

A big one. And not just because he was a fatass. Farah says it all: "Let this be his epitaph: Ted Kennedy killed a woman and joked about it."

And apparently he was so desperate to defeat Reagan he solicited the help of the USSR. This borders on treason! Certainly it's a violation of the Logan Act. Then again, that thing's never been enforced; certainly the Democrat party would have acted to protect Ted Kennedy from prosecution under the thing. (The guy got away with murder; why worry about a never-enforced law from the 18th century?)

* * *

No surprise here: Obama's "special advisor for green jobs" is a communist. A true watermelon: green on the outside, red on the inside.

There really is no other way to describe the guy, unless you say "radical leftist", which basically means "communist" anyway.

* * *

So let me get this straight: Yamaha is to blame when one of their products is mis-operated by a 13-year-old, who is then killed in the resulting crash?

The kid wasn't wearing a helmet or a seat belt. The Yamaha Rhino is equipped with seat belts, and the kid was ejected from the thing when it rolled over.

Guess what would have saved his life?

And while we're on the subject, have you ever looked at how ATVs are generally marketed? ATVs are usually recommended for use by people age 16 and over. Manufacturers actually say as much, sometimes even in the ads themselves. (A lot of the time the recommendation is buried in fine print, but still.) You wouldn't give your 13-year-old the keys to your Mustang, but you're perfectly fine with giving him the keys to a machine which has about the same power-to-weight ratio and you don't make him wear his seat belt while hooning the thing around the yard?

This is approximately analogous to letting the kid take the personal watercraft out without a life vest. If you're stupid enough to use the machinery without the appropriate safety equipment, how is it the manufacturer's fault?

So I am very, very glad that Yamaha won this lawsuit. It's not their fault the kid died. It's not because the machine is faulty; it's because the kid's parents are faulty.

* * *

George Will on cap-and-trade. Why do the Democrats want it? Because it represents a huge pool of money, that's why.

* * *

$3,000 for a dual-screen laptop. That sounds about right. That's neat, but not $3,000 neat.

* * *

Good luck with this, guys. Apostrophe misuse drives me insane. People sprinkle them into their text like sugar on corn flakes, and 90% of the time it's wrong, wrong, WRONG!. If I had $1 for every time I have seen someone pluralize a word with an apostrophe, I'd own Bill Gates. (If I had an extra $1 for the aggravation it caused me, I'd own Warren Buffet, too.)

* * *

Argh, those damn parts aren't going to order themselves. Guess I'd better go.

#1706: Ouch.

So what does a connecting rod bolt cost, when you get one from your friendly Ford dealer?

$8.44. And you have to buy four at a go. Total: $36.

I hadn't realized my car used iridium-plated titanium fasteners...?

No, it's just the regular dealer ass-rape price. Parts from the dealer always make you clutch your glutes and wish for Preparation H; that's just how it is.

And so let's tally the results of the day's efforts:

Lawn: mowed.
Bread: bought.
Pistons 1-3: installed
Oil pump: disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, needing only 2 new bolts.
Intake manifold: cleaned.
Broken stud in exhaust manifold: removed.
Rear main seal boss: cleaned.

The oil pump was being a total bitch. I had to use the wire wheel to get the old gasket off; wanting to dunk it in the parts washer to clean the wire wheel gunk out, I had to remove the crank sensor. Naturally both of the metal washers embedded in the thing's plastic housing were frozen to the pump housing. One bolt broke off, leaving about 1/8" protruding above the surrounding surface. The other one came out but when I tried to remove the sensor the bushing remained behind.

So I'm going to need a crank sensor and I may need a new oil pump, too, if I can't get the rusted bolt out. Argh etc.

The other bolt that needs replacing is one of the bolts which holds the pump together. While I was trying to disassemble it, it ate a T-30 (torx) bit and then died itself, making it impossible for me to loosen it with my other T-30 bit. Hammer and chisel did not bother it, either.

I drilled a hole clean through it with the drill press, then applied heat with the propane torch. After a quick shot of WD-40 to cool it, the hammer and chisel then were able to break the goddamned thing free, and I had it unscrewed in pretty short order thereafter.

I may try using the drill press on the broken bolt.

Pistons 1-3 went in without a hitch and the new beam-type torque wrench did a yeoman's job of properly indicating that the connecting rod nuts were tightened to the specified torque.

* * *

Dinner tonight is Chinese, and the parking lot over by the Chinese place is literally a circus.

Longtime readers of the Fungus know we don't throw around the word "literally" unless something is the literal truth, and I can honestly say that the parking lot was literally a circus, complete with big top, elephants, camels, clowns, etc.

It was hard finding a place to park.

I don't remember the last time I actually saw an elephant in the flesh, either. Or camels, come to think of it.

* * *

Your Toyota Prius is raping mother Earth! With a spiky thing that has a lot of sharp edges!

Rare earth metals are called that precisely because they're rare. Iridium is one of them. Platinum is one. Neodymium, osmium, tungsten, tantalum, and several others.

Every single element I listed there is used by industry. Rare earths have properties which make them incredibly useful.

In my short story Singularity aliens arrange to buy a year's worth of Earth's production of palladium in order to repair their spacecraft. It does not turn out to be a hell of a lot--on the order of two hundred tons. (I based that figure on current consumption, which is extraordinarily pessimistic, considering the story is set several decades from now.)

So figure that as China continues to industrialize they're going to start using their rare earths for their own industry and stop selling it on the world market--where will that leave others?

* * *

Dang, I'm tired. Maybe it's time for bed.