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WEEK 15 2005

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Saturday 16 April 2005

Saturday - a beautiful day, a bit warm even. I mowed the front lawn in the late morning and decided to hold off on mowing the back lawn as it was getting warm.

So I instead went out to Apollo park and read a bit, and napped.

Also, later, I started sorting and organizing some books - in particular putting the books on boating, sailing and cruising together in a single bookcase, and putting books from that queue to be read together as well. There is actually considerable overlap in the two categories, and a great number of both.  And of course the evicted books formerly on those shelves need to go somewhere - right now they are just sitting in piles on the bedroom floor.

In the evening I was over at my friends for movie night. The first was the 1996 Disney animation The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was interesting to me, as I never read the book or saw a movie or play based on it. How much did they leave out? I am told that the Quasimodo doll did not move off the store shelves - no one wanted anything to do with it. It must have been a shock for the director of marketing at Disney..if not for anyone else..

quasimodo doll
Mom, buy me for your kid! Hey! Come back here! Hey!!

The other movie was the 2002 chinese movie Hero. An odd movie, it seems to be at first an action movie, but then turns into a propaganda piece for mainland chinese nationalism and conquest. Watching it after a couple of weeks in which the mainland is making aggressive threats on Taiwan, and in which staged anti Japanese riots are occurring, well, it makes for uneasy viewing.

Friday 15 April 2005

Friday - I went to see Sahara with some friends. It was a fun movie, with car chases, helicopter chases, boat chases, a perky damsel in distress, a resourceful and dashing hero - and even an amusing sidekick. The good guys were good, the bad guys were bad, there lots of explosions and theatrics - a nice enjoyable escape.

Thursday 14 April  2005

Thursday - Apparently there is talk of cat hunting in Wisconsin. Sick bastards, those cheese heads. But it does makes for amusing essays just about everywhere. (Well, I found them amusing. I suppose that makes me a sick bastard as well.)

Rather than a quote, I think the money passage for today is an short story set in a possible future, with an excerpt below:

I patiently waited until he exposed his side and then took my shot. DAMN! TOO HIGH! The herd scattered to the four winds, but the Persian whirled and charged furiously through the brush at us. Frank and I leapt to our feet and ran down the hill, and we could feel his hot, tuna-scented breath on our ankles as he chased after us.

Do our intrepid Hemmingway's escape? Read the whole thing.

Database Nation: With the announcement of another and another and another break-in of a database containing private information on individuals, this little video on the prospect of universal database access is not just funny but timely: PIZZA ORDERING    [via Jerry Pournelle's blog]

Wednesday 13 April 2005

Wednesday - I washed the Probe in the morning. Not the best wash, just a quick once-over, but good enough for now. I could see discoloration's and things (bugs, dirt) buried under the existing wax coating - which means stripping, cleaning, and rewaxing at some point. And it's good I did this car wash early in the morning, as the wind is howliing again this afternoon, gusting to 50mph.

Sometimes I get to pondering the great mysteries of life:

Bad news: Ebola is back. Or rather, Marburg, which seems closely related, a type of  hemorrhagic fever.

Tuesday 12 April 2005

Tuesday - today's story: Ed and the Gordian Knot Nut.

I finally buckled down and replaced the battery in the Ford Probe. It's been dead for months, and was dying for months before that - by last December I had to drive it every day to keep it charged. Due to the corrosion on the battery terminals I was reluctant to attempt changing it myself. And too proud, in a blue-collar sort of way, to take it to a mechanic and say "You deal with it!" So it has just been sitting since January, indecision manifest, collecting dust (and cat prints in the dust) while I use my other cars. But, since it gets half again the gas mileage of either of my other two vehicles, the rising prices at the pump have started to pluck at my inner miser.

Saturday, then, I decided to change it out.

Growing up I owned a lot of (used) cars, and spent a lot of time working on them. (Misers are, I suspect, people who didn't have much money when young). A skill one develops after enough barked knuckles and grease under the fingernails is to be able to glance at a nut or bolt and instantly know what size it is. American cars of the era I could afford used the english system, so this implies a discernment of about 1/16". So, after chiseling off the verdigris, I looked at the nut and bolt on the battery terminal clamp and said to myself  "three-eights".

But it wasn't. Too big. Embarrassing - I'd lost the knack it seemed.

So I tried one size down, five sixteenths. And it didn't fit either. Too small.

Of course - it must be metric. Only to be expected in a car built in the early 1990's. I could suddenly excuse my failure as a grease monkey: no red-blooded American boy whose first car was an unsafe-at-any-speed Corvair would pretend to familiarity with poofy european millimeters. ( Though I do know that fourteen millimeters is generally close enough to 9/16" for 'wrist tight' work.)

Sunday, then, I had to borrow some metric box wrenches from a friend. I have never got around to buying a complete set of metric wrenches, though I do have some metric sockets which would not, irritatingly enough, fit in the cramped space by the battery.

Ten millimeters - too big. Nine millimeters - too big. Eight millimeters - too small.


So on Monday I tried an 11/32" box, a rare but not unknown english wrench dimension, intriguingly just below my original guess. It didn't fit either.

There aren't any wrench sizes left. Even if it was in 64th's, one of the other wrenches should have been close enough. What the ????

Faced with this puzzle, I conquered by doing what any red-blooded-American-grease-monkey-boy would do: drilled it out. (There wasn't room for an adjustable wrench, or a hacksaw.) And I didn't use any wussy Dremel tool either! No, I used a Craftsman 110 Volt drill with a gold colored Black & Decket 1/4" Titanium drill to remove the head of the bolt. Worked like a charm.

I'd post a picture of the drilled out carcass, but I threw it away. Or it fell through that hole in my jeans. In any case, I can't find it now. Perhaps I left it at the store?

My best guess - the corrosion had removed enough material to make it an absolutely unique size. Or, that it was of such cheap manufacture, stamped out rather than machined perhaps, that it was again a non-standard size.

In any case, I replaced the battery, and installed the new terminal clamp with a good english nut and bolt: 7/16" to be precise. That ought to hold it.

Stupid nut.

Then I started the car, and drove it out for lunch: hot pastrami and lemonade. But that's a story for another day.

Monday 11 April 2005

Monday - spaghetti and two glasses of wine for dinner. Whoa.

Sunday 10 April 2005

Sunday - moved the truckload of pavers - OK, just sixty or seventy of them - to the side yard. I want to pave the weed infested planter directly adjacent to the house. There are no sprinklers there, so nothing but weeds will grow without far more effort than the historical record suggests I am liable to give. So...

Afterwards I took a hot shower to relax my back.

Picture of the Week
Antelope at the San Diego Zoo

Photo Notes: Mystery critter (antelope?) at the San Diego Zoo.

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