Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let the Right One In

So when it comes to tragedy, the Scandinavians corner the market.  Now I don't mean like the 9 o'clock news "Raging drunk driver obliterates family of four, and their dog" tragic, but the Greek tragic.  By this I mean people do the best they can with sub-optimal results opposite of the intent.

Let the Right One In is a vampire movie that explores evil.  Eli, Conny, his friends, and Conny's older brother offer a few options.  

Without giving spoilers, what I liked about the movie was 1. The use of shallow depth of field 2. off screen violence (not because I'm squeamish, but because it was more in keeping with the Greek) 3. the use of shame.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Changing the water pump on '91 Prelude

Who designs these things?

The advantage of the Honda over a Ford is the commitment to metric.  With 4 sockets it would be pretty straight forward to get through all of the engine.  On the Taurus especially every other bolt was metric or standard.  

Now I have changed a few water pumps on Gimpy the Wonder Taurus, but this Honda made the Taurus look easy.  The head cover had to come off, and the accessory belts.  And the timing belt. And the crankshaft pulley.  And the left engine mount.

Otherwise it was pretty easy to wiggle the pump up in between stuff and onto the block.

BUT we did it.  In one night. With no injuries past cut knuckles.  And actually, doing work with friends in good spirits is always a pleasure.

The trick is in lowering the engine by about an inch.  The pullies, dust covers and pump all fit past the fender much easier.  also a 1 1/2 inch extension might be nice. I picked one up at 7 corners after the fact because it was so dearly missed.  Tools you want to have also: 10mm socket, 10mm box end wrench, 12mm socket, 17mm deep socket, 19mm socket, razor blade, hydraulic jack, blocks, 12in extension, 1 1/2in extension, universal joint, a stout breaker bar, a torque wrench, oven, and a better or at least less cryptic shop manual than the Chilton's because damn.  The oven is to bake pizza, you'll get hungry.  I would strongly suggest buying belts to replace all the belts and radiator hoses, since almost everything needs to come apart anyway.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Triple Rock and Midwest Mountaineering.

So yesterday we biked to the Triple Rock Social Club with our friend April.  I had Bertha's Big Ass Breakfast Burrito with sausage, April had a huge pancake and a plate of cheesy potatoes, and Shannon had the Rock Star Eggs and Toast.  I would like to go there after a night of hard drinking, the breakfast menu and the drinks it offers looks like a great way to fight a hangover.  I hear they make a wicked Bloody Mary, but a dog has to bite me first.

We were looking for fall and winter weather gear.  I was looking for a balaclava and Shannon is in the market for a new winter coat.  April had never been to Midwest Mountaineering.  We looked at everything.  We combed through Thrifty Outfitters, tried on half the coats, and didn't get followed around like a bunch of shoplifters.  

Shannon found a long sleeve shirt and I found a silk balaclava, and I had a crazy awesome idea for how to deter people from stealing bike seats. If anyone is looking to spend pile more than necessary on a Big Dummy, the Hub had one for just over two grand with a separate price tag for the basic basic kick stand holding it up.  Shannon's theory is: "Maybe it was put together with wuv, and that's what made it so expensive."

Saturday, October 18, 2008


In preparation for the winter we picked up a pair of the Schwalbe Winter Marathon studded tires.  I've never had studded tires, so I am excited to try them on ice.  A few years back I wiped out pretty hard on Frenchie riding over ice.  I was sort of asking for it though.  I had ridden across the ice at Harriet Island once and then doubled back because I liked the cracking sound the frozen puddle made.  Take two... not so smooth.

What is funny is that suddenly I have amassed 3 sets of spare tires, for 26 inch tires. 

I'm sipping on Rogue Mocha Porter.  A dark beer with a slightly bitter chocolate aftertaste.  I wonder about aftertaste. Our beer had a definite appley flavor.  

Friday, October 17, 2008

In for an oil change

So we dropped the car off for an oil change.  With a turbo charger those are supposed to have that changed fairly regularly... more like clock work.  And it was due.

The Tow truck set it down in the parking lot, and we waited to hear what they had to say.

While they forgot to change the oil, in three days they were able to diagnose and repair the singular whump sound the car had made.

I don't like feeling vulnerable.  I do what I can to prevent the feeling and since we just bought the car, and since we had problems within a month of the van having the head gasket go, I'm feeling a bit vulnerable.  What is frustrating is that I like driving.  It's the rest of the costs and headache I hate.  I like riding my bike, and I like fixing it too.  Which makes me even more frustrated when I lack the wherewithal to fix the car.  


The impossible has happened

Tuesday night I received a distress signal from Shannon.

What happened never happens.

by some evil miracle either:
A.) All six torx bolts holding the cv shaft to the differential loosened and fell out simultaneously
B.) Scotty put all power to the transporters and beamed them to hell.

which then allowed the shaft, which was still spinning with the wheel, to grind two holes in the side of our aluminum transmission.

Monday, October 13, 2008

100 posts!

Well, here it is: The middle of October and I'm still biking to work.

There isn't any snow on the ground yet but I'll be trying out the Miyata to see if I can make it home without falling over dead.  If anyone is wondering: 27 pounds without panniers.

Riding around St Paul so far it has been okay, so I don't expect any surprises.

Getting Flicked Off

So the story behind the bumper picture:

we were driving to Lake of the Clouds.  One of the more popular and accessible trails in the Porcupine Mountains State Park.  When out of the brush at the side of the road a bird flushes out.  WHUMP.

I look in the rear view mirror...

no bird

and it was a big one.

The Common Flicker stands 12 inches with a 20 inch wingspan.  Somehow it managed to get into the bumper.  And survive.

It screamed, we heard inside the car.  It waved talons at me when I got out to see what happened to the borrowed car (remember this was just after our van  crapped out).

Luckily the bird lived and crawled out on its own, and nothing but some feathers stuck to the car.  Also world hunger ended and I found five dollars.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

gearing up for winter

Well, actually... it ... only has one.

The Miyata is a wicked ride.  Simple and rugged.
I notice I haven't posted those pictures from our northern vacation I promised.

Notice something strange about the bumper on the 98 Taurus?

Maybe a Flicker?

My favorite hiking trail in the Porkies.
And Shannon at the Ontonogon County Park.
It was a good vacation

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

spend Spend SPEND!

The days are getting shorter.

And I think something needs to be done for light.  

I've got a cat eye head light for Frenchie, but it never seems to be very bright.  I can kinda see about 15 feet in front of me, but the light is more for being seen than for seeing.

This new bailout package intrigues me.  The idea of getting money from the government for biking to work is exciting.  I'm kinda thinking about getting a cross-check built up and if I can get some of the money reimbursed...  

So far what I am thinking I want from the bike is a dynamo hub in front so i can have reliable light.  And a crank geared something like 48/38/__.  right now Frenchie is 54/48 and a bitch on hills.  I want wider tires, and studded tires.  And a pony.

I don't think I can walk away with this under a grand.  and the idea of a travelers check is intoxicating.

which puts everything closer to 1700.  

and next summer since we bought a car.

It would be really easy to put something like this on the credit card and pay it off over the course of months.  But with the interest rate on the card at 12% that makes an expensive bike way more than it would need to be.  

What we as a country seem to have gotten used to is having things right now and buying on borrowed money.  Look at the commercial paper debacle.  Companies being lent money on the very short term, rather than having the cash flow.  What pisses em off is that executives are being paid in bags of money, when the company is having trouble making payroll.  Now that is fiscal irresponsibility of the worst sort.  

I have said since I graduated that I would never know the retirement my Grandparents enjoy.  But if these companies don't quit dicking around, no one else will either, even the folks who have been frugal and saved all their lives.

I would like to buy a new bike, but I would also like to stay out of hock.  I keep a nutella jar with money in it. just a matter of time.