30 June 2014

Silent Victory

What a weekend.
Absolutely nothing exciting was accomplished.
Didn't go to born free 6,
or the antique nationals.
Strangely enough it was one of the most relaxing weekends in over a year.
Last week our awesome neighbors decided to not only sell their house,
but also move away!
It became so normal to be on guard,
to be stalked whenever we'd go outside.
Who videos a kid skateboarding, weeding or working on a bike?
Who cusses at 12 year old kids?
The last straw may have been last month.
He did the lawn thing again.
I wrote a letter.
Instead of mailing it like last time,
I taped it to our fence.
I also taped it to his door.
Yeah maybe a dick move.
Thing is,
I mailed the last letter,
and they denied it.
So this time I wanted to make sure.
Well 45 minutes later the police arrived.
Two cop cars,
4 cops...
We can hear some ranting and raving.
I got all our paperwork ready to explain our situation.
20 minutes...maybe 25...
Cops leave.
Never knocked on the door!
After at least 8 police visits, 3 code enforcement inspections, 2 property management walk throughs, a complaint letter directly to our home owner, months of video surveillance, multiple threats of harassment suits...
I'm hoping their house sells,
but for now a vacant house is so peaceful!

23 June 2014

Junkyard Dog

Some people choose their daily drivers by comfort or performance.
There's another factor in our equation.
The junkyard.
If your gonna have an Armageddon vehicle,
cheap plentiful parts is key!
The check engine light was glowing on the wife's car.
Thankfully she warned me early on,
the car had a shudder and the light would blink.
Holey Chit...
With some family troubleshooting help,
The first thing checked was the fuel filter.
 I could barely blow through it.
Easy fix!
It did seem to drive better,
but there was another gremlin.
After reading the manual and researching online,
the problem was one of 24 things.
For $20,
a local shop ran a diagnostic.
First time at a mechanic in 20 years!
Supposedly there's an OBD2 code reader that plugs into an iPhone,
I may look into that.
A definite timesaver,
the code pinpointed the problem to a misfire on cylinder 4,
The Ford 4.6 uses a separate ignition coil for each cylinder,
a trick design,
however they do burn out.
It was time to make a judgement call.
The part isn't really expensive,
$45-75 depending on the brand,
but there was a principle to uphold.
Our Mercury Grand Marquis was picked for multiple  reasons,
lotsa space,
and mass produced for cheaper parts.
The Ford Crown Victoria is used as taxis and cop cars.
There are literally tons of them at the junkyards.
We had to go.
The perfect donor was found,
a beat up P71 police interceptor.
Definitely on my next car to own list,
these are built way beefier then our cruiser.
I hoped a government car would have had better servicing then an old taxi.
The remaining coils were tested and pirated,
a whopping $60 for 5,
including the rubber boots!
Motorcraft brand not aftermarket junk.
Here's the bummer.
I really wanted Jakob to check out the place,
but no minors were allowed inside.
He was a trooper though and napped for the 20 minutes.
We had a good cruise regardless.
I ended up swapping out a couple coils.
The car ran great for the test drive.
So far our $1800 car has given us about 20k miles,
and besides 2 smog checks and a couple oil changes,
this was the first issue.
Keeping my fingers crossed!

22 June 2014


Many years ago my Dad got the ultimate Christmas gift.
A shiny new Columbia 3-star bicycle.
This was around 1953 or so.
The Korean War was on,
every family lived like "Leave it to Beaver".
We found these pics in the early 90's.
At the time I was into these old klunkers,
and somehow dug one up..
We staged the shots in front of the same house,
45 or so years later...
I need to find the others pics with my grandparents.
Come to find out,
My Dad never really liked that bike!
He really wanted the new lighter European style 3-speed.
Totally understandable,
the Point Loma area is built on a series of hills and canyons!
This one rode like a tank.

14 June 2014

solving the Rubik's cube

Here's a throwback time-waster from my school days.
Who needs algorithms to solve these things.
Jakob couldn't quite figure it out,
so I showed him an old trick.
Sure you can learn fancy algorithms,
studying different methods.
Hey it's fixed right!?

13 June 2014


It's may be obvious I like a little clutter.
Sure it gets a bit out of control, 
but funny enough,
I know where most everything is.
The reasoning is clutter is a system of layers.
Each layer is a specific project that happened since the last super-clean.
It's easier to remember the timeline of past projects,
then an unmarked drawer or tray.
Here's a case why it works for me.
Last month or more I started a little project.
The goal was to install the two distributor advance rods,
specific to the model A controls.
Without the spark advance,
the hot rod isn't fully driveable.
The job seemed easy enough,
but that's when the warning flags appear.
The dang steering wheel would not budge.
The pulley puller failed,
even with oil and a soft hammer.
It took weeks to finally drill and tap custom holes,
then use a bolt-on puller.
During this time I did a little clean-up,
and other projects got in the way.
By the time the wheel was off,
the important pieces were missing.
I looked all over,
using the search as a good time to organize.
The one bar that Macey liked to play with was easily found.
The other bar and pieces had vanished.
I even offered a $10 finders fee to the kids.
No luck.
By total accident,
I found the last rod where it was supposed to be,
in the back of the pickup bed,
wedged down in the corner.
Yes I had looked in that area.
Then guess what.
The little pieces were in this organizer thing I never use.
All alone,
safely tucked away.
Holey Chit.
I had scanned that area countless times.
Tons of little bolts and knick knacks cover that work bench.
Nothing ever gets lost.
Basically the time I put stuff away for safe keeping,
it was harder to find.
What did I learn?
If it works don't fix it?

12 June 2014

Zen Garden

Last year one of our alley neighbors hooked us up with her garden grown lettuce.
The other day I thanked her as she was partially responsible for us starting our own garden.
She added that it's her moment of zen,
getting her hands in the dirt,
and enjoying the fruits of labor.
I definitely agree.
A little nurturing every couple days,
really only watering and weeding,
all of a sudden a half hour goes by,
and it's time to go in.
The kids notice how the plants grow and respond to a little attention,
while just being outside.
Good times...

09 June 2014

Ghost Ships

You know when you wake up early on the sunday you can sleep in?
Laying there tossing and turning.
The wife's grumbling cause the beds squeaking.
Then you get up.
Try to be helpful and clean a little.
The creaky floor and the clanking dishes
don't help the situation.
The kids are all zonked out too.
No partners to do a morning swap meet scrounge.
Time for a bike ride.
The couple mile ride to the point can be quick,
with enough hills to make it a good workout.
It had been a while,
a long while since the last ride.
That means slow and steady. 
Sure I passed a guy on a mountain bike.
Going fast more focus is spent on the street.
Little potholes and cracks eat up skinny tires.
The slower pace is different.
It's not important to keep up with the 5 older women with the bright pink outfits
and carbon fiber frames.
It's also not about keeping track of time.
A 45 minute ride can be done in an hour.
After stints in World War II and the Korean War...
stints meaning fixing crashed fighter planes,
rescuing shot pilots,
being hunted by enemy submarines, planes and destroyers...
my grandfather finished his time in this shop.
Here they built these model ships,
for use in perfecting the radar or sonar capabilities.
Under that framework is a large water test tank.
These models were scaled down versions of real ships,
and before computers they practiced real simulations.
One of my earlier memories was visiting this spot.
Papa was retired,
but he'd still go shoot the shit with his old buddies.
I can remember sitting at that table eating lunch.
Back then I didn't appreciate the level of detail.
Now as a metalworker these amaze me.
There are a few models all polished up,
under glass cases in various offices.
Fortunately these are still on outside display for now.
I can feel the same connection coming here then to his gravesite!