Sunday, July 09, 2017

Thirteen Shots from Texas

OK, here they are, a few more shots from this year's vacation trip.

I selected 20 of the best, and pared it down to 13. We flew into Houston. Our first day, we visited the aquarium. They have four white tigers there, seemed like an odd place to have tigers.

The second day we went to the Kemah Boardwalk. It was fun, but the roller coaster was shut down. Looking through the selected 20 I realized not one from there made the cut!!!

Day three we visited the Johnson space center. I have more shots from there, but only one made it here, the shot of some various mission logos.

Day four we drove over to Austin. Austin was far more photogenic than the places we were in Houston!!!

Unbeknownst to me, the lodging I'd selected in Austin were right next to a bridge that is home to the largest urban bat population in North America!!! Unfortunately, the first night we were out scouring the area for Texas Barbecue at dusk, and the next it was driving rain... and we were driving!!!

Part of the reason we'd headed to Austin was it's a lot closer from there to San Antonio, to visit the Alamo!!! Spoiler alert, there IS a basement in the Alamo!!!

The next day, the boy and I went stand up paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake, then we were on our way again.

We also, as previously mentioned, we visited the Texas capitol building.

Another travel day, off to our final lodging for this vacation, Galveston on the Gulf Coast!!!

Doesn't seem like we actually DID much in Galveston, but we did finally get to go in the pool of one of the places we stayed.

The boy learned to do a full flip into the water there, more amazing because the water only hit 5 feet deep!!!

The water off the coast was incredibly choppy, due to a tropical storm that had blown through the week before. Also made for on and off rain and humidity the whole time we were there. When we were checking out, the rain was driving down hard again!!!

We hit another Texas Barbecue spot on the way out, and finally made it to the beach!!! Got my right foot soaked by the Gulf of Mexico!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Don't Mess

Coming soon...

Our vacation stories from this year's trip, but for now:

This was in the state, former Republic of Texas capitol building. Check out his firepower!!! I've been in many government buildings here in California, and the most I ever see is sidearm pistols.

Don't Mess with Texas.

Sunday, June 04, 2017


You may recall WAYYYYY back I made reference to the design contest at my work yet again. Once again, it's an artwork design contest using industrial supplies sourced from the company. Finally, just today, I've gotten to the completion point on my design. A little late.

I'll start off sharing the other four entrants' creations. The copper wire "love" picture framed sampler was first, and I thought it was a good look and a worthy entrant.

Next up is this very fancy lantern. Other than mine, I thought it was the nicest example.

Then there was... this... A miniature set of monkey bars made of PVC pipe painted gold. My vote for least practical. I guess you could re-purpose it as a rack of some kind, or a plant rack or mini trellis... I don't know.

Then there was this kid's activity board. Pretty good, but I think some better colors would improve the aesthetic quite a bit. Paint, we sell that.

So, here's what I came up with. It's actually a redesign of something I made up probably close to 20 years or so ago. I had seen large, tubular wind chimes, and around that time somehow my then job had come into several lengths of surplus copper pipe. How hard can it be??? I cut three different lengths of 1" diameter, and three of 1/2". A disc of aluminum with some holes drilled in it, a small disc for a clapper, and a flat diamond shaped plate for a wind sail. Easy, huh??? Well, it turns out there's a bit more to wind chime design than just that!!! First, the different lengths caused a weight differential, and that caused it to hang lopsided. Furthermore, just cutting random lengths didn't make for an especially melodic tone!!!

My redesign was fairly complete!!! I ditched the different diameters, and mounted them linear. The lengths were adjusted to provide a proper chord. I also put the hanging holes a a proper location (who knew there was such a thing???). I used one rectangle of wood to hang them from, and another to make a clapper, with a series of holes cut in them lining the tubes up. That is how it was set up when I entered it.

Once again, I think everyone who entered won some category. They asked me what I would like for winning, and some time back I had seen a car with a SpaceX license plate frame. We do a fair amount of business with them, so I asked if we could get in touch with them and see about getting me one. I don't know if they ever actually got in touch, or if they just checked out their catalog pages, but they said they had no luck getting me one. They asked if I wanted one of the T-shirts they have, so I picked out the design I liked. Just checking back now, and I see they NOW have the license plate frame I'd wanted in their store!!!

All this was around nine months back, so I don't remember exactly. I liked the way it looked, but there was an issue. The clapper has little cross section to catch the breeze. A redesign is still in order. I cut the clapper into segments, and put them at closer proximity to the ends of the tubes, mounted to a couple of pieces of plexiglass. I liked the was it looked, but it still needed a little tweaking. The holes were just a little too big, so I added in a couple of tabs on either side. That took care of it pretty well!!! Finally had it where I wanted it, so just today, I finally hung it up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Scruffy Gets Stuck

Or more correctly, sticked. I considered titling this post 'Trouble with the Trees II'. I seem to be doing Scruffy posts fairly regularly, and here goes another!!! This weekend were were driving on the freeway when I saw it. Two cars ahead of us, a stick in the road. It probably started life as a 2x4, but it's had a lot of the edges knocked off. A little more than three feet long. The first car rolls over it, and the second car starts hitting his brakes... but there's nothing to be done, and nowhere for me to go. They roll over it, and launch it into the air!!! I thought it was going to go over us, but no!!! Right into the windshield it goes!!!

I've had windshields broken before, but never in as grand fashion as this!!! Of course it was loud, and I had to adjust my inside mirror afterwards. We kept driving along, but I was wondering how bad it was damaged, besides the actual windshield. The headliner was bent down about an inch, and I was thinking it had actually bent the roof. If that were the case, I was going to call it totaled.

When we got there, got out and took a look. Ended up to not have damaged the roof, and the headliner extends a couple inches into the windshield, so it was just pushed down.

Here's an odd thing, though, the very corner was also badly damaged, along with the outer frame area being cracked. At first I was thinking it had created a shock wave and kicked that portion up, but I'm thinking that the stick must have hit there, too.

See the close up shot??? Look at that, it actually embedded wood into the glass!!! One of the younger's friends looks at it and says, "that's a strong window!!!"

Last shot is before I stepped out, all these glass shards all over my pants!!! Things could have gone way worse, so thank God they didn't!!! Just a couple hundred to get it replaced, and we're back on the road!!!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

There is Trouble With the Trees

Happy New Year!!! I can hardly believe I haven't done ONE post this year so far!!! That changes NOW!!!


Question: Were you threatened by the trees beauty?? Were you?

Why? Why, oh why? would someone, ANYONE, chop down a perfectly 200 year old healthy beautiful tree, that was a home to animals?? Why?

Dear tree, on behalf of stupid humans, I'm sorry

That's the text from the sign hung on the fence by the stump of said tree. This was back in July of last year, and I've been meaning to post since that time regarding this. This is heading into the tract I live in, and I'd noticed the lack of tree driving past prior, but one day I actually stopped and got a look, as well as these pictures. You can see the candles and shrine made up in the middle of the stump.

So I took the shot a little wider... and maybe THIS has something to do with it!!! You can see the damage it's done to the curb, raising it and offsetting it more than it's own width and height!!!

And that's not all, folks!!! Farther along you can see more damage to the curb, and the whole street past there!!! You may have noticed there's a manhole cover there, too, so I'd bet it's encroaching and damaging that, too!!! This is one area that, if there's no opposing traffic, most drivers will swing wide around to avoid excessive wear on suspension parts. This was prior to an election, of course, when they start doing a lot of tearing up roads to prove how effective the use of your tax dollars really is or something. I had the idea that they were probably going to fix up this section of road and sidewalk, but around nine months later it's exactly the same. Of course, the election is over, so... Of course, we all know how quickly municipalities get things done. At any rate, I think that is a pretty answer to the question "WHY??"

Oh, and my neighborhood was built around the mid 1930's, and there's a lot of those trees at regular intervals along the original streets, so I'm thinking probably the tree is around 80 years old.

We're all sorry you didn't get to hug your tree one last time.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Scruffy Swallows a Water Heater

A few weeks back, I was doing some dishes one evening. Towards the end, I start running out of hot water. Hmmmm.... that usually doesn't happen!!! A run down to the basement confirmed my worst fears: the water heater had sprung a big leak!!! The good news is that apparently it happened right then, and it hadn't fully flooded the basement!!!

This was on a Wednesday, so I had my wife call Home Depot about installation, which they have on their page same day if you order before noon, or something. The units I was looking at were around $500-$700, or alternatively there was a tankless for $1,000. She checked, and the price for the former jumps up to around $1,300, and around $4,000 for the latter!!! Nope, nope nope!!! Guess I know what I'm doing on my day off!!! Oh yeah, online all of them were shown as "ship to store". Come on, I KNOW you got 'em there!!!

So, we load up Scruffy with some rope (and empty out all the various other stuff that accumulates back there) and head off on Friday. Sure enough, there's a row of 'em there, so we load up and off we go!!! In the second shot, you can see the hatch just ALMOST making it closed!!! Ran the rope around the hatch, and we were on our way!!!

It took a little doing, but between the younger boy and the one armed wife and me, we got it moved up the steps from the street and into place. Not nearly as difficult was disconnecting the old unit, but for a leaky old thing, it still had a lot of water in it!!! I had it draining through a hose for quite a while, and there was still more!!! You can see it still flowing out in the third pic, as well as the way it stood, looking all like that tower in Pisa!!!

All in all, it came together without any major hassles. Don't remember exactly, but I know my dad helped me with the last time I'd had it go out, and it had to have been at least ten, maybe twelve to fifteen years ago, so we got our money's worth out of it!!! Also seems like it was under $200!!! I didn't opt to get the WiFi enabled one so my water heater could take part in the next DDoS attack. It does, however, have a little blinky LED on the control panel, I'm going to have to look at the manual to see if the battery is replaceable!!! After I got it all installed, I went up and took a much needed and well earned warm shower!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Scruffy Finds Her Voice (Then Gets Radical Rhinoplasty)

Something I've wanted to do for the longest time, and finally managed to get taken care of a month or so ago. I got a 512 Labs exhaust system like I have on Sat3 made up for Scruffy!!! Quite a while ago I had got myself an actual glasspack muffler for my car (at the time it was on Baby) and welded it up with flanges in the same position as the original (actually it was a junkyard replacement for a can-type factory muffler, but you know what I mean) and saved that original for Scruffy.

When I put the glasspack on Baby, I don't remember the sound changing that much. After I'd gone through the time and effort, I remember thinking that it was kind of a waste since it didn't seem to quiet it down much at all (not that I'm complaining, it sounds pretty sweet, but was doing it out of consideration for the neighbors) but having my old muffler on Scruffy, there's a decided increase in volume. Has a bit more of a harsh bark to it. Yeah, it sounds good!!! It cost me $20 more than when I had the original made up, and I don't think I got a better job done for my money. You can see instead of being a piece bent to shape, he used a bunch of pre-bent lengths, and welded 'em at compound angles. The outside mount, instead of being to an actual rubber insulator, he welded directly to the suspension mount!!! Discovered that after we'd left, or I sure would have made him fix that!!! I've been thinking of how to remedy this... and to be sure, it's the last time I'm going to this place!!!

The only thing I really like is the tip they made up for it, it appears to be stainless. Needs a little deburring.

Took a shot of the original muffler and intermediate silencer. If you look, you can see the black marks that all Saturn rear mufflers seem to have, from scraping a hole in them. The silencer muffler is shorter from Scruffy, something I'd never noticed before. Saved it to (probably, eventually) add flanges to it and see how it sounds. Mileage seems a bit better, but not so good as I've seen before.

Then, just this week, my wife does THIS to her!!!

Good news, no one was hurt, and it didn't set off the airbags. Probably because the sensors for 'em are in the bumper!!!

She was on the freeway, and traffic stopped and she went under the back of a full size pickup truck. Of course, not her fault. Also amazing, besides a couple scratches on the front bumper, the hood was the only panel affected!!!

Last hood shot is of the insulation pad from underneath, where you can see the print of the twin cam cover, and I've added in a couple of strange pink arrows pointing out the print of the canister for the AIR injection in the front, and the oil fill cap in the rear. I took a hammer to the hood and put some clearance back into it.

As soon as she started talking about insurance, they bailed, so more good news!!!

I'm known to make comments about people locking up their wheels and "flat spotting" their tires. After I took the hood shots, I noticed that it appeared to have an example (somewhat) of just that, except it made a pattern of perfect stripes!!! Wonder if it was grooves on the roadway.

Final shot is of one of the motor mounts from the Falcon, since I'm always putting motor mount pics here!!! In the interim the starter in Scruffy had given up, and I moved the Falcon out to make room to change it. I'd bought the new mounts months ago, and just yesterday finally got them in. When I was moving it out, I drove it over and bought $20 of gas since it's been a LONG time since I have, and the tank was way low and gas was way cheap. I'd goosed it a few times, and floated the back tire for 50 feet or so while I was driving it about, and when I got home it was leaking gas again!!! That had been my last Falcon project, rebuilding the carburetor because it had been leaking from the accelerator pump. This time, turned out to be from the motor flopping over and ripping the line from the body to the fuel pump!!! During the course of changing the mounts, managed to lift the engine enough that it ripped the upper radiator hose!!! Always something...