Monthly Archives: December 2004

happiness is a smoking unordered list

  • Total miles driven in morning commute: 33
  • Total minutes taken to drive morning commute: 120
  • Number of cars seen in ditch: at least 15
  • Number of complete and utter idiots on road: 2 confirmed
  • Inches of snow driven through: 6-8
  • Inches of snow that fell while I was driving: 2

Fun fun. Yes, it did take me two hours to get to work this morning. Not as bad as it sounds, but still a big effort. I saw an eagle talon driver who was glad he had AWD, since he pulled himself out of a snow bank backwards, did two full doughnuts, then drove off like nothing ever happened.

I saw one poor guy who for some reason thought he should gun it to merge onto the interstate (with 6 inches of loose, driven through snow on it). Yeah, he determined that the shortest distance between the onramp and the median is a straight line.

One complete idiot in a 4WD pickup with a snowplow on the front was going 20mph faster than anyone else one the road and weaving in and out of traffic. So stupid. Sure, he may have enough traction to get up to that speed, but he’s toast if anyone in front of him loses control, since there’s no chance that he’s stopping.

I was slightly annoyed that my own 4WD wouldn’t engage. When my brother Joe and I rebuilt the front end, we greased the hubs. Apparently that’s not a good idea, since the grease (especially when it’s cold) will prevent the hub from engaging the driveshaft. Poor, stupid me. (: When I get a chance, I need to pull the hubs and clean the grease out of them. Until then, 2WD is working at least.

Anywho, I made it safely to work. Here’s to a safe trip home. (:

Invent Me

(yes, I’m stealing the title from nate. it’s highly appropriate though)

In talking with Tim today about the rewiring effort he was doing in his new condo, I had an idea for a new product. It would just be a remote control circuit breaker. It would let you press a button to kill power to the circuit that it was plugged into, and press another button to reset it.

This would allow an electrician to safely test newly wired circuits without going all the way to the fusebox each time. Seems mildly useful. More useful than a lot of the single use sorts of gadgets that you see on the aisle caps at Home Despot, at least.

Actually, while I was writing this, another idea occurred to me. I would like to have circuit monitoring circuit breakers that are web aware. In other words, circuit breakers with built in web servers and built in oscilliscopes, so that I can view the health of any given circuit in my house. All the relevant stats would be available at each circuit breaker: power used, a list of anomylous waveforms, etc.

Just a thought.

simple way around internet policy

I know that a large number of my readers are stuck behind oppressive firewalls, often simply because the staff that runs the firewall aren’t completely sure how to administer them. If the firewall is preventing you from accessing a site that you need for work, I would suggest this:

1) Start by pasting into your browser address bar.

2) Paste or type the address of the site you wish to view, without the http:// part on the front. For example:

3) If you don’t want to leave as many traces, paste &hl=en&lr=&strip=1 onto the end of the whole thing you just put into the address bar. That will remove images, thus preventing your browser from making a lot of image requests to the original site. Example:

Keep in mind that google only caches text, not images. This means that if the site is blocked by your workplace’s policy, then you will still not see the site’s associated imagery. This method will at least let you read text and will often give you the links you need to be able to download a document or image.

The other caveat is that you must form the URL for each new page that you wish to view via the google cache yourself, since clicking links within the google cache will take you to the actual site, not the new page’s google cache.

This would actually be a good plugin for firefox… One that mangles all URLs into googlecache URLs…

Anyway, Enjoy!

More car repairs

I haven’t had heat in the Explorer for the last two days. Or at least, none to speak of. I figured out that my radiator has a small hole in it, near the top, so the system isn’t pressurizing properly. Long story short, that means no heat for me.

I wanted to replace it last night, but the weather was frigid and snowy. Today is supposed to be sunny and mid to high 30’s, so I’m going to leave work early and make the swap. Then I’ll just make up the time later in the week. There’s always Friday, if nothing else, right? (:

While I’m in there, I need to replace my fan as well. It’s made of nylon and it’s all full of cracks everywhere. Large cracks! So I need to replace that even more than ever now, because I don’t favor the prospect of it finally cracking apart and sending one of its nylon blades through my new radiator. (:

I’ve always wanted to be able to do that

I just read this post on a random blogspot blog about the address pdf2txt @ You email a pdf to that address, it emails the plain text back to you. Convenient, no?

Keep in mind that they “occasionally monitor for quality purposes”, so don’t send anything sensitive, obviously.

Stack Without Buns

They brought me a brand new chair on Monday. I was pleased. I was also confused though, because the chair had a plastic bag on it that proclaimed, in bold 48 point print, STACK WITHOUT BUNS.

What does that even mean? (:

It’s a comfy chair though.

rosie spotter

Ran across some random rose-hulman student’s blog in my travels today. Neither particularly interesting, nor particularly disinteresting. Just a Rosey’s blog. (:

two very useful links

These are for me as much as anyone, just so that I can find them later. (:

Ronja an open source point to point wireless link. In other words, the design documents for the transcievers is free, one just has to take the time to build them, and the money to buy the parts. Range is currently 1.4km at a speed of 10Mbps full-duplex.

Secondly, a link to a torrent for an Xlive CD. It is a disc “which runs an X server (from from the CD using Cygwin. Also included are awk, sed, perl, vim, bash, grep, other text utilities, and most importantly an OpenSSH client”. Tres useful, but I’ll need to download it at home, no torrents allowed at work. (:

The Explorer rides again

Well, the engine repairs on the explorer went swimmingly. Thanks mostly to the hard work that my brother Joe put in, the whole engine is put back together and running well.

Friday I collect all the parts that were still outstanding: heads with valves assembled, manifold bolts, rocker assemblies, new push rods (which are thicker, w00t!), new spark plugs, oil and filters enough for two changes, and a new shifter knob. The shifter knob wasn’t totally necessary, but I liked the feel of it (cast aluminum) and the old one rattles.

Saturday, I collected yet more parts: engine pre-lube (keeps the engine from killing itself before all the parts get oiled), alignment glue (to stick down the intake gasket and hold it in place while installing the upper intake) and some random odds and ends.

The brunt of Saturday was taken with rebuilding the engine and putting all the electrical and vacuum systems back in place. Around 10pm, we powered the truck up, and it was blowing fuel out around one of the injectors. By 11:30 pm, we had the whole thing put back together and running. We gave it a quick oil change and called it a night.

Sunday was sore legs day. Standing up for 12+ hours and leaning forward into the engine compartment the whole time is not something this geek is made for. Joe was fine though, proving that he’s in much better shape than I. We flushed the coolant, drove it 45 miles, gave it another oil change, and then it was good to go.

It was expensive, but at least the vehicle runs again. It sounds better than ever as well. No more valve clatter (yay!). I had to put mid grade in it to make it stop knocking, but that’s to be expected with the higher compression. That may tail off once the engine breaks in.

So now I have what amounts to a brand new engine, with 163k miles on the whole of the vehicle. 450 miles and counting on the rebuild, and no problems yet. Now *I* just need to recover from the tiring weekend. (:

good read

A hard hitting article on women in the military. Interests me not only for the primary subject matter, but because it tangentially covers the work I’m doing at GDLS.