Archive for November, 2001

Airports and Differentials

17 November 2001 at 3:50 am
by Berck

I ordered a differential for my car. The guy at Mazda Competition told me I needed the stub axels from the open diff to install the diff he was sending me. I knew this already.

It took me awhile to get to MazMart to buy the stub axels. When I got there, I waited for what seemed like forever for Paul to come out and help me.

I like Paul. I’m not sure where he’s from, but I’d classify him as genuine rasta-man. He’s got a carrabian accent. Dreds. And a nice sense of humor… It’s nice to talk to him.

Then they tried very hard to talk me out of the Mazda Competition differential, which was kind of silly since I’d already done it. Mazmart wanted to sell me a torsen differential and all the parts needed to install it in my car, to a tune of $1500. The mazda competition differential was $500, brand new, and seems to be every bit as good. Hey, if it’s good enough for a race car, it should be good enough for my car, right?

Anyway, they reminded me how hard it was going to be to get this differential installed, and told me that I basically need someone with the training of a jedi master, or a real guru. I mentioned that I’d hoped R-speed would be able to do it, and Paul said “They might…” just as Joe from R-speed walked in.

No, Joe said, they couldn’t do it.


Did he know who could?

There was some guy in Roswell who did one once upon a time… The solo miata guy, Randy, should know…

So I bought my parts, thanked them, and drove home.

That took nearly 3 hours thanks to Atlanta traffic. I left 2pm and got back at 5pm. It turns out some guy ran through a security checkpoint Hartsfield, so they closed the whole airport. One guy runs through a checkpoint, and they turn all incoming planes away, ground the ones preparing to take off, and evacuate the airport of the 10,000 people who thought they were going to go somewhere.

Well, I e-mailed Randy who gave me the names (first names, but I assume this will be sufficient) of people at two different places who are the gurus I need.

Now the only question is what sort of small fortune are they going to want to do this…

Why must it require a subject?

14 November 2001 at 11:24 pm
by Berck

I’m really not much of one for thinking up subjects.

The box in which one types this says “Entry (This will go down on your permanent record)” Ooooh.. My permanent record. When I was much younger, I was lead to believe there was this “permanent record” on which all ones transgressions were reported. It never bothered me that there didn’t seem to be any such authority to keep track of such a record. The concept was frightening enough.

This was, of course, before I got old enough to care about things like civil liberties, and that such a permanent record would surely be in violation of them.

Much like Lowe’s tried to violate them today. I needed some CAT-V cable, and I wandered around Lowe’s not remembering quite where such things were stored. A very old man came up to me and asked if he could help me find something. I told him what I was looking for, and it turns out I had walked right past it. I was in the electrical section, and I was admiring the cable which was large enough it looked like it could carry all of the current to power a neighborhood. Or three. It probably was, but then I got carried away realizing how small it actually was in comparison to large transmission lines.

They sold CAT-V by the foot, and it appeared they had two different sorts. They were listed as “plenum” and “non-plenum”. One, of course, was substantially more expensive than the other. 19 cents a foot instead of 9 cents a foot or some such. The only thing that plenum conjured up in my brain is an evaluation of different sorts of intake manifolds.. The sort of intake manifold one finds in the good old cars from the good old days. A very large one which sits on top of 8 cylinders and supports a carburetor in a fasion not unlike a pedastel. Anyway, a plenum type manifold has a thin peice of metal which separates the manifold into different sections not far from where the carburetor joins. I’ve never really understood the point in a plenum even though I read a bit on the subject back when I drove a good old car. Some people seemed to think they were good things. Other people suggested filing them down. Others suggested removing them entirely. The intake on my car had one, and I figured that if Eidelbroch though it was a good idea, that he knew more about it than I, and I’d leave it alone.

Anyway, I imagined a thin sheet of metal dividing the twisted pairs in my cat-v briefly, then examined the two cables. One seemed to be a slightly different shade of blue than the other.

So I asked the rather old guy what the difference was, though not expecting much of an answer. He answered “Well, this one’s yur plenum. If yur gunna put it in yur livin room, you don’t need a conduit with the plenum. IF there’s a fire, and you got yur non-plenum, you’ll die from the vapors if you don’t have a conduit…” he went on for awhile, and nothing he said made any sense. In my mind, there’s cat-v. If it’s rated as such, it’ll do the job. There exterior and interior grade, and I can understand that okay. I picked the cheaper one, wondering what Eidelbroch would have picked.

He took the box of cable up to a little table with contraptions on it. He fed the cable through a tube and started winding a crank. A neat looking cable odometer starting counting. He wound until it read the request 100 feet I’d asked for. He cut the cable and wrapped it in electrical tape, then scribbled on a label and stuck it on the cable.

When I got to the check-out counter, the guy there seemed utterly unsure of what to do with either the cable or the sheets of metal I’d selected (in hopes to fix the armrest on the Exploder). After getting a manager who tried to explain it to him, he took me credit card and asked for my ID.

Which isn’t all that bad, but I found it rather frustrating as it was yet another step for them to go through, and was taking much longer for me to get my things.

And then Lowes, in typical capitalistic fashion, violated my rights. My god-given (well.. maybe not god-given) right to be free of unreasonable searches. I mean, there’s not a lot that I feel like I’ve got to be proud of in this country. And the bill of rights was a really bad idea, but I figured that I should at LEAST be granted the rights that someone decided specify a couple hundred years ago, even if that specification ran the risk of depriving me of other rights… The very polite woman a the door insisted upon searching me. And then comparing the results of her search with my receipt.

I never used to understand why this drove my father nuts, but I can understand now, the fuss he always made about it. If we don’t stand up for our rights at the beginnings of infringement, what will happen when it gets really important?

Our country is full of contradictions, and of late, I’ve been rather disgusted by them. This is a country where we seem to take so much pride in our “rights”, but here the very “right” to capitalism which we as Americans think is so important, leads directly to infringement of a much more important right, I think, our right to be free of unreasonable searches. It wasn’t my government searching me, it was LOWES… I got infuriated thinking about it as I was driving the exploder home. I essentially PAID them to search me.

Anyway, I’ll be shopping at Home Depot next time…

Forgetfulness, Banks, Linux…

14 November 2001 at 2:18 am
by Berck

So I woke up rather late today, not feeling so great. A bit light in the head. I feel like I’m getting an inner ear infection… We’ll see what I feel like tomorrow.

I took a shower quite quickly and managed to get myself in the exploder fast enough to get to the mailbox by 1330. Since there was, in all likelihood a check in the mail for Dad that needed to be deposited, I needed to get that done by 1400. Not much of a problem, really. Sure enough, there were several envelopes that appeared to contain checks. I’m not sure why these envelopes are plainly different from the ones that contain bills, but I’ve yet to get it wrong. I tossed them on the floor of the exploder, and started driving to the bank, when I realized I didn’t have a deposit slip. Not much of a problem, I could always ask them for one… Except that I had NO IDEA what dad’s account number was. And, I didn’t know for sure if they’d give it to me. So rather than chancing it, I decided to go get the deposit slip, because I knew I’d still have enough time to get to the bank before 1400.

Fine, until I climbed out of the explorer and walked to the front door, and reached my hand in my pocket, and then the other. And then sighed and walked back to the exploder. Not finding my keys there either, I cursed. Then I thought about possible methods of entry to my house. Only possibly non-destructive one I could come up with was climbing a wall to the window I might have left open. Climbing at least 10 feet seemed unlikely and even more unlikely that I could accomplish such a task in time to get to the bank by 1400. So, back to the mailbox where I must have left my keys. Probably hanging out of the mailbox–I’d done that before. Never got farther than the door of my car before because the keys are all on one ring. But since I was driving the Exploder (because the front side of the Miata’s engine is in pieces) my keys were not tied to my current method of transportation.

I walked in, and my box was closed and locked. “Marrion, have you seen my keys?” She looked at me strangely, and said “Uhh.. no… you drove away, so didn’t you have them?”

“No, this isn’t my car…”

“I’ve noticed you’ve been in the big red thing instead of the small red thing.”

“yeah, rub it in, why don’t you.”

“Don’t like it?”


“Guess it doesn’t go zoom-zoom,” she empathized. I sighed, thanked her, and left wondering if she knew my car was a mazda and associated it with the current mazda “zoom-zoom” ad campaign (which, by the way, I don’t much like), and decided that she had not, and it was a fitting coincidence. If you look for something, you’ll find it. Whether it’s there or not.

I subjected the passenger side floorboard to a detailed search, and finally found my keys under the passenger seat. I growled, and by now it was nearly 1400. I sighed, and realized there was no chance I was going to make the deposit on time.

I got home and desired to check my email. Since my bad IBM drive had finally munched through enough data that windows wouldn’t stay booted (immediate blue screen in kernel32.dll, never a good sign), that I would need to coerce linux into doing my bidding. A working (more or less) linux installation was sitting on a SCSI drive which was unaffected by the recent demise of my RAID array. After watching reassuring boot-up, I tried to configure my system to talk to Dad’s. Dad’s now possessed the DSL modem, as I hadn’t another win2k box to put it on. Dad’s system seemed quite unwilling to be a server, though it did relay a few pings, which was thoughtful of it.

Surprisngly enough, my wanna be router (linux box with lots of NICs) was graced by Dad’s computer forwarding just about anythign it wanted. So I climbed the many steps and cursed at Dad’s computer. (It helps… Me, not it)

After several trips up and down the stairs I finally realized that Dad’s computer was actually operating the firewall software I’d installed on it, even though the GUI for the service wasn’t active. So, after firing it up, and adding my system’s new IP to it’s list of acceptable associations, everything worked just fine.

I then convinced K-mail that talking to bellsouth was okay, and it provided me with 120 or so messages. The joys of mailing lists.

At least on my outlook express set up, the mailing list mail gets nicely sorted into appropriate folders so I need not manually sort through it in order to get to the important stuff. And, it’s much easier to read miata mailing list messages separate from Linux-ATM-development mailing list messages. It’s very frustrating for my brain when I read “Lately, I’ve noticed this smell of antifreeze after a hard run…” followed by, “I too have had problems with pppd, but under linux-2.4.15-pre2 with the following error codes, thanks to my serial console…” followed by, “I think my crank angle sensor is leaking oil…”

Among all this email, I found one from Dan Pedroza at Mazda South, with a subject of “Eeek!” I know what it was about, and was hopping it wouldn’t be there. Mazda South is a friendly Mazda dealter in Austin, TX from whom I order parts. They’ve been good to me, and I feel better about giving them my money than the local grubby dealers. (a visit to a local dealer involves a long, messy drive, followed by messy parking, and endless waiting in line to be told they don’t have the part, but can order it sometime next month if i’m nice and pay them $860.43 for the heck of it) Dan at Mazda South is typically there when I call, and gets my parts out to me soon, and usually the amount I save from buying from him makes up for shipping cost, and I don’t have to pay tax.

Anyway, I knew what it was about because my bank account currently has $6.21 in it, and I was hoping that ammount included my order from Dan, which I’d placed on Friday. (It seems the parts took awhile to get to dan, and since he hadn’t shipped them, he hadn’t billed my account yet.) So I tried to call him, but he wasn’t at his desk, and so I left a message with someone. Figures. And, since I was late with the deposit, who knows when Dad will be able to give me a little more money…

A few moments later the phone rang. I picked it up, expecting Dan. But it was Dad instead. “Was there any money in the mail?”

“Umm.. Yeah.. but.. the deposit didn’t go in for today.”



“Okay…” (followed by a sigh).

I called Dan back a half hour later, and he’d already left for the day.

I’ve spent most of the day fighting with linux. KDE takes forever to compile, and it’s quite frustrating to be waiting for a compile only to have it terminate because it’s misisng a library, and then you download the library, and then it won’t compile…. Remind me again why I want to be a geek?

A New Journal?

11 November 2001 at 1:36 am
by Berck

Note: The following entry and many following have been transferred from a Slashdot Journal. I figure I may as well put all journalish things in one place.

Thought I’d play with this. Maybe if I like it, I’ll even type at it with some dilligence. Unlikely.

Keeping a journal would tend to indicate that I do something worth journaling. In fact, in this case, it’s probably just the opposite. I’ve got lots of free time. Well, all my time is free. In the since that it’s mine. Not in the since that I’m bored, and desperately looking for things to do. But I, and my time, are, for the most part, free. I wonder if all those commas are legal.

Dad’s started a list of things for me to do when I get a chance, which is, I suppose, quite fair considering I don’t pay rent. On the list so far is:

* Rug Spots
* Deck
* Detail Explorer
* Put Tires on Toyota
* Fix Armrest

So, I did the first two things on the list. At least, I assume I did. “Rug Spots” probably indicated he wanted me to remove spots from the carpet, which I did. At least, if he wanted me to spot a rug, or carpet the cat, I misinterpreted. In addition, I cleaned off the deck, threw away all the dead annuals and gave the frog a bath.

I got invited to go on a Deal’s Gap run this coming weekend. Don’t think I’ll be able to attend, as my car won’t be fixed until then. This is a shame, I think a run at the gap might make me feel good.

A few more pictures online on my new attempt at a webserver. Not sure why I’m feeling this urge to start keeping something of a presence on the web, but why not…

I made dinner tonight… Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It was okay, especially considering Dad was late, and I had to keep it warm in the oven for about an hour.