Archive for October, 2005

Not taking leave again

So I’ve officially decided that I will not be taking any non-emergency leave for the remainder of my enlistment. That said, I’d quite like to not use any emergency leave either – since that would be bad and all. I’m saving up my leave dates for that prized 60 days of terminal leave – so I can pop smoke and ETS in June 2007 instead of August 2007. This plan assumes I’m not deployed again in June 2007, or under a stop-loss for an upcoming deployment at that time, but I’m going to gamble it anyway. I’ll still have some free time – 4 day passes and the like while the brigade is on block leave. I just won’t have anymore two week periods between now and the time I get out of the Army.

Bob Seger

If you’re paying any attention to the Audioscrobbler bit over to the right, you see I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Seger lately. What prompted this? The latest issue of one of the big motorcycle magazines, either Cycle World or Motorcyclist, I forget. It mentioned Roll Me Away as a great motorcycling song, which reminded me how often my Bob Seger CD made it’s way into my deck for multiple repeats on long drives across the country. There’s really not a single bad song on this album. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit up Tom Petty next week.

The Truck Search

They call this “putting out the feelers.” I’m looking to buy a truck, and I don’t have high standards – this is going to be a beater. This truck needs to do a short list of things: give me something with a roof and a heater, and some space to carry people, equipment, tools, and my motorcycle. Most people know I usually have a fair deal of brand loyalty to the GM camp, for this vehicle that loyalty does not exist. Initially there were plans for a 4×4 truck, at this point that has been scrubbed, if I need an off road vehicle I will buy an ATV or a dirtbike. If I can find something that matches the vague guidelines below, brand doesn’t matter, I’m not even sure I care about the engine size (for the Ford I’d actually rather the 4.9L inline 6 to any of their V8s, and I guess i really don’t mind a 4.3L V6 in the GMs).

  • Full Size (F-Series Fords, C/K-Series GMs)
  • Extended/Crew Cab (Needs a back seat)
  • No major body damage or rust
  • The heater has to work
  • $3500 or less

So, if you have a minute or three and know enough about vehicles to check one out with confidence, feel free to look for a truck I can buy sometime between now and the middle of January. I’m not too picky about where I buy it either – anywhere from about North Carolina to Texas is fine.

Learned Perl..

… or at least finished the first step, Learning Perl. I made it through the whole thing without absolutely needing to peer into the back for the answers to any of the exercises. I did manage to complete an exercise or three in possibly the ugliest lines of code ever concieved – and checked the back to confirm that the easy way I didn’t think could possibly work was in fact the way I should have done it in the first place. I will definitely keep the book as a reference when I get stuck, which is bound to happen.

A lot of the scripts I’ve written were done in Python, but had very clunky and not very flexible methods for text manipulation. I doubt that is very much the language’s fault, and more my misuse of its various builtin functions. That said, I’ve found it much more efficient and flexible to rewrite several of them in Perl. When I redeploy to Ft. Benning, I’ll have to get deeper into Perl, for now I’ll keep rewriting Python scripts, and looking at other people’s Perl scripts to see what how they do what they do.

Extending the FujiP

The future of the FujiP is dark, with the horror of Sony design “features” slipping through the cracks. My addiction to going fast, and my complete inability to leave an internal combustion engine alone has also drastically reduced my tech-geek funds. I won’t be able to upgrade to the P7010D – there’s no way I’m going w/ the new model either. Clearly this means the P5020D has to last me until I either completely lose interest in all things with processors – or Fujitsu ceases with this insanity.

So far my plans are for a 100GB drive to replace the 80GB drive currently residing in the p5k, a full gig of ram, and a DVD-RW drive for the optical bay. The batteries have gone through hundreds of cycles – so the laptop only goes about 9 hours now, for shame! I’ll need to get another main battery and another modular battery – and a charger for them as well. All that should at least extend the life another few years, I hope.

It just jumped out of my wallet..

So just a few days ago I added some motorcycle parts to my wish list. Since then I’ve ordered half of them. I sat down, and before I knew what was going on my wallet jumped right out of my cargo pocket, my MasterCard worked its way out, and I’d ordered the Power Commander, and the M4 exhaust for the SV. Now all I have to do is make my final decision on eliminating the rear fender, and work out the details of raising the air box and doing the rest of the intake side mojo. I also need to find a place where I can do multiple runs on a dyno – stock, with the exhaust, with the airbox mods, and finally with the fuel map optimized, without breaking the bank (hahahahaha.)

My current plans for the SV

Everyone knows I’m a gearhead, and by now knows everything that comes with that. I simply can not leave motor vehicles stock, it just isn’t possible. Naturally, I’ve begun plotting ways to make the SV more mine. If you take a look at my wishlist, you’ll see what I mean. I’m not out to turn the SV into a peg scraping race machine – far from it, but we all know I have the go-fast bug.

The mission is simple – track-day capable, sport-touring ready, reliable motorcycle. I’ll be completely honest, add some tape, safety wire, and a cooling system full of whatever the track requires (commonly distilled water), and the stock SV could be plenty fun on a track. On the sport-touring note, it’s pretty much there. The luggage I’ve got on the bike holds more than enough stuff for a weekend trip. Realistically I’m leaned heavily towards the sport side of the equation here, but I intend to get a bit more effective windscreen to get a bit more comfort out of an upright riding position.

Engines are just big fancy air pumps, increase it’s ability to breath, and typically you get two gains – economy and power. Those two things don’t tend to work hand in hand though. Increased power causes lead foot in cars, and lead wrist on bikes. At least the potential is there. In comes the exhaust, increased flow, and some weight savings to boot. It also just plain looks better. What good is getting more gases out, if you can’t get enough in? High flow filter, and a raised unrestricted airbox for increased flow on the intake side. EFI is great, but stock fuel maps aren’t typically the most well suited to handle increased flow. Enter the Power Commander III – allowing the tweaking of the fuel map, so I don’t go lean and melt my pistons. That would suck. None of this should be bad for reliability, and stand to improve the already stellar fuel economy, provided I don’t lose my mind and decide to test the rev limiter on a regular basis.

As important as going is, stopping is right up there with it. You can go fast all day, but if you can’t stop – you’re not going to be having much fun for long. I don’t believe the stock brakes themselves are too small, or underpowered, but the brakes aren’t the only factor in controlled rapid reduction of speed. The suspension gets involved with the weight transfer – if my forks dive like a Japanese Kamakazie pilot, I won’t be controlling the stop very well. Luckily there are a few things I can do – increased weight fork oil, and cartridge emulators, maybe progressive springs too. While I’m at it, why not change out the brake lines for less flex prone and higher pressure kevlar or braided stainless steel lines.

So, about $1300 later, I should be (more) content with the bike. Like I said, I’m ill – can’t leave things stock. Must turn wrenches. Vrrooom vrooom.

mmm perl

While I was home on R&R I picked up Learning Perl for kicks. I figured hey, I suck at 2 languages already, why not strive to suck at more? The book is actually pretty good, save for a pretty major omission of one single print; in an excerise solution from Chapter 9, it’s been very clear and provided everything needed to come up with a solution to the exercises without cheating and checking the back. At any rate, I’m nearly finished w/ the book – and I kinda like Perl.

Cooling off

It’s starting to cool down out here, to the point where it’s not 100 degrees in the shade anymore, and the wind doesn’t feel like that blast of hot air you get when you open up the hood of an overheating car. While I absolutely hate the cold, the change in weather is a good sign that it’s getting close to the time for me to pack my junk up and head back to the USA. Other than that, there’s really not a whole lot to say. I’m working on another song, I should probably restring the Alvarez before I make any attempt at an in-the-field recording, and who knows how I’ll get the vocal track down, but whatever. Oh, I also updated the wish list – there’s a pretty good chance some of that gets ordered here in the next few weeks. That’s all for now.

Late update

So I got back to Warhorse a few days ago, and now my internet finally works again. It shouldn’t have taken that long to solve the issue of “who did you pay?” At any rate, I’m back in Iraq where it is still hot, sandy, and full of people hell-bent on killing each other, and maybe taking an infidel or two with them. I shouldn’t be here for much longer though, so that’s a good thing. That’s all for now.

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