Archive for July, 2006

Another Week Gone By

Yet another week has passed and as usual new challenges have presented themselves, while others have sorted themselves out. The big ticket item right now unfortunately involves my .mil service. Now, instead of just having to worry about myself, I’m a Team Leader. I get to worry about myself, and four brand new married Privates. On top of that, I have to study for the Promotion Board. Right now I’m nowhere close to ready, so next week I really need to cram. With any luck I can remember half of what I’m supposed to know, and generate enough elloquent “I don’t know” answers to please the board members. If I can’t, I’ll just stay a Specialist even longer.

Canon sent me an email the other day to let me know my Rebel XT had been shipped back to me. Of course they sent the email after the package was delivered, so I missed the chance to actually pick it up. On Monday I will check my mail, and report back on the solution Canon came up with (repair or replace.) Test shots will obviously be required, and then I’ll go out and take some photos around the base again. I have been meaning to walk out into the woods and see what there is worth photographing out there.

For my birthday on the 25th I got to spend $485 on my truck. I figured that was about what it would cost, as my theories about the front brakes were correct. The rotors were both warped, and beyond spec on minimum thickness. Parts and labor have apparently not changed much since it was my job to turn wrenches. In fact, with the 31st falling on a Monday this month – I had to turn back to my toolbox for money this weekend. Looking at my available balance in my checking account is pretty sad right now, so to avoid problems there I did an oil change and tune-up for one of my NCOs. Got me just enough money to put some gas in my truck, fill up my bike, and pay to have my Class A’s updated, dry cleaned, and pressed.

Every once in a while I’ll look up at the stack of programming books I’ve got, and think that I should grab one and go through it again. Funny that I never really work up the motivation to get up and grab one of them. Rarely do I think of an application someone else hasn’t already done, and done well. Even more rarely do I think up applications I have any idea how to put to code. This is probably the single strongest reason for my switch back to Mechanical Engineering from Computer Science. If it has moving parts and I can think it up – there’s a good chance I can build it myself. May as well build a better foundation for that while I can.

Why can’t I think of decent titles?

Just a quick little recap of this week. I sent my Rebel XT back to Canon, they got it and have responded that it will be fixed at no charge to myself. Estimated time to me having my camera back is 7 business days. My truck is still having some problems in the braking department, while it will certainly stop real quick and fast like I am not a fan of the non-ABS related pulsing I’ve got going on, nor the shake in the steering wheel. Having essentially a squad worth of brand new privates to keep in line, and look out for – I don’t have the time to further investigate these issues myself.

Having no doubts in my own abilities as they relate to auto mechanics, this whole concept of allowing others to work on my vehicles is not something that sits well with me. Really it never has, and on most occassions where I have broken down and allowed other people to work on my vehicles, I end up having to redo the work myself anyway. Unfortunately, I’m starting to understand why my Dad has in the past taken his car to the shop instead of doing it himself. Time. Somewhere, someone decided to start cramming more than 24hrs worth of work into a given day. We get backed up, or worn out – and then simple things like fixing your own car turn into tasks to add to someone else’s day, as it sure as hell isn’t going to fit into yours.

A number of times this week I thought about setting my Soekris net4801 up on m0n0wall, however time constraints again bit me in the backside. Add my time issues to the fact that I’m presently having exactly zero problems with the minimal Debian Sarge install currently handling my routing, firewall, qdiscs, and dhcp – and I see no real reason to move to m0n0wall. Sure, no rotating parts, but *knock on wood* I’ve been running this over a year now with no real issues. Thanks to my friend dd should my disk fail, I can be up and running again in short order.

On the music front, again I’ve been playing much acoustic guitar lately. I’ve had to work hard to avoid spending more money I don’t really have on more guitar equipment I don’t really need. One thing I should do is change the strings on my RD20S, and my Strat. Somewhere down the line I should also take the AD60CK out of the case and play it – I’ve forgotten what it even sounds like. That being the case, I may just end up selling the AD60CK and replacing it with something else – like a semi-hollowbody electric, or a dual humbucker set neck solidbody electric. Who knows.

Update type thing

I’ve made a number of decisions in the last few weeks, so I figure it’s probably about time to blog and inform the world – since we know everyone cares. In addition to various decisions, I’ll throw in some other random tidbits with no real point whatsoever, in keeping with the true spirit of blogging.

To start, my Canon Digital Rebel XT needs to be sent in for warranty repairs. I’ve got some bad pixels and it irritates me greatly. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t a huge deal – I can always use the clone tool to blot out the offending BRIGHT GREEN pixels in my images, but really gets old fast. The camera is still under warranty, so I’ll send it in for a new one – hopefully it doesn’t have the same issues at any point. Another option is to do the warranty deal, then sell the returned body and upgrade to a 20D or something.

The Suzuki has 9700 miles on it right now, and has done quite well the whole time. Just this weekend I led some friends on a fun blast across GA 190 (see my flickr for photos). My friends were surprised at how well the little SV650S showed it’s stuff. Granted I’d like to think the rider had a little to do with that, but the platform certainly wasn’t hindering me any. Having virtually all of my peak torque available throughout the powerband lets me do things like concentrate on the right line, instead of doing a tap dance on the shifter to keep the engine “in the zone”. If I’m not stalling out or lugging, I know that when I roll on the throttle I’m going to power out of the turn hard, regardless of gear.

Having nearly 10,000 miles on the clock already, it’s getting to be about time to change out my brakes and investigate the clutch. There’s some squeaking to be heard from the front, so I know I’m getting due for new pads. While I’m in there I’ll go ahead and upgrade my brake lines to some stainless units front and back. I may also change pad compounds for more aggressive braking, not that I think it’s completely required that I do so. My clutch doesn’t slip or do anything to make me think it needs to be replaced, but checking can’t hurt anything, so I’ll do that in about 1300 miles when I do my next oil change.

Also related to motorcycling, I’m going to be doing some gear shuffling. While I like my leather gear it isn’t very practical (or very cool in the temperature sense). Not having a full circumference zipper, the jacket is of no use to me beyond street riding – it also has no liner, which just flat sucks when it gets cold out. The leather pants are a little better, having the appropriate zipper, and removable CE armor in the knees – but they lack sliders, and don’t fit on over regular pants at all. I’ve recently worn a Joe Rocket textile jacket that was comfortable, and quite cool – it also has a zipper in back to connect to a pair of pants, and a liner for when it gets cold. Bonus points for being “waterproof”. What I suspect I will be doing is offloading the street leather gear, and buying a set of one piece race leathers for truly spirited riding, and eventually track days. I’ll also be looking at getting a textile suit for my street/cross-country riding, simply to reduce the quantity of stuff I have to bring with me.

By now you’re probably wondering what decision I talked about earlier, if you’re even still reading this. Computer Science holds little interest for me anymore, so continuing my major in that field makes no sense. Those that knew me many years ago when I was at UTA, know I was a Mechanical Engineering major – and that is the major I will be going back to. Effectively, I’ll be a freshman again, even though I’ve got all my core classes out of the way, and a good number of CS courses as well.

Some may wonder where I plan on going, and the answer is Lamar University. The vast majority of my family and my girlfriend live in the Beaumont/Pt. Arthur area. The school is still accredited, and with a family full of engineers I’m sure I can manage to get any questions I have answered in short order. Finding a place to live, and a job to pay for personal expenses should not be that difficult – and I’ve got the G.I Bill to cover school. I’ll drop the hammer on this as soon as I get out of the Army.

That’s pretty much it for now.

More motorcycle maintenence

Yesterday I finally got around to making a manometer so I could sync the throttle bodies on my K5 SV650S. It was really pretty simple, with the exception of sucking 15W40 engine oil through a tiny tube. Anyway, I woke up this morning and set out to sync the TBs – which were way out of sync. The culprit is quite likely on the title to the vehicle, in 9400 miles I never once bothered to check the sync on my TBs. Oops. All is well now, and both throttle bodies are within 1/16″ of 15W40 – what that is in inches of mercury I have no clue.

Home for the weekend

I flew home last night, on Continental – and the bastards lost my luggage. When I boarded the tiny aircraft, I somewhat assumed I’d arrive home without my clothes. Fortunately I wasn’t stupid enough to pack my laptop, or any of my other valuable items in my checked bag. My plans aren’t exactly solid right now – at some point I’m going to get to see Amanda. If I get my luggage back soon, my broken ipod will be shot. Naturally I will take photographs – before and after. Maybe I’ll get another motorcycle while I’m here, something small to keep at home so I have wheels when I’m here.

edit: Well I’m home – I got my luggage back, so at least that went alright. Probably will not see Amanda, but at least I got to enjoy some Paulaner, steak, and time with my family. I won’t be this way again for quite a while – anyone wishing to see me is more than welcome to either drive to FBGA, or fly to ATL and I’ll pick you up. Otherwise, Christmas – and if I’m lucky Aug ’07 I’ll get out of the Army on time.

edit2: I did get to see Amanda :) Not for very long, but whatever – any time is better than no time.

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