Wednesday, January 29, 2014

XKCD hits another homerun for Atmostpheric Science

So, I haven't been to work for two days.  The panhandle of Florida is under about a quarter inch of ice and because of all the bridges being closed, I couldn't drive to work even if I wanted to be there.  I talked to my brother up in Alaska and he tells me it is like spring up there and totally lovely.

One would have thought this would be a great two days to catch up on some garage projects.  I have my girlfriend's miata engine half disassembled in the garage ( I am pretty sure she thinks I murdered her car, she had never seen pistons in a vehicle she owns before), I have a flying motorcycle that needs everything, I have a cadillac that is leaking tranny fluid and needs to be converted to diesel, I have my girlfriend's shoes pretty much everywhere with a shoe storage closet only a figment of my imagination... but unfortunately everything is parts + X. (X=time in hours) I got the + now, but not the parts.  You either got time or you got money/parts... but never at the same time it seems or the same X for that matter.

Thanks to amateur-sophist I happened to have an old school balsa model of a hellcat to build.  A nice indoor project that only involves super glue and exacto knives!

I ran out of super glue...

waiting for elmer's to dry...

elmers glue drys really damn slow...

five gimlets in...

decided to write a post!

You are WELCOME! :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mars, it is getting real! Wear you damn safety glasses!

So I had my first interview about going to Mars today.  To be honest, I wasn't completely sure how it was going to turn out.  I tried asking myself reasonable questions about going to Mars ahead of time to prepare so that I would have some sort of answer queued up in my brain... but as it turns out, there are no reasonable questions to ask about going to Mars.

I thought the interview went well, and I don't think I gave away launch codes to nuclear missiles... We will see when the article gets published.  Anyways, Carl Engelking from Discover magazine interviewed me and I'll post a link to the article when he publishes it.

(Why is my father's goodbye saying, "Don't let me read about you in the paper tomorrow!" ringing in my head.)

In other news:  Think about the worst sound you have ever heard in your life?  I have one worse!  And I heard it twice last weekend.  It is undoubtably the sound of a bolt breaking off in an engine block... where you could never ever get to it without taking out the whole engine.  I was fixing an oil leak in the jeep and putting the oil pan back on.  I wasn't torquing it oddly or anything when one of the pan bolts went, "CLICK"

Oh god.... no.... NOOOOOOOOOOO

Yea, so I snapped a bolt off in the bottom of the engine.  Shit...  well, not to big a problem (I rationalized), it isn't a corner... maybe the seal will be good enough... maybe I can ignore it till next time I pull the engine... probably ok...

(There was no way I could get a drill aligned in there or remove that bolt with out removing the engine...)

I'll just put the next bolt in and not worry about it.

So there I am.  Just finger tightened the next bolt.  Put my wrench to it...


It is the kind of sound that makes you wish you could dial back time just a few seconds!  It was so OK just seconds ago... now it is so terrible!  Please can I get a do over of the last 8 seconds! Please!!!!

Well, I have no idea how that second one broke off because the bolt stem was still loose in the engine block.  I could jiggle it with my finger nail.  I have no idea how it broke instead of turned.  Anyways so I figured I could retract it by banging it around with a screw driver and a hammer by hitting it just right to turn it out.

So there I am laying with my face 5 inches under the broken bolt, a screw driver poised against the broken bolt, and a hammer ready to knock it around... when I think to myself, "This is exactly when I should be wearing safety glasses."

What did I do?  Get safety glasses? No... I hit that damn screw driver!


You can guess the rest.

The chunk of metal stuck in my eye was large enough that it could be picked out with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.  It was large enough that I thought looking down and jumping would make it fall out!

Anyways, wear your safety glasses!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Overdue Update:

Well... a lot has happened.  Three years might be a little long to build anticipation.   I doubt there is anyone still reading this thing, but maybe it can be resurrected.

Reading my "recent" posts I'll start with an update for those.  The Buick needed it's engine rebuilt.  The Cadillac that I had planned on turning into an electric car, has been put back together as a gasoline car again for now.  It was a beautiful day and I thought to myself, "I wish I had a convertible to drive around on such a beautiful day!"  then I looked over at the piles of orange parts scattered all around the shop and said, "Holy Shit!  I do have a convertible to drive around on beautiful days!"  So I temporarily put the electric car project on hold and put it back together with the massive 500 CI/8.2 L monster engine it originally came with.  One trip to the gas station and over a hundred bucks later I remembered exactly why I was going to convert it to being an electric car... 6-10 mpg will do that.  Not coincidentally, within the next few weeks I am pulling that engine out again and will be replacing it with a duramax diesel engine.  I love the car, but 6 mpg is really undrivable.  My plan is to do the engine swap right in the middle of my condo parking lot.

The caddy hiding coyly because I am talking about her upcoming engine surgery in public.

Duramax Diesel: The soon to be power plant of the caddy.

Speaking of wrecking property values... I have moved out of the garage in New Mexico and now live in a condo in Florida.  It is a pretty sweet place apart from all the crappy cars parked all over the parking lot!

In other news, I have made it through the first round of selection for the Mars One project!  This is a public world wide project to send astronauts to colonize Mars.  From what I understand they started with about 300,000 applicants and are now down to about a thousand.  This will be a one way trip.  Right now we are in the preliminary medical screening and initial announcement phases.  I'll post updates as I progress through this project.  So far I have only told a few people... but no reason to keep it a secret.  I already told my mom... she wasn't particularly thrilled.  Maybe I didn't convey the awesomeness of this through my text to her.

Oh yea! and I bought an old ultralight gyroplane from some dude out in the desert and taught myself how to fly it by watching youtube videos!  It is not much more than a lawn chair with a snowmobile engine!  When I look straight forward while flying, I can't see any part of the aircraft at all.  It is like I am flying with just my face!  Soon after getting reasonably good at flying it around Portales, it became obvious that it would be a lot more fun if I could bring someone up with me.  So I am building a two person version...  but here is the thing, I also don't like trailering it to the airport.  So the version I am building will also be a road legal motorcycle.  Literally a flying motorcycle!  What could go wrong?!?!   (Fast forward ten years: "DRUG RUNNING MOTORCYCLE GANG SWOOPS IN FROM THE SKY TO TERRORIZE SMALL DOWN WITH BOOZY ACROBATIC ANTICS"  Yea, ok so besides that?
Flying motorcycle project: