Monthly Archives: October 2012

An $8.00 Project

Well the biggest glaring flaw on the Jeep to me was the paint on the rear vents between the window and the hatch.  After years of UV rays, the paint had begun to bake off.  Not sure why it hasn’t effected the rest of the Jeep, but I’m not complaining.

So I stopped by Autozone and got an $8.00 can of Duplicolor “Chrysler Flame Red” and set out to clean ’em up.

Here you can see a previous picture that shows where the paint was gone behind the windows.

They come off pretty easy.  Even so, I busted one of the mounting pegs when I was pulling it off.  A little super glue overnight and it seems like it’s holding strong.

They didn’t turn out perfect so I might pull them back off sometime down the road and redo them, but for now.  They met my “better than it was” standard.

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Tuesday Top Ten: Games I Never Played

I consider myself a pretty big gamer.  But prepare to be assaulted with uninformed impressions and some things that are completely wrong.  For whatever reason, here’s the Top Ten games I’ve just never got around to playing.  I made the decision to not do any research on these games whatsoever other than searching for screenshots.  So you’ll get my 100% ignorant impressions to follow.

10. Dance Dance Revolution: DDR is totally the kind of game I could get hooked on. But it’s also the kind of game you completely suck at your first several goes at it. It was big when I was in college. I’d watch my friends play it, and they were pretty good. Rather than get spanked 10 out of 10 times, I always passed on the opportunity to play and chose to watch instead. I probably wouldn’t have remembered this game if it weren’t for its psudo-appearance in Video Game Highschool.

9. Mass Effect: I know literally zilch about this game, or series of games. Except that they are supposedly pretty damn good. I never played them because I don’t believe they were every on any system I owned. Xbox exclusive??? I honestly don’t even know what system you can get these on. Yes that’s right, that’s how clueless I am about this series. But I hear it has a great story, and I am a sucker for even a crappy game with a great story. But supposedly, these are good, right?

8. Starcraft 2: I would have put just “Starcraft” but I have technically logged about 20 minutes at a LAN party getting my ass handed to me in the first game. But Starcraft 2 is something I’ve never even witnessed in motion, let alone played. Seems to be pretty popular though. Only RTS game I have any real experience with is Rise of Nations which I absolutely love. I’d love to dive into this one, but I hear it has a pretty steep curve.

7. Pokemon: I was a bit too old for the Pokemon craze, so by the time it was really coming on strong, I remember thinking it was “for kids”. As time has gone on though, I’m starting to think they were actually pretty good games. Hell, I just found out Pokemon is an RPG!

6. Zelda II: The Adventures of Link: This is the only Zelda game I haven’t played if you don’t count the CDi games (who does?). You know what’s pathetic… I even have it in my collections. I could have probably done just a top ten games I own… but never played. Maybe after I beat Metroid Prime.

5. Portal: Every review I’ve ever read of this game calls it a masterpiece, and some say Portal 2 is even better. I have no excuses for not playing this one. I just… you know… have been playing Pilotwings 64 instead… or something.

4. Metroid: Yup, it’s true. I’ve lost all credibility as an old school Nintendo fan. I haven’t even played the original Metroid on the NES. I’ll turn in my Official Nintendo Seal of Approval.

3. Final Fantasy VII: It was Final Fantasy X that made me a fan of the series. Since then I’ve been on a slow quest to play as many of them as I can. In part due to the cost of the game now, I haven’t gotten around to playing it. And I refuse to play games like this on an emulator. There’s just something about playing the game on the original hardware. So until the pieces fall into place, I still haven’t played what many consider to be the best Final Fantasy game.

2. Almost Every FPS Game After Perfect Dark: Once dual analog hit… the first person shooter genre left me behind. I had perfected the FPS on the N64 to the point it was all hard wired into my brain. Circle strafing and elevated aiming were as natural to me as popping my knuckles. Every since then, I’ve had little desire to play any other shooters. Mostly for fear that I will un-learn what I spent so long perfecting.

1. World of Warcraft: Playing Guild Wars all these years and lurking on forums, I’ve read countless comparisons of that game to World of Warcraft. The sheer number of players and often getting caught without anyone to play with in Guild Wars has certainly tempted me to give the game a go. But I definitely can’t commit myself to a monthly subscription for a game. It would be money burned 5 months out of the year, and something tells me that if I jumped in now, it would just feel very dated. Even still, considering that WoW probably has more game hours logged than any other game worldwide, and I still haven’t played it, makes it number one on the list.

The Last Ride

It still seems wrong the way the Shuttle program ended, with no real replacement.  But this video is very cool.  Awesome to see how many people showed up to watch it pass by!

Jeep gets new exhaust

So literally the day after we bought the Jeep.  The Check Engine light came on.  Took it to Autozone to read the code and it said “Catalytic Converter Efficiency Low”.  Basically on these new fangled things, it has not one, but two oxygen sensors.  One in front of the cat converter, and one behind it. It compares the two readings and if they are too close, it deduces that the cat isn’t doing its job and should be replaced.

And because I want to save the planet… we’re fixing it.

I test fitted everything together.  We got all the parts from RockAuto.com, since the local Autozone & O’Reilly’s couldn’t get the front pipe.  With a handy discount code that almost payed for the shipping, everything came out to just a couple bucks over $300.  Not bad considering a exhaust shop was going to charge $400 to JUST replace the cat.

Getting the tailpipe out was definitely the hardest part.  I tried cutting the pipe, but the exhaust pipe cutter I got on load from AutoZone was junk.  So luckily the old muffler was so crusty, I just hammered on the pipe until it popped out of the muffler.

My little jack is small, but it has served me well for the cars we’ve always had.  The Jeep is about 6 inches higher off the ground though.  And fully extended my jack didn’t even reach the undercarriage!  Forced to make do with what I had, I came up with the above scary setup.  Luckily I didn’t have to actually be underneath the Jeep while it was jacked up like this.  Because that’s some serious red-neck engineering right there.  If I want to keep working on this thing, I’m going to have to get a bigger jack, that’s for sure.

I had to jack it up to get the tail pipe over the axle, and I had to unbolt the track bar and drop that down too.  After that, it was pretty easy to pull the old crusty one out and slide the new one in.  Then I promptly put the wheel back on and got the vehicle back on the ground and off of that crazy ass setup!  I could just see a cinder block exploding and the whole thing crashing down.

I had to make one more cut in front of the cat and after that, everything came out with relative ease.

The whole job was prompted by the check engine light, but it was also a good excuse just to redo the whole exhaust because it had some definite leaks.  The old muffler was just plain wore out.  It had pinholes from corrosion all over it  and as you can see above was super crusty.

I didn’t get any pics of the re-assembly process because once it all started going together, I got on a roll.  Hardest part was getting everything lined up and tucked up as good as possible.  I probably straightened that muffler 10 times before I tightened everything up and it’s still crooked… oh well.  Nothing I can do about it now as it’s all locked in place.  And it’s not like anyone will see it anyway.  It is nice to see the fresh exhaust in there.  Feels rewarding.

Seems like it did what it was supposed to.  It’s definitely quieter.  We cleared the check engine code with our new code scanner.

I have to say, it was super nice working on something that wasn’t rusted solid like our other old cars.  The O2 sensors and even the bolts going into the exhaust manifold all came loose with relative ease!  Is this why people don’t usually drive 30 year old cars?  Haha.

Tuesday Top Ten – Normal Vechicles

There’s a lot of automobile top ten lists out there.  But there’s not too many lists featuring vehicles as mundane as this.

Here’s the rules.

  • No exotics/Sports Cars, etc.  Every car on this list has to be an attainable automobile in its day.  Nothing nicer than a Cadillac.  Sorry ZR1… you’re excluded.
  • No special editions.  If the car wasn’t awesome or significant in every flavor, then it doesn’t make the list.  Sorry WRX, the vanilla Impreza is meh.
  • Cars are rated by either natural awesomeness, historical significance, uniqueness, or just how much I like them.

This list is certainly my own, biased by the vehicles I have personally been exposed to and the era I grew up in.  I think there’s only two cars on the list that are even still being manufactured.

Your list is probably very different, so if you have a “normal” car that is in YOUR top 10.  Post it up in the comments below!

10. Chevy Caprice/Ford Crown Victoria:  These cars had to make the list.  Watch any movie from 1980 to 1995 and I GUARANTEE you will see a Caprice or Crown Vic in some form.  It is mind boggling how many of these cars were built, and they were solid to boot!  They were more than just cop cars or taxi’s too.  Grandma and Grandpa drove Crown Victorias for as long as I can remember.  They’re some of the most spacious and comfortable cars to ride and drive that I know of.  Oh, my first car was a 1979 Caprice too.  “The Beast”.

9. Dodge Caravan:  Now you’re thinking.  “Damn, this is going to be one lame list.” But you need to pack that crap up right here and right now.  The Dodge Caravan was AMAZING.  UN-FING BELIEVABLE.  If you grew up in the 90’s or had kids in the 90’s.  I guarandamntee you at least rode in a mini-van.  I’d venture to guess that your family even owned one.  We had a Chevy Astro, ourselves.  And if it weren’t for the Dodge Caravan… there would be no minivan.  You know how people feel about mini-vans NOW.  Well when the Dodge Caravan came out.  All of a sudden everyone felt EXACTLY THE SAME about station wagons.  The Caravan kicked off 2 decades of the active family lifestyle all by its damn self.  Show some g-d respect.

8. Lincoln Mark VII:  Nothing says “Word, bro” like a 5.0 Mustang.  How many times has some 19 year old jack-ass pulled up next to you at a stop light thinking they’re hot stuff in their primered up GT and gone screaming off thinking there cool?  You know what’s ACTUALLY cool?  Having a little class.  Knowing that you could mash the pedal on that same 5.0 HO motor if you needed to, but you just aren’t in that much of a hurry.  Cocktails aren’t until 7PM.  Besides, the longer it takes you to get there, the longer you get to enjoy those leather seats, wrapped steering wheel, six way power seats and a little bit of elegance that goes with driving a Lincoln.  And then if some punk in a Camaro wants to show you what’s up, it’s on.

7. Ford LTD II:  The LTD II makes this list for two reasons.  A) It is quintessential late 70’s design with the stacked headlights, hood ornament, and big bumpers.  and B) I LOVE big cars.  And they don’t get much bigger than this.  There’s more metal in the hood of that car that there is in most cars today… total.  There’s just something about a big car that says, “I’m more important than one parking space”.  More than that, I think the people that drove these cars knew what it meant to go somewhere.  The automobile shouldn’t be some utilitarian machine that mind numbingly transports you from point A to point B.  If you want that, get a Toyota.  But a car like this has all the things you love about getting home after a long day and leaning back in your favorite chair.  And why should that be anchored to your home?  Kick back.  Relax.  Stretch your feet out.  You’re on a mother f’n boat.

6. 70’s & 80’s Chevy Pickups:  Back when trucks were used for things like: Working.  And before trucks were used for things like: Driving to work.  There is a difference.  The Chevy truck specifically makes the list because it’s so damn good looking.  Chevy kept the same body style for almost two decades and for good reason.  There’s lots of these old rusty trucks around, but when you see one that is original, clean and taken care of, you just have to say, “That’s a damn nice truck”.  That is if they haven’t primered it up and painted it with some kind of glittery boat paint.

5. Chrysler 300:  Okay, so this one almost feels like it doesn’t fit here, right?  85 Chevy, 78 Ford… 2004 Chrysler 300?  What’s up with that.  Well, here it is.  Click THIS LINK, THIS LINK, THIS LINK, or THIS LINK.  From about 1993 to 2005 I think just about every friggin’ car looked almost exactly the same.  And that being remarkably similar to a suppository.  When the new Chrysler 300 came out, I thought, “FINALLY!  Something that has some STYLE, some LINES!”  People always talk about how back in the 50’s and 60’s they made cars that were truly art.  I dare somebody to tell me the 1997 Monte Carlo is a piece of art.  But once the 300 came out and was SUCCESSFUL… all of a sudden you saw other vehicle manufactures start taking some bold strokes of their own.  Finally we’re starting to see new cars again that actually have a statement to make!

4. Vista Cruiser:  I don’t care what you say. Station wagons are sweet.  Much like the mini-van the bad wrap they get isn’t from their own dysfunction, but rather the dysfunction that took place from within.  When you get your family cooped up inside ANY finite space, there’s bound to be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Don’t take that out on the station wagon though.  And if you’re going to get a wagon, at the top of the heap is the Vista Cruiser.  The class of an Oldsmobile, the freedom of looking up at the stars as you roll down the road to Lord know where dad is taking you next.  Plus put some sweet chrome wheels and a throaty exhaust on, and you have one car I’d be proud to be picked up from school in.

3. Jeep Wagoneer:  I really came close to putting the Grand Cherokee on this list because I truly love it so far, but I couldn’t do it because I just haven’t got to know it yet.  Not that I know the Wagoneer any better, but from what I can tell, this Jeep wants nothing to do with stoplights.  Or even pavement for that matter.  A friend of mine, their family had a Grand Wagoneer as I was growing up, and I just remember being very fond of that vehicle.  Maybe it was the wood grain, or maybe it’s because they seemed a little out of place compared to everything else at the end of their run.  But whatever it was, it always felt like its own idea.  Not playing off of the flavor of the year.  It was about getting away from everything.  And that’s an idea I can rally around.  Hook up an Airstream to the bumper, and you’ve found my paradise.

2. Oldsmobile Toronado:  This blog has talked more about the Toronado than probably any other, and I could probably lament even further.  But I’ll just sum it up by saying, “Best car I’ve ever owned, by far.”

1. Chevy El Camino:  Save your trailer park jokes, alright?  Because some day your sorry butt is going to want to move a couch.  And its going to cost you a 12-Pack.  Because the El Camino doesn’t work for free.  If any vehicle was my Holy Grail, it’s the El Camino.  I had one, and it met an un-timely demise.  Some day… some day… I will ride again.  And have the ability to haul home countless antique radios, engine blocks, and untold other monstrosities that are outcasts from an earlier time… just like the El Camino.

My collection isn’t that bad…

At least not as bad as this.

I ran across this auction on eBay.  It’s totally fishy to me because it was listed once under the story that some kid died and the parents were selling off his collection.  They claimed not to know anything about this stuff, but they consulted a “Nintendo Expert” that informed thim of the value of the collection.

The seller seems like a real tool.  It looks like they got barraged with messages about the auction.  They posted a bunch of negative questions on the auction with a bunch of a-hole responses.  Then the auction was cancelled and re-listed without mention of the kid dying.

If I had to guess, this is a scam auction.  But it appears this collection does exist… somewhere.

Of course, if you want to find out if the auction is legit, it will only cost you $59,000.

First Road Trip for the Jeep

We all loaded up in the Jeep and headed to Wichita for the weekend to re-celebrate Andrea’s birthday.  I’m always a little nervous hitting the road with a vehicle I’m not yet familiar with.  But everything went uneventfully as hoped!

It is pretty nice to have all that space for loading stuff up.  We leave for less than 48 hours, but with all the stuff we take for Luke, it feels like we’re going to be gone for a week.  And I found myself wondering how we would ever fit it all in the Cutlass before.

Pit stop

The trip itself was pretty fun.  Went down and ate an awesome meal at Andrea’s sister’s house, then went out for some cosmic bowling in Wichita.  That was fun.  I bowled my new personal best.  A 161!

As always, I enjoy going on these little trips, but I always love getting home too.  It’s getting late.  Time for me to download a new podcast to my phone, put my earbuds in and drift off!

PODCAST – Biebs Bytes Episode 5

I joined Biebs and Carver for another podcast… finally!  It’d been so hectic recently I missed the past couple weeks.

We had some major side tracks, which were probably the best part of the show!

DOWNLOAD HERE

Tuesday Top Ten – Most Annoying Technological Advances

10. Wires:  Don’t get me wrong. Wires are an amazing technological advancement and enable pretty much every device and contraption that I use on a daily basis. But this isn’t a list of the worst technological advances, it is of the most annoying. And while functional and necessary, there’s few things I hate more than untangling wires. Headphone cables, extension cords, speaker cables. Cable management is a skill and an art. One that I certainly have not mastered.

9. LED Headlights:  When the LED tail lights were first introduced on factory Cadillacs, I thought they were pretty damn swift. Then luxury cars started using LEDs to accent the lines of the headlights. Ok. Now they’re on friggin everything. Mark my words, we are going to look back on the cars of today three decades from now and LED headlights will be the “vinyl tops” of our current day.

8. Digital Distribution: I’ve spoken on this in great length in the podcast. When you buy digitally you’re willingly giving up some control of your purchase. Want to carry that game over to your new system? Better hope the publisher supports it. Want to trade in your old software? Tough luck. I’ll take my physical copy every time, thank you!

7. Spam: A decade ago, this might have made number one on the list. But now, spam filters have gotten pretty darn good. Still you have to wonder, spammers wouldn’t keep sending out these messages if they weren’t effective. Someone, somewhere, is following through on these offers for blatantly misspelled prescription drugs. For the most part a couple junk e-mail addresses to use when you sign up for stuff and gmail, and you hardly have to worry about Spam anymore.

6. DRM (Digital Rights Management): Breifly DRM is copy protection that at its simplest prevents unauthorized duplicates of a copyrighted piece of work from being made. And at its most extreme restricts which devices you can use, and even how many times you can use it.
DRM in large is an effort to thwart piracy. Problem is DRM only hurts the honest paying customer, while the pirate still gets their content for free and without restriction.
I’m not saying I have a better solution, but I am saying DRM isn’t the answer. And if anything encourages piracy.

5. CGI Cartoons: I’m not saying that CGI can’t be appreciated, and that there is not some beautiful art direction that goes into CGI titles. I am disheartened that CGI cartoons have all but done away with traditional animated cartoons. This goes for the Saturday morning cartoons as well as the feature films. It’s rare to find an animated show that is truly drawn by human hands.
Cartoons are an art, same as movies, paintings, video games, or anything else. And it’s sad to see a very intimate style of art being lost to a more manufactured form.
I imagine that it is the way most things are in the world. CGI animation must be cheaper now than traditional animation to produce. Long live the almighty dollar.

4. Seat Belt Dingers: Don’t mistake, I wear my seat belt. Even moreso now that I’m a father. I feel like it’s the responsible thing to do.
But never once have I heard that DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING and thought: Ahh, thanks for the reminder. What I think is, “You #(*$&’n SOB computer! Fine I’ll put my @$#)& seat belt on! Chill the )&*% out!” What I would appreciate is maybe a SINGLE DING. After that if I choose not to wear my seatbelt… I’m on my own. I don’t need somebody nagging my ass to get things done. I get plenty of that outside my car. (No Andrea, I’m not talking about you!)

3. Automated Phone Directories: Few things piss me off more. How many times have you called a support line, listen to all the options and think… well, “It’s kind of a Press 3 question, but it’s also kind of a Press 5 question.” Sure as shit you’re going to pick the wrong option EVERY TIME.
When when you finally do get through to the person that barely speaks English and hates their job even more than you hate yours, GOOD LUCK getting transferred to the right person.
Usually if I can’t just google it… I just give up.

2. CFL Bulbs: This Top Ten list certainly isn’t on a linear scale. If anything it’s a hyperbolic scale. Let’s just say I hate CFLs a lot more than I hate everything else on this list. And that should tell you as well how much I hate number 1…
Why the hate for CFLs? The reasoning is three fold.
Number one: Warm up time. Remember when you flipped a switch and the lights came on? Not with CFLs, you flip the switch, then you get that half second of, “Didn’t I f’n turn on the light?” And then you have to wait a good minute or two for the full luminosity to kick in. Ever tried a CFL for a porch light in winter? Talk about useless.
Number two: Color temperature. If want pasty blue light I’ll spend more time at the office. I like a nice warm light. It feels homey. It feels more natural.
Number three: The look friggin’ ridiculous! Look at that picture! Is that not the dumbest shit you’ve ever seen!? Look! I have rotini popping out of my ceiling fan! I’ve even seen CFLs encased in plastic domes so that they LOOK like incandescents. WTF!? It’s like they admit no one want to lay eyes on these things! Worst of all they’re outlawing the ye’ olden light bulbs in some places. What has this world come to?

1. Cell Phones: More than anything else in the history of invention, I despise the cell phone. The last thing I want in the world is to be in continuous contact with it. The world sucks. I hate it. I want to exist in it in the most minimal way possible.
Nothing is more fun that being on vacation and the phone rings… “Hey, I know you’re on vacation but…” Seriously, what is wrong with just BEING GONE? I LIKE some solitude. I LIKE being disconnected.
And it’s not the fact that I’m constantly bombarded… as much as it is, that I COULD be at any moment, at any place. You’re constantly a slave to everyone else’s whims and desires. Whether it’s to come in and work over time, or just social chit chat.
If I leave my cell phone at home, head to the grocery store, roll my car and die because no one could find me. Know that at least I went the way I wanted to go… without being disturbed.

8 Minutes of Luke Playing

I feel blessed to have a kid who can entertain himself.  We just try to keep him out of trouble!