Thursday, December 19, 2013


Phil Robertson said something.

The details are irrelevant. The names have changed, but the rule is the same: if you're not gay, you can't say anything less than positive about gays without suffering consequences. Phil Robertson broke the rule. Phil Robertson is suffering the consequences. Popularity aside, there's nothing new here. Just a new application of the same rule.

It's a rule which requires division. What caused the division is beyond the scope of this inspection.

But the division is based on a lie. When you believe a lie, you give it power. When you give it power, you're doing worse than doing nothing (an act which many would term “isolationism”). When you believe this lie, it encourages participation in a coercive and destructive system. It gives sanction to evil. There is no virtue to be gained in choosing sides when the sides are defined by a lie. Don't participate! Show some pride, for God's sake—walk away!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


When your company or organization is based on a cluster of blind ambitionand you look to hire the most ambitious person you can find to be your leader, regardless of loyaltythere can be a good deal of turnover at the helm of your organization.

Since turnover can lead to a lack of continuity on your organization's mission statement, code of "ethics," or promotional materials (web site, pamphlets, etc.)after all, each new person will probably want to say the same thing using his or her own words regarding an introductionAnalog Schemes has created a user-friendly form letter which will allow your organization to skip the pleasantries and simply say what needs to be said.

Simply fill in the blanks, ambitious company/organization, and keep on tending the souls of your flock.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


The dismissal of Ford as an acronym for "fix or repair daily" is shortsighted. All parts break. Ford seems to understand this. So they made it easier to replace the parts (as compared to any GM vehicle I have ever encountered).

And so it is with laptops. Or at least with laptop keyboards--I've replaced four of them in the past two years, and I'm not a violent typer. On two keyboards, the finger-placement nubs (on the F and J keys) wore off, and the third had a Coke emptied into it. The fourth was a replacement that had a bad space bar.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Just over 400 years ago, Guy Fawkes—one of 13 men who conspired in what is known as the Gunpowder Plot—was caught in an attempt to assassinate King James I and blow up the House of Lords.

The Gunpowder Plot may have been a failure, but the country was in poor enough shape that it eventually fell into civil war in 1642 anyway. At the time, British monarchy was controlling many aspects of their subjects' lives—from what they could wear to how they could worship. The British economy was under the control on a single individual who indebted the state, impeded growth,and inhibited personal freedom. Not exactly a a recipe for long-term success.

Are things so different here today? We have laws regulating everything from tobacco and alcohol consumption to what we can and cannot eat. The federal government is in such debt that no one seems to even care anymore. And like the situation that led to the Gunpowder Plot, a small, elite group controls almost every aspect of the economy—taxation, regulation, and the money supply.

What should make anyone think things will end differently this time?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Toast to Brian and Susie Leuschen

For those who weren't there, the following was what I had the privilege of saying last Friday at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of Brian Leuschen and Susie Dobel. It was pretty distilledno jokes, no roasting, but absolutely true:

I've known Brian since 1990, so for those of you who don't know Brian: if you're a guy, Brian embodies just about every quality you want to see in yourself. And if you're a girl, then you want to be Susie. The reason is pretty simple—Brian is a true gentleman.

What does it mean to be a true gentleman? When I think about it—when I try to think about all of the true stories I know, it's not about a list of stories that prove with great gusto anything about Brian. It's more about all of the stories that simply don't prove otherwise. Brian isn't one to sell you as a gentleman, a guy who's going to charm you in public just for the sake of appearance. Time and time again, Brian has simply proven that he is who he is. You couldn't ask for a better husband.

As for Susie, my memory of our first meeting is pretty hazy—Brian had a party a few years ago, and Susie was there. But in the time that we have spent together since, I have known Susie to be beautiful, fun, and sweet. Brian seems to think the same and more. And that's all I have to know. Brian and Susie make a great couple, and that's what matters. 

So everyone lift your glass: here's to Brian, Susie, a beautiful day tomorrow, and a long and happy marriage. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Part of performing insurance inspections involves asking homeowners some pretty basic questions. Among these questions are: 1) do you have any smoke detectors, 2) do you have any carbon monoxide detectors, and 3) do you have any fire extinguishers?

85% of all interviews result in a “yes” to #1. Carbon monoxide detectors lag a bit, but my memory puts them at 50-60%.

Fire extinguishers, on the other hand, appear to be more of a generational thing. When the age of the insured is 60+, then I would put the percentage of those having extinguishers at 60%. And not just one extinguisher—if a 60+ insured has one, then he or she often comes out and indicates (without prompting) that there's an extinguisher in the kitchen, basement, attic, and garage.

As an aside—care to guess which group makes up a lot of the 15% who don't have smoke detectors?

As for younger insureds, stating that 25% having a single fire extinguisher would be a generous estimation, but generosity is acceptable to this story. The point is that a gap exists, and it appears to be age-related.

What to make of this gap? An oversimplification is that younger people seem to be more inclined to dial 911, GTFO, and let the authorities deal with a problem. Older folks prefer to have the ability to take action before following the same pattern, even if such an ability is more of an illusion. While one can't put out every fire with a fire extinguisher, I've yet to hear of anyone who can successfully fight a fire with a cell phone. When seconds count and the fire station is minutes away—or when a fire is still small enough to spare a house—at least having the option would seem prudent.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Roomba wasn't liking the black carpet. Roomba seemed to think that the black carpet was either 1) a hole in the ground, or 2) a bunch of stairs that it was about to fall down.

The fix according to iRobot? There's nothing you can do.

The fix according to those own screwdrivers? Get out the screwdriver!

There's multiple sets of LED-looking sensors that need to see each other in order for Roomba to move forward, and black carpet apparently prevents these sensors from seeing each other. So you have a choice to make--do you want your Roomba to not fall down the stairs while avoiding black carpet like the plague, or do you want Roomba to vacuum all of your carpet while risking a tumble down the stairs?

If you want the latter, the fix involves removing the aforementioned sensors from their holders and making sure that they can see each other. In my case, I simply taped them together:

The result is a Roomba that goes anywhere. Fearlessly. So if you've got a house with stairs and you do this, consider yourself warned--and your black carpet clean!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Now we enter the home stretch for exterior house projects in 2013.

Three things define this time. It starts when the weather turns cooler, ends either on or very close to Thanksgiving Day, and it involves attempting to fit a year of work into that time span.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Welcome to the world's most expensive auto recycling center.
Several of the people interviewed on the History Channel's Wheels of Fortune show described Ray Lambrecht as “eccentric.” Fine. Maybe he was eccentric. Without knowing anything else, I'm inclined to describe him as nothing more than a hoarder who happened to have a lot of space. But regardless of personality traits, I walked away from the Lambrecht auction with one feeling:

What a waste. What an absolute waste.

The Lamrecht auction should have happened at least twenty years ago, if not sooner. Regardless of mileage, none of the cars at the auction were new. The interiors had a million miles, there was more rust than paint on the bodies, and the cars are mechanically worthless—nothing would run or drive without significant work.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I always hoped someone would say it, but never in my wildest dreams did it even occur to me that it would come from Nebraska's own head coach. Bo Pelini isn't angry--he just understands what he's working with in Nebraska fans. The guy should get a new stick of gum for being honest. The swearing just makes it more entertaining.

Nebraska fans have been patting themselves on the back since at least the early 90's—maybe before then, but that's when I moved to Nebraska. Nebraska fans are the best. Nebraska fans are the nicest. Nebraska fans are the classiest, sweetest, most devoted bunch. Anywhere. Of all time. And for a while, many outsiders believed it. Many probably still do.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


A quiet pickup? It's a 3.0 Ranger. If you can hear it, it's a bad thing.

Two years ago, I replaced the original muffler with a Thrush turbo muffler. I did that because the original muffler had a few too many rust holes, and because the Thrush muffler it was what I had on hand--it was either that, or a Flowmaster 50 muffler, which would have been even louder. The plan was to live with the results, and to come back with a better plan...later.

The plan didn't involve drone at every speed above 50 mile per hour. And the plan certainly didn't involve headaches after only a few hours of daily driving.

So...later is now!

From front to back: original exhaust, new exhaust.

It is strange to say that I am so excited about a muffler, but it is what it is. The old man in me--who am I kidding, that's pretty much all of me--is excited about the prospect of a quiet car again. The Fiero was never quiet anyway.

The original Ranger exhaust system had 2" piping from the second catalytic converter pipe (there are four converters in a stock '98 Ranger--one on each side of the crossover/Y pipe, and two in the pipe immediately following that pipe). The odd thing is that the second pipe is a 2.25" pipe, which then feeds into the 2" piping that runs to the muffler and through the tailpipe. Why a smaller pipe? Probably for sound control. 2" pipe is quieter than 2.25" pipe. But it also more restrictive.

But, given a vehicle where an aftermarket exists, that isn't an issue. Dynomax makes (what they claim to be) 2.5" intermediate and tailpipes for the Ranger, and everyone makes 2.5" inlet/outlet mufflers--including Walker, which makes multiple Quiet Flow muffler models for that application.

Using Dynomax part numbers 52085 (intermediate pipe) and 55038 (tailepipe) and Walker part number 22648 (muffler)--and a small section of pipe to extend the intermediate pipe, since the pickup in question is an extended cab--the result is a relatively open but quiet exhaust. And one happy driver.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Somehow Runner's World never writes about this specific topic.

You signed up for this weekend's race four months ago. Four months in which you told yourself you were going to bust your ass and show up in shape. That was four months ago. And now you can't find your running shoes because you forgot where you put them last fall.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


The Fiero will be making a trip to Republican City, NE on Friday, with stops in Neligh, St. Paul, and Ord. A cat may be accompanying the car on the trip.

The Fiero story started in 2003, when a friend and I were driving through Norfolk. I was living in Wayne at the time, working at Great Dane for the summer. Long story as short as possible: I bought the Fiero, my friend drove it home, and when I went to take it to the car wash that same day, the clutch wouldn't engage. After sticking something under the tires to keep the car from rolling, I called it a day. After I purchased it, it was over a year before I got to drive the thing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Time to punch in.

I punch in because that's what working people do. And I'm the working person's working person. If there were some way to have a third level to that equation, I'd be that, too.

I'm just like my co-workers. They drive Chevy’s, I drive a Cadillac. All GM parts, bro. This isn't a competition. Some people are like that, but I am above such petty things. When I travel, I stay at a hotel just like everyone else. No difference. A hotel is a hotel, just like a jacuzzi is just a soaking tub with holes. Besides, I'd stay at the Wynn if their valet drivers would dress a little better.

Friday, April 12, 2013


You know how to play small ball. So you do it. Quiet success is yours.

You can't control much when you're living in a hurry, and your schemes have always reflected it. When other people were dating, you were lighting fireworks with your best friend down the street. When you were dating, everyone else was getting engaged. When everyone else was getting married and you were yet to get engaged, it was more of the same. When you got married, everyone else was busy winning the kid race. They'll be grandparents, and you'll still have kids at home.

Maybe you'll die first. That's a possibility.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


That seems to be what Jeep was thinking when it came to the heater hoses on the '89 Cherokees.

It is what it looks like: a mess.
It seems that heater hoses don't get replaced often on these vehicles due to the crimps--I don't know if they seem intimidating or what the reason is, but you'll generally see a lot of original heater hoses if you open the hood of a Cherokee. The two that may get replaced are the two hoses that have clamps at both ends--the hose which runs from the thermostat housing back to one of the tee's, and the hose that runs from the coolant "valve" to the lower pipe on the heater core. The hoses with the crimps, on the other hand, seem to be treated like lifetime items.

But it doesn't need to be that way. Removing the crimps is pretty easy. First, remove all hose clamps and remove the hoses from the vehicle:

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Progress makes looking back fun. It sounds like a joke, but this time last year, the mudroom was getting mudded.

Current picture after the jump...

3/21/12 pics:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Last night I had a few minutes to try something new: rebuilding a CS-130 alternator. I've rebuilt GM's SI alternators before, but never a CS alternator. Due to an excess of reading internet forums where guys say that "the CS alternator can't be rebuilt unless you like welding," I almost didn't do it. Is it as easy as an SI alternator? No. Is it that hard? I guess I'll find out if it works when I install it, but it sure didn't seem overly difficult.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Continued from Part 1.

Now that that the tub has been refinished, it is time to drag it back into the bathroom. Claw tubs don't seem to have been designed for ease of handling, so a dolly is recommended. And a few extra hands.

Note the dolly--it's under the moving blanket.
Once the tub is in place—close enough is good enough at this point—it is time to determine where the plumbing will go through the floor. The easiest way to do this is to attach the drain plumbing to the tub, which involves loosely installing both the drain and the overflow fittings. Just snug them up hand-tight, and then install the drain plumbing which connects them. In the case of our plumbing, it had to be cut to fit, which is another case of loosely installing the pipes, marking them with a marker, and cutting after muttering the words, “close enough.”

Monday, March 18, 2013


My wife and I started on our basement wall project yesterday. Our basement walls are a combination of concrete blocks, brick, and some type of cast (not concrete) blocks. The hopes and dreams which hold this combination of materials together seems to be doing okay, but the walls are still an ugly mess.

Skipping several steps, here's how the first try with the gun I purchased long ago from Mortar Sprayer. I read as many web site articles, blogs, and watched as many youtube videos as I could find, and the consensus was that my small air compressor (5 cfm with a 6 gallon tank tied to a 5 gallon hopper tank) was not going to cut it. But being the type that insists on trying...bring on the burned up compressor, it sure seemed to work fine to me!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


First, find a tub.
It's below the window.

We bought an old house that had a claw tub in the bathroom. It was in poor shape, but it appeared to be fairly solid.

If the tub isn't located where you want it, then you'll need to disconnect the tub from all of the plumbing and move the tub. This almost goes without saying, though—if you find a claw tub in your house, and it's exactly where you want it, and it's in good shape, then you really don't need to be reading about how to install a claw tub. Just leave it where it is and use it.