Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cruz v. Carson

I don't mean to be cruel, Dr. Carson, but if you didn't realize politics was going to be a nasty business, you shouldn't have gotten in the race.

I'm not condoning what happened, but seriously - if you are whining about Ted Cruz (or one of his people) pulling a dirty trick on you, what are you going to do when Vlad Putin pulls a fast one on you?  Or the mullahs of Iran?  If you want to be President of the United States, you've got to have more emotional fortitude than what you're showing right now.  So no more of this "I'm going to get you, Ted" stuff.  If you're going to stay in the race, put on your big boy pants and get after it.  No more whining!

Hanging on by a thread

So last night everyone was out of the house except me, when I get a call from my wife:  "This car is making funny noises, and the steering wheel is vibrating.  I'm on my way home."  She was only a couple of miles away, but I could hear a very serious clunking over the phone that wasn't there the night before when I drove it.  She said she was going to pull over and call our daughter, who was at an event on the south end of town, and probably 25 minutes away, to come and get her.

Of course, I can't do anything because I don't have a vehicle to get to her, so I'm feeling pretty helpless, wondering how to get her and the car home in one piece.

Shortly after, I heard the garage door go up, and it's my wife pulling into the driveway.  I hustle out as she makes the turn, and I can see the car swaying left and right when she hits the end of the driveway.  I had her park in the driveway and got my flashlight to do a walkaround.  She told me she had driven 10 MPH from the time she hung up with me, ran every stop sign, and put as little stress on the car as possible.

So I started looking things over and everything looked normal until I got to the right front.  I could see the wheel was at a strange angle, and when I looked closer I saw that four of the five lugnuts were gone!  Holy crap, Batman!

Grabbing my floor jack and jack stands, I got the car up and on the stands to take the pressure off that wheel, and turned the last lugnut to get the tire off.  It took about one and a half turns before it came off - literally hanging by that last little bit of that last thread. 

It looked like two of the studs on the wheel hub were broken, and two more were bent and chewed up a bit.  At that point I knew I would be replacing studs on that wheel hub today.  So I went in and called my Dad, as he had an air hammer, which I knew I would need to get the old studs out and to drive the new ones in.  He agreed to come over and help me today.

Well, he showed up today not only with his air hammer, but his air compressor, which has a lot higher capacity than mine!  That was a good thing - I'm not sure if my little compressor would have been able to keep up.

Oh - and to make matters worse, it snowed about an inch by the time he got here today!  That got me to thinking.  If I could get the spare (a full sized spare, thank you God) on there with just a couple of lugnuts to traverse the 20 feet or so into my garage, it would be a whole lot more comfortable working on it. The remaining lugnuts needed to have their threads chased, but looked like they would hold up for those few feet, but neither of us had the right die to do it with so our first order of business was to go pick up a 12x1.5 die.  Threads chased, lugnut borrowed from the other wheel, spare mounted, and car pulled into the garage!  Hooray!

I'm very thankful for YouTube, and for the "Eric the Car Guy" channel in particular which I watch a lot, as I was able to watch lots of good instructional videos on how to deal with these studs, and potentially a hub and bearing job if the holes in the hub were messed up too.  I had to take of the brake caliper assembly and the brake rotor to get access to the hub. The air hammer then whacked those old studs out and pressed those new ones in like nobody's business.  Reattach brake rotor, studs line up with the holes - a good sign!  Reattach brake caliper assembly.  Take brake caliper assembly off because you put a twist in the brake line - doh!  Untwist and re-reattach brake caliper assembly.  Mount spare tire with the new lugnuts you got when you picked up the new wheel studs.  Then off for a test drive.  Everything seems to be normal.  No odd vibrations, no odd noises, no pulling the steering wheel one way or the other.  I think this one is a success!  Whew!

I still shudder to think, however, that we were only a couple of turns away from a real expensive disaster, but I think divine providence can be credited here for not only keeping that last lugnut intact, but giving my wife the presence of mind to drive as calmly and with as little stress on that wheel as possible, in order to get it home.  Very, very grateful for that intervention, Father!

Also grateful to my Dad, who helped me out with time and tools, as well as his credit card.  Thanks Dad!

For those of you wondering why I put the spare on, well, those steel lugnut threads acted like big ol' rasps on the aluminum wheel as it was flopping around, making the holes very oblong, rather than round like they are supposed to be.  So that is the next thing to deal with, but I can take my time and find a good deal on a matching wheel of those holes can't be fixed.

The other big question in our minds was - why all of a sudden did this happen?  She had driven to MSU in the morning for an interview and it seemed fine to her then.  She had driven to meet a friend for coffee last night and thought it was squirrely on the way over, but on the way home - wow, what a problem!  Was it vandals?  Overtorqued lugnuts?  Undertorqued lugnuts?  It's been two or three months since that wheel was last off, when I did a brake job, so you would think that the problem would have shown itself sooner if I didn't tighten those up well enough then.  Curious.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Flute Practice just started...

One of my favorite times of the day is when my daughter practices her flute.  Today it's times three, as her flute trio is here practicing for Solo & Ensemble Festival later this year.  Three lovely young ladies making some music together.  What a great thing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Spartans Win! Spartans Win!


I should know by now. I really should. It doesn't matter what the spread is, it doesn't matter how good the opponent is. None of that stuff matters at all. Mark Dantonio and his team will find a way to pull it out in the end. (That Nebraska game notwithstanding). What a great win by a great team. 

Some really petulant comments by OSU players after the game, especially Ezekiel Elliot, who basically called his coaches idiots and then said he was turning pro. 

If I were Urban Meyer I would tell this crybaby kid he was going to be the backup water boy next week, and he wouldn't see the field even if there were only ten guys healthy. 

Seriously, if the kid plays next week it tells me a lot about Meyer and his program. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Road Funding Impasse in Michigan Continues

The road funding battle continues in Michigan.  A group of conservative Senators is digging in their heels against the tide of tax and fee hikes already passed by the House, and which the Governor has signaled his willingness to sign.  Nolan Finley, in today's edition of The Detroit News is calling for the Governor to "break some legs" among the group resisting the bill.

I'm not writing to rip Nolan Finley this morning, as disappointing as its weak logic is.  Apparently "clinging to the pretense that a billion dollars can be found in the General Fund without wrecking Michigan. If there’s that much fat in the budget, why haven’t these lawmakers trimmed it by now?", or more succinctly "If nobody's found it yet, it must not be there".  I guess Christopher Columbus should have just given up.  Or Jonas Saulk.  Alexander Graham Belll.  Edison.  Einstein.  Fill in your own insightful person who discovered something no one thought existed.  According to Nolan Finley they should have just given up and quit.  Nolan - that's pretty weak.  And in the face of an 80-20 rejection of a similar ballot initiative last spring, it's pretty tone deaf.  Might I suggest, Nolan, that if they haven't found it in there, it's because they aren't looking?  And if they aren't looking, it's likely because they don't want to find anything, because they would then have to make some really hard choices? 


No, today I'm writing to once again to rail against the political mindset that is completely insulated from the realities of the world around them which the rest of us little people have to live in.  That reality is that we citizens are taxed and fee-ed to the breaking point.  Every new "problem" requires the extraction of more money from the citizenry.  Every new project needs "funding" from the government and it's never-ending bounty.  And if we don't fund all these things, including 1.2 BILLION NEW DOLLARS to fix the roads, then according to Nolan Finley and a lot of other political class groupthinkers, we will "wreck Michigan".

I'm here writing once again to say something no one besides these stubborn, intransigent, conservative dreamers seems to be willing to say:  NO!

It's easy to raise taxes and fees - just ask the House.  Or the Governor.  Or the President for that matter.  It's the politician's default answer to every issue.  What's hard is to look at your constituents and say "sorry we couldn't fund your dog park - we had to use that money to fix the roads".

So, no we should not fund bike paths and hiking trails before we fund our roads.  We should not fund parks, malls, housing developments, windmills, or any other fluff the State funds until the road repairs are paid for.  And not just now, but five, ten, and fifty years from now.

So, no you politicians should not just add on more taxes every time someone finds a new "crisis".  You should not hike fees to fund your little pet projects.  And don't say that isn't what this is about, because that monstrosity of a proposal the voters of this state rejected emphatically and overwhelmingly last spring was full of that *ahem* crap. And what will we find in this new bill of yours?

Instead, you should learn to do what the people of this State have to do every time you politico's dream up some new project and get your buddies to vote to increase the budget to fund it: TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS!  Go over your budgets and get rid of expenditures that aren't necessary to continue to function.  (Sorry honey, we just can't take that vacation to Cancun this year.  The roof is leaking and we need to replace it.)  Reduce expenses you can't get rid of (If we start using our wood stove more and turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees, we can save a ton on our gas bill this winter.  Then we can afford to register our cars and get our license plates this year).

Those are the things that people out here in the real world do when there are really important things to do that need to be funded.  Because we can't just go and force our employer to increase our wages 40% to cover that new roof, or give us a 20% hourly increase to pay our heat bill this winter.  We have to make do with what we already have.

So I say Bravo to you stubbornly resistant conservative Senators!  You are doing the right thing for the right reasons, and you are listening to the 80% majority of voters in this State who said NO NEW TAXES so emphatically last spring.  We certainly did understand what the politicos wanted, and we rejected it soundly.  As you should continue to do.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

For Murphy's Law: Low Passes

There is at least one of your favorites here.  Personally I like the B25.
Apparently, the Zero is a real one, not one of the modified T6 Texans.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Is it too much to ask that professional writers and editors actually use proper English grammar?

Seen in The Detroit News sports section today:  "Spartans bit by injury bug". 

Really?  

I see a lot more of this lately, and not just at DetNews. 

If you're going to claim to be a professional writer or editor, please take some pride in your profession and learn your grammar!

Thank You. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Late Breaking News: Melissa Gilbert to run for Congress in Michigan

The Detroit News is reporting this afternoon that actress Melissa Gilbert has announced she is running for the Democratic nomination for Congress, against Freshman Congressman Mike Bishop  in Michigan's 8th District. This is the seat previously held by Mike Rogers, and is considered a pretty safe Republican district.

Gilbert, and her husband, actor Tim Busfield, live in Howell.

I promise, no "an actor - really?" comments, as Ronald Reagan was certainly an actor, and he was successful both as Governor of California and President.  But of course, Gilbert is no Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, she says she is for "families", a "new economy", and "helping people who have fallen through the cracks."  Or in other words, the same old Democrat Socialist Redistributionist hogwash we have been hearing for the last 70 years.

If Bishop has any political chutzpah he should be able to deal with Gilbert and her tired rhetoric easily.  Her name recognition will help her, certainly.  I've never heard her speak as herself, so I have no idea how she carries and presents herself.  We shall see. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Wow! Big changes for the Tigers

If you've read my blog much you know I'm a big Detroit Tigers fan, and I do occasional commentary on them. And there is a lot to comment on this week!

To say that this season has been disappointing would be an understatement. But not necessarily unexpected, as a lot of stars would have to have aligned in order for them to have any success. Key injuries (Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera), a chronically bad bullpen, and other players who have not lived up to their billing, and you have a recipe for a flop. Which led to a selloff of their top talent to aquire prospects. 

Really, this needed to happen. This team was not the juggernaut they have been in the past, and they weren't going to win anything as currently constructed. All reports indicate the prospects they got were top-notch. 

The unexpected move was yesterday's firing of team President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski. 

Many fans have called for him to be fired over the last couple of years because for all the money spent on star players the team has not won a World Series.  Still, this was a bit of a surprise at this point in the season. Some had even thought that the deals he made in the selloff meant that ownership was going to let him continue the makeover. 

So now Al Avila, longtime assistant GM takes over, and apparently not as an interim. He has long been speculated as Dombrowski's replacement, especially last year when there was talk of him wanting the Commissioners job when Bud Selig retired. 

I expect there are more changes to come, especially in the offseason. Manager Brad Ausmus is on shaky ground, and probably some or all of his coaching staff. 

Whatever happens, they have to fix the bullpen. They score a lot of runs, but they give up a lot of late runs and cough up late leads at an astounding rate. That needs to be fixed first. After that, they need a solid starter to shore up the rotation, as Simon and Green are not getting it done. Green still has potential but Simon does not. After that they probably need some outfield help, unless Tyler Collins really impresses through the remainder of this season.  

We'll see. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

First Perry Update

First update, from the US Army Marksmanship Unit Small Arms Firing School, day one, Lauren reports she shot 92, 1X on rapid-fire prone.  I'm assuming 200yds and 10 shots, so that is a lot of 9's and 10's.

The Army supplies the real M16's and ammo for this 3-day school.  No Select-fire allowed though - bummer!

Pete Rose

I want to save the commissioner a little trouble as he is trying to decide whether to re-instate Pete Rose from his lifetime ban from Major League Basebell for gambling.  I know you are going to call me for some input, Mr. Commissioner, so here it is.

H--- NO!  He knew what would happen if he gambled and he did it anyway.  He needs to be kept out forever.  There is no forseeable reason why he should be re-instated.  You shouldn't have even let him near the All-Star game yesterday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Cervid meets Steel at 75 mph

For those of you not up on your animal nomenclature, a Cervid is a deer. Or in this case, an ex deer. The deer lost but so did I, as my van is now consigned to the scrapyard. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Camp Perry here she comes!

The ammo is all loaded (550 rounds).  The shooting chair/cart is built.  All the gear is purchased or borrowed (except a mount for the spotting scope - I still can't find what is needed.  Perhaps one can be found at Perry).  Range lunch items have been purchased.  Money for gas and food has been set aside. Clothes have been washed and packing will commence tomorrow. Sometime in the afternoon/early evening she will be dropped off for the trip to Camp Perry.

I wish I could be there for it all!  Dad and I are going down for a day to watch her this week, but other commitments are keeping me here at home.

Shoot Straight, Lauren!!!

It's the All-Star Break, and the Tigers are stinking up the Central Division

There is a big debate going on right now as the Tigers stagger into the All-Star break with a .500 record, and sitting 8 games behind the division-leading Royals.  And 3-1/2 games out of a wild-card spot.

After watching this team bumble and stumble and give away games all season long (witness the wasting of a 7-1 lead late against the Twins this week as the latest example) I'm firmly in the camp of those who want to sell off assets to gain some payroll flexibility for next year, as well as some good, young talent.  The other side says "go out and get a quality starter and a quality reliever and things will be all right".  I don't think so.  There is more wrong with this team than a couple of pitchers.

Untouchables in this sell-off:  Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, JD Martinez, James McCann, Jose Iglesias.  Everyone else is fair game, even Justin Verlander.  Never thought I would say that about Verlander.

What should they get back?  Pitching first and foremost.  Good, strike-throwing, consistent pitching, not older than 25.  Left-handed if possible.  A closer candidate if possible.  Also a speedy corner outfielder with some pop that can hit .280 or so.  They have that last one with Cespedes, but he is a free agent, and there isn't much there on the farm to give the job to. 

They also need to start thinking about replacing V-Mart and Cabrera, as they are both at the point where their bodies are starting to fail them.  Cabrera can move to DH eventually, but that 4-year contract Victor got is going to be a problem in years 3 and 4, probably, when his knees finally give out completely.  It will be sad to watch a scintillating hitter fall apart physically like that.

When the year is over (or maybe before if they really go in the tank) they need to find a new manager.  Mr. Calm has not instilled the toughness in these guys that it takes to win it all.  I have no doubt he's a smart guy, and he may eventually be a terrific manager, but right now he seems more concerned with helping everyone feel good than he is getting after them for screwing up so much and giving so many games away.  It was good they sent Joba Chamberlain packing, it sent the message that if you can't get guys out, you're going to be gone.  Now maybe guys like Rondon and Soria will get the message.

The Tigers are soft mentally, and they can't pitch very well.  That's why they won't win anything this year.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Headlight lens restoration

OK, I admit it.  This is a little outside my normal realm of comment, but this really worked well for me so I thought I would share.

I have a beater minivan, a 2000 Grand Caravan.  It looks like crap, but it starts up and runs every time, so we keep driving it.  But its headlight lenses were really bad, to the point of having visible pitting.  And of course, lots of yellowing also.  To the point where it was making my wife nervous to drive it at night.  I have to admit, I was squinting a lot more to see at night too, so I decided to do this.

I already had much of what was needed, but the sandpaper I picked up at Walmart for about $3.50 a package for each of the 3 grits, and it took one sheet of each total to do both headlights.  I think the clear paint was about $3.50 also, at the local "big box".  Walmart didn't have what was recommended, or I would have gotten it there along with the sandpaper.

After completing the process as described in the video, my headlights are clear and bright, and they are back to being useful at night for seeing things in front of you, instead of just being seen by others.  I highly recommend it if you have this problem on your vehicle.

Now this guy's voice is kind of annoying, but he paces well and gets through the whole thing pretty quickly and thoroughly, so just hang in there:

Supreme Court Gay "Marriage" responses: "Ignore the Ruling"

While I am as disappointed with the recent US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges about gay "marriage" as anyone else, I am also leery of those (including one congresscritter) who are planning to ignore the law or advising others to do so.

This would seem an unwise course.  Consider the Heller and MacDonald decisions from this court over the last few years, which found that the 2nd Amendment is indeed an individual right, and therefore individuals have the right to own firearms.  Those who say "ignore the law" are creating precedent that would allow governments at any level to ignore these two decisions simply because they didn't like them or thought they were immoral.

Do you think the politicos in Chicago wouldn't love to find some way to ignore those cases?  D.C.?  N.Y.?  You bet they would. And this would hand it to them.

This is just one of many possible issues this could apply to.  So let's not shoot ourselves in the foot over this one, OK?  Let's think this all the way through.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Sopwith Camel Restoration

I thought this was pretty interesting. From The Detroit News

"It was the space shuttle of its time," Kozura says.

Together, these authentic parts are being assembled in a suburban garage and basement in west Michigan into what Kozura says will be the finest airworthy Sopwith Camel reproduction in the United States.
And no, it doesn't look like this:
Image result for snoopy sopwith camel

 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

It was a 600 yard day

Much scurrying around trying to get preparations complete to send Lauren to the National Matches this month.  I learned from my friend Aaron over at The Shekel that the Washtenaw Sportsmans Club in Ypsilanti was having a 300/600yd. practice session today which was open to the public, so we made the drive.

First, let me give a big THANK YOU to the Club and the members I met there today for taking us in, waiving the 600-yard qualifier (Lauren has shot several shorter matches, and knows the ropes) and letting her shoot for free.  This kind of support for Junior shooters is very much appreciated, and really helps to keep the shooting sports from fading away in the late, great U.S.A.  One of the guys even let Lauren borrow his cart so she didn't have to carry all her gear back to the firing line.  Everyone there was just as nice as could be, and glad to see a Junior there and doing well.

Second, if you are in the area and looking for a club for shooting sports, give them some consideration.  The facility looks to be first rate for many different shooting disciplines as well as archery.

Third, Lauren was kicking some serious backside today.  We got there too late to shoot at 300, so all we could do was 600, which was just fine with me, as there are so few 600 yard ranges available. Winds were fairly light with some gusts, moving left to right, the temperatures were comfortable in the mid 70's, and the sky was mostly cloudy so there wasn't a lot of glare to deal with either.  The range has military-style pits, so the targets were being spotted and scored there so we could see them back at the line (this wasn't a match so scores weren't being kept, but your hits were scored on the target for you to record if you liked).  She got lots of help from an experienced shooter, and he seemed pretty impressed with her shooting.  Her windage was really good, and once she got her come-ups figured out (the main reason for going today) she was knocking out 9's and 10's and a couple of X's with great regularity.

A shift in the pits capped our time there, and once again everyone was as nice as could be.  So thanks and a big thumbs up for Washtenaw Sportsmans Club!  We enjoyed our time there today!