Monday, November 17, 2014

Model "A"dventure to Anacortes

[Editor's Note: This trip occurred 9/13/2014, this blag post is very late]

(NOTE: Not the actual map, apparently google maps doesn't save the "no highway" version.

Shortly (basically immediately) after I purchased my car, I joined the "Moon on A" chapter of the Model A Ford Club of America (MAFCA).  It just so happens that the next scheduled tour was to Anacortes.  Anacortes is a solid 60 miles from Snohomish, and at that time I don't think I'd driven for a stretch any longer than 5 miles.  Clearly, a big leap.  But, I figured if there is a time to break down, it is when you've got 6 Model A gurus in tow.

We were scheduled for a 9:00 AM departure from the Erickson Furniture Co, which is highlighted on the map.  Liz & I left her house at a little before 8:30, stopping to pick up some coffee and breakfast before heading over to the meetup spot.  The Model A does not have cup holders, and as you can imagine it isn't the smoothest ride around.  So there was lots of spilled coffee in the early part of the trip.
The view while cleaning spilled coffee...
We were the 2nd to last to arrive at the furniture store.  We left the store with 5 cars and picked up a 6th en route.  We were 2nd to last in the line-up, and away we went!  The first part of the journey was through a fairly busy part of Everett, which wasn't much fun because the brakes were bad and I wasn't yet used to using the parking brake in hairy situations.  Luckily, there were no catastrophes, and the reward was leaving the north end of Everett over a spectacular bridge that spans the Snohomish River.

Then we proceeded up along the side of I5, before cutting up through Skagit Valley.  Here is a timelapse of part of the trip, including a fast stop that almost resulted in a rear ending...

After this we got on state route 20, which is a 2 lane each way highway.  We stayed at about 45 mph on the right.  Kind of fun, we got lots of waves, honks, and smiles.  SR20, dumps you into Anacortes, where we were heading for the engine show, below are some pictures.
Neat display of old electrical thingies

This fire truck helped put out the fire in SF after the earthquake in 1906
Another Ford!
All the Model As lined up
To be continued...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Solving the Lunch Problem

First a couple cool things.

Went to UNH this past Friday to see the Umaine vs. UNH game. Sat directly beside the student section and being a Maine fan was of course the target of various insults and put-downs. Can't say I'd treat them much better at the Alfond, but it was all in good fun. Unfortunately Umaine got out goalie'd pretty hard. UNH's goaltender was on his game pretty hard that night and they took the game 3-2.

They had a pretty cool blimp flying around before the game and at the half. It dropped little tickets (not sure what they said) but I wasn't able to really see how the mechanism for dropping them worked. Either way the driver was really well practiced and went underneath banners and all around the arena. They also had two mascots (overkill much?) and a t-shirt cannon that hurled shirts but could only launch a total of three before emptying the air tank. Using my anecdotal pneumatic estimator I guesstimate that Umaine's T-shirt launcher has roughly the same amount of energy storage onboard but we dial ours back significantly so we can launch all 6 shirts.
In VW news, I made some progress on repairing the tears in vinyl on the seat covers for the most recent bus. I hand sewed a few small tears in plaid tops but vinyl is one funky thing to repair. I bought a kit from Permatex for vinyl repair, it was intended to repair seats that are still installed. It gave me a bunch of color matching crap and even a little metal thing to heat up and melt the coloring to make it look textured. All of that sounded like I would just end up drawing more attention to the tear, what are the chances I could actually match the color perfectly?

Since I had the covers removed, I carefully taped the tears closed and butted the seems together and applied a patch from the back. I basically bought the kit for the adhesive which seems to work nicely.

Can you see all 3 tears?
The repairs came out pretty well and I was very satisfied with the results. A couple of them are still kind of visible but I don't think you'll be able to see any of them without really close inspection once they're installed. No color matching needed, just had to remove any crap left behind from the masking tape using some denatured alcohol. 

Currently the seat frames have gotten a coat of paint and are drying right now. Here they are all taped and ready for paint.

The Lunch Problem

Now what I really wanted to talk about. The lunch problem. You know what I'm talkin' about, I'm looking at you employed single dude who works fairly regular hours! I like to cook but I'm often too busy to make a great dinner, I've got breakfast pretty well nailed but lunch has always been a bit of an issue. Sure leftovers are awesome when you have them but for me that seems to be pretty rare. Various fast and cheap noodles are available but pretty disgusting and pretty bad for you too. Sandwiches are great but they actually cost quite a bit to make at home and I usually end up wasting a lot of my deli meat because it doesn't keep very long. "Yes Tony, but you can't have it all fast, cheap or healthy pick two," you say to me. Well there is where you're wrong. 

Two words, Black Beans. These delicious economical protein and fiber filled bastards will keep you chugging along during the coldest days of January in New England and for mere pennies! If you're fortunate enough to have a refrigerator at work this shit is about to become your new best friend. Here's what I've been doing, buy a pack of tortillas, 3 cans of black beans (Goya is the best I've found so far they have a pop top too so you don't even need a can opener you frugal, frugal man), jar of salsa and an industrial sized brick of cheese. Bring said ingredients and a plate to your place of work. For lunch through all the crap in the tortilla, microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy your well balanced hot lunch that costs about $1 to make. I've been doing this for several weeks and the best part is waking up and knowing that your lunch is already at work when you wake up. 

So you say "But Tony, that sounds pretty bland. I mean, I'm not like you, I actually have taste buds and it's much easier to just buy lunch anyways." 

FALSE. Introducing.... Green Mountain Gringo This salsa is the cat's pajamas! It really adds a lot of flavor to your cheapurrito and it's damn good with chips too. However, I'll admit after a few weeks of eating the above described recipe I was longing for some more veggies and a couple other improvements to make lunch. So, today I picked up some summer sqaush, red pepper, onion and burrito seasoning along with a bigass 1lb 13 oz can of black beans (which by my math is actually more expensive per ounce than the smaller cans). One problem with the black beans is that they let out a decent amount of liquid which makes it hard to eat the burrito with your hands. After talking to resident foodie (Hamlin), he suggested I switch to refried black beans so they'll be more sticky and less watery. 

Cooked up a bunch of veggies, heated up a bunch of black beans, mashed the crap out of the black beans (more on this ghetto refried bean technique later, but probably not) and chucked it all together. 

Lunch all week baby!
From experience I know that I eat about half of a 15.5oz can of beans per burrito. I made a spreadsheet (yeah I'm a dork) the other day to estimate how much it costs for lunch every month. Today I kept my receipt from the store, added in costs for the veggies and spices and tallied it all up.
$250 a year for lunch... whaaatt?!
The numbers don't lie folks. For a pretty healthy lunch that takes 4 minutes to make at work everyday and costs a whooping $0.90 I would say that's pretty good. Keep in mind this is with the added ingredients, if you still wanna eat poverty-rurritos they're even cheaper than this. Also, that calculation was done with more expensive black beans. I don't know why but I am seriously getting a kick out of optimizing this insanely cheap lunch solution. The folks at work seem to get a kick out of it and they like to make suggestions on how I can get the costs down even lower. That's where I got the idea for the industrial brick of sharp cheese. 

Anyways, props to whoever actually read that dissertation about my lunch. Have a burrito on me.

In other news, Dean's kickstarter book finally arrived on my doorstep the other day. Haven't had a chance to go through it with a fine tooth comb but it looks sweet and it's HUGE.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Unique New York

Bought tickets a couple months ago to go to this year's Frozen Fenway game and it did NOT disappoint. The first hockey game at Fenway I went to a couple years ago, we brought the T-shirt launcher and got a shirt into the upper deck. This year there was absolutely pouring rain. After playing for a few minutes (and Umaine scoring 2-3 unanswered goals), there was thunder and lightening and the skies literally just opened up. After the squall passed we watched 8 guys with shovels skate around the rink in perfect formation and push water off the end of the ice. The camera guys even got in some action shots of the water rushing out of the rink. I was honestly just impressed with the effort put in by the crew to keep playing. They easily could have called it, but I'm really glad they didn't. 

The BU crowd began to thin out but the Maine fans stayed strong and got rowdy. The game ended 7-3 with a very pleased group of Mainers. 
Seriously, check out that water!
After and during the game I caught up with the one and only Mikey B, who of course was "working" at the game.... Who is this guy?! He had a field pass and was just walking around rink side like a boss. Kid is king of Boston sports. 

The next day I took off for NYC to catch up with my sister and eventually Tyler. Mo, her newlywed husband Chris and I went out for BBQ and it was delicious.

No idea what building this is, but it's awesome. 

Tyler with an energy drink, behind an aircraft carrier of fighter jets.

In line for the Daily Show
 This sign is on the wall adjacent to the Daily Show studio. Apologizes for the blurriness.
Oh, Jon... 
There was pretty tight security at the show, made us go through metal detectors and the whole bit. They were very adamant about not using cell phones during the filming. They let the audience take pictures for like 2 minutes before the show started. Note the gawking tourists taking selfies in the background.

But, it's so small...


The show was good, it was weird seeing them go to a reporter in the field. The "field" is just a green screen that is right next to Jon's desk. Also Jon Stewart looks pretty old in person he is quite grey. Tyler expertly called that Jon would do a pizza rant because the Mayor of NYC ate pizza with a fork the previous day. Nailed it. 

After the show we walked around a bit and got tickets to the Comedy Cellar, which was a great decision. Three hours of comedy from comedians who have specials on Comedy Central (Tyler has the line-up). We sat right up front and naturally got made fun of for being from Maine. I also learned that making windmills isn't sexy.... news to me.

The show let out at 1AM and we were way out in Manhatten somewhere, needing to get to the Bronx to catch up with Renee and Toby. We were all dead tired and didn't make it to the Bronx until 3AM. Of course Toby came in hot and answered our call to let us in (he knew we were coming... just didn't expect it to be that late). Unfortunately, Toby and Renee had class the next day so I didn't see them at all really. 

We dragged ass a bit the next day making our way to the train station to get out of NYC. Grabbed Tyler's brother's whip in Connecticut and cruised in the Caddy back to Maine. Overall a successful trip, could have had less rain but got in some quality activities. Also Megabus is awesome, if you buy tickets far enough in advance it's $1. Money.... how does it work?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yes and Another Raspberry Pie

Just another dump of pictures of things I've been up to lately. 
Bonsai trees! 
Last weekend Hamlin invited me to come over and make Kimchi. For those of you who don't know, it's a spicy, delicious fermented side that you can put on all kinds of stuff. You can put it on noodles, eggs, pasta and just straight up eat it.
Kimchi Makin'
After you cut up all the vegetables you have to let it sit and ferment at room temp for a few days. Mine has been spewing some stuff as it ferments. After it settles down you stick it in the fridge for a while and I think it's good for eating after a couple of weeks. Apparently it lasts for months too, which is awesome because it's kind of a messy endeavor to make.

Wire brushin'
I've been redoing the front seats for my bus. Since they were fairly rusty, I wanted to sandblast them. Since they're so big I would've had to do it outside with the awesome sandblaster I bought a couple summers ago. However since it's ya know... January. I'm not real keen on doing that. So, I wire brushed them instead and I've got some sort of rust restoring paint to use. These will be well undercover so I'm not too worried about it. It took a lot of brushing though.

Trashcan Slinger 3000
I got around to characterizing the motor I plan on using for the rowing machine. I'm calling it the REbus Rower, for those of you watching at home. I jimmied up this ghetto testing setup with the brake tester at work. Luckily I was just testing open circuit voltage so since there was little to no torque, I got away with spinning the motor like this. Turns out this motor is roughly 0.2V/RPM.

Raspberry Pie Round 2
Last night I made it over to the Havu Estate for dinner. I tried making another raspberry pie that was less thick.... it turned out ok but still thicker than I wanted. I've gotta nail down that recipe. MORE PIE. 

Tonight I went to my first improv class. It's going to be a weekly thing for a few weeks I guess (when does this thing end again?). It was pretty fun and I think it'll be a nice outlet from work and it'll be fun to interact with people I don't normally see.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Preposterous Past Pre-Portland Post

So, I went to Portland Oregon last week for about five days. It was sweet and now we have another person in our family. SSShhhhh no facebook pictures about that. Hey man, I'm just playing by the rules. Anyways, besides legal contracts that give people tax benefits and join them in holy matrimony... we did lots of other stuff.

I got the chance to check out Powell's Books, if you ever get the chance to go... DO IT. Powell's is hands down the best bookstore I've ever been to. They have new and used books and in terms of selection there is no competition (besides Amazon). They have a huge main store with another building across the street dedicated to science/engineering/technical books. My only complaint is that I didn't find the other building soon enough and didn't get to spend much time in it. The main building is huge with signs pointing to different rooms. I actually got pretty lost in it. They even have a MUCH smaller Powell's at the airport, where I picked up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

 I had my eye out for a book on Bonsai trees. Powell's actually had a much larger selection than Amazon and I spent 20 minutes just looking through the books on Bonsai. Oh, yeah. I bought a Bonsai tree. After seeing these these a year or two ago, I've been interested in getting one to see how quickly I can kill it. I bought one for my grandmother's 91st birthday because I felt like that was quite the milestone. Nothing says "Your a badass" like a miniature tree that is given just enough nourishment to stay alive in a tiny pot.

Enough about Portland, I have a pretty good overview of the trip on the facebook album. So now for pre-Portland stuff.

I tried my hand at making a raspberry pie for Pika's holiday party. Used my grandma's recipe but I think I didn't have enough water (or cooked it too long) because it came out a bit thick. It was however, completely devoured by the Pika crew.
Raspberry Pie
I'm realizing a lot of the pictures I take on my phone are from work and kind of proprietary so I shouldn't post them online. So, here are a couple that are pretty safe. This was an installation in Greene, ME like 2-3 days before a massive ice storm that left a bunch of the state without power. It's on a 100 ft lattice tower which made this install a little technically challenging.

Turbine was assembled on the ground and hoisted up.
We used a couple tag lines on the turbine and some clever rigging to raise the beast. A one-off wooden gantry was made and attached to the tower top. A Raum turbine used to be installed on this tower before it well.... died.

Half-way up
The site is located next to a river, the land actually dives down about 20-30 feet from the base of the tower. It's a very steep drop down to the edge of the river from there, so from the water this turbine probably looks pretty high up. Unfortunately the ice storm actually iced the thing solid for a couple days, finally a day with some sun and it's all free.

In other news... I decided to take apart my perfectly good rowing machine in the name of truth, justice and the American way. Actually, I'm hoping to make a sweet demo for an Energy Conference at the MIT Energy Conference. Thinking about making this rowing machine grid-tied. Fortunately, I work at a place where we ... ya know, do... that. I was even given an alternator that might work for me. It's got a pretty cool backstory too. The alternator is an experimental high voltage wind for the Air-X, which was originally made by Southwest Wind Power. The rowing machine is actually pretty simple and is pretty elegantly controlled. The resistance is controlled by an eddy brake. The fan has magnets on it and a flat metal plate is moved closer to the spinning magnets to induce eddy currents in the plate and increase torque. The plate position is controlled by a knob which adjusts a Bowden cable the pulls on the plate. I am guessing (big guess) that the resistance increases linearly, but interestingly the air gap between the magnets and metal plate is not linear. It might be neat to take the Bowden cable assembly apart further to see what it does to achieve that. I plan to scrap it for a potentiometer but I might want to be able to reassemble the whole machine and get a couple hundred dollars for it someday. 

The project is still in the planning phase. I'll need to measure the RPM range I'm operating at for the rowing machine and see what gearing might be needed for the alternator. I've got to come up with a mounting solution and then hack some electronics to make it work.

I started working on repairing the front seats for my bus too. I hand sewed a couple of tares in the seat back together. Need to do some rust removal on the frames, cut some foam and see if there is a good way to patch tears in vinyl. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This is a PREEMPTIVE Post!

I am posting this to remind you that any and all Holiday Shenanigans should be posted here in an effort to spread holiday cheer and stuff.

I'll be catching a plane to Portland, Oregon Tuesday to see my sister get hitched! Ian, keep an eye on Southern(ish) Maine for me. Tyler, you've got the county under control. I'll be taking lots of pictures and hopefully seeing lots of hipsters.

In the meantime, please enjoy this.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Uneventful Weekend

Hey guys, figured I'll keep you posted on this boring life stuff.

So this week I didn't get to go to my sweet-ass job piling hardwood veneer, so instead I took a short little drive to the southern end of our state. Spent Saturday night drinking mediocre craft brews with an okay friend from high school. Then I had to get up first thing in the morning to drive further south just to meet a couple of douchebags I used to room with. Apparently if one of them flies from the west coast and brings some lady friend of his I'm obligated to meet up with them. Not like they're offering to pay gas money, assholes.

Spent a few hours having this self-involved cunt-waffle tell me all about his job and how it was helping the environment and stuff. Yeah I'm sure, let's just power the whole United States of America on fucking air. While we're at it we'll just replace cars with hot air balloons powered from our own farts. Dickhole.

Then they were all like, oooooh, lets go get some beers from some brewpub restaurant. Look how fuckin' hip we are, can't just eat at Wendy's like the rest of us? Got to hear all kinds of stories about these guys building airplanes and windmills and shit. Well I make shit too, you know? Hardwood veneer is serious fuckin' business. I stack some good fuckin' panels! Motherfuckin' full loads of 0 Select Whites, make a ceiling in a ski lodge or some shit. Asshats...

Then they're all like "Dur! Let's go to the mall, herpderpflerp!". Just full of original god damned ideas these cocksuckers. Then this fuck has the audacity to take him and his lady friend and fuck off to Rockland or something. Good thing I drove all that way. Fuckin' amateurs. Spent a few days wandering around shops in Portland and spending money I don't have. Went to the movies to see the fiftieth anniversary of some stupid cliche science fiction show. Fucking nerds everywhere. Had to help one little nerd pick up the pieces to his glowy stick, called it a screwdriver. What kind of fuckin' screwdriver doesn't even have a head. Just some glowy lights and stupid sound effects. Only screws he's taking out are the ones loose in his fucking nerd head.

Then these fuckin' people in the county have the audacity to make me go pick up a load of craft beer for them. Yeah, that's what I want to do, drive your stupid goods around. Now I have to go and eat a bunch of high carb food with these familial types. Thanks for fucking up any chance of success on my diet you sons of bitches.

Hope you guys had a better weekend, maybe with some super cool guy who drives a super cool Jeep and stuff. That would've been awesome.


Wuv you,