Sunday, July 31, 2005

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

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Why London cops should go back to using wands

Jean Charles de Menezes is the unlucky fellow who didn't roll over and play dead when a gang of gun-wielding thugs (who happened to be undercover policemen) chased him into the subway and subsequently pinned him to the floor of a subway car and put five slugs in the base of his skull at close range. The policy could be paraphased as, "If there might be a bomb, shoot the suspect in the head until he's throughly dead."

There are at least two problems with this. First, innocent people will run from the police, particularly if they don't know they are police. It's called the "fight or flight response", and it's not limited to Brazilians or even humans. Second, have they forgotten about the frequently-deployed device known as a "Dead man's switch"?

I'm no expert on the subject, but it seems like if you want to protect innocent bystanders, you shoot for the legs, immobilize the subject, and more importantly, put the bomb on the ground, where it seems less likely to do damage to people (projecting the blast in a vertical plane, rather than a horizontal plane, assuming the explosives wrap around the torso). Additionally, due to "fight or flight", you give bystanders a few seconds to run away, since they will all tend to scatter like frightened monkeys once the goon squad starts shooting people.

The London cops should go back to using wands:

Yes, we in Special Crime Squad have been using wands for almost a year now. You find it's easy to make yourself invisible. You can defy time and space, and you can turn violent criminals into frogs. Something which you could never do with the old truncheons.

Update (Jul 26): Bruce Scheier agrees with me (maybe not about the wands).

Drip, drip, drip

Another doctor visit, another new prescription. This time for Cipro HC OTIC ear drops (ciprofoxacin and hydrocortisone). I'm probably about 90% better, but that last 10% needs to be knocked out. Three drops, three times a day.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A distant, narrow vision

I can't think of a better name for the vaporware product formerly known as Longhorn than Microsoft Windows Vista, since "vista" means "a distant view or prospect, especially one seen through an opening", i.e. a distant, narrow vision.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

Quiet desperation

Timeline:

Sunday: Earache starts, the day after I'm back from my vacation, where one of the people I was staying with had an ear infection. And we both went swimming. Probably a mistake.

Monday: Go to doctor without appointment; 10 minute wait. He peeks in my ear, says, "Yep, it's infected,", and prescribes Omnicef (cephalosporin antibiotic) and Hydroco (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) for pain. This sets me back $85, and that's with insurance. I start watching a lot of TiVo. Chewing becomes difficult.

Tuesday: I can sleep about an hour at a time before the pain wakes me back up. Desperation, the kind produced by a pain in your head you can't make go away, makes you try some crazy things. I went out to Wal-Mart at 6:30 am and got some Swim-Ear (isopropanol and glycerin), which seemed to help some, perhaps by loosening things up. I don't think the Hydroco does squat for me in this case. Asprin seems to help a little. The skin inside my ear canal is peeling. I can hardly anything hear most of the time. It's like having cotton balls jammed in my ears, while long acupuncture needles are being tapped in occassionally with a ball-peen hammer. I find that pressing my right shoulder against my neck just behind my ear causes stuff to squirt out. These quantities are audible, but not visible.

Wednesday: Back to the doctor's office without an appointment; 90 minute wait. Different doctor, so different drugs: levaquin (fluoroquinolone antibiotic) and tobradex drops (tobramycin and dexamethasone antibiotic and steroid combination). This doctor thinks it is a Pseudomonas infection. Omnicef (aka cefdinir) is broad-spectrum against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in general, but cefdinir is not active against Pseudomonas. Levaquin is generally effective against Pseudomonas. This visit sets me back another $85. I decided to ditch the hydroco in favor of good old Excedrin Migraine (asprin, acetaminophen, and caffeine), which seems to work better.

Funny coincidence: My previous post on this subject was "Earache, my eye", which is actually a Cheech and Chong reference. At the time, I had not yet been prescibed the tobradex, which are actually eyedrops. Which go in my ear.

Thursday: I feel a little better, and I think my ears are draining a little bit better. I've watched at least 40 hrs of TV since Monday and need to get out of bed for a while, so I get dressed and get on the bike for awhile. Getting my full-face helmet on is tough: It feels like my entire head is swollen. When I ride with the visor up, I hear wind noise, and if I concentrate, I hear the engine, and that's about all. Rode out to Watkinsville, and hit some rain. Stopped off at the Jittery Joe's in Five Points for some coffee. Getting the helmet off is even harder than putting it on. Went home, got bored, took a ride out to Sears for some metric taps and dies. On a mostly aluminum motorcycle, it's pretty easy to crossthread bolts, and I have a few bolt holes that are problematic and need to be cleaned up. Rolled over 11K mi on the way home. Then rode out to dinner to meet the wife. Crusty stuff is building up in the right ear; I take this to mean something other than me is dying. Rode about 65 mi total.

Friday (today): Most of my jaw pain is cleared up, and I think I slept about six or seven hours for the first time since Sunday, both of which are excellent indicators. My ears are still stuffed up, the left more than the right now, and I still hurt, mostly in sharp stabs, but it's not so bad, or I am just getting used to it. It's 79° F and overcast, with thunderstorms possible. Think I'll go out and get some fresh air, gas, and food, in that order.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Earache, my eye

I have a bad ear infection, which I probably picked up on my trip. Imagine a 12" drill bit going in one ear and out the other. That'd be a good start.

Monday, July 11, 2005

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Pussed out

On the morning of my trip, while loading up, I decided against taking the bike, for three reasons.

First, I didn't feel the bike was completely ready; it was still running a bit rough.

Second, I wasn't ready; I had hoped to get more riding time before going on a 500 mi (and back) trip.

Third, Dennis: I drove through some torrential rains on the way back. It rained so hard, it took the brake dust off the wheels and the bugs off the front bumper.

Today (now yesterday): Went for a trip around the Athens Perimeter; refueled. Rode up Nowhere Road, and ended up around Commerce. Did a little shopping and got home just before the rain got serious. Total distance: About 90 mi. I'm still using Marvel Mystery Oil in the gas and it seems to be helping. There are still some flat spots at times, but it get progressively better well after warm-up.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Success at last

Put together bike, realizing at the end I left off two rubber caps on the air cleaner which cover some access holes. I decide to leave them off for a brief test ride (10 mi). Accelerates poorly in low RPM range. After a warm up, I tear it back down to attach the synchronizer. I think it's now improved somewhat, but hard to tell. Put it back together, not forgetting the caps this time.

I picked up some Eagle One Bucket-Free Car Wash on one of my trips to Advance. Basically, you hose down your vehicle, spray on a bit of the car wash, distribute it with a mitt or sponge or whatnot, and then rinse it off. It seems to work pretty well.

Go for a 20 mi test. It's better, but still missing a lot below 5000 RPM. When the power fully kicks in, it's quite obvious, like someone ignited a solid rocket booster. Sometimes blipping the throttle or changing gears (in eithe direction) wakes it up.

There's less vibration than I remember; I think this is mostly due to the valve clearence. It's rideable, and better on the highway, but I'm not sure I want to take it on a 500 mi trip yet. I have about a day to figure that one out. Afternoon thunderstorms all week.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Almost there

Did not accomplish very much today; just too hot, and I didn't feel well.

Carburetor clamps were not in stock at local Kawasaki dealer, and they were about $4.50 apiece. I decided to try True Value instead, and while they did not have any hose clamps that looked suitable, they did have replacement screws, which is all I really needed. Total cost: $1.25.

Hooked up the carburetor synchronizer for the first time: A Morgan Carbtune II. I like that it needs no calibration, and contains no mercury. There's definitely some need for adjustment, but the problem is, while I can get it to idle, I have a lot of trouble getting it to accelerate. In hooking up the Carbtune, I noticed one of the vacuum lines had a small hole, so I got some replacement line at True Value.

I think before I can tackle the synchronization, I need to run some fuel system cleaner through the system. I bought some Marvel Mystery Oil for this awhile back; I've had good luck with it in the past. I'll try dumping a few ounces in the gas tank and see if that helps.

Changed the oil and filter, and the coolant. By this point, I had a bad headache building and had to quit.

After dark, when it cooled down a bit, I re-installed the oil cooler and the lower fairing mount. Some of my header paint is flaking off. Oh well. You can't see any of the exhaust system with the bodywork on, except for the mufflers of course, and the very back of the manifold. All I want is for it to not rust, or at least not rust badly.

Tomorrow: I'm putting it back together and riding for a bit. If that goes well, I'll try to synchronize the carburetors again.

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  • opensource@KMRC: Bebop: Bebop is a Zope3-based groupware that tries to combine collaboration support and content management with a user-friendly interface. It allows to switch between a traditional desktop metaphor and a blog perspective on the contributions of the group members ( )

Whoring for beverages

Went outside to clean up a bit and found my lost bolt almost immediately. It was right where I had been applying gasket adhesive. The lighting was bad, and I only found it because the can of adhesive was stuck to some newspaper, and lifting the can caused the bolt to roll. Installed it.

Propel is "fitness water" from Gatorade. It's like Gatorade, with all the electrolytes, but without all the sugar. It still has some sucrose, because sucrose helps you absorb water. It's got sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) as well. It's non-nasty. I am planning a road trip on my bike next week, and this seems like it would be a pretty good thing to have on hand. If some marketing bigwig over at Gatorade wants to ship me a case, or a great big pile of money, please contact me.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Success

Got everything required to run installed: carbs, air cleaner, fuel tank, exhaust system. Tried to start: No go. Additionally, the throttle mysteriously wouldn't move. Tore it down to the carburetors, and the throttle still wouldn't move, with no obvious cause. Remove carburetors; throttle now moves. Cause of the problem: There are some screw clamps which secure the carburetors to the intake, and if you move them too much to one side (so you can access them easier), they interfere with the throttle. Reposition, re-install carburetors. Some of the screw heads on the clamps are in bad condition; I'll try to get some new ones tomorrow.

Re-install air cleaner and fuel tank. First attempt was on the reserve tank, but since the tank seems half full, I switch back to the regular tank. After a couple more tries, it starts to catch. Give it a little choke, and it fires up. I run it for about 10 seconds, and it sounds OK, but it is still stumbling a bit, so I switch it off for the night. I notice a small puddle of oil underneath, but this is due to my leaving off the timing cover.

Some damn wasp has tried to build it's mud nest in one of the bolt holes of the cover; I clean it out with one of the bolts. Glue the gasket on and... now I can't find one of the bolts. I substitute with the remaining original cam chain tensioner bolt, which is the right diameter and thread, but a little short. If I can't the one I somehow misplaced, I can probably find a replacement at True Value. I'll look for suitable clamps for the carbs too.

I'm relieved that it seems to run fairly well. At least I know with some certainty that I didn't screw up the cam alignment. I think there's a little less vibration than there used to be, which was probably due to the valve clearence, or it could have been partly due to junk in the carburetors, which I have now cleaned pretty thoroughly. It should be ready for a road test tomorrow, but of course more thunderstorms are on the way: 40% chance after 2 pm, 97° heat index.

Still to do: Change oil and coolant. Synchronize carburetors. Re-install bodywork.

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The daily July thunderstorm

Finally got the baffle plate on by putting it in sideways and then turning it.

Installed spark plugs and ignition system. I used some anti-seize compound on the plug threads, which I haven't used before. Bizarrely, the 5/8" spark plug socket I got from Sears has a 1/2" drive.

Changed the fuel filter and most of the fuel line. I have another line left to replace: on the tank petcock to the resevoir

Carburetors are on, but not really attached yet. It's very hot: 91° F, 56% humidity, 100° heat index, and there is a thunderstorm rolling in. Taking another break.

Welcome to July

Got oil for the bike: Motul 5100 4T Synthetic 10W40. I've used this for the life of the bike, and I can't complain, but at $27.50/gallon, it isn't cheap.

Reinstalled valve cover. Decided to reuse gasket since it seems to be in good shape, even compared to the new one. I'll save it for later. A little bit of silicone sealer is needed where the head has been machined for the camshafts. My old tube of blue Permatex more or less exploded on me. Messy.

Tried to reinstall baffle plate, which prevents air from the radiator from blowing over the engine. Everything was getting wet because I was sweating so much. Decided I needed a break. It was about 88° F, 66% humidity, heat index of 98°. I'll cool off, rehydrate and go again.