What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Light Pillars Over Sioux Falls

Filed under: Favorite Things,Fun!,The World — dave @ 5:50 pm 2009/02/27

I had some after-hours stuff to do at work last night, so was there until about 1am, and got quite a show of light pillars on the way home.

I don’t know the exact weather ingredients necessary for light pillars to show up, but it had rained/sleeted/snowed a bit earlier in the day, then the temperature had dropped from the mid-20′s to around 0°F, and there wasn’t a breath of wind at that time of night. These pillars of light were all around and in all different colors; it was just breathtaking.

Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, but drove home, grabbed it, and went back out to try my hand at capturing the effect. I’m afraid didn’t do a very good job, but with a little time in Photoshop I was able to tweak the image a bit and ended up with a reasonable facsimile. Of course it doesn’t do justice to what I saw last night, but for that you’ll have to be on the lookout yourself!

Post Weekend BMW Update

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars! — dave @ 1:01 am 2009/02/24

Well, I had some time to work on the 528 this weekend, and made some progress, but not as much as I would’ve liked. I got the thing jacked up as best as possible with the equipment I had and got underneath hoping to replace some of the worn parts on the shift linkage. Alas, it wasn’t going to happen this weekend; the driveshaft is in the way, almost completely obscuring and blocking access to the parts that need to be replaced.

I’ve done some reading since then and found out that pulling the driveshaft and replacing the guibo (or flexible connector) isn’t that big a job — should only take a couple of hours — but I’ll likely wait until the weather is better before moving ahead.

While I was under there I replaced what was left of the exhaust pipe…

… with the brand-spankin’ new unit that was delivered last week.

Not much left of the old one, eh? Funny thing was that the pipe had a hole facing upward, and a corresponding black smudge all around the driveshaft. The delivery of the new muffler was a surprise in three ways; one, that it was delivered on Tuesday, a mere two days after it was ordered, and that it had nothing covering it at all — just the bare muffler & pipe with the UPS sticker stuck to it. There was some padding on the outlet end, but that was it. Unfortunately, the gasket I ordered at the same time wasn’t delivered until Friday. Oh well.

The muffler went on pretty easily, and oh what a difference it makes on the car! So much quieter, and it even runs better with it on. I’m guessing that it’s got something to do with having the proper amount of back pressure, but no matter; it makes the car all the more enjoyable to drive. Now, instead of hearing the roar from the nonexistent tailpipe, all you hear when you step on it is the loud growl of the engine. It seems faster & smoother than before. So much fun and smooth to drive fast, it’s only a matter of time that I find myself in trouble.

While under there, I inspected some of the other stuff and found that I’ll need to replace or at least fix the CV boot. Most of the other boots are in good shape, but the left rear… Not so much.

Tonight I took the front bumper off to see what the problem was that caused it to be off kilter…

It came off pretty easily, and with the bumper out of the way, the cause was pretty obvious.

It either hit or was hit by something pretty sharply at some point. Strangely though, the aluminum bumper wasn’t damaged much at all. The bracket that attached the bumper to the shock absorber was bent a bit though…

(it\'s not supposed to have that crack next to the bolt, nor that funny bend.)

(it's not supposed to have that crack next to the bolt, nor that funny bend.)

… And the torsion applied to the bumper also tore the threads from the the spot where the bumper shocks mount to the frame; here’s the right side, the way it’s supposed to look…

And here’s the left side, the way it’s not supposed to look.

Note the missing parts. I think it’ll be pretty easy to substitute something to hold the bumper in place, which is a good thing, because otherwise it’d mean replacing the mount, which would be levels of magnitude more difficult.

That’s about it; other than the breaker switch I replaced to get the power windows working again, and the seatbelt receiver for the driver’s seat that actually fits the buckle in the car. Apparently they changed the seat belt buckle design pretty drastically between 1984 and 1988. Bryce and I made a second trip to Ewe Pullet for more parts last Thursday. This time we grabbed the seat belt buckle, the controls for the heat & defrost, and door sill strips. I need to make another trip out this week to grab a replacement bracket for the front bumper and the plastic bumper cover that fits over the top on the right side.

A week ago I was able to get the new seat mounted on the driver’s side, after figuring out why the front elevator on it wouldn’t work; turned out to be a connector that had come unplugged. Too easy! While mounting the seat, one of the rear mounting bolts stripped the threads in the floor, so eventually I’ll need to do something with that. I still haven’t wired it up yet — the console needs some work — and still haven’t put the passenger seat or the rear bench & back in. They need to be cleaned up a bit still, and I’d like to get the recliner mechanism working on the passenger seat first. It’ll probably need a cover as well because the leather is in such rough shape.

With all that I’ve done so far, it almost makes me wish that I’d waited a little while to find a cleaner example of the e28. Maybe someday I’ll trade up to a 535i, or maybe an e34 or e39 540! That 282hp V8 is just calling my name!

Chingon Rocks Mariachi!

Filed under: Favorite Things,Fun!,Just Stuff,Movies,Music — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 2:23 am 2009/02/21

One of my favorite movies is The Bride by Quentin Tarantino. You might know the film better by the name Kill Bill 1 & 2. Yes, I know it was released as two movies separated by a couple of years, but I think it’s better to think of it as one story with a really long intermission in the middle.

I found the set of two dvd’s at a store just recently, and just finished watching the second installment… What a cool movie! It’s a little on the bloody side, and the F-bomb gets dropped an inordinate number of times, but it’s a great story of a mother’s love, and revenge. If you haven’t seen it, and can stand a bit of blood and swearing, I’d highly recommend it.

In the Special Features of the second disk is a music video from the group Chingon that was taped at the premiere of Kill Bill 2, and I absolutely love that music. I have no idea what the lyrics mean — they’re all in Spanish — but just listening to the guitars is really amazing. I do know that the second song, Fideo del Oeste translates roughly to “Mexican Spaghetti Western”.

Anyway, just thought I’d share the music. I ripped the tunes from the dvd and have them in my iTunes faves, so I listen to them pretty regularly; hit play on the YouTube videos below to have a listen for yourself. And in case you’re a little on the squeamish side, I promise, no blood is spilled. Enjoy!


YouTube link


YouTube link

LA to NY in Four Minutes

Filed under: Cars!,Favorite Things,Just Stuff — Tags: , — dave @ 9:23 pm 2009/02/20

Here’s a cool time-lapse video shot from the back seat of a convertible driving from Los Angeles to New York. For some people traveling is all about the destination, but for me it’s the journey that’s most interesting. This video doesn’t show much of that trip, but it is fun!

A Short Road Trip… A Few Observations

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Favorite Things,Fun!,Just Stuff,The Deep — Tags: , — dave @ 12:41 am 2009/02/19

I made a quick run to the inlaws’ house tonight, about a 60 mile drive, each way. Along the way I made a few observations…

  1. Since the BMW doesn’t have a working odometer, I thought this might be a good opportunity to check the gas mileage, so I filled up before leaving Sioux Falls and again at the same station when I got back. On the 117.6 mile trip I used 5.074 gallons of fuel, which translates to 23.18 miles per gallon. Not bad, especially considering the, um, spirited driving enjoyed along the way.
  2. The driving was particularly spirited along one of my favorite drives, a lonely 8 mile stretch of highway that runs along the river between Beloit, IA, and Fairview, SD. I hit three digits each way through there tonight; what a blast! On the way out there was a Ford F350 pickup traveling the same direction. I thought I’d overtake him quickly, but he was cooking along at a little over 90. I think he was a little surprised when I blew by him at about 120 or so. The white stripes on the highway zip by pretty quickly at that speed.

    My observation? Moving along at 55-60mph feels like a crawl when you were doing twice that only moments before. Also, it’s amazing how smooth and stable that ratty looking e28 is at high speeds.

  3. The stars! I stopped along the way on the return trip just to take in the view. It’s amazing how much more you can see in the sky without the light interference you find in the city. I’m becoming more convinced that people who spend most of their time in urban environments tend to become more detached from their Creator. It’s easy to think that man is the epitome of evolution when all you see is man-made. Here’s a tip; first chance you get, get far enough out of Dodge to escape the glow dome surrounding the city — about 30 miles or so — so you can really see the sky. It is truly amazing, and humbling. It makes a guy feel really small and insignificant, and makes one wonder how the God of the universe could take an interest in something so small.

That’s all I can think of right now. Other than a few niggling issues with the car that popped up along the way. The cruise control was working fine most of the way, but near my destination on the way out the brake light warning came on, and the cruise control wouldn’t work. It came back on for the return trip, but later the brake light warning came on again, and again the cruise wouldn’t work. The power windows quit working a couple of days ago, but along the way I fiddled with the breaker switch under the dash and they started working again, for a short time. That narrows down the possible problem areas anyway. Also, the brake pedal seems to be getting a little on the soft side; might have to bring it over to Abe & have him check things over.

Progress Bars Gone Wild!

Filed under: Computers,Geek,Work — dave @ 4:55 pm 2009/02/18

One more thing that drives me crazy; progress bars that don’t give a realistic indication of your progress.

Case in point; today I was doing some maintenance on one of the laptops at work, and part of that was updating Adobe Acrobat Standard on an HP laptop running Windows XP Pro. It downloaded the 8.1.3 updater and proceeded to apply the update.

First, a larger status box came up and showed the status bar progressing quickly from left to right. But when the bar got all the way to the right, it just started over again. Over, and over, and over, and over…

Then after a while, a smaller dialog box came up showing a slower moving progress bar, plus a “Time Remaining:” line; at first it showed 2 minutes, then about five minutes later it dropped to 1 minute.

Then about 10 minutes later it dropped to 50 seconds. And then about 5 minutes later it’s down to 1 second remaining.

And all the while the larger status bar is zipping right along, zip! zip! zip! zip! Hmmm. Not a confidence builder.

Finally, after about 20 minutes it throws up a dialog box saying it needs to restart the computer to complete the install. Good thing; I thought perhaps I’d been transported into something akin to the Groundhog Day story.

Don’t Wanna Be… Obama’s Elf…

Filed under: Fun! — dave @ 10:55 pm 2009/02/17

This is a hoot!

YouTube Link.

Making Progress…

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars! — Tags: , , , — dave @ 4:00 pm 2009/02/16

Well, it’s been almost three weeks with the BMW, and I’ve learned a lot about the car, and have made some progress straightening out a few of its issues.

I made a list of those issues last week, and using that as a springboard, here’s what I’ve done so far, and what’s coming up next…

The driver’s seat is shot (check out the damage it did to my jeans!) but I found a set of electric seats from a 1988 e28 for $150 and bought them. I haven’t installed them yet; the leather on the driver’s seat is a bit worn and has a mechanical issue, as does the passenger’s seat… Plus there’s the whole wiring thing that needs to be tackled. I was hoping to get around to starting on the seat swap last Saturday, but there was no time for that this week. I did get some work and testing done on the seat electrics… What I might end up doing is take some of the working pieces from the driver’s seat to get everything working on the passenger’s seat, mount that on the driver’s side, and keep the existing passenger’s seat in place, at least for now. After that I could maybe put the sport seat pads and all on the manual mechanicals, then get it re-covered or just buy a cover for them both. Not sure about that though. We’ll see how it progresses. The important thing is to get the new seat in place to prevent another attack on my jeans.

The shifter is still floppy, but I’ve researched the cure for that and tracked down & ordered a slew of parts to replace the wear items in the shift linkage. It only worked up to be about $50, and doesn’t look like too big a job, so I’m excited about getting that done; it’ll be great having it shift more like it should! While researching the fix for the shifter, someone suggested that I also replace the guibo; I had to look that up, and it’s the rubber flex-disk that makes the connection between the transmission and the driveshaft. I looked under my car, and sure enough it’s pretty badly cracked; I’m told that replacing it is a fairly simple process, and will lead to smoother shifts. The $40 price wasn’t too bad, so it’s on order too.

I figured out that the problem with the left turn signal was simply to clean up the contacts on the blinker lamp. It works now whether the running lights are on or off. But now there’s a new problem; the left turn signal blinks at about twice the rate of the right. I’m reasonably sure it’s a contact issue again, as it isn’t always there, but just haven’t had the time to noodle it out.

The exhaust pipe is deteriorating further, making it sound like a demolition derby car. I’ve ordered a muffler — $123 from Autohaus, AZ — and will likely put that on the evening it shows up. It should be a fairly simple matter of cutting the old bolts out, removing the remnants of the pipe, bolting up the new and fitting it to the hangers. At least that’s the way it’s playing out in my head. Pray for no surprises.

I bought replacement knobs for the heater controls, only to discover that the metal parts the knobs attach to are also broken. I’ll have to plan another trip out to Nordstroms to get the rest of the heater controls.

I bought & installed a new antenna, splicing the cable into the existing cable, so now I can listen to more than just ancient cassette tapes in the car. I was kinda getting used to the radio-free drive-time though. I suppose I could still do that… The buttons on the radio are a little on the unresponsive side, but I plan on replacing it with the stereo from the Suzuki.

Bought an armrest to replace the broken one on the driver’s door, along with the whole door panel, but haven’t put them on yet.

I vacuumed some of the carpet, and it cleans up pretty well; doesn’t seem as worn as I thought. There are some edges around the driver’s footwell that are hanging loose, but I should be able to tuck them away without too much trouble. I really need to either track down or fabricate some new floor mats to replace the ratty-looking originals.

I got a replacement cover for the access hole for the sunroof motor between the windshield and the sunroof from the same guy the seats came from, but I found the original wedged between the driver’s seat and driveshaft tunnel. Now I have a spare!

Got door lock knobs from the same guy, so now all the doors have lock knobs that you can actually pull up easily.

The odometer still isn’t working (no elves have shown up to fix it). I did find a source for the information and parts to fix it, but the parts — three tiny nylon gears — cost $60. Yikes.

I already mentioned the dead-easy parking/emergency brake handle fix. Almost too easy. If only the odometer was like that.

There were several electrical things that weren’t working; the interior and trunk lights, the central locking system, the hazard warning lights, etc… I found that most of that was due to a missing fuse in the fusebox, so I bought an assortment box of fuses and replaced it and found that fixed most of it! Cool! But the hazard warning lights still wouldn’t work because the previous owner had jammed a couple of pieces of paper in to hold the switch in place because it was broken. So I thought I’d just yank it out…

That was just too easy to be a real fix though; pulling that switch out also disabled the turn signals. Drat. And of course, since I didn’t pull the switch out very gracefully I couldn’t get it back in place, nor would it likely stay in place if it would go back in. So I made a run to the local self-serve junkyard, Nordstrom’s Ewe Pullet (yeah, kinda corny…), since they have an ’84 528e parts car, and the hazard warning switch was there and intact! I grabbed that and a few other interior pieces, before their 5pm closing time, and replaced the switch in the parking lot; it all worked!

A few days after I bought the car Caleb was riding with me and complained that he was smelling gasoline. I didn’t smell it so didn’t give it much thought. In the following days I started to smell it, and it was getting progressively worse, so I started hunting for the leak. I had just filled the tank the Saturday before the first complaint, so that was the first suspect, but it was dry as a bone underneath. I tried following the fuel supply line, and lost track of it somewhere, but everything I saw was dry. Under the hood I didn’t see anything, and there really wasn’t much for a petrol smell either. It wasn’t getting any better inside the cabin, so the next night I kept poking around, and just happened to catch out of the corner of my eye a glimpse of a drop falling from a tube to the valve cover; there it was! I flexed that tube a bit and a little spray of fuel came out. I had seen a post on the mye28.com board about fuel leaks, and that replacing the hose requires the use of high-pressure tubing, so I high-tailed it to O’Reiley’s for some. It was kinda spendy at $7 a foot, but cheap insurance. Half hour later, the leaky piece was replaced. Done and done.

The central locking system is kinda neat; turn the key in the driver’s side door lock or the trunk lock to lock or unlock all the doors, the trunk and the fuel door. Of course, it’s not much of a trick considering the gee-wiz remotes and automatic doors and all on newer vehicles, but that was cool stuff for 1984.

I’ve realized that having a slightly ratty paint job on the car is somewhat freeing. While I’m not overly anal about keeping my cars clean, it’s nice being able to put my toolbag or whatever on the hood or trunklid without worrying about a scratch. I do plan to break out a buffer and rubbing compound when it’s warmer out, just to see if I can get the old girl to shine a little, but for now the dull gray is just fine.

Wow; that’s quite a book there. I may have missed a detail or two, but if so I’ll pick it up later. Actually, I’d be surprised if anybody has read through this far. If you have, you win! (no actual prizes or anything; you just win.)

Define ‘Historical’

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,Old Things — dave @ 9:55 pm 2009/02/05

I just discovered something interesting; the great state of South Dakota allows cars that are at least 30 years old to be registered as Historical Vehicles. That means that as long as the vehicle isn’t used for general transportation, you pay a one-time $10 licensing fee, and that’s it.

Here’s what the Section K of the DMV Motor Vehicle Manual says about it:

HISTORICAL VEHICLES
A. A vehicle or motorcycle over 30 years old that is used only for special occasions such as display, exhibitions, parades, etc., and not for general transportation, although the vehicle/motorcycle may be driven to and from service stations for fuel and repairs, may be licensed as a historical vehicle/motorcycle.
B. Historical plates can be obtained for a one-time $10 registration fee. Application is made directly to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

And that’s not all; if you own a vehicle that qualifies as ‘historic’ and can’t track down the title…

3. If all efforts have been made to locate the title and no records can be found, an affidavit must be submitted indicating efforts made in locating the previous owner to obtain the title.
4. It will be at the discretion of the Division of Motor Vehicles to determine if a title will be issued based upon the applicant’s documentation which is submitted.

Quite a deal for restorers and collectors. I’m sure other states have similar laws on the books, but this is all new to me!

Bummer of it though is that my BMW is a mere 5 years away from qualifying. Of course, I can’t really afford to keep a car for anything other than the dreaded ‘general transportation’, so it’s moot for me anyway. But the one thing that makes this slightly depressing is that cars built the year I graduated qualify as ‘historical’. I don’t feel like I’m historical…

“Blinded By Envy And Ignorance”

Filed under: Just Stuff,Politics — dave @ 5:19 pm 2009/02/04

Here’s a quote that was included in yesterday’s Patriot Post that I thought was very poignant, considering the so-called ‘stimulus’ package that’s being foisted on us by Congress.

[P]eople do not ask for socialism because they know that socialism will improve their conditions, and they do not reject capitalism because they know that it is a system prejudicial to their interests. They are socialists because they believe that socialism will improve their conditions, and they hate capitalism because they believe that it harms them. They are socialists because they are blinded by envy and ignorance.
Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

I fully recognize that the United States has been slouching toward socialism for a long, long time, and the last few years with George W. Bush at the helm hasn’t slowed that trend. But with Barack Obama and the current crop of Democrats leading both houses of Congress, I fear that things will accelerate in the next four years.

Historically, I think the growing socialistic nanny state in the US has continued to grow because it can readily feed off of the private sector. But if we as a country continue down that road with more and more money from businesses and the ‘wealthy’ being redistributed, something is going to break. And it’s not going to be pretty.

Older Posts »