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

I Guess Things Are Different Now

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dave @ 4:10 pm 2009/07/29

Funny how things are different for President Obama when the legislation is something he wants vs. something championed by his political opposition…

Here’s a YouTube clip containing an audio interview with Barack Obama following his election to the US Senate in 2004. Take note of what he has to say following about the 0:50 mark…

BARACK OBAMA: …When you rush these budgets that are a foot high and nobody has any idea what’s in them and nobody has read them.

RANDI RHODES: 14 pounds it was!

BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. And it gets rushed through without any clear deliberation or debate then these kinds of things happen. And I think that this is in some ways what happened to the Patriot Act. I mean you remember that there was no real debate about that. It was so quick after 9/11 that it was introduced that people felt very intimidated by the administration.

… And compare that to his current push to get his health care ‘reform’ legislation passed before the August recess. Thankfully it now appears that the Bluedog Democrats have been able to delay the vote on the bill to after the recess. I’m sure that’s going over big in the White House. Likewise with the drive by Let Freedom Ring to get Senators & Congressmen to pledge to not vote on the legislation unless they read it first, and unless it has been available for the public to read for at least 72 hours. Sounds like something that ought to be required for all legislation.

Obama’s Health Care Snow Job

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , , — dave @ 10:57 pm 2009/07/23

Our not-so-esteemed President gave a press conference last night about his aspirations for reforming the health care system. He’s apparently encountering more opposition than he expected — well deserved opposition I might add — and felt the need to address all us little people in middle America to tell us why it’s such a high priority. He’s getting some push-back — well deserved push-back I might add — on his insistence that it needs to be passed through both houses of Congress before the August recess.

Well hold on there, bucko.

The case he laid out, very unconvincingly, is that the root cause of the economic crisis is the umpteeen million people who are without health insurance:

… even before this crisis hit, we had an economy that was creating a good deal of wealth for those folks at the very top, but not a lot of good-paying jobs for the rest of America. It’s an economy that simply wasn’t ready to compete in the 21st century, one where we’ve been slow to invest in clean-energy technologies that have created new jobs and industries in other countries; where we’ve watched our graduation rates lag behind too much of the world; and where we spend much more on health care than any other nation but aren’t any healthier for it. And that’s why I’ve said that even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before.

And health-insurance reform is central to that effort.

Oh, please. The same old leftist rhetoric about the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor, who get poorer every day. “It’s just not fair!” And what a pack of lies; we spend more on health care than any other nation but we aren’t any healthier for it? Baloney. Americans live longer and have more access to better health care than any other society on the face of the planet, but for him and the Democrats in the House and Senate, the whole nation is going to hell in a handbasket without the federal government jumping in and taking control of the entire health care system in America.

What drives me crazy is that he lied through his teeth last night, and nobody in the mainstream press is calling him on it. In the past he’s said on a number of occasions that if you have health insurance and you like your current coverage, you can keep it. Then last week the content of the bill that’s in the House got out, showing that if you change jobs or your employer decides to stop providing group health insurance, or even if the coverage changes, you’ll be mandated by law to buy into the single-payer system he’s trying to ramrod through. But then in last night’s opening comments, he phrased things a little differently, trying to make it sound like what he said before, but not so far from the truth;

If you have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability.

It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it. It’ll prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, if you move, or if you change your job, you’ll still be able to have coverage.

So now it sounds the same as what he’s said before, using similar terms, but adding others to change the meaning completely. How’s that for ‘honesty’ and ‘transparency’.

Then later, when answering a question from a reporter, he said the following, which totally contradicts what he said earlier about keeping insurance that you’ve already got;

I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that unless you have a — what’s called a single-payer system, in which everybody’s automatically covered, then you’re probably not going to reach every single individual, because there’s always going to be somebody out there who thinks they’re indestructible and doesn’t want to get health care, doesn’t bother getting health care, and then, unfortunately, when they get hit by a bus, end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it…
… So the plan that has been — that I’ve put forward and that — what we’re seeing in Congress would cover, the estimates are, at least 97 to 98 percent of Americans. There might still be people left out there who, even though there’s an individual mandate, even though they are required to purchase health insurance, might still not get it, or despite a lot of subsidies, are still in such dire straits that it’s still hard for them to afford it…

So the plan is to get everybody on the single-payer system. And not just get them on it, mandate it. Oh and of course, you’d charge them for it.

But the biggest deception in the whole thing is how the thing is going to be funded. He talked about how costs are going up and coverage is going down and thousands of people are losing their health coverage every day and 47 million people have no coverage at all… But a recurring theme was that he’ll be able to pay for it through creating and enforcing new efficiencies in the system and using technology in new ways to eliminate duplicated services… I call BS on that. Since when has anything overseen by the federal government been described (accurately) as efficient? There is just no way that you’re going to keep providing the same level of care to more people and have it cost the same or less than it does now. But that’s what he’s saying he can do. And I say he’s full of it.

The only way he’s going to be able to pull that off is if the ‘efficiencies’ he’s talking about involve rationing care and allowing his proposed “Health Advisory Boards” to dole out treatment only to those the board deems worthy. Let’s say you’re in your late 60’s and you’re diagnosed with cancer. Your doctor runs your paperwork through the Health Advisory Board and they look at your life history and your family history, taking note that you’ve lived a full life, and that people in your family don’t typically live beyond their 70’s. Is it really a wise expenditure of precious health care resources to attack your cancer aggressively if it’s only going to extend your life a few more years, when you’re sure to die from something else? Think of all the children that could be helped with that money!

And what of people like Sarah Palin who find out early in a pregnancy that their child has Down’s Syndrome or a heart condition or some other malady that will likely require extended medical care throughout life. “Wouldn’t it just be easier to abort now? What kind of quality of life would you be giving your child?” Of course, that abortion would only be a proposed option at first, but how long until that Health Advisory Board is granted the power to mandate that abortion? It’d only be a matter of time.

The thing is, I don’t believe most people see the need for the wholesale overhaul of the health care system as it’s being proposed by Obama and the Democrat leadership in the House & Senate. Sure, there are shortfalls in the system, but it’s nowhere near as bad as they say it is. And the cure they propose would surely be worse than the disease; that has been shown to be fact, and not just partisan propaganda. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that the proposed health care reform will raise costs and increase the deficit by $240 billion in the first ten years.

As I see it, there are two primary problems with the health care system in this country and its rising costs; that people who are insured are insulated from the actual cost of their care, and doctors spend too much time in CYA mode, making sure they don’t get sued. People pay $x for their health insurance plus their deductible and co-payment for office visits, so it matters little to them if they visit the doctor once a year or 30 times a year. If their kid has the sniffles, off they go to the doctor where the doctor runs several tests to rule out one dread disease or another, and before you know it, diagnosing Junior’s sniffles just cost $500 or more. But mom’s insurance covers it, and she’s out her $15 office visit co-payment plus maybe a percentage of the total for her deductible, but it’s far less than the $500. But if mom had to pay for all that herself, she might think twice about going to the office, and see if Junior gets over it on his own. And if there were some meaningful tort reform, the doctors could spend a little more time using the common sense that God gave them instead of ordering superfluous tests and expensive drugs to treat common maladies that the human body is perfectly capable of surviving with no medical intervention.

No, I don’t think that President Obama can pull this off. I don’t think he garners enough of the respect of the House & Senate Democrats and their leadership to get everything he wants in this bill, nor to even get it passed. And the push to get it passed by August is just ridiculous. He hasn’t even read or apparently been briefed on the current bill — he’s admitted as much himself — nor have many of those who are voting on it. Our senior Senator from South Dakota has already said he plans to vote for it; has he read it? I would bet a pile of money he has not, and he really doesn’t care what kind of fallout he gets from signing it either, because he’s got five years left of his term, and chances are he’ll retire after that.

If I’m wrong and this travesty of a bill does pass and become our new way of doing health care in the US, we will have change a-plenty, but not the kind of change any of us want.

Compact Fluorescents Suck

Filed under: Home Life,The House — Tags: , , — dave @ 9:49 pm 2009/07/16

I hate compact fluorescent light bulbs. I really do. I like the fact that they use less electricity than a standard incandescent bulb, but aside from that there is absolutely no up-side to using them.

We’ve got CFL’s installed in various places around the house, and I discovered one of them was out this morning. I went to replace it, and it had this brown gunk oozing from the base. When I first opened the fixture — an old recessed ceiling fixture that holds the bulb horizontally — I could see a drip of the brown at a seam in the base and some splatters on the inside of the fixture’s glass; great. When I unscrewed the bulb, the drip travelled around the base; wonderful.

Then once I got the bulb out of the fixture, I caught a whiff of the thing, and even now, more than an hour and two hand-washings later, I can still smell it. And I can feel a headache brewing too. It was most likely a failure of the starter circuit’s componentry, which in most cheaper bulbs is the weak link.

I still had one 23W CFL in the cabinet downstairs, so that’s what went in to replace it. It’s a higher-quality bulb than what it replaced (made by GE), but I’m pretty sure the dead one was supposed to last five years. I didn’t date it when it was installed, but I’m reasonably sure it was within the last two years. I marked the new one with today’s date, and I will be hanging onto the warranty card; it’s guaranteed to last five years, and by golly, if it gives out before then, they’ll hear from me.

Aside from the nastiness that comes from them when the electronics fails, you’ve got the mercury in them to deal with if the glass breaks. But I hate them most when they’re “working”; you flip a switch on, and the things take up to a minute to warm up & give full light. And that’s considered normal. I sure don’t think of it as normal. I flip a switch on & I want light now, not when the bulb gets around to it. And you can forget about using a

I think today’s will be the last CFL I install. To me, the leaking crap that comes out of them the disposal hazards and the operational goofiness and the crappy cool white light they give off make them completely not worth the bother. Unfortunately, our wonderful Congress passed a law a while back that sunsets the use of incandescent bulbs, so that may not be an option for much longer. Might start stockpiling now. That or look into LED’s, which may not be much better than CFL’s. Bother.

It Pays To Read The Fine Print

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 3:20 pm

President Obama is on record saying that with his proposed “public option” healthcare that was just discussed (or passed?) in the House of Representatives, if we the people were happy with our current health insurance, we would be able keep it. He must’ve had his fingers crossed behind his back when he said that, because the legislation would outlaw individual private coverage.

The folks at Investor’s Business Daily went through the arduous task of actually reading the monstrous 1,018-page document — something most of our illustrious elected Representatives apparently didn’t have time for — and shared their findings:

… we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage,” the “Limitation On New Enrollment” section of the bill clearly states:

“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day” of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

If you like your current coverage, you’re fine. But if you change jobs, if you lose your job, if your employer decides to discontinue coverage… You’re out of luck.

Can I be the first to say, “Shame on you, Mr. President”? I won’t hold my breath waiting to hear news of this from ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, et al.

Gremlins In My Garage

Filed under: Fun!,Geek — dave @ 12:50 pm 2009/07/15

Saw these guys hanging from the shelf in the garage a while back, and had to do a double-take.

I feel like I’m being watched. Any guesses on what they are?

BMWotD — 1986 Dinan M5

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars! — Tags: , , , — dave @ 7:23 pm 2009/07/07

This car is awesome. Flat out awesome.

1986 BMW M5.

European specification model. Only 24,000 original miles!

This superb example features flawless “Diamond black” paint with gorgeous brown water buffalo leather. With only one owner from new, this Dinan-prepared M5 features an inter-cooled turbocharger and Borla stainless exhaust system, the combination of which produces an impressive 462 horsepower! A stage III suspension package and Brembo F-40 braking system with drilled rotors makes this a true “Ultimate Driving Machine” experience.

In addition, thermostatically controlled transmission and differential coolers have been fitted to the car.

The usual 5-series amenities of air conditioning, power windows, door locks and factory sunroof add to the comfort and convenience of this ultra-high performance sedan – a true sports car with four doors.

All EPA and DOT certification papers are available. Our M5 was imported by its one and only owner and all certification paperwork comes with the car. Even the original German ownership document is available! All upgrades were completed in California by Dinan, the preeminent company for BMW performance enhancements. The turbocharger brings the horsepower up to 462!

The differential has been converted to a 3:91 from the original 3:73. New clutch in 2005 and the turbo was rebuilt in 2006. Split Second control for air/fuel mixture has been installed in lieu of the air flow meter.

Surely this is among the finest, lowest mileage early M5’s anywhere and could certainly be unique with its upgrades. Lastly, the car has been thoroughly inspected and completely detailed by the TLD staff.

The first BMW M5, based on the E28 5 series, made its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1985. It was born from the demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a sedan but the overall performance of a sports car. It utilized the 535i chassis and an evolution of the engine from the BMW M1. At the time of its launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world. The European-specification examples featured 10.5:1 compression, a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds and 286 horsepower. All M5’s were hand built. In addition, the E28 M5 remains the rarest of all regular production derived M cars. Only the purpose-built M1 has a lower production run.

This came up under the For Sale – Wanted forum at mye28.com, with a link to the seller’s eBay auction. It sounds like this isn’t the first time the car has been on eBay; previous attempts to sell it had the Buy-It-Now price even higher than today’s $31,900. Amazing that a 23 year-old car could be worth that much, even one with only 25,000 miles on it, prepped by Dinan, and kicking out 462 turbocharged intercooled horsepower. But I guess time will tell; like one of my college prof’s said, nothing is worth any more than someone is willing to pay for it.

I took the liberty of commandeering the photos from the eBay auction; feel free to flip through them after the jump. (more…)

A Cheapskate’s Paint Job, Part II

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,PCH — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 3:31 pm

Well, I’m a few days and five coats of paint into my Cheapskate’s Paint Job, and things are looking… OK. Not wonderful, but not terrible either; just OK.

In my last post about the paint job, I had two coats on it. Those runs & drips turned out to be something of an issue, and had I known how much of an issue, I would’ve dealt with them when the paint was still wet. After they dried though, they needed to be sanded down flat, and that took a fairly large area on the driver’s door right back down to the original paint. There were a few other spots in the same boat, but that was by far the largest area with that problem.

What I’ve learned is that the method to this madness is to put down a little bit of paint, trying to keep it as smooth and thin as possible, then after a couple of coats like that, use the wet-sanding to smooth out any imperfections and get rid of any little dust pimples. Things are infinitely easier on the horizontal surfaces when the paint is applied with the roller; whenever the brush is thrown into the mix, or when the roller is used on a vertical surface, look out. And when using the foam brush on a vertical surface… It’s really easy to hose things up, but good. That’s what my problem was on the driver’s door.

So I’m pressing forward with the project, and it’s looking better all the time. There are a couple of places on the hood and on the roof that make me cringe a bit; the old respray had cracked in places, and was fairly thick. Plus whoever did the respray had put some Bondo on some dents in the hood, which had cracked & allowed the metal below to rust a little, so I had to grind that down. But in those places where the cracking had occurred, I should’ve spent a little more time making things smooth before painting, because they’re still visible. Dang. I guess that’s one nice thing about this method of painting; if something looks bad enough that it needs attention later, there shouldn’t be much difficulty in getting the colors to match!

One thing I’ll need to do after I get things back together is spend a little time detailing and painting the door jambs and the inside of the doors. Right now, since I need to be opening and closing the doors during the repainting, I’m stopping at the edges of the door skins. I figure I’ll be able to get to those areas afterward by doing a door at a time; pull off the door seals, sand, paint & allow to dry, then put it back together. And for that, I should be able to use spray paint and/or full-strength paint to get it done in one shot. I won’t be so stressed about any imperfections there.

I was able to get paint into the channel around the hood and trunk lid, but the trunk seal is in the way for part of it, and that will need to be dealt with. The seal is held in place with adhesive, and probably needs to be replaced anyway, but I’m not ready to spend the $80 on that right now. I learned on the Nordstroms parts car that getting that seal off can easily lead to breakage; don’t need that. Later on, when I do replace the seal, I figure I can get it off, get the channel thoroughly cleaned out, and paint under there with full-strength paint. The hood channel along the fenders has several exposed bolt heads, and I don’t want to get a bunch of paint gooped up around them, so I’m painting that as I go now. It’s looking fairly well covered with four coats.

I’ve been busy enough with the paint and the holiday and other stuff that I haven’t even thought about the trim yet; all the stuff that is going back on is gonna look really tacky if I don’t do something with it. The black plastic pieces on the bumper and the mirrors are pretty badly faded, and the aluminum bumpers are a little scuffed. I’ll need to spend a little time cleaning them up and trying to restore some depth to the black plastic. Not sure if I’ll paint the plastic or see if there’s some kind of restorative goop that will help; I’m thinking the paint will be the fastest/cheapest option, but I also don’t want it to crack & run on me, so the jury is still out on that.

Another issue I’m having is with my mixed paint; I started out by mixing the paint & mineral spirits in a plastic container that I found in the house, and for the first few days it worked fine for storing the paint. But the last couple of times I’ve opened the container the paint has had a skin on its surface. I haven’t been successful in keeping the bits of skin out of the paint, and have had to pick several pieces off the car that I didn’t get off the roller. I think the the plastic is being affected by the paint and allowing some air to pass through, drying the paint on the surface. I should’ve stored the paint in the original can or a better container, but I didn’t want to spend the extra couple of bucks for that; lesson learned. I think I’ll stop by the store tonight & pick up a container, then use some cheesecloth to strain the chunks out of the paint. And mix another batch, which will be needed because I just remembered that I forgot to pour the paint from the tray back into the bucket! Dang!

Sorry; no photos yet, but I’ll get some tonight and put them up next time.

To read the rest of the story and see the final product in pictures, click here. Enjoy!

A Cheapskate’s Paint Job

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,PCH — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 12:07 am 2009/07/04

To read the rest of the story and see the final product in pictures, click here and here. Enjoy!

When I bought my BMW 528e in January, one of its more obvious deficiencies was the paint; one of the previous owners had had it resprayed for what must have been a good reason, but whoever did the work did an absolutely lousy job of prep work before the painting, and even the paint left a lot to be desired. The paint had not been given a clear coat, and a few years of neglect had taken its toll.

Having paid only $800 for the whole car, having it professionally painted didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, since a decent paint job would probably cost twice the purchase price. So an alternative was in order. I had picked up an issue of Hot Rod Paint & Body a while back that had an article in it describing how to Paint A Car With A Roller For Only $98 — they used multiple coats of Rustoleum paint thinned way down to the consistency of milk — and that seemed interesting.

Searching around on the Internet yielded what seemed to be the origin of that concept on a moparts.org thread that was started back in 2006. Someone was looking for a cheap affordable way to paint a car, and one of the users chimed in with this method. He said he had painted a number of cars this way before, and the photos of a ’69 Charger he linked to were pretty impressive.

I figure with the BMW, I don’t have much to lose; it needs paint, and I can either try this or pay an arm & a leg for a real paint job. If I try this and it doesn’t turn out, I can resort to plan B… So I dove into the project headlong last week. The next-door neighbor was going to be out of town for a few weeks, and I got permission from her to use her largely-unused large garage while she was away. I had originally planned to just work on mechanicals, but a brief discussion of the subject with Yvonne convinced me that I ought to go ahead with it. I picked up some Rustoleum Burgundy at Menards, along with some high-density foam rollers and a few other needed items, and set to work.

My decision to go with something other than the original color, and a non-BMW color at that, probably won’t earn me any brownie points with the mye28.com purists, but who cares. I chose that color because I like it, and because Bryce liked it, and it just may end up in his possession sometime soon (more on that later.)

As expected, much of the time in the last week was spent on prep work; stripping trim, bumpers & lights off of it, fixing the odd issues with the paint, and sanding it all down. Looked pretty scary after the sanding was done! But that was nothing compared to what it looked like after the first coat of paint. The author of the Hot Rod article (Christopher Campbell) wrote, “That first roll is by far the worst part, and the finish that greets you immediately afterward will likely make you want to reconsider the whole affair, but keep the faith!” Wow was he right; that first roll I laid down yesterday looked absolutely awful and gave me a pit in my stomach. I was so discouraged I didn’t even take any pictures of it.

So far, I’ve got two coats on it, and I have to say that with the second coat it’s looking better. There are runs in it, and lots of other imperfections that I probably haven’t yet seen, but all that will get fixed with sanding and additional coats. I hope. I probably should have sanded tonight, but it was raining all day, and the boys and I went to see a movie, and it was dark by the time we got back, and the lighting in the garage is less than wonderful, and… Ok, so I mostly didn’t feel like it. But I’ll do it first thing in the morning, let it dry a while, then put on the third coat. With any luck it’ll be dry by tomorrow night & ready for a fourth coat tomorrow evening. No photos yet, but I’ll take some in the days to come. Watch this space for updates!