Blessings — Laura Story

Last year a friend (with connections) gave us some tickets to a concert that she wasn’t able to attend. The headline act was Casting Crowns, with Laura Story and For King And Country warming things up. It was kinda funny because I had heard of Casting Crowns, but really couldn’t pick any song that they had done. Once the concert got going it was like, “Yup, I know that one,” and, “Oh, I really like that one!” and “That’s their song? Cool!

It was the same story when Laura Story was on stage; I can’t say I’d ever really heard her name before, but when she started singing her song, Blessings, it nearly brought me to tears. That song was a constant reminder to me while going through chemo & radiation treatments in 2013 that, while things weren’t great, they were pretty darned good, and far better than they might have been, had not God intervened. “What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We take so much for granted, and complain so much when things get uncomfortable. We too easily forget how good God is to us.

Momofuku Ando

I really blew it on the 2015 e28 Calendar (and the 2014 as well); I failed to commemorate Momofuku Ando‘s birthday, which is today. Google’s Doodle for today reminded me of my error.

Google Doodle 1
Google Doodle 2
Google Doodle 3
Google Doodle 4

If ever there was a badass name… It should rightfully be associated with Sumo wrestling or Ninja assassination squads instead of ramen noodles. But it is what it is. Happy Birthday you bad Momofuko!


Alive Inside

Alive Inside is a documentary about the power of music, and how it connects people with who they are and who they have been. Dan Cohen, the founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, uses music to help dementia patients recover lost memories; “to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.” Here is the trailer for that documentary:

The documentary came out last fall, and the trailer has already made the rounds on the blogosphere; from what’s written on the website, it sounds like they are still booking showings, but a few weeks ago I stumbled across a link to a YouTube video of the entire documentary. The one I watched has since been pulled down, but others are likely to crop up and can be found easily enough.

I had seen the trailer before, and watching the documentary reminded me of the question that came to mind after seeing the trailer; what if we had done this for Mom in the years before Alzheimer’s disease robbed her of her self? Alzheimer’s and the accompanying dementia are terrible things, but what if listening to some Tommy Dorsey or Bing Crosby or Glenn Miller might have allowed her to maintain her cognitive abilities just a bit longer? It would’ve been worth a shot. It might have kept Mom’s mind together long enough to give my kids the chance to get to know her a bit. The disease would’ve still ravaged her body, but I would give about anything to have been able to give her a sound mind through all of that or even some of it. Mom loved music from the WWII era, and I’m sure she would’ve responded just as the people in this documentary did.

The second thing that watching this documentary got me to thinking about is how I might help myself ahead of time if I end up going down the dementia road later on. I don’t wish for it, but considering that it’s what took Mom and Uncle Bud, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. If I do, I’d like people to know the music that moves me. From the documentary it looks like they picked the music that fit the generation of the patients best, but what if there was a song in the playlist they loathed? If those people are anything like me, there are certain songs that are more meaningful than others, and it only takes a few notes from the melody to bring memories flooding back.

To that end, maybe somewhat selfishly, I’m going to start a new thing here on my blog; when I hear a song that means something to me, I’ll post a little something about the song and what it does for me. With a little planning, the list that grows from this idea will stick around long enough to be of some help to my family if I ever end up in memory care. And if the list outlives me, it’ll provide some fodder for the people planning my funeral.

The rules I impose on myself will be simple; 50 words or less, no links needed, but ok if included, and one song per post, mainly to keep things simple so that I can do it quickly from my phone if the computer isn’t in front of me. I’ve added a new category for the list — Memory Music, under Favorite Things — so keep an eye, or ear, open for the first volley.

Climate Change Deniers Are Completely Insane

I couldn’t agree more with this guy, Matt Walsh, in the article posted on, Climate Change Deniers Are Completely Insane.

Here’s an excerpt:

If anyone is a climate change denier — that is, someone who denies that climates change — I’d agree that he is an imbecile and probably mentally unstable.

Yet that view doesn’t exist because we all know the climate changes. Of course the climate changes. It’s a climate. That’s what climates do. They change. It gets colder, it gets hotter, it rains, it snows, it does all kinds of things. I don’t deny that, and although I’m not a Republican and I take great exception to that accusation, I feel safe in speaking for them when I say that they neither deny the fact of the climate, nor the fact that the climate changes. Progressives use labels like “climate denier” or “climate skeptic” (for the people who are willing to believe that there might be a climate, but are still a little iffy on the whole thing) because they are not interested in an honest discussion. You either buy in to their environmental dogma one hundred percent, or you will be painted as an idiot, an infidel, and a maniac.

Now, why might a person be skeptical about the theory that humans are causing dramatic shifts to the climate, and that these shifts will eventually kill us all? Have you ever thought about why someone might have these reservations, JM? Have you really taken the time to consider the reasons for this skepticism? Yeah, they’re morons, right, I get it, but have you determined that they’re morons because the media and people on Twitter told you they’re morons, or because you gave their case a fair hearing and came away with the impression that they have absolutely nothing even slightly coherent to say? I’m guessing it’s more the former, which makes you not necessarily a moron yourself, but an intellectually lazy chump who can be easily herded and exploited.

There’s a lot more to his article; very well written, and very much in line with the way I see the issue. The climate change issue seems to have less to do with science than with politics, and the people making the most noise about it don’t do themselves any favors when they start demonizing anyone who doesn’t agree with them on the subject. Well done, Mr. Walsh; bookmarked.


Intellectual Phase-Locking

Intellectual Phase-Locking: A condition that results when dogmatic assumptions inhibit inquiry.

I could listen to this guy, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, all day long. His classic British accent & professorial manner make listening to him almost a pleasure. It doesn’t hurt a bit that what he has to say makes so much sense. In this first video he puts to words many of the things about modern science that have bothered me for ages. I think he’s my new hero.

… modern science is based on the principal of ‘Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’ The one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe, and all the laws that govern it from nothing in a single instant.

Sheldrake gave the talk in the video above in January, 2013. TED posted it on its website, but in subsequent months TED received some complaints about some of the things he had to say, and pulled the video off of its main site (or as Dr. Sheldrake put it, “put in the bad little boys section of the TED website.”) It’s still available, not really “banned” as some say, just more difficult to find. Reading through the complaints brought against him and his responses makes it look like he hit some tender nerves, and might be onto something. It’s easy to see why more traditional scientists would have a problem with what he says; if he’s right, then they are very wrong on a lot of fronts. (Makes me wonder what my old buddy TF would think of him… Pretty sure I don’t even have to ask!)

Some of what he talks about, like “morphic resonance” I’ve never heard of before, and I don’t know how much evidence there is behind it, but it sounds interesting. And if there’s any truth to it, the implications it would have on scientific thought would be profound. For many years I’ve questioned the belief that instinctive behaviors in the animal kingdom came about by trial and error with one line that tends to do something a little bit better than another line and passes that tendency on to its offspring. Behaviors seem to be far too complex for that to be plausible, no matter how many billions of years it might have taken.

Even if one dismisses the belief that animal behavior & physical traits came about through evolutionary selection, instead believes that those traits were designed by an outside intelligence (God), it’s still difficult to accept that the behaviors & traits are genetically encoded. A collective consciousness that spans space and time and does not exist at the genetic level starts to make sense.

And the possibility of thought happening somewhere outside of the physical brain lends credence to the idea of a soul living on after the body is dead and decayed. But of course, proving any of that to those who subscribe to a more classical view of science will be more than just a bit difficult, so I predict Sheldrake will continue to be a pariah. I’m not very familiar with Sheldrake’s work and thought, so I’m not sure whether he considers himself a Christian or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he is. Continue reading

A Tardis Murphy Bed

What a great idea; a Murphy bed dressed up to look like a Tardis! The Murphy bed has been around for a long time, but this is just a neat adaptation of that concept.


Although it doesn’t look bigger on the inside than on the outside, it does make the room it’s in feel bigger when it’s tucked away.


It’s kinda cool reading through her build and seeing the photos; she mentions building it for her “house”, but it looks like she could very well have done the work in an apartment or condo; right there in the living space. No workshop, no garage, just a power saw on a patio (and complaints from her HOA!) and sawhorses in the living room. I often wish for more space in my garage or my workshop to build furniture, but here is someone who brought an idea for a furniture piece to life without even the luxuries of space that I have and complain about being too little. I’ve considered building a Murphy bed in the past, but one of the things that kept me from doing it was thinking I’d need one of the expensive hardware kits to make it work; she did without it, and I’m sure it works just fine. More than a little humbling to see this!

Hat tip to Neatorama

BMWotD — 1988 M3 with S50B32 Swap

I don’t ordinarily gravitate toward e30s, but this one is quite special, and I would certainly make an exception. If money were no object.

An e30 M3 in Hennarot, with a European S50B32 motor in place of the original 4-cylinder. Don’t get me wrong, a car like this with the original 4-cylinder is no slouch, with 192 hp behind a ~2,800 car. But that S50 engine puts out in the neighborhood of 320 hp, which would make this car a rocket. The purists might will most definitely freak out about the departure from the original configuration, but even the most diehard purist would have a tough time finding fault with the quality of this swap.

88′ Hennarot M3 with a S50B32 Euro motor.
191,0xx miles on the chassis, approx 79k miles on the motor/transmission.

I purchased this car in the spring of 2013 from a gentleman in CA who had done most of the mechanical work on the car, and really made it into the wonderful driving car that it currently is. From my understanding the car was largely stock when he bought it several years before my ownership, from that point he focused on maintenance that the car needed. I have a binder containing some of the documentation from the previous owner.

The motor swap is obviously the biggest change over stock. I’ve been told by two separate and independent shops, that the swap was very well done. The engine is very strong, and runs extremely well, I had a compression/leak down done on the car before my purchase and all cylinders checked out perfectly. In fact, the company that sold him the motor wrote ‘superb engine’ on the valve cover while they were testing it. I’d estimate that engine has been in the car for about 6000 miles. When I took delivery of the car I drove it home 1300 miles, it was a great drive, and the car didn’t miss a beat. About half of the miles that I’ve put on the car since I’ve owned it where driving it home, I just don’t get a chance to drive it much. I never had any intention of selling this car this quickly, but I’ve started a E28/LS1 project, and have an E30 touring project lined up behind that. I’m in no hurry to sell it, but I need it needs to be driven and an enjoyed more than I am able to do.


Exterior Modifications:
– OEM Evo2 front splitter with replica Evo3 splitter
– Evo3 rear spoiler and carbon fiber flap
– BMW Motorsport door handles
– Euro smilies

Drivetrain/Engine Modifications:
– Genuine carbon fiber airbox with OETuning tune
– AKG S50/S52 E30 motor mounts (less than 2000 miles old)
– Z3 steering rack
– E28 M5 coding plug (so the stock RPM gauge is accurate)
– Sparco strut bar
– E36 Euro M3 radiator
– ZF 5sp transmission (less than 2500 miles old)
– Autosolution SSK
– Treehouse control arm bushing
– E36 M3 Eisenmann muffler with catless custom exhaust
– Massive Rally BBK (6 pistons front, 4 pistons rear)
– Ground Control S/A coilovers
– Ground Control camber plates
– Ground Control rear shock mounts
– Ground Control 650#/400# springs (less than 1000 miles old)
– E28 3.25 LSD (rebuilt by Diffs Online about 2500 miles ago)
– 17” OZ Superleggera wheels (no curb rash)
– Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 215/40/17 (less than 5000 miles old)

Recent Maintenance (oil changed every 3000 miles):
– Brake fluid flush (less than 7000 miles old)
– New spark plugs (less than 5000 miles old)
– E36 ’96+ offset front control arm (less than 4000 miles old)
– New front wheel bearings (less than 4000 miles old)
– Various belts and gaskets replaced (less than 4000 miles old)
– New battery (less than 4000 miles old)
– New fuel tank and fuel pump (less than 2000 miles old)
– New thermostat (less than 500 miles old)
– New sway bar end links (less than 500 miles old)

Interior Modifications:
– NRG quick release hub – thin version
– Momo Champion steering wheel
– Recaro SR3 seats (new less than 1000 miles old)
– VDO cluster gauges (oil temp, oil pressure, water temp)
– BMP instrument console (for the VDO gauges)
– Custom ///M floor mats (less than 500 miles old)
– Alpine head unit (note: there are no cracks in the dash)
– ZHP weighted shift knob

– Dot-r front left fender…..parking lot mishap with a previous owner
– The rear bumper was painted at one time
– There is a small amount of rust repaired below the windshield on the driver side (see photo)
– The driver side E-brake shoe assembly is missing (e-brake still works fine)
– No a/c, heater core (note: the lines are still intact)
– Corners of the bumpers stick out slightly (common)
– The spare tire well is riveted shut
– I personally like the patina on the front bumper, others may think it needs a repaint.
– The exhaust is slightly crooked, and if desired could be rehung

There isn’t much to nit pick on this car, you can get in and drive it across the country, or to work everyday. It has major and expensive upgrades that arguably make it a better car. Better in the sense that it has a power train that is more reliable than the S14, it creates more power, brakes harder, and turns faster.

As you can see from the pictures the paint is in fantastic condition for a 25+ year old car. If you have never seen hennarot in person, it’s a gorgeous color, and also quite rare, I believe only about 300 M3’s were produced in this color. I am happy to answer any questions serious buyers have, I’ve tried to be as thorough and forthright with the condition as possible.

The following photos were taken by Brian Lewis of SpeedFreak Detailing after he did a complete paint correction to the car in November. The car has primarily been stored away since.

Something New In Garage Doors

Here’s something I hadn’t seen before; a garage door without tracks: 

The whole system — doors, lift mechanism, folding mechanism –is pretty ingenious. The biggest difference between this system and a traditional garage door is that you don’t have the track rails extending into the garage space, and that only half the height of the door ends up above the open doorway; very handy if you have storage up above. The doors are built by Amarr and sold by a number of retailers and overhead door installers. I’ve never heard of them before, but it looks like they produce some quality stuff. I’m sure it’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Reviving My Chamberlain Garage Door Opener

Over the weekend I resurrected my trusty old garage door opener. It’s an older Chamberlain door opener, nothing fancy at all, but it stopped after lifting the door about 8″ on Friday morning as I went to take my wife to work*. When it stopped, I hit the button a couple more times; it moved a little, and I could hear the motor turning, but it obviously wasn’t going up. So I gave the emergency cord a yank, backed out, got her to work on time, then popped the cover off when I got home; this is the sight that greeted me.

Yup, that main gear was shot. There were white shavings all over inside the thing.

My first thought was that it’s time to replace the opener; I had no idea how old it was — it was in the house when we bought the place 15 years ago — plus I had no idea what it took to replace that gear or what else might be worn out. Later in the morning Caleb & I went shopping, and I was ready to plunk down ~$200 for a new one, when I noticed a generic-looking bag on the shelf that had a nylon gear that looked a lot like the worn one in my opener, plus a new worm gear and a bunch of other hardware for about $25. The package said it was for Chamberlain (and a few other brands) door openers, so I rolled the dice & brought it home. I did a Google search for replacing the gears; it turns out this is a pretty common failure mode, and replacing the bad gear is pretty straightforward. Most of the time it’s only the large gear that needs to be replaced; the worm gear is fine, as are all the associated hardware bits. I also found you can buy just the gear for a lot less than the ~$25 I spent, but would probably have to order it; I wanted to get it fixed that day, so I just tore into it.

I followed the steps in one of the videos to pull the gear and its shaft out the top, then pounded out the pin keeping the gear in place. I was planning on just replacing the gear, but then noticed a little wobble in the shaft; the bearing at the top was worn to a bit of an oval; there was a fresh bearing in the kit, so I just replaced it. After reassembling it all I put the shaft with the new gear back in place and bolted it back up. I plugged it back in to test everything and got a loud POP! and a flash. Crap. A closer look showed that one of the screws holding the gear & shaft in place had pinched an orange wire; that was the wire for the light. Crap. It looked like the only thing that had happened was the wire itself had acted like a fuse and burned about 1/4″ of the conductor, so I put a splice in there and tried it again. It worked! Cool!

But… when I put the drive chain back on the sprocket on top I found that it would only spin a few revolutions in either direction before stopping and flash the light bulb a few times like there was something breaking the electric eye at the door. There wasn’t anything in the way, and the sensor showed a green LED, so that wasn’t it. I also noticed a green LED on the back of the unit would flash five times, pause, then flash five more times… Trouble code. I did a Google search on that; others had had the same problem, and had cured it by resoldering some cold joints on the controller board. I pulled the board out, resoldered a half-dozen joints, put it back together, and it worked! I’m not sure if the shorted wire had caused the solder joint problem or was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but either way I’m glad that fixed it.

Almost like earning $175 for my troubles. 😉

* I don’t always take my wife to work, but was planning on changing the oil in her car that day. She was glad that she wasn’t driving when the garage door failed like that, because she had no idea how to open the door without the opener. She knows now. I wonder how many other wives — or guys — aren’t aware of that…