Sunday, February 26, 2006

Quick walkabout

We went down to Cedar Creek to try the .22 pistol out.

This time we built a fire with sunlight and a magnifying glass. We couldn't get a flame using the fresnel lens. I think if we found the right material and tried hard enough, we could. We got crushed leaves to glow, but no flame.

A regular magnifying glass probably focuses more energy onto the same area, so you have more heat to work with.

One thing I learned from Survivorman was that with this type of fire starting technique, you should think of the the "fire" you start first as your match, then once you get a flame light something else easy to catch on fire and transfer it to your stack-o-sticks with more tinder and -- kafoom! Which is what happened today. Worked great.

The .22 was a different story. It misses on several cylinders. I think the firing pin is worn. So, off to a gunsmith with it. It shouldn't take much.

It's much louder than I expected. Shooting the same round out of a rifle sounds more like a cap gun. This pistol has quite the report.

Well.... tax time.

See ya.

Just thinkin'

People have been congratulating us on the car puchase. It's kinda funny. I've thought of this before, but here's the thought...

At what point does a purchase become worthy of "Congratulations"?

"Hey, congratulations on that pack of gum, man! Sweet! Wrigley's? Dude!!! With the flavor specks! Can I see it?"

"Woah, new bottle of whiskey? Cool! It's a Dickel! 1994? Smooooth! Congratulations, man!"

"Nice shoes, man, are they new?! Congratulations! Dig the stitching. Vibram soles? Sweeet!"

Anyway.... that's my twisted brain for ya.


Out with the old, in with the new

It was a long weekend of driving all over the western part of the St. Louis Area, but at 4:30 yesterday afternoon we bought a car.

We drove sevaral Taurus', a couple of century's, and looked at countless cars.

We'd hoped to drive home with one Friday, but brought clothes in case we needed to stay overnight and look Saturday. Stayed with Joel and Dawn in St. Charles and had a fun evening with them. Took off about 9:30 am for more car browsing. After checking dealerships between St. Charles & Hazelwood, we decided to cruise down 270 south. Checked a Chevy dealership in Creve Coeur, went down to Valley Ford, and on to Sinclair Buick, & Sinclair Ford (pretty close to each other on Lindbergh). We almost bought Dave Sinclair II''s daughter's Buick Century - would have been a decent deal and a nice car even with 65K on it. I don't think the Sinclairs abuse their vehicles.

We'd been told about a Taurus on Friday at Dave Sinclair Lincoln Mercury in St. Petes. The sales lady's step-daughter was trading it in on an SUV, and it wasn't on the lot yet. The price she gave with the year, mileage, and features sounded very hard to beat, and as we looked around, we became more and more convinced of that. However, we hadn't seen it or driven it yet.

About 2:30 we called Charisse in St. Pete from Sinclair Buick down south to see if the car had become available while we were waiting for the Buick Century to get unlocked from the garage. The guy with the key was out of the state. Since they seemed to be having trouble and we didn't want to leave town without driving the car in St. Pete's if it was indeed available, we decided to shoot up there. It wasn't cleaned yet (it had literally just come in Saturday morning) but that was kind of an advantage. We could see the car in a condition pretty close to how it was kept. The engine hadn't been powerwashed so any leaks would be visible.

It was $1,000 over my stated price range ... but I think our strategy worked out pretty well. We ended up with a car they would've probably put a $10,000 price tag on for $8,000. That was my absolute max price, but I never told any dealers that. I wanted to see how close they could get to my desired price with a decent car.

Actually, it's not over yet. We don't have it yet. It needs to be inspected and detailed yet, (think I can work the word "yet" in there yet one more time???) and we will get it Monday. And its in St. Pete's. It may even be delivered all the way to Columbia, but we may meet them in Kingdom City. Depends on what Charisse and I can work out on Monday morning. But the deal's done and it's all ready to go.

What is it?

It's a 2003 Ford Taurus SES. Dark Metallic Grey. Dark Grey leather interior (actually, that's a minus. We'd rather have had lighter cloth seats. But we'll cover 'em). 24V DOHC engine (yay!). Moon roof (eh... well it's fun sometimes, but we would just as happily bought one without). It has the primo sound system in it. Single-shot CD player in the dash -- not the changer in the trunk. Power everything. 42K miles. A rear spoiler (whopee....) $8K. Clean. Engine looked good. And we saw it before they cleaned it. No leaks. Handles nice. Not too noisy (like our old '96)...

We looked at a LOT of cars. This Taurus was a good deal. We could have gotten a different 2003 with 26K with EVERYTHING we wanted for 11.5K at Sinclair Ford... but... no. For that car I would probably have been willing to bite the bullett extra hard and extend my payments for a year and go 10K. But I didn't think he'd go there with it.

I think I'd reccomend dealing with Dave Sinclair's folks. They were about the most professional and genuinely helpful people we dealt with, and we went to three of their dealerships. I grew up with Dave Sinclair's no-nonsense commercials. Just him talking. Not yelling. "Hi, I'm Dave Sinclair, your South County Ford Dealer".... blah blah blah blah "...and if it's not right, I'll make it right. Thank you and here's my address: " blah blah.

So here's a likeness of it. It's actually slightly darker in color than this one.

We're happy with it. We'll see it Monday, cleaned up and inspected.


The '96 Taurus is officially dead. It was pronounced dead on Thursday Evening, Feb 23 at about 5:45 PM.

The oversized bearing was not even big enough to give her a few more months. So, off to the car cemetery for her. Actually, her parts will likely give other cars more life. But not for us.

We got a good 70,000 miles out of her. We were hoping for about 30K more. A maintenance error about a year ago led to her early demise.

So so long, Mrs. Taurus. You were a good car.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cars are Cars

Went to KC to visit the Groves last weekend. It was Q's birthday, but that's not really what prompted the trip. Unfortunately, Vicki's car broke down on the way. We got a ride back from Ken, loaded our stuff in my car and went anyway.

I was convinced that was the end, and we looked for cars in Kansas City on Saturday, but didn't get one.

Got home, and Ryan talked me in to trying to replace the short block ... it'd only be about $1,000 or so if we did it ourselves. So monday I took off work early and went and got a catalytic heater for the garage (hooks to a propane tank), some goop to clean hands, and went home and cleared out the garage. Paid Troy $81 to tow the car to our house.

Monday evening we figured out that would be a lot harder than originally thought because the engine on that car comes out the bottom, it can't be lifted out from the top. And we don't have the facilities to get the car up that high.

The theories varied from throwing a rod to a busted piston or piston rod. I was once again ready to resign and not even try, just go get a new one.

But Ryan talked to one of his buddies at work yesterday, who said he thought it sounded like a worn bearing on one of the piston rods, and you should be able to replace the bearings from underneath the car by taking off the oil pan.

So we took the oil pan off last night (had to take part of the exhaust off, too) and took off two of the piston rod caps. The second one appeared to be the bad one. I ordered some new bearings which will be in today, and an oil-pan gasket for putting the oil pan back on. I need to get some oil today, too. So that's about $50 worth of stuff and our labor. I also have a couple of oxygen sensors I bought a while back I need to put on the exhaust system while it's out.

Tonight, we replace the bearings and hopefully get it all put back together. If it runs without making any unusual noises, I guess it's fixed and we can continue to drive it for ... maybe a couple of years. If it doesn't run well, we're back to buying a new (used) car and we've only spent $130 trying to salvage what we have.

Stay tuned!

In other news, I got an old 1930's H&R 922 revolver for practice. 1.7 cents a shot sure beats 26 cents a shot. It shoots 9 rounds. Has a nice walnut handle, and it was pretty inexpensive. But... haven't fired it yet due to visiting people and working on cars and whatnot.

I have everything I need to reload my spent .38 S&W rounds. A reloader, dies, primers, gunpowder, scales, & lead. I'm good to go.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Walkabout #4

Went on walkabout with Ryan yesterday. Made fire. Boiled dogs. Fired guns. Watched snow fall (I haven't been walking in the woods while it was snowing since... I'll bet I was a teenager -- it was very pretty). Even took a few pictures (no way!)

Bryan of Colt Forum fame had told me what the correct sight picture was for the old Police Positives, and I figured out what I'd been doing wrong. So I have a much better idea of what's involved in aiming well.

We made fire again. This time I got to do the magnesium thing myself. Not too hard at all. I have a lot of faith in those things now. I bought a special pocket knife just for the magnesium block. They fit on a keychain together. You shave off some magnesium onto some tinder, then use the piece of flint and the back of the blade to throw sparks at the magnesium. It's at least as good as matches, if not better. Just a little less convenient. Much harder to ruin, too.

I brought my little V-8 stove along for the hot dogs this time, just to demonstrate it to Ryan. Worked like a champ, as usual.

Anyway, it was a pretty day. Well, most people wouldn't say so, but we do. It was in the 20's and snowing lightly. It's been forever since I've walked in the woods with snow falling. Very pretty.

You might think we're crazy, but... we get to see stuff like this:

So there!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A little slow on the draw

Yes, I know. Long time, no updatey.

Well, what have I been up to. Obviously, I had a birthday the day after my last post. We also had our 14th wedding anniversary. We went up to Fayette and ate at Emmetts Tap & Kitchen. It was very good. I mean food, service, and atmosphere. It was all good.

I bought an old Colt .38 S&W revolver. Figured it was about time I learned to use a pistol as well. Oh, yeah, I've shot them in the past... but just not really knowlegable and comfortable with them. I can think of a couple of times in the past few years I wished I'd had one handy. It's a scary feeling when the demon's at your door and you realize you're pretty much defenseless. If you ever need one, it's that's not the time to get comfortable with it. And it's definitely not the time, in this day and age of gun control laws -- time to try to BUY one. It's 87 years old, but still quite servicible. I love the oak grips. It takes .38 S&W ammo, which is not as easy to come by as, say, your .38 special, .357 mag, or 9mm -- but I kind of like the historical aspect anyway. Looks like a cowboy gun.

I did okay with it on the range. I wouldn't mess with me at 10 yards with it. Haven't tried 15 yet.

I worked on the dryer switch, finally. It stops now, but I can't get it to buzz consistently. I'll have to order another switch from Sears.

We did quite a bit last weekend -- swapped light fixtures in the hallway for better light distribution. We also bought (thanks, mother!) our new Microwave... that actually has a light and a turntable -- and is white, which Vicki likes.

We also had lunch with the Carletons at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had their hottest. I like hot. It was definitely hot. I was impressed. Maybe too hot for everyday. I think their second hottest would be about perfect. We had a lot of fun talking and joking with them while watching Mizzou get their pants whipped off of them by Texas Tech.

Then of course, yesterday we got the news -- head coach Quin Snyder resigned. So tomorrow's game should be interesting. Will this spark them? Will they play better? We'll see.

Aunt Pat called tonight, I think just to talk. That was very nice. Things are looking up for her. She's back out on the golf course, and doing things with friends. Sounds like she's having fun again, and getting ready to travel and visit people this summer.

So a big heidey ho to one of my few readers down there in Florida!