Lymes Disease!

Me and the Doctor are pretty sure I got lyme’s disease again.

I had been feeling crappy all last week as I wrote down. I figured it was a combination of working myself to death and exposure to chemicals. A few nights ago I commented to Kelly, “Gee, this toothpaste makes my mouth go numb!” We didn’t think anything of it and I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and realized I couldn’t feel half my face. Uh oh, Bell’s Palsy. For those not in the know, it’s when your nerves become inflamed and lose communication. And what causes our nerves to become inflamed? Lyme’s disease. Suddenly, it wasn’t an issue of being run down, it was an issue of losing the battle yet again to the common deer tick.

Lymes is particularly fun. There’s ongoing debate as to if it really exists or if it’s just a manifestation of other diseases. (If your doctor says it doesn’t exist, find a new doctor). There’s also the camp that says, “Well, just check yourself for ticks!” Avoid these people too. Surely the transmission vector is a tick bite, but I’m in the camp that once you have it, you have it forever. The flesh generally keeps it in check, but once the immune system takes a crash, those little buggers can come right back. Case in point – my first bout of it we did find the tick. The other two bouts were complications of being totally worn out or otherwise having another medical problem. Thankfully the cure (antibody cocktail) doesn’t conflict with anything else, so treating it is easy.

Right now the palsy is playing havoc with the 7th and 8th spinal nerves(?) and results in numbness and weird texture effects with food. I wouldn’t call it synesthesia but it’s close where flavors have textures food critics wouldn’t normally assign. I didn’t realize how grabby pasta was on my palette until I didn’t have my sense of taste on half my tongue. The good news is that the methylprednisolone I’m on is rapidly improving things. However the cure is worst than the disease – I went from numbness to pins and needles as the nerves get unpinched and start sending signals back.

Lymes titer will be back in a week and then the doctor can figure out what delicious cocktail of antibiotics to put me on. In the mean time I’ve been told to quit turning wrenches or doing work which might re-inflame my tissues.

Ah well, at least one of the days when I got 10 hours of sleep I felt good enough to work on the car. If anyone is wondering how I got all the tree crap off: Cyclo’s No. 7 car wash. Buy yourself a soft bristle brush if you’re going to use it, since the sponge isn’t going to motivate much off the car.

This is the cleaned up MR2

This is the cleaned up MR2

Housework and Headaches

It hasn’t exactly been a banner week over here. I realize I haven’t posted in a week. That’s because despite opening the windows and running box fans I still got gassed by the KILS2 primer we’re using in double coats for the rooms. This gives me a migraine headache but more importantly I managed to cop gods own sinus and ear infection off it.

The worst part is that this manifests itself in sore sinuses and a headache but otherwise I feel good if I remember to get plenty of sleep. It seems to be going away though, I should have it kicked by the weekend.

The colors my wife chose (“peanut butter”, “watersprout”) look good. The other one we’ve affectionately dubbed “easter chicken” is yellow beyond yellow and we’re not going to use it. Hell I’m colorblind and even I understand this is yellow like you’ve never seen yellow before.

That being said, I was a desk zombie monday and tuesday at work and I finally broke down and decided I needed a proper breathing mask. The 3M ones I had “for painting” which were the Chinese ones “for SARs” wasn’t working out for me. It cut down on the fumes but clearly not enough if I was getting sick, again. On ebay, I managed to score a brand new S.E.A. Gas Mask which is good for just about everything including acids, bases, organic solvents and other nasties. Basically it will protect you against paint thinner and nerve gas all in the same breath! Now I’ll have to get my wife one since I’ll feel terrible if Al Queda goes after the Philly Suburbs with poison gas and we’ve only got one mask.

My brother says the firehouse has the same style of mask but it’s not quite the same thing. If anyone is wondering, yes, my mask can be a SCUBA mask (if I buy the right accessories, of course), but a fireman’s setup isn’t a very good SCUBA mask. Apparently a SCUBA mask wants to work at slightly less than 1 bar of pressure, while a gas mask with an active feed works at slightly more than 1 bar of pressure. He says when they jumped in his buddies pool, the found the fire gear worked to about 5 feet of water at which point the escaping air out the top and the water gushing in the bottom made for very interesting problems.

As soon as the mask gets here I’m going to get up on the roof and do the chimney. Of course the tube of masonry says “use outdoors, or in a well ventilated room. Do not inhale”. Great, just like everything else.

The camry gave me crap today also, just because cars can smell weakness and always choose to pick on you when you have an ear infection. The car dead cylindered on me again (backfires, lol!) and ran like crap. I decided to stick my head under the hood before limping over to pep boys and discovered that the cap and rotor I put on last weekend I didn’t spend enough time with. One wire had managed to work itself off the cap. This wire had previously given me problems because the shroud was on top of it weird but I figured it would fix itself once it got warm, being plastic and all. Well, it fixed itself, right off the rotor. Easy fix, but still a PITA driving down 422 with a cloud of gasoline following you.

Camry Breakdown!

Everything happens at once. I got the MR2 moved to “classic” insurance so I’m paying $12.80 a month to insure it (or about $200 a year) so the camry decides to buy the farm. I’m driving into work today going “hm, seems like it doesn’t have as much power as it should”. Pulling into the parking lot it goes WHEEEEEZE and dies right as I pull into the parking spot.

It’s a weird feeling with your hand about to touch the keys when the car does exactly what you’re about to do.

Needless to say, it might be the plugs but I’m much more inclined to think it’s the igniter or battery. It’s enough to make you want a Jeep, which my wife owns a 1996 cherokee and it doesn’t give her nearly the raft of crap it should. I don’t really want to spend the money on the camry, but I also know once I get the house I’ll really not be interested in working on cars for quite a bit. Obviously I need to fix this now and cheaply.

For those not in the know, the shop manuals for a 1992 to 1996 (“Mark 3”) camry are getting hard to find, but Turbo Ninjas hosts them for us. You may want to mirror their site while you can…

Meditations on Parenthood

I managed to get the MR2 all fixed up, the battery it’s been running with I used a few zipties as buffers for the battery terminal. Finally those went due to resistance, and the battery terminal was so worn out it didn’t make any contact with the car. Sears tried to sell me a Wiz Bang battery with a meter on the side and a four year warranty and maintenance free (minus labor, of course) for $200. I asked what the cheaper one was.

“Well, it’s a battery with a two year…”
“You don’t want that, it’s got a half year warranty and we’ve had terrible luck…”

The MR2 runs fine. It vacuum stalls until it gets a few miles on the engine but once it warms up it’s totally happy. Now I just need to make use of my garage in my house to fix up the paint and do the cosmetics and OH WAIT I DON’T HAVE A HOUSE.

The house hunt goes well, there’s some incredibly shady deals out there however. Me and Kelly found a house we both really loved – only to find out they “forgot” to put down termites on the disclosure. This new house we’re going to look at tomorrow is in middling condition (I’m fine with it), another bank deal (tons of those), and located in Oaks. And it will probably have termites.

On parenting – Some of my friends have kids. DON’T LET THAT PREVENT YOU FROM COMING OUT AND SEEING PEOPLE.

The Aston Martin Tesla and Failing at TURBBBBBOOO

Tesla’s new pictures are leaked onto the internet and there’s a bit of a flap about if they’re supposed to be out there or not. I’m in the camp that any publicity they get is good publicity. If they weren’t shooting for the ultra-luxury market, I would probably own one.

The car (designated Tesla Model S) looks good, but like everything else they build it feels like something else. This time it’s not quite as much of a copy-paste job as the Tesla Roadster (which is easily mistaken for a Lotus or MR2), but I can’t shake the idea that it’s a four door Aston Martin.

And now for some delicious fail.




In light of comments here and comments made on other sites, I feel like I should post why I think it’s an Aston Martin.

Tesla S

Tesla S

Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide

The Rapide is a concept car, but it’s in production enough that it’s been seen in Germany. The things to pay attention to are the shape of the doors and the overall proportion of the car. The comments section has some further links for the car buffs.

Operation Repo

Operation Repo continues to surprise me.

It started when the Caucasian Hitler Enthusiast Matt decided to yell something like “I LOVE STEALING BACK FROM BLACKS” in the first episode of the second, or third year. Hard to tell since the show was on well before that moment without much in terms of ratings. I’m absolutely sure it was intentionally done to increase ratings, not only does Matt work for Hispanics but the editors could have easily pulled it out.

Then Matt decided to roll a BMW. Since the repo guys are responsible for the property once they take possession of it, I’m sure it was a wonderful insurance claim. Matt spent the entire episode talking about pooping.

Matt got fired.

Last nights episode, Matt mysteriously shows up at a repo done in – of all things – the paintball yard he apparently takes his kids to. What are the odds, seriously? And if he knew there would be a repo going down there, why bring his kids? Did he just decide to hang out there all day? Someone gets shot in the bum with paintballs, the FNG locks himself in the truck, the cops come and apparently make a bunch of arrests. and since it’s california, they have tasers and not guns. Then Matt drives off on a motorcycle.

Then it gets wild. Apparently they go to repo a caddy SUV and it’s at a basketball court. The audience is told that they are helped by “on-star”, which is one more reason to not have your car talking to the world. Then when they go in for the repo, the guys playing basketball come over. Yelling ensues. This ends with them running off and… running back with guns. From nowhere. Presumably the guns were in their gym bags, or something, but it’s all real high end hardware (Sigs, HKs). Matt pukes.

Around this time they say that Matt’s been shot before, and they were all in the Marines, and that’s why Matt pukes around guns. This is about where you remember the show is a reenactment of repos, not the real thing.

Is it entertaining? Yes. But whoever is writing this crap needs to come up with another scapegoat that isn’t Matt.

All About Cars and Buying American

This is a response to this powerline post.

I just read the article on cars via powerline and I felt compelled to
comment as a shadetree mechanic.

Both GM and Ford are American companies only so far as management is
concerned. If you buy a Ford, it’s built in South America with South
American wrenches. Check the sticker on the driver side door for the
assembly. GM has roughly the same problem, but since they have a
partnership with Toyota (sold under the GEO brand), sometimes their
cars are built in Kentucky and sometimes they are built in Mexico.
Toyotas are sometimes built in Kentucky and sometimes built in Japan.
If you’re really interested in Buying American, buy either Chevy or
Toyota – but only after checking the door sticker.

Ford’s engines are almost always built in Brazil, so you are never
truly buying American there, Chevies are built sometimes in Ohio,
sometimes in Kentucky, and sometimes in Japan. All three plants send
the parts either to Mexico or Kentucky to be assembled into cars.
Finally Toyota buys their engines either from Yamaha (which is
actually Fuji Heavy Industries) or builds them in Japan. These go to
Kentucky or stay in Japan. There’s no real “buying American” anymore,
not since the 80s. Having built several cars by hand, I can safely say
that out of the two “American brands” and the “foreign brand”, the
“foreign brand” has superior engineering by far. I was briefly in love
with the Lincolns, and owned a Mark VII. Despite the best efforts of
me and the mustang crowd, keeping the 302HO running was a chore,
especially for a luxury car which served as my daily driver. The
engineering just sucked, no thought went into assembly, and minor
things which should be user serviceable were built as a unit and then
bolted to the engine with no thought to service. (The alternator on
the 302HO is not only notoriously unreliable, but the bolt which holds
it to the bracket is put facing the engine block – which means you
can’t service it without pulling the entire accessory bracket).

Turn that around and consider the “foreign brand”, made in Kentucky. I
built two 1992 MR2s as project cars. I bought into the first one, then
when it was involved in a hit and run, I bought back the wreck and did
an engine swap into the second one. The engineering is night and day
comparing domestic and foreign cars. The MR2, the midengine
suicide-sled from the 1990s, has more in common with the Toyota Camry
(and Celica) than any two ford vehicles or chevy vehicles would. Just
about everything, including the 5SFE, will swap between those cars.
This is why America’s industry, unfortunately, sucks. With talent like
that overseas, I’ve sworn off buying domestics. Even the turbo MR2
(3SGTE) engine, something you would assume would end up only on
sportscars, is still used almost 20 years later today in Toyota’s
“crossover” vehicles. Plus, frankly, it saves you money. While Pepboys
is going to look at you funny when you tell them you want to buy Camry
brake pads for your MR2, the difference is nothing on the materials
and about $40 off the price.

Now, all is not done for the American auto industry. The ECOTEC is
built a whole lot like the 5SFE which Toyota used as it’s mainstay and
incorporates a lot of the same concepts (different heads all go on the
same shortblock to make different engines). Unfortunately it’s made by
“GM Daewoo”, so it’s South Korean. But, if GM holds onto the ECOTEC
design (simply called Series 0, Series 1, and Series 2 along with the
CDFR diesel ECOTEC) for another 20 years or so, they stand to make a
comeback. The chassis standardization trend is also a good thing for
GM – the Pontiac Solstice, the Saturn Sky (and Redline), and the Opel
Speedster all use the same frame and engines with just a change of
window dressing. Unlike Toyota, however, GM exclusively uses the
ECOTEC “system” in various configurations to get varying levels of
sportyness into the cars.

That’s really the long and short of the problem with the American auto
industry’s excesses. Everything Ford and Chevy built until recently
has been unique to the car, and everything Toyota built has been made
to be assembled like LEGOs.