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So, on my night shifts (last for a good long time, I presume), I re-read my NaNoWriMo chunk – from 2013. It turns out I still don’t hate it, and I’d quite like to know what happens ‘next’. Which makes me think maybe it’s non-awful and potentially worth me fiddling with it some more.

I mean, there are problems, many and manifold, and there’s some continuity issues. But overall, I quite like it.


Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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The first bit of test equipment arrived for the lab.


I checked it over, and having seen nothing alarming at all (even the capacitors look in good health at the moment), I’ve tried it out. It’s within about 0.4v of what it says on the scale, which is good enough for me at the moment – on the 70V scale – but a bit far out on the 7v scale (assuming my cheap digital multimeter’s giving a fairly accurate reading, which it probably is). I’m having a quick nose at the manual to see how to calibrate it, though, because it’d be nice if on the 7v scale it read a touch more accurately. So that’s all good. Sadly the little orange neon glow I’d expect when I switch it on is lacking, which I’ll have to check out. All in all, it does seem to be working okay. But there’s a bit of a problem.

I can smell it.

Despite the fact it looks clean, remarkably so, and indeed the interior boards are amazingly dust free, it absolutely, positively reaks. It honks. It smells damn funky. Dear god, it smells like someone used it as their smoking room.

I’ve stripped off and scrubbed the case, then put it in the sun to dry, which made it smell marginally better. I’ve cleaned the interior boards with electronics cleaner. But it still smells. Apparently, there’s naught for it but to sit them out in the fresh air when it’s sunny. And wait. It has, actually, been sunny today. So it spent some time getting a tan on the deck, but until it smells at least a bit better, it has gone back into the garage…


Still, I should now be able to at least set up my car’s tracker / alarm so I can install it :)

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.


Mar. 11th, 2016 09:36 pm
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Life continues to be more or less the same as it ever was. I’ve been working, at least intermittently, and I’ve even been paid. That has been rather nice, although it’s led to a bit of a flurry of spending as I’ve taken a bunch of stuff off the ‘want list’ which included several things that I’d decided I wouldn’t buy until we got to the US.

I’d been holding that restraint for a couple of years. Adding in the last 3 months of me not buying pretty much anything (I bought a few books, and a few items for our business) and then say “look, you’ve been paid”. I snapped. Much of this is ‘fun’ stuff, but the other thing that’s sucked up funds is things like ‘UK to US’ plug adaptors (10 of ’em, on the way). I’d thought I’d replace the old UK plugs with US ones, but bare US plugs are actually ridiculously pricey, so instead I’ve just bought adaptors. From China. Also, bonus, I get to keep the fuses for added safety.

And BC – Edison Screw lamp adaptors. I was unaware that such things existed – so I’d bought one of the 85-250v LED BC lamps for one of the anglepoises (as a test), but having discovered these I can just go to the store and get what, in the US, are regular LED bulbs and throw those in. Hurrah! These adaptors were way cheaper than the special bulbs and had free postage. Since I’m not in a raring hurry to get the lamps working, that’s fine.

I also started setting up my ‘home lab’, as it were. Up until now I’ve scrounged stuff from the lovely John, but 4k miles is a little far to take things for testing, and it’s a little tricky to ask John if he’d like to pop over for an evening of tinkering with electronics. I’ve finally got it together and bought a (new) soldering iron / rework gun combo. I wasn’t going to get a rework gun, I mean, me and surface mount are not close friends. But with our business plans, I may want to put together some kind of board with surface mount components, in which case a rework gun will become handy – and it was a few dollars extra to get that functionality. Second hand kit that’s also winging its way to me is a ‘scope that weighs approximately the same as the house (50Mhz Tektronix 453*).

Die perfekte Welle

I doubt mine will look 1/10th as nice when it arrives. Indeed, I know some of the plastic knobules from the switches are missing (the selector knobs are all there). I’m hoping (really hoping) that one day my 3D printer will arrive and I can print myself some new ones. If not, I’ve got some sugru in the toolbox.

I thought about getting something a bit fancier that would be better for digital hardware (perhaps the 150Mhz 454), but if I decide I need that later I can either sell off the Tektronix 453 and get something ‘more modern’, or just suck up the expense if I’ve got attached to the 453. I’ve also got an HP 6200B bench power supply on its way too. John has infested my mind with his HP / Tektronix lovin’, which meant that other, cheaper options got ditched on the way to this selection, but I think they should be handy. And the 453 seems to be considered to be a pretty good scope – which it’s within the realms of my knowledge to repair and keep going.

Whilst the scope is slightly frivolous at the moment, and is partly a ‘I have little to do at home’ thing some of the kit will be handy straight away. The bench supply will be handy getting the car alarm configured… since it wants to charge a bit before it works, and you need to send it various text messages to get it configured. That bench supply will also be doing duty building up the circuit for the first kit we’re planning for our business.

Most of this kit is pretty tatty, but should be enough to get me ‘up and running’. At least, once I’ve given it a really, really good clean it should be.

This splurge of spending does mean that I’m now rather over excited when I see UPS and USPS vans, which tediously never seem to actually stop here…

Still. I don’t think I can buy much else for the rest of the month (except for needs – like maintaining my poor Minor, that’s had hundreds of miles added some weeks). At any rate, I shall try to exercise restraint. I’ve put a bit into my savings this month and then I’m hoping to put some of the funds we extracted back into the house-savings too.

At any rate, the rain paused yesterday for long enough for me to go and throw silicone sealant around the minor with reckless abandon.


Water’s been dripping in through that wiper spindle’s hole for a while. In an attempt to prevent it totally destroying the glove box liner, and the radio underneath, and then the floor below that, I whipped off the nut cleaned up the seals and put them back with a thin layer of windscreen silicone on them. I note that this has been done before, with what appears to be gasket sealant. That might have been me… but it didn’t work that time. Here’s hoping this time it does work. Overnight it’s rained and there wasn’t any water that I could feel, so fingers crossed I might get some relief from that.

I also attacked the boot (trunk) – using sealant around the holes where the “MORRIS 1000” badge is mounted. This morning the boot (trunk) was actually bone dry, which I think is a first, and made me quite happy.

I also commenced trying to understand how to fit the alarm – and realised that actually, it’d probably make more sense for it to be on our family contract for it’s SMS messaging, rather than me stick it on the Net10 sim I’ve got kicking around. Well, maybe. We need to go and see if we can beg a cellspot for the house as it is slightly ridiculous that you have to go outside to make calls a lot of the time and while we’re there I’ll see if I can add it on at a low rate. Otherwise I’ll see which provider is cheapest for a pure voice/SMS option. It doesn’t need data of any sort, so it’s a big silly getting it a voice/data contract. I also realised that the alarm wants an SD card for some of its more handy features, and it makes sense to fit that before I put the alarm in the car.

Given that it’s a cheap Chinese system the manual is somewhat challenging to understand at times. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to require too many features the Minor doesn’t have (indeed, it looks like it should actually be able to track the fuel level of the Minor, which is pretty nifty, though why I’d want to is unclear).

I thought about fitting it this morning; indeed that was my ‘plan’ for the day. But I am distrustful of the weather, and although it said “0% chance of rain” the forecast started to get a bit sketchy around lunchtime, and it looks like rain every day after now for a while, so getting part-way through is undesirable. I succumbed to my rain-fear and went for a walk instead.


Which was probably a good plan as it’s been hacking with rain for the last hour and half, and I’d’ve probably still been out there dangling upside-down. I think when I have all the relevant bits, I’ll be a bit more enthused about getting it done.

In other news, I headed out yesterday to see if I could find a stick blender. We’ve wanted one for a long time, and before I got paid I kept seeing them at goodwill and value village. Of course, now I’ve actually been paid, they’ve vaporised. Goodwill does make me miss the cleanliness of most British charity shops. I’m sure there’s awesome stuff in there, but the electronics sections always make me feel rather like I need to wash my hands thoroughly on leaving. Anyhow, what I did find was ‘Goodwill Outlet’, which is a fearsome place. Unsorted, sad old things piled into plastic waist high bins… It’s the kind of place I feel the need to have a companion, because rifling through the stuff in there by yourself, it feels kinda weird. I suspect that there probably are stick blenders lying prone at the bottom of those bins, but I didn’t quite have the guts to pull so much stuff out.

And then we come to the elephant in the absent room. The house.

We’re off looking at properties this weekend. Five of ’em. One with a building, one with a ‘building’ (it’s a house of “poor quality” built in 1901), and 3 bits of land that are just land. I continue to feel the disappointment from the permit-disaster-wetland-hideousness, but hopefully one of these will speak to our souls. One of them, funnily enough, enormously close to where Kathryn’s mom used to live, and would give us effectively the same view. Which is weird. Although the land-with-buildings-on may be better for us, in terms of both location and usefulness. Still, we’ll see what happens.

* Handily, this is old enough that the entire manual is available here

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Scene: London street, small deal table with well dressed chap performing the shell game (three card monte with cups) but the patter is based around ‘finding/watching the benefits scrounger’ represented by a small statuette under the cup.

Entranced crowd watching and betting (and losing).

The camera pulls back and slowly reveals, sliding in and through the crowd a variety of well dressed bankers, politicians, business men are picking the pockets of everyone there.



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, News:


The Seager Brother’s piano is now in tune. Ish. Close enough for jazz, as they say. Apparently it’s a little flat, but it – our tuner reckons – has always been a little flat. Or at least, sufficiently always as to not be a good idea to change her. And whilst yesterday I said I didn’t recall whether previous tuners had mentioned it (the poor beast was last tuned at least 6 years ago – and by my mum’s piano tuner), I do faintly recall her mentioning it.

The hammer, which we thought went missing when @aminorjourney was giving it a thorough work out (and was definitely not the first hammer to break in it) apparently didn’t. I thought, honestly was convinced that Nikki and I had checked out all the notes, and that they’d been working. Apparently not. Apparently it went missing at some point before that. At any rate, our illustrious tuner will be returning with a spare hammer and, most excitingly, a music stand. I’ve had this piano about 31 years, and at no point has it had a music stand. It came with the broken remnants of one, and we’d always bull-dog clip the music to it, and when I was practicing longer pieces, my dad would sit next to me to flip the pages (and remind me to actually practice). Eventually, we got my dad’s piano, which was in substantially better condition (but ended up being difficult to make keep tune, because it was wood framed and the wood had dried out), and ‘my’ piano went to live in the garage*. It’s been submerged in 3 foot of water (the flood waters reached approximately a metre deep in my mum’s house, which would have been lapping at the base of the keyboard), ferried around in the back of a transit having been (wo)man handled into the back of a truck off a forklift. If you can abuse it in some way, it’s been abused in that way.

The previous owners took a power-sander to one end. I mean, really. A power sander on a 1891 piano.



Incidentally, that looks to me like July 1891 Jubilee. I got quite excited for a second by the concept that it might have been for the Austro-Hungarian jubilee exhibition. I mean, that would be pretty nifty, but July’s too late. That was in May. The only Jubilee I know of in 1891 is Punch magazine, and what they’d be doing with a Piano from a small piano maker I don’t know, so I can’t imagine an obvious connection there. I’ve always been intrigued, though, by that marking.

Anyhow, she now sounds like a piano. I’m sure professional musicians would be sadly disappointed in what I consider adequately in tune. But I am satisfied that she sounds like a piano.

Sufficiently so that I spent some time attacking the ivories**. First Tom Lehrer, because I need some inspiration. Then some ‘Joy of Piano’ simplified fluff – but what was pleasing about that was that despite my keyboard ineptitude, something akin to music did come out at several points. It was, at least, not totally unrecognisable. I had some idea that it was (a) music and (b) a chunk of the New World Symphony.

Which was enormously gratifying. Sufficiently so that despite my achy fingers, I shall endeavour to continue this ‘practicing’ m’larkey up.

Ivories tickled... On with the rest of the day :)

In other news. Rebecca. *sigh*.

What to do with a problem like Rebecca.

No, seriously. Taking a step back and reducing the panic to a more manageable level, because staring a massive bill in the face (and weeping) is what I’ve been trying to contend with. What I have to remember, and tend to forget, because I’m ridiculously impatient, is that I don’t need her back on the road right now. Yes, I want her back on the road. Yes, I do. Because I like driving my beloved minor. It’s that simple.

But that is not actually a requirement. We/I am not without transport. I have Molly to get around the city on, and Chester for longer trips. Kathryn, despite the train’s many failings*** take Chester only on Sundays when the train service moves from overpriced bucket of crap to unusable bucket of crap (with a free side of insultingly overpriced).

So. Stepping back, let’s look at the big picture.

The big picture is the Warp 9″ motor going in once we’re in Canada; until then we’re going to keep using the 1275 with a fast-road-cam. This engine is marginal on the standard Morris/Wolsey/Riley diff. Those diffs were mated with, and were considered just-strong-enough for 83ft/lb torque and 55bhp (more or less; the rated output of a 1.5l B series engine), the engine in Rebecca should give about 75ft/lb and 70bhp. So theoretically, if I drive ‘like a nun’, it should hold together. And I don’t tend to thrash her wildly anymore, because I’m not in that much of a hurry to get anywhere.

However, putting in a standard diff with the 9″ Warp motor is going to be hysterically metal shaving inducing. That dinky little electric motor (which I can’t lift) provides 152ft/lbs of torque and 82Hp. That will turn the standard diff into powdered metal quicker’n I can get the car off the ramps. So that’s a big fat no.

But what has been flagged up to me is that Volvo 240s do a very nice limited slip differential, which comes in a range of ratios (an insanely large range of ratios) and are built like battleships. They’re unpopular only insofar as no-one ever needs to replace them (apart from the guys who use them to build hot-rods and thrash them mercilessly).

I’ve let the Capri axle I was looking at go, because it’s apparently an English diff, not an Atlas one, and that would have been a touch marginal on the torque/strength side. I suspect my dad’s Escort, which ate diffs, probably had the English Diff, judging by the comments from the rallying crowd. (If anyone ever sees SBH392R****, I’ve got some nice pics of her, although I imagine she’s scrap by now. Easily recognisable, said ‘FOFD’ on the boot, thanks to Ford’s awesome quality control).

Anyway, meandering somewhat.

So, the question is, do I try and pick up a Volvo 240 axle (complete with axle etc), get it shortened (apparently you can get it shortened to minor lengths without trimming the half shafts, which is excellent news), and mounts made, and a special prop shaft… now.

Or do I spend 70-80 quid on a second hand diff of unknown provenance, and throw it in, and just see how I get on for the time being, and do the Volvo axle later.

I’m tempted by getting her on the road, but really that’s a waste of money that I don’t have spare.


Needs more thought, I feel.

Incidentally, the place I rang about Volvo parts don’t think they have a 240 axle in, at the moment…

* I’m often stunned at how tolerant my parents were of me. Things I had that were of no use at all throughout my childhood included massive chunks of CTL Mini computers, A manual telephone exchange operator’s desk, a spare piano (in case, what, the other one rolled off or joined the circus?), and eventually a rusted out heap of a Morris Minor… more on that momentarily.

** I’d say ‘tickling’, but it was more like a masacre. I’d no idea how rusty I’d got. Then there are the terribly amusing pauses as I stare at the music and try and work out which note that is meant to be, and whether I’m playing it.

*** And believe me, there are many and manifold ones.

**** It’s funny how that plate has stuck in my head. I can’t remember the numbers off my mum’s Fiat 126 – that was HNK…Y, and the other cars my parents had never stuck with me. But the Fofd, that was bought because my mum was pregnant with me, and that old Austin A40 wasn’t big enough (also was rusting away – indeed the front wing was made, partially, out of wood, I’m told).

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, the idea for what has become Kathryn’s anniversary present came to me a while ago. About a year, I think. I thought “Oh hey, that’s a cute idea”. I pitched myself some costs and decided it was a cute/fun idea that I could probably pull off in a few days.

Maybe a week or so.

A year later, and it’s likely to be her present this year. It’s nearly finished. I’ve amassed everything I need to make it (I think, although I’m actually now thinking that I’m still missing one small item. Gah…. *NOW* I have everything, having placed a very, very small order for a very, very small object).

It’s spiralled out from being a cute idea to being a reasonably well executed, vastly over the top thing. I hope that she appreciates the humour in it, and doesn’t just look at it and go “Oh lord, Kate”…which would be a fair reaction. I also hope it doesn’t break in the first few moments of existence. I’d be upset.

It’s spiralled a little in the sense that I assumed I’d be able to pick up all the stuff I wanted at charity shops, and it turns out, I couldn’t. Indeed, mostly it’s come from ebay. Which is sort of disappointing, but has allowed me to find things I didn’t entirely expect to find, that make the concept work better than my first collection of things for it did.

I’m quite excited about it, now I’ve done the ‘difficult’ bit, and am into the ‘fun’ bit. Unfortunately, I’m given to understand that this year is ‘Flowers/Linens’ which is about the only thing not in it, in any sense. Never mind.

It’s also fun to find that after months and months of my brain being committed to work that it still has the fun/playful element intact, and that I still enjoy doing ridiculous things with stuff :)

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, ages ago I had this idea for a present. I was so pleased with myself, it was simple, funny, clever… Granted I may be biased.

Only it’s not proven to be so simple. Apart from the many parts that make it up and my general bare adequacy in the [redacted] crafting department, it’s quite finicky. Well, by my standards.

Still, I’m pleased with progress, although I’m slightly of the opinion that it may need [redacted] in the [redacted]s. Am not sure whether to just go ahead and do that, incase it [redacted]s, or whether to test it out. Feh.

Anyhow, despite swearing that I’d go out on my bike, I spent some time waiting for friends to get back to me about meeting up, and then decided to shave my legs, and then got confirmation of something we’re up to this evening, so… decided instead to spend time on Kathryn’s present, and finally getting around to putting Rebecca on a trickle charge. The battery may be nearly dead, but it’s not fully dead and so I’ll quietly leave it quietly charging…

Oooh, and I have GPS tracker on the way for my bike, so I may actually feel like I can ride it and park it places. I’ve been feeling more wary since a friend’s bike was stolen. Granted it was recovered the same day, but still.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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Welcome to the combined Kate’s Life 2007 update package. This package will update your Kate’s Life Information on the following issues:

– Thanksgiving
– XKCD is in my head again
- Stuff of a housey nature
– Random photographics
– Other sundry informatorial updates may be included.
Click here to install this update

So, yes, I’m behind again, aren’t I? So, we’ll do things in kinda an order. First up, XKCD is in my head; I’m now at a state where I have no properly working computers. The laptop’s power cable is fubar, so I need to find the spare supply for it (which is probably in the attic, fortunately, and not in the ‘spare room’ which is currently full. The G5 still needs a new power supply; I’m hoping to sort that out this week, if at some point before friday I have a working car. The PC downstairs still falls off the wifi, it is to be fair working in all other respects. And the hackintosh remains without network. There was no small degree of frustration after spending hours on it, I realise now that I need a USB WiFi dongle *anyway* (my brain kept saying, no you don’t; you won’t need one when you get the G5 working because you’ll just stick the homehub up there as a wired / wireless router – but it’d just be easier if everything can be wirelessed). So, yes. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, so, Thanksgiving. We celebrated thanksgiving with friends (thank you for coming Jordax!), producing a not-quite traditional (but real) chicken (there were only 3 of us though, and we still had *loads of food*), stuffed with home made stuffing consisting of (veggie) sausage, raisins, celery, onion, and herbs; sweet potato and pecan casserole (that was delicious, if mostly sugar :) ), US style biscuits (very yummy), green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, mashed potato and cranberry sauce, all washed down with some rather nice red wine. This was followed by an excellent Lemon Icebox Pie made with real proper Graham Crackers imported from the States… (and this is the best description I can imagine of a Graham Cracker: “…if a Digestive were ever to get a Ryvita into trouble, possibly at a wild party behind the cheese board, then the resulting progeny may well end growing up to look a lot like Graham Crackers“). Anyhow, proper thanksgiving tradition being followed we attempted to watch clips of the Macy’s day parade, but they were a bit short and required more attention than we wanted to give them (next year, can someone please post the whole damn thing to YouTube or GoogleVideo? That’d help. Ta), so we switched and watched the Peanuts / Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special (1973) :)

And then we settled down to play Squabble for a bit (Kathryn won :) ), chatted, drank and whiled the hours away before heading to bed. Sunday was spend doing absolutely nothing useful whatsoever (apart from some laundry and all the washing up in the entire universe).

Anyway, I know it’s rather bleached from the flashgun, but here’s the thanksgiving dinner…

And here’s a bit of old news; I drew a person…


So, stuff of a housey nature (Which I should, really, be doing now) – the bathroom has water. Water! The taps work and everything. Well, the cold ones. Jobs left for us to do are (in order, ish):

– Cut and prime wood for behind toilet cistern.
– The rest of the grouting, most importantly finishing the shower and polishing the area behind the radiator.
– Painting the woodwork behind the radiator.
– Continue to strip radiator.
– Seal sink drainer (because it’s leaking….le sigh).

Day 2
– Paint wood for behind toilet cistern.
– Silicone sealing around the shower.
– Continue to strip radiator.
– Sand radiator and paint… hopefully.
– Silicone seal around toilet

Day 3
– Switch over to chrome flush lever / chain / etc.
– Mount toilet cistern, connect up, pray it flushes okay.
– Connect radiator.

Other non-urgent jobs are to finish the rest of the grouting elsewhere, put a second coat of paint on some areas that missed out on the walls then mount shelves on those walls, and to – once the plumbing’s all connected up (hot water, specifically), fill in the last segment of tiles (over the currently removable panel work) and to grout everywhere that’s left.

It’s close, but this made me ridiculously happy:

And finally, for various reasons I’ve been trying to get some artsy shots of the Viva (well, one specific reason) – so, here’s one or two:

Uh, so there you go, closing with pictures. I’m going to end the update there, hopefully that’ll sort people’s complaints about lack of pictures ;)

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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