This is how I roll

Eldridge 2006

It may be well before my sailing season gets underway, but I happened to be in a West Marine recently for other reasons and I figured that I might as well grab myself this year's Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book. I may not have any use for it now, but I will eventually and it does a fantastic job of reminding me of sailing; oh man, boats.

Blasted Stereo

Yesterday, my car stereo died on me; it scratched the crap out of one of my CDs (thankfully a burned one and not one of my real ones) and then started playing other ones very crackly and wrong. Needless to say, this really pissed me off, so I went by Ciruit City to get a new one and then went about installing it. Installation was neat because I ripped the wiring harness off my old after-market stereo and soldered it up to my new one; I haven't soldered anything in a while so it was kind of fun. Then I went out and installed it, and, get this, only my hot-wired speaker worked (that's another story). I had to run off and do stuff so I couldn't try to figure out what was wrong until later. After poking around the Internet, I determined that my factory amp was causing the problems and I had to do a little bit of rewiring of the harness. Thankfully after rewiring the harness and reinstalling the new stereo today, everything is working about as well as can be expected. Of course, as well as can be expected is not as well as I would like because my factory amp is still limiting my new stereo. There is, of course, a solution to this problem too, which is to by-pass my stereo amp and I've already gotten the wiring harness to do that. Now I just have to tear apart the paneling in the back of my car and install the by-pass. (Maybe I'll remove the factory amp and see if I can't tear it apart, beef it up and have a nice little external amplifier.)

Directorial Moonlighting

As I've mentioned, I've recently gotten back into fencing, which I'm having rather a bit of fun with, and it's led me to an interesting opportunity. I've started directing/refereeing for small local tournaments (mostly high school competitions), which, in addition to being something fun, is something they pay me for. In spite of the fact that I'm not anywhere near as good at fencing as I used to be, I'm still plenty good at watching it and knowing what's going on and it's a whole lot of fun. That they're paying me is almost icing on the cake.

Goodbye Telegrams

As of a few days ago STOP Western Union has stopped supporting Telegram service (discussion) STOP This is something that saddens me immensely STOP I always thought that telegrams were totally awesome STOP I especially liked the whole ending sentances with stop thing STOP Now I will never know the joy of sending a telegram to someone STOP The worst part of all of it is that I was going to send someone a telegram a while back STOP Instead I decided the five or so dollars was too much STOP What a fool I was STOP

Where there's one deer, there's usually more

Driving home this evening, I saw a deer run across the street a few hundred feet ahead of me and in spite of not seeing any other deer around, I figured it was best to slow down a whole lot. Lucky for me, I was right to assume there'd be more as another one leapt across the street not twenty feet in front of me as I got to where the first had crossed. If I hadn't assumed more were to follow, I would be both a deer killer and the proud owner of a truck with a smashed front end. Ignoring the ruining my truck part, I really don't much want to crash into a deer because then I'd be stuck with a fatally wounded deer in pain. I don't know exactly what I'd do in that situation but I did think about it a good deal after narrowly avoiding having to deal with it. In the end, I came to the conclusion that the correct approach would be to take the crowbar from my trunk and beat the deer to death; sure it's not pleasant but it's better than leaving it to suffer and die slowly. I don't much want to have to go and kill anything, even out of mercy; it saddened me enough that time I accidentally ran over a fox. Damnit, now I'm remembering that fox again. I'm such a softie, oh well, whatever, I just don't like killing things. I guess the moral of this story really is, where there's one deer, there's usually another.

Lunch break auto mechanickery

It turns out that lunch breaks are a fantastic time to get some auto repair time in. I changed two of my spark-plugs yesterday before work, two on my lunch break yesterday and the final two on my lunch break today. It's perfect; there's nice, flat, well-lit tarmac in our parking lot and I've got an hour of free time. I don't need a garage as long as the weather is ok and most of the minor work I'm doing doesn't take even an hour, so why should I bother waiting for a weekend to have some time during the day to work on my car (I don't want to bother with getting lights to work at night). I still need to change my oil, but I'll probably end up doing that at home tomorrow because I don't really want to wait for the end of the weekend and I've finished replacing all my spark-plugs, so there won't be any more work to be done on my car right in the immediate future. Oh well, even if I don't need to do anything more, it's good to know that I've got a good place and time to do my mechanickery when I do need it.

Acetone: Conclusions

As of the most recent refill of my truck's gas tank, I am confident that I have enough data to draw some conclusions about the effect on fuel economy of using acetone as a fuel additive.

To recap, for anyone that might have forgotten or missed out, a number of months ago, I came across the suggestion on the internet that fuel economy could be improved by using a small quantity of acetone as a fuel additive. Since I wasn't terribly concerned about the risk of breaking my truck and desperately wanted a way to save some money on gasoline, I figured I might as well give it a shot. I started out by buying a gallon of pure acetone and adding a little bit by funnel every time I filled my gas tank (before the gas to encourage mixing). Initially I saw what might have been an improvement in fuel efficiency but I was relying on my memory and quickly saw my information as purely anecdotal. Understanding how useless anecdotal information is, I decided to approach the matter in a scientific and controlled manner. Now, 22 tanks of gas and nearly four months later I am ready to draw conclusions from my data.

I have found a near linear increase in fuel efficiency up to a peak increase of about 10% at a concentration of acetone of 0.2%. Further increases beyond 0.2% result in a very steep fall-off in fuel efficiency such that a concentration of 0.25% is less fuel efficient than no acetone at all. For those that don't want to think about concentrations, 0.2% acetone is almost exactly equal to 1/3 cup acetone for every 10 gallons of fuel.

Just to be policital, or something like that, for a moment, if I can finagle a 10% increase in my fuel economy out of ¢10 worth of acetone, I am doing a huge service to my bank account and the environment (acetone doesn't pollute any more than gasoline). Now let's just take a moment to think about how much of an impact there would be on the environment if every single car in America improved its fuel efficiency by 10%; acknowledging that, why isn't there a government mandate on gasoline requiring it to contain 0.2% acetone (or thereabouts)? My guess would be because your monetary savings would come straight out of the oil companies pockets, but that's beside the point. I think everyone should start adding acetone to their fuel tanks, saving themselves some money, helping the environment and cutting back on our oil consumption. Hmm, maybe I'll write my senator.

I should like to add the caveat that these results are true for my truck and other vehicles may have slightly different acetone concentration sensitivities. If you decide to follow my lead and add acetone to your vehicles fuel tank, you should perform some experiments on your own to determine your vehicles efficiency peak concentration. You should use pure acetone (solvent from a hardware store), not the scented stuff you can buy at CVS. Also, if you do something stupid and blow up your car or something, it'll be your fault alone.

Snow instead of Savannah

Until just a little earlier today, I was scheduled to go on a business trip down to Savannah, GA but as a result of intercorporate politics between the customer I was going to be dealing with and another company, they've asked that we put things off a little bit. It's kind of unfortunate because I was looking forward to going to Georgia for a few days. Oh well, at least it's snowing here; maybe I'll go sledding later.

Sunset on Neptune

I've invented a new cocktail, which I've decided to call the Sunset on Neptune because it's blue, red and pretty. The drink looks different depending on what direction you look at it from and your lighting conditions, ranging from light blue, to deep violet, to dark red. In addition to its fantastic aesthetic qualities, the Sunset on Neptune is a very tasty and fairly alcoholic orange/grenadine flavored beverage. The ingredients are as follows and there are a few different ways to make it: (all quantities are approximate and should be varied to personal tastes)

  • 1 part Vodka
  • 1 part Blue Curacao
  • 2 parts orange juice soda (Polar Orange Dry, Orangina, or the like; not orange soda)
  • 1/2 part Grenadine

Take a glass full of ice (preferably large cubes) and pour in the vodka. Add the orange juice soda and stir. Add the Blue Curacao to the mixture; now if you stir, the mixture will be blue, but it you don't there will be a thin green/orange layer on top with a slightly different flavor. Now, slowly pour the Grenadine into the mixture; if you stir now, the drink will be purple but, if you don't stir, you will have a red layer at the bottom and a blue layer on top. If you decide not to stir the Curacao or Grenadine layers, you'll get a really neat red/violet/blue/green/orange/etc. thing going with a nice flavor gradient as well. Overall, I'm fantastically pleased with the concoction and would love to hear feedback from other people.

Also, I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that the same thing can be done with orange juice instead of orange juice soda and I'm going to go ahead and coin that Neptune's Screwdriver.

Oh, and if you've got a better name, I'm not married to Sunset on Neptune.