A long, sordid tale with a happy ending

Seriously, fuck UPS.  
I got a turntable when I was in DC.  It’s the NuMark TT USB, so that I can rip my vinyl to iTunes.  Since I had to fly home, I shipped to myself.  I put my office number at work on it AND MY PHONE NUMBER.
For some reason UPS brought a package that was CLEARLY labeled with my office address to the house I lived in two years ago, which is in a really rough neighborhood.

And whaddya know, when the man in brown knocked on the door of my old house, some kid said “Yeah, that’s me,” and signed for my package.

I discovered this by calling their tracking line when the package was late, and they said “Well, someone signed for it at your old address….”

I was practically shouting into the phone “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST BRING IT TO MY OFFICE??”

So I went to my old house, still bewildered as to why my package went there, no one would answer the door, so I nailed a note to the door like Martin Luther, saying “YOU HAVE MY PACKAGE. HERE’S MY NUMBER. DON’T BE AN IDIOT.”

Of course, they never called, but UPS went by on Monday and they cheerfully handed over the package. Perhaps they were watching me with some trepidation as I hammered that note to the door.

THEN today UPS brings the package to the wrong office… in the wrong building on campus… and just leaves it. I called again and they said “Oh, we left it at your office!” Picture me looking around like “Whah? Did I miss it?”

“OK, it’s not here.”

Someone in the other office noticed that MY PHONE NUMBER WAS IN THE SHIPPING MANIFEST, AND THEY CALLED ME.

How come some secretary at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital was able to work that out and not UPS? She answers phones all day and they deliver packages… maybe it was her familiarity with those seven strange digits on the outside of the box.

So, yeah, I got my package a week late, cut open by some idiot kid who apparently didn’t need a turntable, and etc, etc…

UPS can kiss it, thanks. 

HOWEVER, I now have a new turntable and I went and bought a discwasher kit, and I am going to be at home listening to records and ripping them to iTunes… I am so pleased.

Some tool definitions

What these tools really do:

(Mike, Gordon and Fixer, please share your additions or observations!)
Tool Definitions:

Drill PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat
metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest
and flings your soda across the room, splattering it against that
freshly-stained heirloom piece you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere
under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints
and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers.

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their
holes until you die of old age.

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation
of blood-blisters. The most often tool used by all women.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor
touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board
principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable
motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more
dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt
heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer
intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the
conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various
flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the
grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and
motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or ½
socket you’ve been searching for the last 45 minutes.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood
projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground
after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack
handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile
upward off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any
known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any
possible future use.

RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most
shops to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength
of everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that
inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end
opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic’s own tanning booth. Sometimes called
a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, “the sunshine
vitamin,” which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health
benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at
about the same rate that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during,
say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark
than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under
lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing
oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip
out Phillips screw heads. Women excel at using this tool.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to
convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning
power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that
travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty
bolts which were last over tightened 30 years ago by someone at Ford,
and instantly rounds off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off
lug nuts.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or
bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is
used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts
adjacent the object we are trying to hit. Women primarily use it to
make gaping holes in walls when hanging pictures.

MECHANIC’S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of
cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly
well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic
bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic
parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in

DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage
while yelling “DAMMIT” at the top of your lungs. It is also, most
often, the next tool that you will need.

Dart update!

The life of a weekend warrior-

I dragged Mike the Mechanic into another long day working on the Dart….

My ’72 Dart had massive carbon buildup in the crossover passages of the intake manifold. This kept the exhaust gas from heating up the intake manifold and the choke so #1- the thing never hit peak efficiency (which isn’t great even then in a 318) and #2- meant that the choke spring never actuated and the choke remained closed. I was having some trouble with it stalling out at traffic lights because it was running so rich and I was spending a fortune on gas. A friend who had converted his stock 2bbl 318 over to a 4bbl said “Here, take this stock intake and get it dipped and then just give me your old one when you pull it off.”

So, I had that intake dipped and then it rode around in the trunk for a few months. I have been super busy- i work two jobs and play in a band. Long story.

Anyway, the thing got some surface rust on it, so when I finally got a couple of days off after Christmas, I took it and pulled off my valve covers and went to Christopher’s house where we spent the day playing with the sandblaster. Everything came out looking very nice and clean. I primed it and the next day it started raining. I don’t have a garage- have to do everything in the yard, so the primed intake and valve covers went into the barn for two weeks.

Then, I finally had a clear day, went out and discovered that the primer hadn’t stopped the rust…

I am a halfwit, I know. Should have predicted that. Back to the sandblaster with the intake, and then I ran out of time AGAIN. But not before I primed and painted it and the valve covers.

Another week and a half goes by, and I finally get a Saturday to myself, so I give everything a sanding to get rust off of the various surfaces that didn’t get primed and painted (it’s rained pretty much nonstop here for two months) and Mike and I set to bolting everything back together.  Everything went back together surprisingly well. Even the distributor fell into place without any wrestling.

The last thing I did was bolt the coil back on, only…. there’s one coil bolt missing… and we had left it on the firewall over the engine…  Maybe… maybe it fell down into the engine… no, it couldn’t have.  What if it did?

I searched all over under the car, but remember that this isn’t a shop. It’s my driveway, which isn’t paved. I am 97% sure that the bolt hasn’t fallen down in the engine, but there was a long hard moment where I thought about tearing everything apart again to make sure it wasn’t sitting in the valves waiting for me to turn the key.

We finally decided to proceed, only to discover that my NEW intake doesn’t have a water pump bypass hose nipple. The old one does, of course, so it’s just a matter of… crushing it with a pipe wrench trying to get it loose.

So, off we went to do the late Saturday afternoon tour of autoparts stores. NAPA closes here at 12:30, so it was AutoZone, O’Reilly’s, etc. You can imagine how that went. Finally found what I needed in the plumbing department at Lowes. Nice brass part, threaded on one end and barbed on the other. AND it was less than $5.00. Don’t mess with me, folks….

So, we got it all put back together and cranked it. Loads of crap burned off when it first started. It settled into a nice idle, but when I ran the RPMs up, it was running really, really rich and it sort of stumbled a little bit.

Unfortunately, it was getting dark and cold really fast, and yesterday it was raining and cold again, so dawn breaks on another Monday with the Dart up on ramps. Still.

I think that I may have sealed a vacuum leak that someone had previously compensated for by enriching the mixture ridiculously. My suspicion for the primary culprit is the old carb gasket that I threw away. It was really shot. I think that the new one may be way more effective at blocking air. I would have started playing with the mixture except for two things-

Mike noticed that the points were pretty much shot when I had the dist. cap off. I don’t have a timing light of my own, so I couldn’t really change the points and start playing with it until I had gotten points, condenser, light, etc.

I am hoping that no one claims next Saturday before I can get to it!

I am also hoping that I do not discover that the carb needs to be replaced or rebuilt, though it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

It must be love… love, love…

Sorry I have been neglecting this space so much lately. It’s been an eventful year already. I have designed two websites, launched them both, though content is still being filled in for the second one:

Music Hates You’s new site

Rose of Athens Theatre

I do not claim to be a competent web designer, I just muddle through and ask the pros for help when I get stuck.

I have a new love in my life. We haven’t gone out yet, but we’re courtin’. Here, have a look.

Teh hawtness, no?

I have picked up some freelance work to fill the gaps right now, and the intake manifold and valve covers are pulled off the Dart. (had to get some paint on them…) It’s been a busy couple of months, and it doesn’t show any sign of letting up.

I will try to blog when I have time, but right now if you want to keep up with what I am doing, you’re just gonna have to watch the dustcloud!

Word for the day: ULTRACREPIDARIAN

“Somebody who gives opinions on matters beyond his knowledge.”

Defined here.

I discovered the word while rereading my favorite Christmas story ever at ScaryDuck’s old site.

I glazed over with a dreamy smile on my face, but by the time the three of us were naked, the moment had passed.

Instead, I bowked rich brown, crispy vomit all over their legs, which rather put a dampener on the whole occasion, and the resulting screams made me fear for my life. “Dear Fiesta… ah forget it.”

In an attempt to sleep it off an a nice, quiet office, I managed to mark my card further by bowking rich, brown vomit over the office manager’s Territorial Army uniform, which featured far too many leather straps to be strictly official, just hours before she was due at the annual Christmas service. To make things even worse, this occured literally seconds before she arrived with some strapping chap on her arm saying “We can do it on my desk, nobody will find ou…”.

Ah, the Holidays!

I’m not convinced. I mean, not really.

it’s like they have a federal committee standing by to make the least convincing explanation possible.

The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged that a United supervisor had called the control tower at O’Hare, asking if anyone had spotted a spinning disc-shaped object. But the controllers didn’t see anything, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.

“Our theory on this is that it was a weather phenomenon,” Cory said. “That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low (cloud) ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things.”

It was a “weird weather phenomenon“??

I am not one of those flying saucer conspiracy people, but ferfuckssake, an explanation that bad makes even me say “Um, what?”