Monday, August 31, 2009

Kids and Tarantulas

This evening, we headed over to "AntKewwie's" to see Teague and Caden. We had dinner and I got to shoot the breeze with AntKewwie's husband Brian. It was a good time and the noisy trio seemed to really enjoy themselves both outside before the sunset and afterward in the play room(s). On the way home, it was quite dark, but I managed to see a furry little critter on the side of the gravel road and skidded to a halt. CP of course, wanted to know what was going on, so I backed up and she could see the spider in the road and wanted out of the car seat to see it. We hopped out ran over in the beams of the headlights to investigate and the spider seemed interested in us too. CP loved it! When we go to the desert museum, the docents only let you get so close, but she had full access to this little guy. We stood there and watched him for as long as I thought safe for a gravel road out near the rez and then hopped back in the car, made sure that he wasn't under the tires, and passed slowly over the top of him. All the way home there was talk of spiders and she couldn't wait to tell the LW all about this exciting end to her great evening.

If you live in texas or have family members that do....'d better hope that you never have any kind of fire....or anything else that requires a lawyer, for that matter.

Read this.

Buffoonery is now spelled with a capital t.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Up for Sale - Round II

Our friend, who is also our realtor, called this afternoon to see if we wanted to list the house again. We discussed how evidently a lot of folks got blown out after the May 1st new rules were implemented and how it seems to not be having the same effect now. Things are beginning to work finally, I guess.

Remember how our house appraisal dropped $33,000 in a few weeks last time? Well, let's hope that we don't have to deal with that again. We've considered renting it out, but getting the house sold will help us with our next home in KC and take some of the stress off of the LW and I.

Here we go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Small Child Challenge

Bouts of loud laughter came from the back of the house and I was told to do this:
1. Lay on a flat surface on your back
2. Close your eyes
3. Have small child move around until you are head to head
4. Have small child put his/her forehead close to yours
5. Open your eyes

If you don't laugh out loud at the single-eyed monster whose hair is tickling your nose, you probably should have your pulse checked.

Good Read for Dads

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wheelchairs at the Tucson Tea Party?

The LW and I were passing Giffords' office recently during one of the Tea Party gatherings here in T-town and I was struck by the numbers of what appeared to be pretty healthy, fully ambulatory, white folks roughly the same age as my parents - you know, the last of the folks with pensions. What I noticed as missing were folks in wheelchairs, people with long term disabilities, etc. Where are they? It seems that the people with the closest contact with and dependence on the messed up aspects of the health care system that we have now, don't appear to be at these gatherings.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ALH TDI Injection Quantity Seals

Well, the B99 summer to D2 winter switch wasn't so nice to the seals on the injection pump on the TDI. Considering that it's a 2003 model with 118k on it, they did their job well. The last leak was the pump's head seal and that one was an interesting fix. I got the stuff from Dieselgeek and made sure that I ordered extra viton seals since I figured I'd pinch at least one. I found out that cleaning the seal land with a piece of safety wire made sure that all of the old seal was removed...learned that the hard way. For this leak, I ordered the funky tool from Metalnerd and the seal kit from Peter over at

I wasn't real sure about messing with the IQ block since it has the possibility of causing a runaway engine, but I had to dig in because it was leaking pretty badly. (insert memories of V8 Cat at almost full throttle) I checked the IQ with the VAG-COM after I got home from dropping off the little one at school the other day and it was at 2.8-3.0. Reading around on the TDIClub forums is beneficial, but there are enough red herrings in the forum threads to fill an ocean. If you enjoy that kind of thing, go for it, but I've worked flat-rate, and a bunch of "oh nooo, you can't do that!" style stuff just pisses me off.

So, here we go with the flat-rate get'er done fix.

I was working on a car that had been sitting a while. It doesn't appear to make that much difference other than you're going to burn your hands if you're doing this on a waiter...and if you're reading this and working flat rate - you shouldn't be working on this car.

Get brake cleaner, a 3/8 drive ratchet, 17mm wrench, adjustable wrench, hammer and small chisel, special funky socket, T20, and T30. Clean all of the leaky diesel crap off of the pump with the brake cleaner. Now, if you've read the stuff on TDIClub, it'll tell you to take off the wiring harness at the pump. That's BS for this pump and the funky special tool won't work on the screw that they put on the corner of this harness screw it.

Next up, get a scribe or a box cutter and make a mark around the edges of the IQ block where it hits the pump body. There's a ledge there that you'll see. Outline the IQ block with the scribe. Mark around the upper curve and the lower curves that you see in the photos below.

Next up - make two marks with the hammer and chisel. Now, don't go bangin' the crap out of this stuff because it's pretty soft. I made my marks where I could easily look down on them to line them up. I made them deep enough that I could easily see them.

Now take a 17mm and an adjustable wrench and remove the fuel line/banjo bolt and washer. Not much fuel will come out, but get your rags stuffed under the pump because the next steps will get your feet wet.

Pull the top three bolts and the funky special bolt and remove the top - if you need to replace the upper seal, and really, if you're going to spew D2 on the floor, why not just replace the upper seal? It's probably best to replace the upper seal and then put the bolts back on hand tight.

Now you can take the lower cover bolts off and rotate the piece enough to get the new seal in. Make sure that you get the pin (you'll see it) back into its spot back down in the pump. It won't fit back together unless it is put back into its spot.

You can now move things back to where the scribe marks say that they should be and put the bolts back in. Check the scribe marks against the chisel marks just to make sure that everything is in place. Being a bit off on this part could cost you an engine. Tighten the lower bolts, upper bolts and reinstall the banjo bolt. Brake clean off the diesel that spilled and you're done.

I did this and the IQ was bouncing from 2.8-3.0 before and was 2.8 when I was done. I may try the hammer mod just to get it up to 3.0 or a little higher, but it'll do for now. Total time messing with this was under 15 minutes from start to finish. Do this at your own risk - ymmv.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just a Grill Away

I put some chicken out on the grill this afternoon after a trip to the pool. We were all starving, but CP was good and snacked a bit on trail mix before her salad was ready. My plan was to use up the last bit of the Gates sauce that I had, and it worked out fine. On the last trip out to check on things, I opened the lid and was met by a big cloud of sauce smoke. As the cloud passed, I breathed in a little bit and could almost see and hear the big flat steel lid on my grandfather's grill. I was right there in the summer house looking through the screen door to see what was cooking.

It smelled just like my childhood holiday weekends in Mississippi. My grandfather has an outside grilling room that he calls the "summer house". It's screened in to keep most of the bugs out and has plenty of fans as well as a double drying bay cast iron/ceramic sink. When I was growing up, just about every holiday trip to the delta meant that something was going to be cooking in the summer house.....and it was going to be good. It's funny sometimes how smells can trigger memory. That one made lunch better than I thought possible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gotta Be Quick

It looks like I've had the second TDI in as many months sold out from under me on Craigslist. There's an 03 Jetta Wagon that's the same color as ours with a different interior and transmission up in Albuquerque for $3000 with a toasted engine. The LW and I went to the bank yesterday afternoon to make sure that the money was there to get it and fix it, only to get home and find an email about how some guy from Santa Cruz is basically on his way to get it. Now the guy won't answer any of my emails or pick up the phone. What a deal.

On bigger ticket items on CL, I usually give the first person a chance at getting things in order. Since most folks don't have $3k laying around on the counter, it takes a day or so to get things going. The people who contact me about the item are then responded to with what's happening and are put in line for it. Seems pretty fair, but it seems that most folks treat the people as if they're responding to an $10 old box fan they're sellling and there's little to no order or courtesy involved.

The last car that I looked at on CL was a '92 VW Cabriolet. It was in pretty bad shape, but the autocheck wasn't too bad and the car didn't look like it was going anywhere. On the fist call, I asked about the title. The owner was selling it for his brother and didn't have it. Ok, well get it. He got the title and got it notarized, so I went to look at it. I drove all the way across town (an hour in T-town) with the toddler, only to find that this dumbass didn't even have the keys to the car. The steering wheel is cranked to the left, so how is one even going to get this thing cleanly up on a tow truck? I told him to call me when he had the keys.....still waiting on that one. =0) The car was selling at a price where I could fix the top, clean it up, and maybe make a few hundred dollars on it, but having to get keys or locks would have eaten most of that tiny margin.

Folks get these cars and don't put the Panzer skid plates on them to keep the oil pans from getting tapped by those concrete parking barriers that have rebar sticking up out of them. The concrete or the rebar knocks a little dent in the aluminum cast oil pan and the oil slowly drains out. Then, as the person is driving the car, (in this case on a trip to Santa Fe) the engine and turbo run out of oil, lock up, and bad things like metal parts coming through the block happen. There you are...on the side of the road...with a big, German- crafted boat anchor.

Ours has been saved twice by the plate because the city of T-town loves what they call, "speed humps". I don't really mind them and think they are a great way of traffic mitigation in quiet neighborhoods, but the city doesn't keep paint on them. If you're traveling through town on a dark street at the speed limit (25mph) and hit a speed hump, your car will almost certainly leave the ground. On the TDIs, it's not the takeoff, but the landing that gets you. See the deutschlanders that designed and built the car didn't see fit to add a higher weight front springs to account for the engine heft, so the front sits lower on the TDIs after the springs sag a bit. There are aftermarket 10mm spacers for the front struts, but that's down on the list from stopping the adjuster block leak that's dripping diesel down the front of the engine. Scheisse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pennies in Change

I took the Subaru in for an alignment yesterday and sat down in the sparse waiting room. There was an old hot rodder guy seated to my left and woman in her late 40s or so to my right. When I walked in, I must have interrupted an interesting conversation, because soon the topic rolled (back) to an exchange of jokes about a 20 ton lump of coal that was bound for Mt. Rushmore and various things involving black people swinging from trees. The woman talked about her Harleys, Harley envy, and various ridiculous stuff after this; she apparently likes the sound of her own voice. When I looked over to see what she actually looked like, I was surprised to see that she sat there in a mechanic's shirt with her name on it; this moron was out in town spewing her stupidity while basically representing someone's business.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tucson Tea Party

It looks like the big money is playing both sides against the middle and that might just ruin tonight's movie night. Isn't it plainly visible that this is happening? The idea of some...any competition for big pharma and big insurance just won't fly. Some K St players make a few remarks in the right ears and all of the sudden the lowest common denominator on both sides cloud the issue so much that we're all stuck with that status quo for ten years or more. Who does that benefit? Big pharma and big insurance. Who loses? We all do.

What if we cut all of that soshulized medicine crap (aka Medicare/Medicaid) and let a shit-load of old white republicans like my parents take care of their aged parents with nothing - no government assistance programs? My southern white republican parents would shit a brick, for starters, but in the end, we'd all end up getting screwed....some more.

These insurance companies and drug companies need a kick in the ass and standing around yelling at house reps isn't going to do much, but it sure takes the heat off of them for a while - maybe long enough to ensure the status quo.

I want to know where the tea party was when the previous guy spent bajillions on this war profiteering crap (yeah, I got to go see some camels when his dad ran the show, thanks) and then doled out the prescription drug program. Where was the outrage?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

1 & 3

Well, it appears that the place where we are and the place where we'll go back are at the 1st and 3rd spot on the America's Abandoned Cities list. Anyone need a house to rent in Tucson? The bay area's got culture and water....we've got cactus.