[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2011-06-27

Cynicism is a bad habit

Filed under: General,Music — bblackmoor @ 10:10
Double Down

I took a brief break from my awesome (but slightly behind schedule) project this morning, and had a conversation about the Kentucky Fried Chicken “Double Down“.

Me: I still say the Double Down is not a new thing. It’s just two perfectly ordinary things eaten simultaneously rather than sequentially. It’s as original and innovative as eating french fries two at a time.

At which point I wondered: Why do I feel the need to mock something someone else likes? Why do I even care? When did I became so negative? Was I always like this? And the thing is, I think I was. I recall thinking this exact thing before: that I don’t want to be bitter. I have resolved to be more upbeat.. how many times?

It would be easy to blame the rest of humanity. There’s no shortage of people who are vapid, grasping, immoral, or irrational (or all four — but I’m not naming names). There’s plenty of ammunition for someone looking to complain.

But complaining about stupidity and evil certainly doesn’t make me any happier. And it doesn’t accomplish much. Complaining about other people’s irrational beliefs is as likely to change their opinion as complaining about other people’s driving is likely to get them to use their turn signals. Sure, it’s fun to read about clowns mocking racists, but there are beliefs every bit as irrational and reprehensible as racism that are far more common, but mock those and you’ll have family members and treasured friends un-friending you on Facebook. So what’s the point? You can’t change anything. It’s like trying to convince the winter to turn to spring. If it happens, arguing and complaining won’t make it happen any faster: it just makes the winter less pleasant while you wait.

And hell, I belief all sorts of nutty things. Who am I to judge?

When I was younger, being cynical made me feel hip and edgy. Now it just makes me feel old. But it’s a hard habit to break.

Saturday, 2011-05-14

The storm will pass

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 18:18

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
— Robert H. Schuller

Tuesday, 2011-04-26

Note to self

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 13:26

Note to self: other people are probably happier not knowing what I am thinking.

Wednesday, 2010-12-22

Use real dates for pete’s sake

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 18:45

It flabbergasts me that we went through the whole Y2K crisis, and narrowly avoided severe disruptions in our society thanks the hard work of many, many people, and yet some people seem to have learned nothing from it.

I encountered this date on something today: “09-12-10”.

What the hell is that supposed to be? It’s meaningless. MEANINGLESS.

Starting today, write all of your dates like this: 2010-12-22. YYYY-MM-DD. Year-Month-Day. Do it. Don’t argue with me. Just shut up and do it.

Geez.

Thursday, 2010-12-16

Horse leeches

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 18:15

Fun fact! Writer Richard Suflet recommended drinking large doses of strong vinegar with fleas to cure the illnesses that resulted from swallowing the horse-leeches that were common in drinking water.

Tuesday, 2010-11-23

Thanksgiving 2010

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 11:55

“Anyone can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way — that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.”

— Aristotle (Greek Philosopher, Scientist, and Physician, 384 BCE – 322 BCE)

This blog was created more or less as a joke: a place to complain about the inane and ludicrous things that annoy me, so that I could get on with my life. Overhyped movies, governmental stupidity, human frailty… it’s easy to get caught up in the irritations of life. However, despite what this web site might lead you to believe, I am, by nature, not an angry or bitter person. I prefer to be upbeat and optimistic.

Life is too short to be pissed off all the time.

Here are some things I am grateful for, in no particular order:

  • The love of my life, who makes me a better person through her example.
  • My mother, for raising myself and my sisters to be relatively sane, relatively responsible adults.
  • My sisters and sisters-in-law, for raising children who might make their generation something worth celebrating some day.
  • That I am warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry when it rains.
  • Water that is abundant, inexpensive, and clean.
  • Work that I genuinely enjoy.
  • That the worst thing I realistically have to fear while traveling is being treated disrespectfully by a TSA flunkie.
  • Inexpensive, reliable electricity.
  • That the people who staff our government are usually too busy fighting each other to pay much attention to the rest of us.
  • That I am so wealthy that I can throw socks away rather than darning them, and not even think about it.
  • That I still have friends, despite my boorish and inconsiderate nature.
  • That I am not as boorish and inconsiderate as I once was.
  • Medical care that is effective, inexpensive, and widely available.
  • That I have traveled beyond the horizon in all four directions.

Friday, 2010-09-24

Dinner and a movie

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 16:43

I am all alone in Sterling, VA, so I am treating myself to dinner and a movie. Dinner is spicy pork at a Thai restaurant which was highly recommended by the cashier at the theatre, and the movie is Resident Evil Somethingorother 3D, which is (amazingly) still playing.

Sunday, 2010-09-19

Woke up sad today

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 12:28

Woke up sad today. Worked on my car and fixed something, and that made me feel better.

Monday, 2010-07-12

2003 Tiburon antenna DIY

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 16:19

This is an attempt to recreate a “how to” I wrote back in 2003 on replacing the 2003 Hyundai Tiburon stock antenna with an electric, retractable antenna. My memory is not the best, so any details that I have forgotten… well, they’re gone. Sorry.

Required materials

2003 Hyundai Tiburon
electric retractable antenna
10mm wrench
adjustable wrench
channel lock pliers
90 degree ratchet Phillips screwdriver
90 degree flathead screwdriver
tire iron

First, a few photos of the stock antenna. The spoiler was so shiny back then…

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

First, start with an empty trunk, and the new antenna. I bought this one at Circuit City’s automotive department. Remember Circuit City? My car is black, so I got a black one. You can’t buy the one I used anymore, but here is one you can use instead. Amazon will tell you it does not fit a Tiburon, but it does.

Step 4

Step 5

Use the 10mm wrench to remove the rear speaker enclosure. There are four bolts. Set them aside and keep them together. Make sure you remember where each bolt came from, because they aren’t all the same length. I put all of the hardware in the little round tray thing that sits on the spare tire. Very nice of Hyundai to provide a place to put things like this. This is the first bolt.

Step 6

It still amazes me how roomy the Tiburon’s trunk area is. It’s twice the size of any similar car I have seen, including the new Genesis coupe and the new Camaro.

Step 7

To get to everything, you need to remove the cargo cover…

Step 8

… put the back seats down…

Step 9

… and remove the cover from the spare tire.

Step 10

This is the second 10mm bolt.

Step 11

And this is the third 10mm bolt (wow, they really didn’t want that speaker to move, did they?). I thought I could get this done without taking out the cargo area floor. See how I am lifting it up on side to get to the third bolt? Remember that the car was brand new at the time. I didn’t know anything about it.

Step 12

This is really annoying.

Step 13

Yes, the floor has to go. There is just no way to remove the speaker with it in there. You need to take it out to run the wires, anyway.

Step 14

There we go.

Step 15

And the last one…

Step 16

Make sure you remember where each bolt came from, because they aren’t all the same length. Tricky!

Step 17

See? That one on the left is longer than the other three. If I recall correctly, it came from the topmost speaker bracket: the one on the curve of the wheel well.

Step 18

Pull the speaker enclosure out a little way…

Step 19

… and then unplug it.

Step 20

There is a panel behind the speaker enclosure held closed with three plastic-headed thumbscrews. The screws just unscrew…

Step 21

Step 22

… and they are all the same. Be careful when you screw these back in. They just need to be snug. Don’t crank down on them with any force, or you will strip the flimsy little thing they screw into.

Step 23

To get the panel off, lift out on the right-hand side, and then lift up a bit. The panel has tabs on the left and bottom that go underneath the surrounding edge.

Step 24

Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the stock antenna and remove it.

Step 25

To disconnect the stock antenna mounting bracket, you really need a right-angle ratchet screwdriver.

Step 26

Here is the bracket. See the L-shaped silver part? The vertical part of the L is the base of the stock antenna, and the horizontal part of the L is the mounting bracket, which wraps around the base of the stock antenna and has a screw through it. That dot is the threaded end of that screw — the head of the screw is facing away from you.

Step 27

Just try unscrewing this with a regular screwdriver.

Step 28

You will need need that screw again, so set it aside and do not lose it.

Step 29

You thought that screw was hard? Now comes the hard part: unscrewing the part that holds the antenna onto the body of the car. First grab the antenna base firmly with the channel lock pliers…

Step 30

… then use the biggest flat-head screwdriver you can find to unscrew the top of the stock antenna. I tried every screwdriver I had, and I could not turn this thing. I eventually used a tire iron so that I could get some leverage. This antenna screw-top thing was really on there. I put a few wraps of electrical tape around the tire iron to (hopefully) minimize the damage if I slipped and gouged the car. I managed not to do that. I hope you are as fortunate.

Step 31

Behold: the tire iron!

Step 32

The stock antenna’s screw-top cap thing has been removed…

Step 33

… and set aside. Don’t throw this away. Actually, do not throw anything away, until you are actually done and the new antenna works. You never know what you will need.

Step 34

I didn’t hurt the car, but I did hurt myself. Twice.

Step 35

Finally, we are ready to take the old antenna out.

Step 36

Disconnect the antenna wire. Hard to believe that this antenna plug design hasn’t changed in, what, fifty or sixty years?

Step 37

Now you need the right-angle flat head screwdriver.

Step 38

That bracket is unscrewed, but it’s still tight.

Step 39

Use the screwdriver like a tiny crowbar to pry it apart…

Step 40

… and take out the antenna.

Step 41

Set it aside until you are done.

Step 42

A clean slate!

Step 43

Now for the new antenna. Unwrap everything, and read the instructions.

Step 44

You will probably want to re-use the angled bit that goes on the outside of the car.

Step 45

None of the bits and pieces that came with mine were as good a match for the shape of the fender.

Step 46

Test fit various nuts and washers to make sure you have the best combination for a smooth, professional-looking fit.

Step 47

Push the antenna up from the inside, and test out the inside bits to make sure the antenna will be firmly held in place when you are done.

Step 48

Lay everything out, and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Step 49

Put the inside pieces together, and push it inside, up, and out of the hole. Then put the outside pieces on. Then tighten the outside pieces down with an adjustable wrench. Just tighten it enough to be snug, at first. You will need to be able to wiggle it around a little when you attach the inside mounting bracket.

Step 50

Loop the bracket around the base of the new antenna, then use channel lock pliers to squeeze it tight.

Step 51

Step 52

Use the right-angle ratcheting Phillips screwdriver to screw the bracket together. If you drop this screw into the fender, prepare to spend the next hour trying to find it. I was lucky: I managed to get it out of the fender with a coat hanger and a wad of masking tape.

Step 53

Once you have the bracket good and secure, go back and tighten the outer nut that holds the antenna to the body of the car. It should be tight so that it doesn’t work loose, but don’t go crazy or you’ll strip the threads and have to buy a new one and start all over again. Just tight. Not crazy-needs-a-tire-iron-to-loosen-it tight.

Now for the wiring.

Step 54

Step 55

My new antenna came with about a meter of antenna wire, one end of which was supposed to attach to the car, and the other end of which screwed onto the antenna itself. I did not even bother taking the tie-wraps off of this bundle. I just attached both ends where they went, stuck the bundle into the fender, and attached it to some other piece with electrical tape to keep it from rattling around.

Step 56

It’s in there somewhere.

Step 57

Now for the electrical portion of the installation. This is not difficult, but it’s the part that most people are either afraid or, or do badly, or both.

Step 58

I pulled all of the wires down and out from under the bottom edge of the body panel.

Step 59

Then I replaced the screw-on access panel. Really, you should not do this until you have tested everything, but it is easy enough to take back off if something doesn’t work after you have hooked up all of the wires.

A lot happens here that I did not originally photograph because I did it later. I snaked the wires under the carpet up to the front of the car, to the dashboard. I think I removed the rear seat and the center console/arm rest (not easy to do — you have to remove half the dashboard), and ran the wire under the carpet along the drivetrain hump.

Step 60

The power antenna has two hot leads: one to a “switched” source (usually the “antenna” power lead from your stereo, if it has one; otherwise, a lead on your fuse block that turns off when the key is removed from the ignition, like your cigarette lighter), and one “unswitched” source (something that always stays on, like your hazard lights). You can figure out which is which by experimentation, or with an inexpensive multimeter from Radio Shack. I used the sunroof fuse, and connected to it using a fuse tap (an easy to find part at most auto parts places).

Step 60a

I pulled the wire with the wire tap out so you can see clearly which one it is. Normally, it is tucked in and just goes directly to the right, into the dashboard.

Step 60b

Now, before you start bolting things back in place in the trunk, test everything. Make sure the antenna goes up when the radio is on. Make sure it goes down when the radio is off. And so on.

Is it all working? Great. Now we just put everything back together. The speaker enclosure…

Step 61

… the cargo area floor…

Step 62

… the spare tire cover…

Step 63

… and the cargo area cover.

Step 64

All done! isn’t it pretty?

Step 65

P.S. I actually went one step further.. I bought a TCS switch, which goes into one of the blanks next to the dashboard dimmer switch. I modified the TCS switch so that it’s a “holding” switch (meaning that it stays in when you push it in, until you push it again), by taking out the little “holding” wire from another set of Tiburon switches I bought (the switches for heated seats). Then I hooked the TCS switch up in series with the “switched source” antenna power lead (the one that goes to the antenna power lead on the stereo). That way, I can keep the antenna down when I am listening to my MP3 player, which is most of the time, and only put it up when I actually need it, which is almost never.

Wednesday, 2010-06-02

Still alive

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 17:55

Meeting with a client this afternoon. Hopefully, it will have positive results.

It will be a while before I know anything about the job with the company that helps nonprofits organize fund-raising events. That’s not the only job lead I have, so I am pretty optimistic, in general.

I am still coughing, but far less often than I was, and more often than not it’s more of a vigorous throat-clearing than an actual cough. I will be glad when the cough abates entirely: my ribs and chest muscles are so sore.

Class officially started yesterday. I think this semester is going to be great. I am actually interested in both classes.

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