I'm finally home. It's 1:30 and I still need to shower. But I got a thing.
More news when I've slept and am coherent.
If it's from Japan, I'm probably interested. The smaller the better.
Natural aspiration is just wasted displacement.
2003 MR-2 Spyder. 2ZZ turbo on the way.
1992 Autozam AZ-1 Mazdaspeed. HT07 and all that jazz. VVT K6A swap eventually.
1992 Autozam Scrum Turbo RZ Super Multi Roof. EV conversion probably never.
1998 Eclipse GSX. HTA68, MegaSquirt, built everything. Finally fast enough to tackle the winter commute.
1996 Suzuki Jimny CC. 3.73 diff swap, VVT K6A eventually
2017 Chevy Bolt. No longer catches on fire.
Best posts made by DSM_OR_DIE
My husband was on TV
Link here. The local news wanted to do a story about pool health and no one higher up the chain at the Health Department was available to accommodate, so my husband had to step in.
I had to dress him that morning because he's gay but he's not THAT gay. Brown belt with black shirt and shoes? Honey, no. He was nervous, but I assured him that the reporter is good at her job. She uses semicolons. Correctly!
After filming, he only had one thing on his mind: did my watch look good? So Watchlopnik, I'll let you decide.
I can't keep this picture of my sister's cat to myself
Tibby loves road trips. She goes back and forth between Nashville and Cincinnati all the time and is now best friends with my mom's cat.
The 7 Deadly Sins: Pride
Pride isn't an emotion that I feel all that often, but when it hits, it hits hard.
I got a message from my mother in our family group chat today. And my family is a mess. My dad is DEEP into dementia and my grandma is suffering from Alzheimer's and my grandpa isn't taking any of this well. BUT. My mother, having taken care of all of the bullshit that typifies her life these days, pulled the Mustang out of storage and gave it a wash. This is the image that she sent to everyone.
My mom has been through hell and come out laughing. She sold her C7, the E92 M3, the Integra R, and the Challenger 392 when shit hit the fan and hunkered down to prepare for weathering everything on her own, but she came out the other side so well off that she was able to get her dream car, pictured above. I'd love to say that I helped her through all of the family drama but she made it all on her own, and I couldn't be more proud of her for that.
On a similar vein, my sister has been through some shit. Living two states away from the rest of us, being in the travel/amusement industry when COVID hit, and having a boyfriend that didn't support her left her in a very rough place. She was keeping above water but just barely. She bought a property that none of us saw hope in and surprised us all when she turned it from a brass prison to a hardwood home. She has always been adamant about the three pedal lifestyle, from her Volvo 240 through her two Corollas, but after finally finding herself in a position where she can buy a car because she wants to she ended up in an Elantra N. I sent her a Hyundai review article today, and she responded.
And that's when it hit me. My family is badass. From the car perspective sure (all three pedals except for EV/hybrids), but also in general. I just can't express how proud I am of everyone in my entire extended family. Siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, all of the in-laws. We're awesome. If being proud of all of us is a sin, well I'll see you all in hell.
DSM or: How Ruining My Life Was The Best Decision That I ever Made, Part 1: Catching a disease
I guess it's time. This was a series that I wrote on the original Oppo and I keep getting requests to put it back online. Unfortunately some of my pictures didn't survive but I'm working to get as many of them back.
I grew up with Need for Speed. Every kid my age did. My sister and I put more hours into that series than any other in our collection save maybe the Harry Potter PC games (we have eclectic tastes). The one that stood out in my mind the most, though, was the original Underground game. I never put any thought into the actual vehicles available and chose cars based on those sweet sweet blue stats bars. So I grew up getting familiar with the Dodge Neon, Peugeot 206, NB Miata, and Nissan Sentra on a visual level, but nothing deeper than that.
Enter the mid-2000s, however. My mom sits me down and tells me that I am required to get my temporary license as soon as I am eligible because I am required to get my license on my 16th birthday. I am required to buy my own car and I am required to get my own insurance for it. And these tasks are necessary because her car was so unreliable that I would need to drive her to and from work and do the shopping while her own car (Jaguar S-Type R) was inevitably in the shop. At the time of this conversation, it was at the dealership after having been towed because it wouldn’t start.
My own car. I hadn’t put any thought at all into what I might want beyond the fact that I would be getting a car and had been saving up. And here’s how I chose my first car: I wanted that one car from Need for Speed Underground with the tail lights that go all the way across the back. So I fired up underground.exe and checked. 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Alright, done. I began searching.
I knew that it needed to be a manual. It wouldn’t be green or purple. I found out pretty quickly that I only wanted the facelift, so 1997-1999. Those were pretty much my only requirements (I didn’t know that there were trim levels that didn’t have a turbo) and it still took me three months to find one that matched them. My mom was rather unhappy with this delay because it meant that we forced into four people sharing my dad’s Integra R and my sister’s badass manual Volvo 240. The Jag had needed a new transmission.
eBay Motors. Wouldn’t recommend it. But I found one that I liked. A red 1997 GS-T Spyder. It didn’t have great paint but otherwise needed nothing according to the listing. I placed a bid and won. And that was when I discovered that the car was at a dealership in Florida. So I went to the bank, withdrew most of my savings to pay for the car and the trip back, and then bought one-way plane tickets from Indianapolis to Sarasota for my mom and me (Indianapolis was cheaper than flying out of Cincinnati). I was still 15 at the time and didn’t have my license, so the second plane ticket was a necessary expense.
We woke up at 2AM, had my dad drive us the two hours to Indianapolis, got on a plane at 6AM, were in Sarasota by 9:30, had the dealership pick us up in a black Focus SVT, and were checking out the car by 10:30. I started going down my checklist in my head. The top is in great shape. It runs and idles well. AC works. Cruise control works. No CEL or other warning lights. The clutch caught right at the floor, but that’s a common complaint with these cars. The underside looked like it had just rolled out of the factory, so I knew that I must have it. My mom was less enthused, however. The body was in much worse shape than the pictures showed, with several new large dents and very little remaining clearcoat. She “stepped inside” to “have a nice conversation” with the guy running the dealership.
And at this point I should clarify that term. These guys had a dealership license and were able to provide their own financing and temporary tags, but the “dealership” was their house and they just had a driveway full of shitty and mostly riced out cars. And apparently I was lucky to have purchased the car when I did because the sellers had already installed underglow and had just received the body kit that they had purchased for the car. If I were to leave without purchasing the car, the stock bumpers would be scrapped and replaced with the most ill-fitting aftermarket bumpers that money can buy. After having stood up to the likes of my mother (a task that few have ever achieved) they decided to make up for the undisclosed damage by offering to include said body kit with the car. I firmly and almost violently declined.
I hand over the cash, they print a temp tag and sign the title, and we’re on our way. Yes, there was a test drive, but it was consumed entirely by my mom screaming that I wasn’t allowed to put the top down anymore because her hair had been destroyed. So we hit the road with the top up and head North. My mom whips out a disposable camera that she had secretly bought to capture my reactions to driving my first car.
I drove the car into the night, trying to both get a feel for my new purchase and to get as far as I could before we had to stop for the night. Having only ever driven my dad’s Honda, I was not used to the torque from this 4G63. It felt infinitely faster than the Integra, so I was happy. I had test driven only one other Eclipse by that point and this one was obviously slower, but that one had been modified so surely it was supposed to be faster than this one. However, by the time we stopped in northern Georgia the CEL was solidly illuminated and we had averaged 19mpg across the few tanks of gas that we had used. I pulled out what remained of my cash and bought a hotel in the Middle of Nowhere, Georgia.
In the morning, the car was reluctant to start and was a little rough idling in the parking lot. Being 450 miles from home didn’t leave us many options, though, so we pressed on. The second day of driving was consumed entirely by complaints from my mother about how horrifically uncomfortable the seats were. The 19mpg trend continued despite my sticking to the speed limit (I still didn’t have my license, remember?). And despite all of the above, I was quickly falling in love with the car. Sure, it needed work, both to correct the body and to correct these unknown mechanical issues, but come on. How bad could it be?
Black Friday and Dementia
Mental illness is a bitch.
I went to Cincinnati to spend the extended weekend with my family. Thanksgiving itself was fine, but that night we were all trying to catch up after dinner while my dad was watching a series of videos on Facebook, as he does. Volume at max and he'll just swipe through them, not really watching. This night's theme was wood saws and sirens. My mom had to pause everything so that she could find headphones and a 3.5mm to lightning adapter because Apple is a shit. He took the headphones off so that we could all hear the noises.
My women in my family traditionally brave Black Friday as a group every year, starting with breakfast out. I had to pick up some car parts at the dealership so we all went to breakfast together. Except my grandma, who is sidelined with Alzheimer's. Breakfast was okay, except that when my mom would read the menu to him, my dad would stare blankly back. She eventually had to decide for him.
After breakfast I would need to drop the car parts off at home before continuing my errands so my mom asked me to take my dad home with me. No big deal. We get the parts. We go home.
I replace the failed optical drive in their desktop. Mr. _OR_DIE researches some gifts for my aunt. My dad lies on his back on his bed and stares at the ceiling. Then the husband and I depart for more Black Friday shenanigans. Not 60 minutes later we had finished our To Do list and were back on the road when the husband gets a call from an unknown local number. Someone had spotted our dog wandering through the neighborhood and called the number on his tag. We let my mom know and she starts panicking about the two cats at home that may or may not also be wandering the streets. The other group beat us home and filled us in on what my dad had been doing in the hour that he was home alone.
He had eaten around 8 chocolate bars. He had gotten all of the Thanksgiving leftovers out of the refrigerator, but it's unclear how much of them he ate. He put the cheese ball on a board and sliced up all of the blocks of cheese in the house and arranged them on the board as though they were the crackers to eat the cheese ball with. He pulled the desktop back out and had started disassembling it. Parts of the case were broken and rattling around inside. HDDs and SSDs were unplugged. All of the toolless drive bays had been removed.
And he had let the dog out and not let him back in. AND I discovered that the kitchen faucet handle was now leaking pretty badly.
So the rest of the night was spent cleaning up, putting away, and generally babyproofing the house. My mom kept me up until 1:30 to talk about how much worse he had gotten and how quick the decline has been. I have no idea how she's not only managing to keep up with all of her responsibilities and his but also still having fun together. Traveling is certainly out of the question now, but they seem to find plenty of things to do.
So I'm kind of inspired to just post random nostalgic bits, hence the tag. I'm going to try to do one every day, and they'll just be like a paragraph or sentence story from my life. We'll see how that goes. For the first one:
We used to take the Integra R camping. We'd load the hatch with a cooler and cooking gear and the tent and hatchets and then set off for wherever. My dad, my sister, and me. We used to go camping on a friend's property that was back in the woods on undeveloped land and there was a water crossing and a usually muddy hill between civilization and that patch of land. In later years we built a bridge to help people cross but for the first few years we'd take the Integra mudding.
Good news! Great news even!
That Toyota transmission part that is long discontinued and has been unobtainable for a few years? MonkeyWrenchRacing just happens to have one "set aside" and will trade me for the used final drive coming out of my transmission, assuming it's in good enough shape. Sign me up!
Incredibly comfy kitty for your time!
DSM or: How Ruining My Life Was The Best Decision That I ever Made, Part 2: No Symptoms Yet
Previously I bought a car that I knew nothing about and drove it 1000 miles home. Find part 1 here.
I thought the car was doing well. I was wrong. The car was down on power. There were several engine codes covering misfires, oxygen sensors, solenoids, and others that I have since forgotten. After trying to clean it up with a can of Seafoam I discovered that the exhaust manifold was cracked and leaking in numerous places. The lifter tick was really bad and an oil change hadn’t helped. The tires (Futura 2000) were an unknown brand and were completely bald. I replaced both oxygen sensors, spark plugs, air filter, and plug wires; replaced the tires with the best all-seasons that I could find; and ordered a new fuel pressure regulator solenoid from the dealership. The dealership sent me a fuel pressure regulator instead, but everything else had worked to bump fuel economy up from 19 highway to 27 city.
I thoroughly cleaned the car, inside and out, and found some remnants from the previous owner. Her name was Marianne. She had owned the car since new. She liked hard candies, particularly those ones whose wrapper is colored like a strawberry. I also found her obituary under the rear seats. For an old lady who only drove this car to church and back, she sure put a lot of miles on it. But it had cleaned up well and I was finally happy with it. The only two things left on my list, lifter tick and fuel pressure solenoid, would be taken care of in short order. I left for the summer to work at a camp in Kentucky so I asked my mom to take my car to the dealership to have the solenoid addressed. When I came back I was greeted by a $550 bill. Instead of telling them to fix the solenoid, she told them to “just fix it,” and handed them my credit card. And I am sure that that service technician’s eyes lit up because he replaced my brand new plug wires, plugs, air filter, oil, and oil filter, and also “cleaned the fuel injectors” and conveniently ignored the CEL and FPS. And also spilled oil all over my engine bay and paint. With my wallet $550 lighter and my spare keys permanently removed from my mother’s possession, I focused on the lifter tick.
The internet says that you just remove the lifters, drain them of the old oil, clean them out, and then reinstall them. Easy enough. The valve cover came off easily and the lifters came out without much effort, but the friend that was helping me with the job managed to break the plastic diverter valve while wrestling with one of the rockers and so it began. If I’m going to replace then I might as well upgrade. I still hadn’t addressed the exhaust manifold, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for some modest modifications. I bought an exhaust manifold from an EVO III to replace my cracked stock one. I ordered new black leather seat covers to replace the worn and ripped grey stock ones. After finding a metal diverter valve from the 1st generation Eclipse in a local junkyard I ordered an aluminum charge pipe kit that had the appropriate flange. Power was back up to stock levels and my engine bay was a little shinier. Success, I guess.
This uncovered a new problem, however. Now that I was back up to the full 210hp, the clutch started slipping. Having little experience with other vehicles, though, I didn’t correctly diagnose the problem. I thought that I was just driving it incorrectly and tried to be even less aggressive with the throttle during shifts. While at work one day, however, it got much worse. The timing was really inconvenient because it was the day before move in day at college. I needed to drive the car to Indiana in the morning in preparation for freshman year. When I got off work I took it to the mechanic across the street right before he closed and asked him to take a look at it. I described the problem and the urgency to him and he understood. He immediately acquired a clutch kit and called in a friend to work through the night to get it installed by morning.
I showed up the next morning expecting to find it still in pieces, but the car was completely back together. The mechanic showed me how there wasn’t any friction material left in the old clutch and how the old pressure plate had deep scoring in it from the exposed rivets in what was left of the pressure plate. He had been able to salvage the old flywheel and get everything installed, so I was good to go. Except that during the removal of the engine he had accidentally sheared the speed sensor off of the transmission. A new one was on the way (at his expense) but it would be a few days. So I loaded up my Eclipse and headed toward Terre Haute with no speedo.
College was a wild time, but it also triggered a transition from the positive, reliable DSM experience of my high school years into a nightmare that still pains me six years later. And it only took two months to show.
Freshman year. The auto club was going to an autocross and I was very excited to participate. The venue was 90 minutes away and we were all going to caravan there. I filled up my tank and took my place right in the middle of the pack as we drove out of the parking lot. Thirty minutes later I was taking a left to turn onto the highway and was met with nothing. In fourth gear with my foot on the floor, the car was only maintaining speed downhill. It sounded like my intake had come off. I pulled over and popped the hood. No visible damage. No leaking fluids. Nothing was out of place. Keep calm and carry on, then. Except that the engine wouldn’t start without applying pretty significant throttle, and it wouldn’t stay running unless I held the engine above 3000RPM. I was less calm, but I was still carrying on. The other club members had left me behind but the guy driving the trailer full of team cars had stopped to check on me. I assured him that my car was perfectly fine and perfect and that I was going to win the autocross today. We set off again.
Drafting closely behind the trailer with my foot all the way to the floor, the car could maintain 65 mph. Which was enough to keep up, but if the trailer switched lanes and I started to fall behind, my top speed dropped below 60 mph. In this manner I was able to make it to the autocross but had consumed an entire tank of gas during the 95 mile trip. While everyone else was having their cars inspected, I was messing around under the hood of mine. I found that unplugging the spark wires from the left coil pack had no effect but doing the same from the right coil pack would kill the engine. So I had lost a coil and was running on two cylinders for most of that drive. At least I knew the problem, but the solution wasn’t clear since I didn’t have any gas, my car didn’t really run, and the nearest auto parts store that had the coil in stock was 25 minutes away. I meekly asked all of the other club members if I could borrow one of their cars for a “quick” trip into town but was met with a lot of blank stares. I had been a member for three weeks at this point and didn’t know any of their names. They certainly didn’t know me. Even so, I managed to acquire the keys to a BMW and went on my way.
After much frustration and a lot of burns all over my arms, I got the coil replaced just as the racing was coming to an end. I thanked the friendly Corvette driver for letting me use his tools and drove home with a smile, surprised at the success of my first autocross.
The engine held together for less than two months before the turbo died. It’s sort of impressive, really. The original turbo had managed to survive 12 years and 130,000 miles before exhibiting the telltale shaft play and oil leaks, but that didn’t change the fact that I needed to purchase a new one. And again, if I’m going to replace it, I might as well upgrade. For no logical reason whatsoever, I took the more expensive route and bought a Forced Performance Big T28 over the more common, cheaper, and more powerful EVO III 16G. It was a parking lot turbo swap in a snowstorm in December and I may have permanently lost some feeling in my fingers.
I also fell victim to a college prank that involved stealing all four of my wheels and hiding them around campus which got ME in trouble with campus security. Who, of course, refused to help me locate the stolen property.
After that was a bad ball joint that required the assistance of the not-so-friendly neighborhood 426lb classmate. Two surprisingly soft pickle forks later, the suspension was good to go. I then bought ECMLink and a wideband so that I could tune the car for this new turbo but found the stock injectors significantly lacking. I acquired some new ones and installed them the week before the first autocross in the spring, but in my haste managed to mess things up. I overtorqued the PCV valve and cracked the valve cover in half. $90 later, I had a shiny red valve cover from a 1G DSM. A few small mishaps later and it was summer again.
And if you’re reading this and thinking, why is he telling us this? This is about the most tame DSM story ever, then you will be delighted to know that this is where the story starts getting interesting. The car was still burning a small amount of oil. I could have gotten by continuing to ignore it, but it was summer. I had the time and a job to pay for the parts, so why not tackle this issue? How hard could it be? Assuming that the oil was coming from either the piston rings or the valve stem seals, I decided to tackle the piston rings first. I placed an order at the beginning of the summer with a company called TheDSMGraveyard for ARP head studs and rod bolts, bearings, a complete gasket set, piston rings, an oil pump, a timing belt, and everything else needed for a full tune up on this car. The rod bolts were on backorder and will be in by the end of the week. No big deal. Fast forward two months.I had been calling them every single day. The parts are in the mail from ARP and we will have them tomorrow, they would say. We have your order together and it will ship out in the morning. I heard that for weeks on end until one day I heard a different response. “It looks like we aren’t going to be getting your main bolts in any time soon. Would you like us to go ahead and ship everything else?” I didn’t order main bolts. The crankshaft isn’t coming out of the block because the block isn’t coming out of the car. I have been waiting for two months for the rod bolts that I will have to replace when I remove the pistons. The guy on the phone was very confused. They had never, at any point that entire calendar year, been out of rod bolts. The good news is that they could ship out immediately. The bad news is that I was now a week away from needing to return to Terre Haute for college. They would overnight the parts for free and gave me a decent discount on my next order. Sure. Fine. Whatever.
I had three days to disassemble the engine, hone the cylinders (you’re a bit young to be renting a hone tool, the Autozone guy had said), install the new parts, and get the car running again. Long story short, that didn’t happen. The friend that was traveling with me showed up at my house right as I tried turning the engine over for the first time. Lots of cranking but no firing. No compression. We left for Terre Haute, disappointed, in his car.
It turns out that DSM cam gears each have two timing marks, so simply aligning the marks on each gear only has a 50% chance of being correct. It took several days of frustration to realize this, but not long after my return from Terre Haute my Eclipse was running again. Poorly, because timing was still off by one tooth, but it ran! Time to seat the piston rings with a friendly autocross competition with my dad.
I covered that parking lot in thick billowing clouds of smoke. Also my shifter cable snapped during my first run, so I had to pop the hood, fiddle with the transmission to put it in second gear, and sacrifice my launches a bit for the remainder of my runs. Also on the way home the oil pressure light would turn on at idle, but it would turn off once I started driving. I remembered that, in my haste to reassemble the engine, I had left the oil pickup tube bolts hand-tight and the oil pump must be ingesting air. A quick fix, but one that I had to do ASAP.
I fixed the oil pickup tube but found that the oil consumption issue remained, so I went forward with a head swap. Using my comparatively small credit from TheDSMGraveyard, I ordered a rebuilt head. When it arrived, however, I was less than enthused. Several of the valve cover threads were stripped. There was still used oil in places from the head’s previous life. The whole thing was completely covered in sand. I called to complain to TheDSMGraveyard, but they told me to go pound the pile of sand that had accumulated on my workbench. I cleaned it as best I could with the aerosol solvents at my disposal, installed my original cams, and put it in the car with no drama. I shipped off my OE head to recoup the significant CORE charge that had been levied against the new head, at least satisfied that the oil consumption issue had been resolved.
Unfortunately for me, in the three months between the parts order and the head order, TheDSMGraveyard decided to stop honoring all responsibilities as a business. Their BBB rating had dropped from a B to an F. They happily sold my head as-is to another unsuspecting customer and stopped answering the phones in order to avoid having to address the mountain of complaints against them. I filed grievances against the company but was never able to secure the money that they owed me. As this coincided with a significant medical bill, I had to take a break from having a well-maintained car for, well, the rest of the life of the car.
On AAA and camping and Renaissance faires
A friend and I took my van from Indy to Wisconsin for the Bristol Ren faire over the weekend of the 23rd. The plan was to drive to Chicago, camp at a KOA Friday night, drive the hour to Kenosha for Ren faire Saturday, KOA again Saturday night, then return home Sunday. It was my first time camping in 5 years and seemingly her first time ever, so we overpacked. Which was fine because van.
The drive up was nice and leisurely, with a single stop for snacks. 32 mpg for the end of the first tank and 28 mpg for the second tank with AC on. We arrived well after dark and pitched the tent by the van's headlights, which are very powerful. Too powerful, in fact, for the van's battery. The ballasts undervolted and shut off. But after some very tense slow cranking, it did eventually start and I left it idling for the rest of campsite assembly. And just as we stepped into the tent for the final time, the skies opened up and it downpoured, spraying us with moisture through some surprise pinhole leak in the tent's fly. It was uncomfortable, but we got to sleep.
We got to the festival just after it opened and had a blast. As is becoming our custom, we got zero pictures together there and zero pictures of me at all before my corset broke apart, but here's a gif of me discovering a slight wardrobe malfunction while up on stage for the Wench Show.
And the drive back to the campsite was a blast as we drove through the mist with all of the sunroofs and windows open, screaming Disney tunes at the tops of our lungs.
But as I pulled into the campground my driver front found a hidden curb and the sidewall decided to let go. I limped it back to the campsite and called AAA. Because of course van has no spare tires or tools. But as it was 9PM and we were already intending to stay the night at the campground, they just told me to call back in the morning. We forewent our over-an-open-fire Mexican chicken skillet dinner and ordered pizza.
But I couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed at 5:30 and started preparations. By 9AM I had called just under 30 tire shops and had only found one that had a tire in my size (165/65R14) AND an open slot to install it same-day. And it was in Cicero, 75 miles away. I called AAA back and opened the request and was told that a driver was on the way and would get there at 11:45. So we packed up the tent and waited. In the rain. At 12:30, I called back and was told that the ETA had been updated to 1:30. So we waited. In the rain. At 2:30 I called back and was told that AAA had never scheduled a tow and no one was coming. So after AA wasted more than 5 hours of my time, I started looking for a tow myself.
The very first company that I called was around 2 miles away. The operator very clearly wanted to help, but didn't feel like the $585 it would cost to get me into Chicago would be worthwhile, and suggested a bunch of nearby tire places. I had already contacted all of them, but I did manage to locate a Firestone just 20 minutes away that had two tires in stock and could get to me today as a walk-in as long as I "didn't get there 10 minutes before close and expect [them] to stay late." I called back that tow company and the operator informed me that he had JUST left to take a call in Wisconsin and he could get to me if I could wait two hours. I said that the tire shop closed in two hours and he gave me the name of a local guy with some towing equipment. I of course couldn't locate a phone number for this mysterious person so I continued calling around. But while on the phone, a Wrangler in @Just-Jeepin style (no top, no doors, windshield down) pulled up next to me. I finish the call and politely smile at the driver, expecting it to be someone at the campground who wants to ask if it's legal to own a RHD car in the US or some shit, but instead, it was that first tow operator.
He had been right outside the campground when I called and figured he'd stop in and see how I was faring. He confirmed that my tire was indeed not repairable, then called his friend himself to schedule the pickup. This friend was within walking distance of the KOA but had been asleep, so we'd just have to wait for him to get dressed and then he'd be over.
An hour later, this.
But my friend has been losing her mind. First because of AAA, second because everything is wet, and third because of how slow this guy is. And also bench seat and I'm in the middle. The truck's a 6 speed and every time he shifts that shifter gets up close and personal with my crotch, which was a first for me.
The driver's very stereotypical Wisconsin: crazy friendly, crazy conversational, and not really in any hurry. It took him quite a while to get the van on the flatbed (I was planning on getting a photo with the van fully up and secured but I got tired of waiting). Once we set off, he went on a long monologue about everything from the sudden appearance of roundabouts locally to notable recent traffic deaths to the owners of various farms that we passed to the local celebrity who had invented the inverted aerosol can. The 20 mile trip took 50 minutes and we arrived at Firestone 5 minutes before they closed.
I had given up on getting back home that day and had already contacted our bosses (we're coworkers) that we'd be missing work Monday. I stayed with the tow truck, paying for the tow and shooting the shit with the driver while he tidied up. But my friend comes sprinting out of the tire shop with some carbon copy paperwork in her hand and an urgent look on her face. "They're getting us in today. Make, model, and VIN." She shoved the paperwork into my hands.
I went straight back inside because yes, I have the VINs of my cars memorized. It's 5:00. Closing time. The woman at the desk told me that she needed the FULL VIN and I had to take her out and show her the VIN plate AND the etched VIN on the chassis before she believed me that it's only 11 digits. She had me pull it in onto a lift, and the we waited.
We nearly passed out in that lobby. We were exhausted. And our phones were long dead at this point. And nearly two hours later, she comes to tell me that it's done (they had a long line of other vehicles that they had also decided to finish that day. Hopefully they get paid time-and-a-half). But she doesn't look too happy, and she's clicking away on the computer for a long time. Then she turns to me with an uneasy face. "I don't think I can check out out."
The computer system requires a VIN before it will process payment, and it won't accept mine for obvious reasons. I told her that the BMV padded the VIN with 1s to make it 17 digits on my title, but no bueno. I offered a number of valid USDM VINs from my other cars, but the VIN has to match a car that takes the size of tire that they installed, so no go there either. Eventually she was like, "I can create an invoice, and if you pay in cash I can run it through tomorrow when the manager is in." Inconvenient, but if it gets us out of here today, sure. I walked to a gas station and patronized their ATM, paid the woman, and we were on our way.
7:30PM Panda Express as our first meal of the day. Drive into Chicago, out the other side, and back to Indy. Arrive 12:30AM. Unload all of the soaked (and now smelly) items from the trunk, set up the tent to dry, start load of laundry, fall unconscious.
The next day I'm unloading the rest of the van and loading it again for another trip to Chicago (conference in Chicago all of last week; it was wild!) when I notice that the new tire is flat. I check the pressure and it's at 18 psi. Fill it up to 36psi, monitor it for leaks (none), get some gas (24 mgp), then set out for Chicago once again. Via Terre Haute to pick up some more convention-goers.
So now I'm finally back to tell the story and the van is covered in mud due to some offroading around a surprise road closure on the way back. I get to wash the van, clean it out again, and then prepare for yet another trip this weekend, this time to Detroit to visit the husband's family.
And before you ask. Yes, I have the original spare tire for the van. And when I say original, I mean it. Decades old. BUT I have a winter set for the van that I genuinely didn't know about so Ima toss one of those into the spare tire holder before I leave. I have the original jack but no tire iron so I guess I'll just toss a breaker bar and socket in there for now.
This was genuinely the first time in my life where I've ever had a tire problem that having a spare tire would have helped with, and it's also the first time in my entire life that AAA hasn't been immediately responsive. And honest with me.
Also 1200 miles, plus 600 more this weekend. I'm so glad my insurance is the unlimited mile tier.
Latest posts made by DSM_OR_DIE
RE: Weirdest homebrew to date
@Albino-Kangaroo I started homebrewing for the same reason. Work sent me to the UK for several business trips and I discovered that cider can actually be good when it's not 50% sugar. I've only found one singular excellent cider in the US: E. Krispers from Heavy Seas Brewing, but I can't find it outside of Baltimore so I started making my own. When I make stuff for others (like my apple pie cider that I make every year for Thanksgiving) I make them sweeter because that's what everyone else likes, but when I make them for myself they are DRY. My pear cider wasn't backsweetened at all and it's my favorite that I've ever done.
I made one singular batch using commercial apple juice. The problem is that the sweet apples used for eating and juice don't have much flavor beyond the sugar, and that little flavor ferments out. The flavor in hard cider comes from the bitter apples that we wouldn't want to eat. With the apple juice, I was left with 5 gallons of what tasted like cheap wine. Alcohol, acid, slightly yeasty. It was okay if I overcarbonated it because it tasted exactly like (cheap) champagne but otherwise it was quite poor. I wanted to make a batch using unfiltered apple juice (what we in the US call apple cider) but my two favorite brands both had preservatives in them. I need to call around to the many local orchards and see if I can get a line on the bitter apples, but for now I just use "apple cider base" which does a pretty good job of actually tasting like something after fermentation.
RE: Weirdest homebrew to date
@Nauraushaun I make lemonade, add yeast, and once the ABV is high enough to keep it sterile, fruit. I have never done wine and to be honest I have no idea how, for example, hard cider is different from apple wine. It's higher ABV but do you add sugar to get it there? Lemonade, apples, and pears naturally come out to ~6%.
My secret for aging mead is to throw it in 1/2 gallon mason jars and hide them. I completely forgot I had these in my basement until I moved some audio monitors around to swap out receivers. The original mead was collegiate level garbage alcohol but the year in hiding has worked wonders. It's almost good!
Weirdest homebrew to date
I've made a lot if hard lemonades. They're my favorite thing to brew because they're impossible to screw up, and also nothing screams hot gurl (leaving that typo in) summer like a tart hard lemonade. I've done plain, blueberry, watermelon, and now raspberry lemonade. And if you're unfamiliar, the sugars in a wort make the liquid dense, and as it ferments, the alcohol content drops the density. Sometimes you even end up with a specific gravity below 1.000. But in general, you end up with an exponential decay function for specific gravity that looks like this.
Sometimes you get particulate like hop buds that float around and throw off the measurement a little, but it's never that crazy. In light of that, here's the chart for this lemonade.
It got a little weird there. I have no idea what happened. It could have used another day or two, but given the intent to take it to @David-Tracy 's place this weekend it's already kegged. And it's great, but, like, what?
Also this is what it looked like when I added the raspberries to the carboy.
Also I'm bringing my cherry mead that has aged for a year now. No photos (it's just a red liquid in bottles) but I'll give people plenty of options so that no one is subjected to @Miss-Mercedes 's
Blipshift: Just 4WDin'
Obligatory @Just-Jeepin tag. Blipshift's latest design is pretty great, even as a sports car (READ: Not off-roading) enthusiast.
Considering getting this for Mr. _OR_DIE. Available for another 1 day 6 hours as of posting.
RE: Fuck This Piece In Particular
@beefchips There are right ways to do it (Fiat 500) and wrong ways to do it (everything else). You can make the circular seal the highest part of the roof and place a big pane of glass over top. No drains needed. Even with a seal failure you don't get a leak except for significant rain AND wind situations. I don't subscribe to the sunroof kool aid if it's not in this style.
The drain hoses in P1 S40s were known for shrinking and pulling off of the fittings at the sunroof. Any rain at all was directed onto the top side of the headliner and then down the A pillars. Mild showers would result in inches of standing water. So stupid.
RE: Show me a weirder-looking car
the gaylord gladiator
How do I not own a convertible named Gaylord?
Between 1955 and 1957 four Gladiators were made, including the owl-eyed prototype. It’s believed that only the two quad-headlight, conventionally-styled examples built by Zeppelin survived; one at the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen and the other in private ownership in the US.
RE: Going to see some Hyundais.
Hell the U.S. tourists when they come to the U.K. they pronounce Hampshire as hamp-shI-re, instead of hamp-shur, even though one of the first states that's called out in the U.S. primaries is New Hampshire, pronouncing it as Hamp-shur
Blame Tolkien. Should Peter Jackson have convinced everyone that the land of the hobbits was a homonym with 'sure?'
Edit: also, yes, Americans are willfully (intentionally) ignorant.