errantember: (darth bobo)
Jesus. I've been helping my Mom recover from foot surgery recently, and it's been tough on both of us. I've been 200 miles away from home for almost 30 of the past 45 days, and today we found out she may not be walking again for another six weeks. I have Huge Plans to drive to Portland this summer that have already been hugely delayed, but she lives alone, and can barely get around with a wheelchair and walkers without help. She also can't reach all of her own feet, which makes keeping track of her Activac mechanical wound vampire thing difficult. She teaches adult education, and has lots of devoted students, friends and neighbors helping her, but naturally they can't do as good a job as a devoted family member. My Mom really busted her ass taking care of me as a child, with a bipolar and often out-of-work father. Her incredible devotion, focus, and hard work is the main reason I'm where I am today, and I know I can never full repay that debt. It feels like the least I can do is take a few weeks out of my life to help her through what should be a temporary hardship. Paying someone else to do it amounts to thousands of dollars per *week*.

Balanced against staying and helping is the fact that the trip to Portland is not some kind of recreational vacation. It's something I've been working on for months, if not years, and is the first major step to manifesting my new life of mobile development and living light in people's back yards. Mom's house is also filled with cigarette smoke and Fox News 24/7, and it's nearly impossible for me to get any work done on my career while I'm here. I have a huge amount of momentum making the move from corporate cog to independent developer, and a lot of will be lost if I stay here too long. More to the point, distractions and depression are the two biggest obstacles to me being able to pay the bills as an App developer, and both of those are going to be hard-core monkeys on my back as long as I'm here. Of course, the guilt of leaving will be with me if I choose to do that. I've also put thousands of dollars in parts and hundreds of hours of labor into getting my car ready for the trip. Finally, I have existing and potential romantic relationships in Portland, and this is the last funded trip I have before cutting myself off pending money from my new career. I chose to remove money from my retirement account for the second time just yesterday to keep myself afloat, and, even with everything as uncertain as it is, I still steadfastly refuse to seek full-time corporate work. I know if stay focused on my App development, I can get to a point where I'm paying my bill in six months or less, but if I let *anything* distract me, I won't make it.

Finally, my Mom has some issues with feeling loved and appreciated due to her tough life, and combined with the guilt issues I've had for years over our relationship, there's a very real threat that she will continue to see her own need as trumping what's going on in my life if I don't assert some boundaries. I'm fairly certain there's an internal monologue in her head that says "my son isn't really amounting to anything, he's committing financial suicide, and compared to what he has going on taking care of me is *much* more important." As much as I want to help her, I have my own life with a huge number of moving parts, and I can't simply turn it off, no matter how important the motivation. If it were a longer-term situation of her needing help, I'd have to put my foot down and say "if you really need long-term help from me, you're going to have to move to my town," but the fact that this is of medium-but-undetermined-term makes the water much muddier.

I've also had the luxury of living a pretty soft, self-centered life, and this is forcing me to grown up in a lot of ways that are painful but probably good in the long term. I really love my Mom, and being forced into a pressure cooker with her has actually allowed me to re-connect with some kinds of love for her that got blocked in my childhood. Those issues have caused intimacy problems with my partners, and I can already see the breaking of some emotional dams overflowing into those relationships.

The good news is that she has long term care insurance that kicks in in mid-July, and assuming she qualifies, she should be able to get more comprehensive home care.

From a taking action perspective, I think the best way forward may be to go home for as long as I need to to get the place ready for a five week absence, then return to D/FW on my way to Portland, with no intention of returning home before I head out. This will allow me to get what I need to get done done, but provide her with as much support as I can before I'm unavailable for a month. It will actually be a better test of living in yurt, which I will set up in her back yard, than doing it at home, since I won't have access to all my own shit there. I still have an overheating problem with the car I'll be taking on this 4400+ mile sojourn, and driving back up to D/FW will be a good test of the new radiator I have on order before trekking out cross country.
errantember: (darth bobo)
About two months ago, I had three functional vehicles: a Honda SUV, a Geo Metro, and my infamous EVTA R-20 Electric Scooter. I now have zero. I sold the Honda (for a really excellent price), the batteries on the scooter died, so I was down to the Metro. I took it up to D/FW to see my Mom, then almost immediately to San Antonio to visit an old friend with a new baby. No problems on those trips. However, it's now randomly stalling out, and all the previous solutions I've tried haven't been working. I've got another message out on the Geo Metro list, and have previously gotten Monster Help from them, but in the meantime I'm vehicle-less. The kind of problem I'm seeing is one of those issues where any one of ten different things could be causing it, and the only way to find out which one is to systematically try them all.

The Metro probably isn't going anywhere for a while.

I'm intending on replacing the batteries on the scooter before I sell it, but I wasn't planning on doing that until spring. In the meantime, I'm looking seriously into buying a gas-powered scooter. I can get one for under $1,000, and, unlike my electric scooter, I'll be able to drive anywhere I want without having to worry about running out of power, waiting to recharge, or worrying about rain. It's really too bad, because electric scooters have the potential to be *way* better than gas ones, but unfortunately none of the major manufacturers are making them, and the ones that do get made often suck or are outrageously expensive.

I also don't have the money for something like this at the moment, and it greatly increases the likelihood that I'm going to have start dipping into my retirement savings if I don't see some serious gaming income soon.

Time to re-double my already re-doubled efforts!
errantember: (Default)
I've been re-engineering my social media presence, so I haven't been updating here as much. This will remain my private, post-whatever-the-hell-you-want blog.

Big Things are happening in my life. After lots of work and expense to peachify it, I sold my Honda to the very first person who came to look at it. I got a really good price, and I think he also got a deal, as it's very hard to find a vehicle that old in such excellent condition. I've been operating under the budgetary assumption that I could get a certain amount for the vehicle, and due to conservative estimates and good planning, I managed to get quite a bit more than necessary to satisfy my budget. That extra money is getting gobbled up very quickly, though, for several reasons.

First, my fabulous Sealy mattress of ten years is now officially less comfortable to sleep on than my concrete floor. I ordered a new memory foam mattress, which won't be here for at least a week. I've been sleeping on my jujutsu mats, which are stiffer thank Rick Sanctorum at an Erasure concert.

I feel more martial already.

Luckily a friend came through with a spare full-sized mattress, which is being delivered tomorrow evening, so I should be in better shape then.

The timing is also excellent, as I'm moving from my 500+ sq. ft. master suite into one 144 sq. ft. bedroom. The married couple I live with will be moving in the other direction, which can only lead, one assumes, to increased marital (and therefore household) harmony.

At least, that's the theory.

Another theory at work is that it would be useful for me to try simulating living in an RV for longer periods of time, since it's my intention to get one, then spend months at a time on the road. I love Austin, and don't want to be based elsewhere, but I'm Done with Austin summers. I have friends and lovers in Portland and Atlanta, and lots of other places I'd like to visit. I'm also engineering my career in a more mobile direction. Anywhere I have wi-fi, I'll be able to earn income.

So in addition the new, smaller full-sized mattress (coming down from a queen), I'm also getting a loft bed for the new digs. I'm not exactly sure how sex is going to go with that little ceiling clearance, but I'll have the spring mattress arriving tomorrow for "guests."

It's like college all over again.

One major motivation in getting extra money for the truck was to be able to visit the beautiful [livejournal.com profile] spottedvasa again, and I just finished getting my tickets for that.

Finally, I recently decided to dovetail my desires to sell a lot of shit (144 < 500) with my desire to save money, so I zeroed out my food budget. If I want to eat in the next six months, I can't take it out of savings. I have to get it from additional sales of Crap I make. I took a few weeks worth out of the car money to jump start that effort, and I also have my first salvo of items on Ebay. By the time those auctions are done, I should have enough to survive for a month an a half in my piggy bank.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Today I finally finished the week-long ordeal of repairing my 1999 Honda CR-V to get it ready for sale. It's generally in very good condition, so I'm polishing all the rough edges so I can get top dollar for it. The biggest task was replacing all four struts, which I had never done before. Thousands of brutal, greasy ratchet turns later, and I'm finished. I had to install the equivalent of six shocks rather than four, because I had to re-do two of them almost completely due to various first-timer errors. It now rides like it was brand new, however, so the effort was well worth it. The previous Pronounced Bouncing Wobble it was doing was definitely a sale preventer.

The other issue I was trying to solve was the downstream oxygen sensor saying that the catalytic converter wasn't working. I replaced the sensor today and reset the computer, hoping to God that it was the sensor that was broken and not the catalytic converter itself. Previously the Check Engine light would come on after around 45 miles, and the round trip to [livejournal.com profile] dirtwitch's place was over 70, and it *didn't* *come* *on*.

That, at least, I'm ecstatic about.

The thing I'm less happy about is dropping off the Loki Dog at [livejournal.com profile] dirtwitch's house for a weekend visit. It was a much shorter visit later in the day, and everyone but Loki was tired and cranky, but this should tell us whether on not Loki will really fit in in his new home.
errantember: (darth bobo)
My current budget includes the large chunk of money my Honda will magically turn into when I sell it. Right before I finally got serious about it, the shocks went bad, and it was wobbling all over the place whenever I hit a bump. I got some new shocks, found my Chilton's manual, and have now replaced one of four shocks.

It only took six hours.

I'm also bleeding in several places because I was too stupid to don protective handwear for the adventure, and missed jujutsu because leaving the spring in it's compressed state in the iffy compressors I borrowed from Advance Auto didn't seem very safe. My dojo-mates would probably also prefer not to touch me when I'm bleeding. Most people don't, which, if nothing else, proves I'm not female.

I've learned many useful lessons installing the first strut, things like Wear Fucking Gloves and Don't Put the Spring Compressors on Upside Down, etc. Hopefully the other three will go faster tomorrow.

Then I have to find the torque wrench...

Sweet!

May. 16th, 2011 04:42 pm
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
I received my car computer scanner today after several weeks of waiting. It allows me not only to pull trouble codes (the things that make your Check Engine light come on) but also to view the inputs of a bunch of automotive sensors, like the engine RPM or the the Throttle Position Sensor, in real time while the car is running. I originally thought that a malfunctioning sensor might be the cause of my recent problems before the Geo Metro Club yahoo group helped me track it down to poor grounding and possibly an overtightened belt.

So now not only am I mobile again at 35/50 mpg (when it's too far to take the 1 cent/mile scooter), but if there are further problems I can find out what's going on inside the car directly from the computer.
errantember: (Anthony)
(knocks on wood)

The Metro and the scooter have both been running perfectly for 3+ days 40+ miles. I worked on the Metro today anyway, to further insulate it against future issues, but not because it Wouldn't Go.

Gonna take the Metro to Flipside. Then to College Station. Then to fucking Dallas!

You WATCH me.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Recent history with the Metro consists of the following:

1) Got it working again after months of non-functionality by replacing the spark plugs and wires.

2) The idle was often rough, and it would occasionally stall out, often at really bad times, and couldn't really be considered reliable transportation.
Read more... )
errantember: (darth bobo)
I'm currently super annoyed at my Geo Metro. Two days ago I went outside to look into the occasional knocking and stalling it's been having recently to find the vehicle won't start at all. I have the factor shop manual, and have been working through the steps. I'm well past the point at which things should Just Work because I've made more than a token effort to fix things and have Spent Money. One thing that would really help is having an ODB II scanner. I have a code reader, but I need to see real-time data on things like engine air intake temperature, and all mine does is pull codes. Maintenance minutia follows:
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
So Flipside starts in exactly one month. In that period of time, I will:

1) Publish my second iPhone game, also the first I'll be asking money for. I've hardly started on this project yet.

2) Fix the Metro, which is currently not starting despite days of work and about $75 in parts so far.

3) Move completely out of the Master Suite of the house, where I've been living since 2004, *without* moving in anywhere else in the house. Everything I will need to live from day to day will have to be easily portable, probably for about a week. I have an ungodly amount of shit that needs to be sorted, sold, given away, or trashed before this is possible. I will be moving into a tiny room in the garage, but only *after* Flipside is over. In the meantime I'm going to be something of a vagabond in my own home.

Oh yeah. I also have to prep for Flipside. That, too.

Metro Goes

Mar. 26th, 2011 08:52 pm
errantember: (Default)
Undoubtedly tired after it's long nap, the Metro has been running quite rough since I got it running again.
Dealing with frequent re-starts and sluggish off-the-deck performance was bad enough, but I should have known I was really in trouble when I couldn't get the fucker started after four tries while an ambulance was crawling up my ass, lights flashing and horn blazing. Maintenance minutia follows:
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Today I:

Took action in my retirement portfolio before even opening both eyes or getting out of bed

Hung out with my Dad at Hot Mommas

Bought several 15-ft pieces of long-leaf pine, plus a few cedar boards, for under $11 at the Habitat Restore

Bought 9 tomato seedlings at The Great Outdoors

Responded to several important digital messages

Gave money to my roommate to pay for her ongoing re-modeling of The Shed into something more like a Building.

Weeded and watered the potato bed, which now has 5 or 6 vines breaking the surface!

Replaced the spark plugs and wires on my long-broken Geo Metro, which seems to have fixed it! The 38/54 mpg driving is *way* cheaper than the 22/26 mpg driving! Now I just need to get the scooter fixed, so I can resume my more regular 1-cent-per-mile commuting.

Treated said Metro to a much-needed bath, and bought badly-needed battery lugs for it, by *driving* it to the auto parts store

Ordered an ammeter to add to the instrument cluster on the scooter, which will tell me whether the 80 amp breaker, which is tripping every few miles, is actually broken or properly rescuing my testicles from plasma immolation

Fixed a Massive Plug in our kitchen sink. After plungers, disassembling, the p-trap, and the 15-ft snake failed to dislodge the clog, I had to resort to an expansion bladder, which plugs up the drain and forces water down the pipe. I had water coming out onto the roof through the vent, but I managed to get it cleared. Next time I'm renting one of those super-scary powered roto-rooter things from the hardware store that my roommate has informed me has put two people he knew in the hospital.

Called my Mom to discuss some important estate planning details

So while I have done about zero toward my next iPhone game today, I can now see that my earlier guilty feeling that "I didn't accomplish shit!" today is a bunch of malarkey . :)

EmberWerks: We do more after 10 AM than most people do all day
errantember: (Default)
I did all *kinds* of shit today.

Fixed the thermostat on the Metro, greatly improving long driving trips

Got a buckwheat pillow, a really nice electric meat/veggie slicer, and a French press at Thrift Land for under $17

Repaired and mortared the second set of tiles in the bathroom. I should be able to grout tomorrow.

Got some sweetened condensed milk to make Tai Ice Tea

Made Scones from The New Best Recipe for the second time

Killed countless mosquitoes with a merciless device that boils their bodies in mid-flight

Beat Samurai Showdown II Twice, once with Jubei and once with Kyoshiro, while waiting for other shit to happen.

Details below:
Read more... )
errantember: (darth bobo)
That Hell being, in particular, the inside of my 1995 Mazda 626, the Car That Won't Go Away. I've spend at least 6 hours yesterday and today inside the vehicle with no air conditioning or ventilation due to the fact that:

a) The vehicle doesn't run and
b) The mosquitoes on my property are capable of serving as 75% UV protection

We'll note that pretty much 100% of the work I have to do has to be done upside down under the dash *without* opening any of the doors or windows. The car used to run, but after I put a new battery into it, the fuel is no longer getting to the engine.
Read more... )
errantember: (Default)
I've been desperately trying to get rid of my Mom's 1995 Mazda 626 for going on five years now. Most of the delay was this surreal paper chase through the state bureaucracy that would have made the application paperwork for Emperor in ancient China look simple by comparison. However, I *finally* have the car in *my* name, with current registration. Last we left our abandoned white-trashmobile, the transmission had a clearly fatal problem, but other than a dead battery, the car was drivable. A transmission repair has been more than the car is worth for the entire time, so I wasn't expected to get much for it, but after sinking about $200 into all the title bullshit plus a new battery, now the engine won't start because there's no fuel. I got tired of fighting airwings of mosquitoes tonight, and decided to wait until tomorrow to see if I can find the wires for the fuel pump. I found another valve wire that had been eaten through by rats, so I'm hoping that maybe it's just a bad wire and won't require replacing the fuel pump, because at that point I'm giving up and having it towed away.

At any rate, it will be gone soon, and hopefully I can at least get a few hundred for it.
errantember: (Default)
After several hours of sub-Metro mosquito warfare, I put the new gaskets in the Metro's exhaust today. I was shocked to discover that the two nuts on the back of the exhaust were...well...GONE. It was leaking both front and back beforehand, but now it's totally sealed. The result? Near silence! You used to be able to hear me coming blocks away, and the beast sounded like it had a glass-packed muffler. Now you can barely even tell it's on.

I'm sure my fuel economy will drop slightly, but considering the alternative is a quiet death by carbon monoxide poisoning, I'm at peace with that.

I *also* got the new sticker for it today, which means both that it's now 100% legal *and* in my name! The new title will follow more slowly. Combined with my recent repair of the A/C blower switch, and the Green Hornet is ready to roll!
errantember: (Default)
I made two repairs to the Metro recently, after having made the final payment for it (a total of $700 for a fairly well-known vehicle) and sent off the title paperwork for the third time.

First, I noticed that sometimes it was hard to get the car into gear, which worried me since [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker and I spent months replacing the clutch. However, I realized that the disengage for the clutch was in the *middle* of the pedal's throw rather than at the end, where it belonged. Two rotations of the tensioning nut at the end of the clutch cable, though, and now it works perfectly.
Read more... )

It *LIVES*!

Jun. 9th, 2009 10:52 pm
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
The road first to auto-mobility and later to legality has been a long one for the Echomobile, the 1997 Geo Metro that will soon be mine.

MINE!

First [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker and I replaced the clutch, an operation requiring the removal of the entire engine. It was the first Major Surgery I'd ever done on a car, and completing it added a lot of confidence that I could do most of the maintenance myself if I owned one. That project started back when gas was $4/gallon, a place it seems on its way back to now, and a 50+ MPG car is good to own in that situation.
Read more... )
errantember: (Default)
So I recently had one of those "oh-thank-God-no-one-was-hurt-*AND*-they*didn't*ask*for*insurance-I'm-*so*-lucky - my-tags-were-out-and-Dad-was-in-the-car-it's-going-to-take-*HOW*-much to fix?!?!?"-kind of fender benders while scoping chicks or some other more-important-than-not-killing-people-while-driving activity, to the tune of about $2500.00. And this estimate was from a Christian missionary that's a personal friend of my father's, which is the next best thing to Mom honesty-wise. It was one of those "each piece is only bent two degrees, but you have to replace them all and there are twelve"-kind of estimates. There were three resulting problems, two of which I was able to fix today via a process that began with wrapping a chain around a nearby tree...
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Acid Part 1: Sulfuric

Echo's car wouldn't start. Amidst a shower of caked-on sulfuric acid, I replaced one of the terminal ends, and also a ground wire that had literally cooked itself in half.

I used a bigger wire.

Acid Part 2: The Acid Test

In 40-degree temperatures, I took the R-20 electric scooter to Elysium for the first time since the last repairs. Even with the reduced range from the cold (it has lead-acid batteries), I still got home while still in the yellow without recharging. This is the longest trip I routinely take with no extra power, because I haven't found a place to hork e- downtown yet.

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