Friday, August 30, 2013

Programmed Expendability

Man I hate modern appliances. This morning started with a fire in the washing machine. I have heard of and even worked a dryer fire but this was a new one on me. Anyway, I tore into teh machine to see what was going on and it was in the drum mechanism bearings. Spent way too much time on line chasing an appliance repair shop that was actually a shop. I didn't want a home service that would mean taking another day off work to wait for them to come out and determine they had to get parts so I had to take another day of for them to repair it. Been there before with the TV. Since it was under warranty and they would not let you bring it in we had to do the home schedule thing. I hate that more than modern appliances.
Anyway, Sears sucks as well. After 9 rings they finally picked up and put me on hold. 19:47 later I hung up. Tried calling back and after 16 rings, I hung up. Screw them if they don't want my money.

Next was research into the actual model Samsung washer and what other people had to say about them. Did you know they had a class action suit filed against them a couple years ago? Neither did I. How about a recall? Neither did I. Turns out hte off balance thing is a known issue and they even have sites where you can order the replacement parts if you know what you need. Looking into the matter further and into teh machine further the parts alone were more than half the cost of the dryer. OK screw that.

Started researching new dryers, you know, consumer reports as well as customer driven review sites. Needless to say there are no washers out there below $1400 that have universally good reviews. So now we have ended up buying a new dryer. Being that we are a few months shy of 6 years I decided to get a hose kit as well as a few other things while we were out spending money we really don't need to be spending.

Now on to fixing the disposal and the dish washer. Yup, I'm in need of repair. HA!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hey, that termite is shooting at me!

One of my work projects involves monoterpene metabolism by goats.  Don't ask, and anyway, that's not the point.  The point is, I was using Wikipedia to get a handle on some terminology and I ran across this: "Terpenes are used by termites of the Nasutitermitinae family to attack enemy insects, through the use of a specialized mechanism called a fontanellar gun."

Completely distracted from the task at hand, I went to the source material, and it says:  "Tenuirostritemes is a small genus of Neotropical termites with two species ranging northward into... southwestern Texas... The major specialization within the subfamily has involved... development of a small projection on the front of the head into a long, attenuated snout or nasus.  The frontal gland... elaborates a defensive secretion which can be forcibly ejected through the frontal pore at the tip of the nasus... This fontaneller* gun represents the apex of sophistication among the varied chemical defense mechanisms of the termites."

So, it's true:  In Texas, everyone has a gun.

And (at least in 1974) it was considered the apex of sophistication among... defense mechanisms.  :-)

I have to get back to work now.

*For the vocabularily-challenged, "fontanellar" is an adjective meaning located on the top of the head.  Yep, I looked it up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

UltraFire WF-502B a review

So I recently purchased a handfull of these flashlights for various people and had a chance to try them out along with mine to get a feel for a sample N>1. So first off, these things are available from various sellers through Amazon. They are billed as >1000Lumens five mode (Hi, Med, Low, Strobe, SOS) flashlight for use with 18650 rechargeable batteries. So I'll give you the Good,  the Bad and the Ugly. They are available for anywhere from $4.50 to $10.00 from various vendors through Amazon.

Well, I have been out of the photolithography engineering for a few years so I no longer have access to fancy light energy sensing equipment so I cannot give you a definite output value but compared to a variety of SureFire, StreamLight and Fenix flashlights, I would say it is very likely to be in the neighborhood of 1000 Lumens. Also, compared to the other flashlights this little bugger has an impressively tight hotspot in the center of the beam. In actuality, the beam was even tighter and brighter than both the Fenix PD31 and PD35.

Function is through the tail cap switch. you can only cycle through the entire range of settings. So turning it on is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get when you push the button. Also, there is no way to flash move and scan with this light. Once you turn it on and back off you would have to cycle through all the settings again before you can use high again.
In addition if the rechargeable goes you CAN NOT substitute two 123's till you get a recharge.

Where to start? How about China. These things are made in China and shipped from China. They arrived wrapped in a single layer of plastic foam. No commercial packaging with instructions or warranty information or anything. There was one slip of paper in the package we'll talk about later. It was in a simple plastic bag with a customs sticker on it that indicated it was a gift. So no duty paid on import. This is slimy unfair competition plain and simple. Back to that piece of paper, it was a letter in Chinenglish from Coco Fed Inc. the seller through Amazon. The letter explained that Amazon charges a 5% surcharge so they can sell quality stuff for less directly to you rather than through Amazon. I find that to be slimy at best and a violation of Amazon vendor agreements at worst.

So there you have the facts. I hope I didn't let too much of my personal feelings creep through. And just so you have a frame of reference I am a bit of a light geek and have a collection of SureFire, Streamlight and Fenix lights that I used for comparison along with a couple more at work.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

E-10 is EVIL! Especially for emerggency supplies.

So previously this weekend we spent a good portion of time cutting down trees that have died as a result of the drought.

In addition to this latest cutting, chainsaws are a regular part of our emergency supplies. We have more than once had to cut our way out of the neighborhood after a storm.So it is vital that our saws be available at any and all times. Unfortunately a good part of this weekends time was spent tearing into our chainsaws to find the damage done by the E-10 crap that made it into our fuel supply.

Now I'm not going to get too deep into the politics of Ethanol. Other than the fact that us ranchers have to pay more for feed now that the government is subsidizing the purchase of corn for making fuel that is less efficient than good old gasoline. Another government program to make our lives better.

However, if you are mixing and using two cycle fuels or for that matter even storing gasoline as a long term emergency supply, Ethanol IS THE DEVIL! Many small engines do not like ethanol in its fuel. It does all sorts of bad things. The ethanol first and foremost absorbs moisture. It also attacks various materials in the engine. Fuel lines are the first to go. They will turn brown and crack then basically disintegrate. The ethanol will also attack some of the alloys in the carb and even inside the engine. This is all bad news. Even worse now that E-10 is being forced down our throats by more government regulation. Another issue is that over even short periods of time the E-10 mixture can cause a premixed can of two cycle fuel to separate out the oil fuel mix causing all sorts of havoc inside a two stroke engine. As far as storage goes, the ethanol attracts moisture something fierce so you have to worry about getting contaminated fuel over time. There are fuel stabilizers like StaBil that should be a mandatory addition to any stored fuel supply but these will not completely stop the bad things ethanol does. In a supply where a vehicle is fueled up weekly or so this is no big deal but over long term storage will cause issues.

There are multiple additives that you can get such as Mechanic in a Bottle and StaBil to help slow many of the effects of ethanol in gasoline but the absolute best answer all around is just avoiding ethanol to start with. Thanks to our wonderful governments concern with our well being, it is getting harder and harder to find real gasoline. Some states do not even require that umps be marked that you are getting ethanol instead of straight gasoline.

Now we are left having to tear into the various engines in our collection and get repair supplies such as replacement fuel lines that are ethanol resistant and rebuilding our equipment. Something that should not be needed but for getting a load of E-10 into our fuel supply.

Something to pay attention to in your emergency supplies and your every day lawn care needs. Word to the wise, avoid ethanol in your fuel at all costs.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I hate trees and E-10 is CRAP

As a result of the drought conditions we have been losing trees around the K- Ranch. Three threatened the house so we spent today dropping trees. So far we have 14 down and probably 5 or 6 more to go. In addition to the ones threatening the house, There are a bunch along the electric line between the house and the road. Last year the electric coop came through and cleared the right of way but what they did was clear cut anything within 15 feet of the wire center line. Unfortunately when the trees are 40 to 50 feet tall, 15 feet of ROW doesn't quite cut it. There are plenty of trees that are tall enough to hit the power lines if they fell. So between cables and the truck we pulled on trees while cutting to make sure they fell away from the power lines and the house. That is a right dead pain in the rear. Plus it would appear the last fuel load I got was E-10 crap. One of the smaller saws worked through teh first tank full a couple weeks ago and has been sitting till this weekend with a full fuel load. This week when I went to start it it really didn't want to fire. After finishing the cutting with the Husky I tore into the smaller saw. I emptied the fuel and out with the fuel came pieces of fuel line and the intake filter/weight. The fuel line is brown and cracking. The Alcohol evidently attacked it. I've heard of this happening with older equipment that was not intended to be run on ethanol crap but I had never seen it first hand. So this is going to take some work to change out fuel lines and clean up the mess made by this fuel abomination.