Friday, August 29, 2008

Lightening Crashes

Last night was one of the craziest storms I've ever seen. The lightening and thunder were constant for a full 2 hours as the storm past over the house. It sounded like a 747 was flying circles over my house. I captured some video of it on my cell, which wasn't good video (or audio for that matter) but will give you an idea of what it was like. If you listen past the hiss, you'll hear a constant rumble, that's not wind blowing over the mic that is thunder. The camera picked up a lot of the lightening but not all. I'm not exaggerating when I say there wasn't a moment when there wasn't lightening in the sky. It was very much like the videos you see when movie stars are walking into some event and all the cameras are flashing on them. I've seen thunderstorms with a good deal of lightening before but in those cases at most you have at least a second or so inbetween flashes. This was constant. It was almost all cloud to cloud too, so most of it was obscured as it was baried deap in the thunderhead, but some peaked out and you'll see it in the video. Here's the first video I shot:

I put in a little comentary but not much. You'll at least be able to calibrate the sound level on your speakers with it. You'll also hear two cars drive by. Here's the second video:

This was about 30 mins after the first one. No commentary on this one, and no car driving by, but you can still hear the thunder constantly rolling. If only I had a good camera, and sound equipment I could really show this off, but this is the best I could have done at the time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Putting on the Brakes

Right before Christmas, I had taken my truck in for routine maintenance. They had told me that my brakes were down to 20% and that it was about time to get them done. Well, it was Christmas time and I'd already spent quite a bit that month, so I decided to wait a month or two to gather up the cash and get it done then. They had quoted me $300 to get them done. I had them done before at another place but wasn't really too happy with the work. My brakes would squeak and every once in a while I'd get a squeaking noise from the front passenger wheel when not braking at all. Well, end of February hits and I start to hear the tell tale sign squeaking noise that tells you "it's time to do your brakes before we start doing some damage." It just so happens around the same time I'm looking at an article on about making a super water gun from PVC pipe, and I see a link to doing your own brakes. This inspires me.

I remember doing my own brakes when I was 17 with a friend, and as I was doing it with him and he'd done it a couple times before, I was fine doing it. 17 was a long time ago and these are brakes after all. If I do something wrong, that could mean crashing. So I'm a little hesitant. I do a little searching and find a site that podcasts weekend One Beer Projects and one happened to be about doing your own brakes. They admittedly state that doing your brakes will take longer then one beer as it's a most of the afternoon kind of thing. It still looks quite straight forward, but a little time consuming. After hearing this and reading the instructables site walk through, I was inspired more.

This weekend was perfect (well as stated before, most weekends during the winter in AZ are perfect) it was 75 out and I had nothing to do. I went to the local auto parts store and picked up some brake pads and other accessories, the day before. I hadn't driven the truck all day so I knew everything was nice and cool. I pull out the jack for my truck and this was the first time I've had to use it, and found out it was a pain in the ass to use. It's a scissor type, which isn't all bad but the way they have this one set up to hook up the arm and winder was very poorly designed. I've used a scissor type jack before, and on that one you had a hook that went into an eye on the jack and then the winder piece plugged into the other end of the hooked shaft. Easy and worked quite well. On the one that came with my truck the shaft had a "T" on the end that attached to the jack. You were suppose to feed one end of the "T" into an eye, while resting the other into a "U". You can kind of see it in this picture:
Basically what happens is the "T" keeps falling out. So using this type of jack is impossible. As it falls out, I notice that on the "U" side of the inlet, one of the legs of the "U" is bending. After about an hour of fighting with the jack to lift my truck, I finally call a buddy who has a quick hydraulic trolley jock. I bribe him to come over with the jack by offering pizza and beer for his efforts. While I'm waiting, I take off the front tire and find getting the pads out a breeze. I check out the rotors and they are in great shape. There are no gouges and there is plenty of metal left. I decide that I don't need to get them turned. I grab the box of new pads only to find out that they aren't he right pads. So my buddy coming over now serves two purposes, bringing the much easier to use jack and drive me back to the auto parts store to get new correct pads. We go back and the computer shows it's the right pads, and we look at other years and it's all the same issue. So I go to another auto parts store and find that I can get ceramic pads for the same price I paid for the wrong semi-metallic. This makes me happy and I get back home, now with the right pads and a very easy to use jack. I pop on the new pads, and put everything back together. Pop off the other wheel and put on the new pads and and the wheel, and have everything done and cleaned up in the time it took me messing with the original jack.

All said and done, doing my own brakes cost me $65, and about 3 hours of my time, including traveling back and forth from the auto parts store, and messing with that horrible jack. I'd say that 3 hours of my time is worth $225. Plus I have the satisfaction that I did it myself. Oh and the new brakes work great.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Here comes the sun

Yeah, yeah, I haven't posted in a while, and reading this post my make you hate me. I have to say though, I love this time of year here in AZ. Usually it's fairly warm, staying in the upper 60s low 70s. This winter however, has been a little cooler. I was listening the the local weather guy here the other day and he stated we haven't hit 75 since Thanksgiving. That's very rare here. Speaking of rare, it's been rainy. Here. In a desert. This weekend however it's going to be very nice. Finally we're getting back in to the 70s and may top out at 76 on Sunday. I can't wait. I love having all the windows open and feeling a warm breeze blowing through the house. It's not just me that likes the windows open, the cats love to have the windows open too. They like being able to smell the outside air and hear all the birds better. It's this type of weather inspires me to work on the yard and generally gets me going. With family back home in Wisconsin just getting snow dumped on them. I was just checking the Wisconsin local weather channels, looks like they got a little over a foot of snow last night with more coming this weekend with some extra cold air following that. What a contrast. Hate me if you must, but I'll be loving the weather here this weekend.