Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is it stain? Is it paint? For sure it IS $38.50 a gallon

The house got painted a few years ago with a water based stain put on with a HVLP sprayer. The stuff worked just fine on the walls, which have deep eaves to keep the rain off. But on the flat deck, exposed to rain, the stuff didn't last. It peeled off in big patches and looked dreadful. Stuff was water based but not water proof.
After several years of listening to children bugging me about how shabby the deck looked, a refinish project got underway. Step one was to rent a power washer and sluice most of the old paint away. Was able to get that done fast enough to get the washer back to the rental place soon enough for the half day rate, $44. Between the power washing and the intermittent rain showers, the deck came out clean but VERY damp. Then it rained for a couple of days straight. Deck took nearly a week to dry.
Today I started with a gallon can of Cabot oil based deck stain in Cordovan brown. Used to be "stain" was kinda thin and runny to soak into the wood. This stuff was thick as applesauce, and looked more like paint than stain. No matter, it's paid for now, I'm gonna use it. Took about two and half hours with a paint roller to get it spread. One gallon was just enough to cover the whole deck, not a drop left over.
Then Stupid Beast, who has been patrolling the lawn, takes fright at something and flees up the freshly painted steps onto the just as freshly painted deck. So now we have a cat with four Cordovan brown stained paws. A rag and a bottle of 409 cleaner got most of the stain off the paws. Cat was highly indignant about the entire procedure. At least we avoided Cordovan Brown paw prints on the rugs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The law is does not come from lawbooks

Most Americans are law abiding. How does this happen? Most everyone knows what the law is, and believe it to be fair, and they think of themselves as decent citizens and so they obey it. They obey the obvious bits drawn from the ten commandments and they obey the not so obvious bits like income tax. American's willingness to do the right thing, obey the law and pay their taxes is unusual in this world, and a great source of national strength.
In short, the law is what the citizens believe it to be, and those beliefs cannot be easily changed. Legislatures or courts cannot pass new laws and have them obeyed, unless those laws are acceptable to the citizens. Prohibition is the classic example of an unpopular law being defied by the ordinary citizens.
Most Americans believe the Constitution gives them the right to own guns. In fact, the written Constitution is pretty clear on the subject. In the first century of the country's existence, this right was unquestioned. Sometime in the second century an attempt to revoke this right was made, and learned lawyers opined that the plain words of the second amendment meant the citizens only had a right to join the National Guard, and not a right to have a piece in the bedside table.
The citizens never bought into this interpretation (distortion) of the law, and continued to believe in the right of private ownership of firearms. Yesterday the Supreme Court finally ruled that the second amendment means what it says and citizens do have an "individual right" of gun ownership. This is an important ruling because it brings the "official" law into compliance with the real law, the law that the citizens believe in and obey. That is a good thing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

4.6 Liters, the magic size for V8 engines

Way back at the beginning of time (1956) Chevy introduced their famous 283 cubic inch V8. The plain jane two barrel carburetor version produced a mere 190 hp, using the 1950's more generous SAE rating system (no accessories, carburetor inlet temp corrected to 68F) This engine, and its 327, 350, and 307 cubic inch descendants powered GM cars for 40 years. 283 cubic inches is just about exactly 4.6 liters.
Then sometime in the 1990's Ford introduced an over head cam 4.6 liter V8 which is still in production. It started out as power for Lincoln, and spread to the Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis variants of the Ford large sedan. Using the less generous SAE rating system of the 1990's, the first version of this mill had 210 horsepower, and was jacked up to 240 horsepower after improved cylinder heads were introduced right around the turn of the century.
The last entry is the Cadillac Northstar 4.6L engine, an all aluminum, double overhead cam, powerplant for the Deville. This masterpiece produces 275 horsepower, nearly one horse per cubic inchin standard trim, and 300 horse in the performance version. It gives the Deville way more power than the Ford large sedans. The extra efficiency of the Northstar allows the Deville to handily best the Fords on gas mileage.
It seems that 4.6 liters or 283 cubic inches is the optimum size for a V8. Various improvements have raised the specific power output from 0.67 horse per cubic inch in 1956 to 1.06 horse per cubic inch today.
Marketing is more difficult today. Used to be engines were known by their displacement in cubic inches. Numbers like 283, 327, and 409 live on in hot rod song and story, and sold plenty of cars. Lately is has become fashionable to size engines in liters the way the Europeans do, but no such engine has developed the fan base of the older cubic inch mills. The closest we have seen is the "Hemi" marketing campaign by Chrysler.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Sherman Declaration

Apropriate comment here.

Gary Johnson

A nice guy. Former governor of New Mexico. He is traveling the country, speaking out on issues. He came way up country to the wilds of northern New Hampshire and invited a bunch of natives, including yours truly, to dinner at the Oasis in Littleton. He did a good deal of listening.
The talk was naturally political. There was universal agreement that the economy (i.e. layoffs and plant closings) was the absolutely most important issue with the voters. And the voters are concerned, not to say frightened, about what they see coming at them. If the voters remember in November, many things could happen. On a related theme, the voters are worried about Obamacare. They fear their employers will drop company health care and they fear doctors will stop seeing Medicare patients because of cuts in reimbursement. The state budget mess was another topic. Until November the Republicans don't have the votes to do anything about it. The state is running a deficit between $60 million to $300 million depending upon how you count it and the democrats cannot cut anything, due to the screams of pain that cuts provoke, and they cannot pass an income tax for fear of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks.
Gary Johnson has a platform, I have a printed flyer. He pledges to protect civil liberties from bureaucratic encroachment. He wants to balance the budget, lest the deficit destroy the US dollar, the credit of the United States, and any chance of economic recovery. He would legalize marijuana and regulate it the way we regulate tobacco and alcohol. He is against raising taxes. As a border state governor he is concerned about immigration. He doesn't think fences will work. He wants to simplify the paperwork so that workers who want to work in the US can get work visas, get jobs, and pay US taxes. He is against the "cap and trade" fuel tax the democrats are pushing. He wants to get out of Iraq ASAP. He is against Obamacare.
We Republicans ought to pay more attention to Gary Johnson. We need someone to oppose Obama in 2012 and right now, we don't have anyone.
He has a web site.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chrysler to attempt a "Man Van"

Chrysler will attempt to overcome the soccer-mom connotations of the mini-van with a "man van" version featuring hood scoops, light alloy wheels, and black leather upholstery with hot pink stitching.
Chrysler management must still be brain dead. No way can they make mini-vans more attractive to guys than SUV's are. Why bother? Mini-vans make a great family car, with a seat for every kid, room for plywood and sheetrock, as well as furniture from the auction. I have owned three of them over the years and they all gave great service. The front wheel drive is just made for skiers. But utilitarian is the kindest word I have for them, and I doubt that a few tack on gewgaws is going to change that.
If Chrysler really wanted to sell some cars, they need a small sedan with distinctive styling, good handling, and a decent engine. Actually, they had a fairly good concept in the PT Cruiser, but they botched it with inadequate engine power, mediocre gas mileage, pig-on-ice handling and a reputation for expensive breakdowns.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why oh why

Do they make maple syrup bottles too tall to fit my cabinets? I have to store the stuff on the liquor bottle shelf, being the only shelf tall enough.