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Valkyrie VF2X
02 July 2009 @ 12:35 pm
I'm done!!  Just finished installing the last of the front struts.  Woot!  All it cost me was an extra $160 in parts, a new hole in the nose, and some sore muscles.  As far as I can tell, everything is done right.  Had to do a few, um, ghetto rigs, but nothing epic.  Like with the rear shocks, I cut the brake lines instead of dismantling all that shit.  They are gonna be fine like that.  Had to cut the rubber upper spring seats as well, as they were not compatible with the strut bumpers I got.  Now it fits perfectly.  I have it all torqued to spec as well.  Only remaining thing to do on that is to get the brake rotors turned.  That part is still bugging me.  The old brakes had more than plenty of life left, but the car definitely was having those warped rotor issues.  Based on a recommendation, I switched to ceramic brake pads instead of the usual semi-metallic.  Seems like the Sm's can warp smaller rotors of cars like mine.  We will see.  I definitely don't need to be doing brakes every damn year.... the asbestos would kill me, lol. 

Next up on the agenda (since now I have more time due to a canceled road trip) is the air intake.  I still have the cone filter from the 300ZX, so that is gonna go on her.  Honestly, I'm only expecting like 1 HP increase.  But it is supposed to help with fuel economy, so I figure I'll give that a try.  I mean, I get about 36MPG, but a couple extra is always welcome. 

After all this, though, I don't have anything else seriously planned anytime soon.  I mean, I do plan to get a better CD player for Pearl, as soon as I figure out how to remove the old one.  The plan is also to remove the back deck and set it up so I can have rear speakers.  Wow, I could have bass!!  Car is already prewired for rears (thank you Toyota!), so this should be a breeze.  Also, eventually I do plan to get a rear sway bar for her as well.  I can't really up the power, so I'll up the handling.  Though I do have to take Pearl to the shop, though (booo!).  I need to get an alignment now that I got all this suspension work.  Besides, they might tell me what else I need to replace, he he. 

I'm gonna go swap some brake pads out, then veg for the rest of the day.  I think I have finally earned it.  Once I get the rotors turned and installed, I am SOOOOoooo  going for a cruise in her!   
And I am Feeling....: accomplishedaccomplished
My Tunes: Binomio de Oro de America--Son Amarrao
Valkyrie VF2X
29 June 2009 @ 10:33 am
Sooooo, my father in law was coming over the weekend, which means ESCAPE!!  lol.   I try not to be around when he is here.  So, on Friday, as soon as Val got home from work, I took off.  first leg of my trip was to meet a lady selling a lens for the Nikon.  Got me a 55-200mm AF-S zoom!! Woo! Only paid $60 for it, and it is mint.  My old Tokina 70-210 3.5 is better, but without autofocus, it handicaps me a bit.  I'll still use it for longer reach and MUCH higher max aperture than the new (the new one is 5.6 at the long end, while the old one is still 3.5 at the long end).  In any case, got my lens, ordered some ceramic brake pads, and took off.  Didn't have too much of a plan, so I just drove around for a bit.  Eventually, I met my friend McKenna, and went off to see an old Confederate cemetery.  Grabbed some dinner, then spent the rest of the time at her house just talking.  That was rather fun, too.  Didn't get home until 530am Saturday, lol.  Val thought I'd been killed or something....

Saturday, ugh, Saturday.  Val electrocuted herself, but that would have been a Godsend compared to what happened next.  Father in law and the girls were upstairs playing.  I got showered, dressed, and headed out to get my brakes.  When I get back, I see a black cat in my garage.  Found it kinda fishy that it didn't run away when Pearl pulled in, but it didn't set off any alarms.  I called Val down since she is the animal lover here.  She managed to get the cat, who was hidden between the AC unit in the garage and the wall.  Val was able to pick it up and take her outside.  That is when we got the smell.  First we thought it was from the insulation she was hidden in.  Then after she dropped the car, we noticed it was from the blood that was coming from God knows where.  I saw the cat running on 3 legs and headed under the back porch.  That is when it hit us that the piece of crap was looking for a place to die.  We are NOT dealing with that again!  So, we got the hose and tried flushing it out from under the porch.  I had the air rifle ready in case the water wasn't enough.  No, I didn't get to shoot it:o(  Val finally got it flushed out and it set up camp in the middle of the yard.  AT this point, the question became of what to do with it.  It didn't have long because it was panting and meowing a lot, plus the green flies were all over it.  We didn't want to leave it there because the minute we left, it'd go back and hide under the porch.  We wanted to put it out of its misery, but we didn't have anything to do it with.  Well, I stand corrected:  we had a machete, but no one wanted to behead it, and the air rifle isnt strong enough to penetrate bone (at least I don't think it is).  We briefly considered shooting it in the eye at point blank range.  Gruesome, but it WOULD have killed it instantly (at close range, the air rifle will shoot thru metal)....but we just left that one alone.  Eventually, I came up with the idea to lift the back fence that goes to a deep drainage ditch, and let it escape that way.  Val just grabbed the cat and put it over the fence.  I would have thrown it as far as I could, but that is why she is the humanitarian.  We guesstimated that the cat wouldn't be able to climb up the fence since it was running on 3 legs only, plus it didn't have more energy.  Though I threw some acorns at it to move it away from the house.  After a few minutes, I lost track of it and it was nowhere to be seen.  My guess is that it moved down the hill and hid in one of the drainage culverts on the hill.  At least it has its private chamber now.  So, my garage was left smelling like rancid fish and the flies are going ape shit in there. 

So, yeah, I hate cats.  I REALLY do.       
And I am Feeling....: nauseatednauseated
Valkyrie VF2X
19 June 2009 @ 12:28 pm
Been really bad about updating this thing here lately.  Then again, I haven't had anything of note happen in a good long while.  Just the same old same old.  I mean, I did go to Middle TN and got rid of the kids for a week or so.  Glad to have their brand of chaos back, though.  Got to see my friend Amy on the trip to drop the kids off.  We watched <i>Wayne's World</i>, which I have never seen until then.  While at home alone with the kids, Val and I dated a good amount.  Not every day we get this chance, so we took it.  Of course, more than nightly hijinks ensued as well, lol.  I did start feeling pretty blah over the weekend, though.  On Tuesday, I drove up to pick up the kids.  Took a detour and saw Lorelei.  Didn't get to hang out for too long, but it had been too long since I'd seen her last (whenever we went to Gatlinburg together).  Saw Holly on the way into town as well.  Would have talked to her more, but I was turning green at the gills at this point.  Cough drops were doing nothing.  Picked up the kids, and raced home.  That was a struggle.  I fell asleep at the wheel more times than I could remember.  Got home and passed out.  For the next few days, my throat got much worse and fever kept coming and going. 

Yesterday I went to the doc (or was it day before?), and got loaded up on steroids, shots, and all kinds of shit for allergies.  A few little fever spikes and a passing out irregularly, and eventually I could swallow and talk again.  Today Im feeling better, but I should eat something.  I've lost like 5 lbs since this all began.  Not the healthiest way to do it, but gotta look at the positives. 

Still playing the crap out of Super Mario Galaxy.  I am loving it! Simple, yet hard and deep.  Hell, I am finding it harder than God of War...   

Should be installing the front suspension in Pearl here in the next week.  I was hoping to get all the parts to freshen up everything, but I cant be riding on just two good shocks and springs.  So, Ill get that and redo the front brakes.  Gonna go with ceramic pads this time, though.  The fronts right now have less than 10K on them, and they are warping the rotors already!  And yes, I did have the rotors resurfaced...  I think I might have gone a bit too cheap on them.  Besides, as fast as I am driving now, I should be able to stop better, right?  Planning on taking Pearl down to Tail of the Dragon sometime after I get this finished up and properly break her in;o)
And I am Feeling....: sicksick
My Tunes: Binomio de Oro--Barranquillera
Valkyrie VF2X
I really should stick to writing here.  Keeps my memory going a fair amount.  Let's see, in a nutshell, went up to Lebanon over the weekend.  I went to the Slammin' and Jammin Car show, while the girls saw some friends and played in the pool.  Also, it gave me a good chance to tear Pearl thru some serious back roads.  She took it, and begged for more.  It was wonderful!  Car show was really awesome.  Cool cars, half naked women, and the smell of molten rubber.  Ah yes.  Went to pick up the girls, but ended up staying there for a couple of extra hours socializing.  Tabby and her friends were having a total blast.  Eventually made our way south fairly late in the evening.  Ate at the German restaurant (which really impressed Val), then crawled home.  Got rained on, to boot. 

This week has been fairly slow.  Mowed the lawn today.  Cleaned up the workbench again, as well.  Played some Terranigma in my down time.  Went to Tabby's award ceremony on Tuesday.  She got all A's for the year.  Yay!!  I'm proud of my little potato head.  Apparently she was the only one in her class to do so as well.  Today they got to go to Lake Winnie (not the full name-- I can't spell the full name), as their reward.  She also finally got her Nintendo DS.  She saved long and hard for that one.  Got it used for a REALLY low price. 

Been playing some SF here recently.  Despite not having competition, I've been practicing for the next SF tourney.  Focusing on using a joystick.  I can now do dragon punches from both sides of the screen accurately.  Can't combo them, but can bust out the move easily.  On a pad this was no problem, but it has held me back a lot on joysticks. 

Finally got my Minolta X-570 back today! Wow, the guy did an EXCELLENT job.  Hell, I don't think my Nikon is this clean.  The camera looks almost new.  Not too shabby from something from like 1983.  Got new batteries, and away it went!  Shutter is smooth, brand new light seals.  Hell, he even cleaned spots that I didn't know you could clean!  It really is as close to a new camera as you can get.  Already transfered the old thick camera strap from the XG to the 570.  It is now officially in service:o)  With the fancier viewscreen, I should be able to take sharper pics, too.  Much easier to focus on this one than the XG.....  
And I am Feeling....: awake
My Tunes: Ringo Starr--It don't come easy
Valkyrie VF2X
19 May 2009 @ 10:11 pm
Well, today Pearl got a proper shake down.  And it was proper alright.  Up and down two mountains, the interstate, and city traffic.  She handled beautifully!  I was taking turns at about 15 MPH faster than I used to (speeding ticket in my future...).  For some reason it ran a bit smoother, too.  Felt like a totally new animal. 

So, yay!!
And I am Feeling....: excitedexcited
Valkyrie VF2X
18 May 2009 @ 10:39 am
Got my Pearl back on the road.  Yay!!  Long story behind that.   After completing Strut #2, I noticed I had an extra part one the strut.  Oooook.  Turns out (thank God) that I rebuilt #2 right.  It was #1 I did wrong.  Turns out that I left a spacer out of the strut mount assembly, and that was not good.  Took the car for a  test ride, and learned that it cannot stay that way.  Ok, I figured I could just keep the car on the ground, remove the nut, and install washer (full car weight on the spring=compressed spring).  Of course, things are not that easy for me.  AT this point I guess from the test drive, the strut mount  took some damage and now the strut piston was spinning freely with the nut.  What followed was 2 or 3 days of swearing, pleading, putting holes thru the workbench (Val says she is gonna get me a punching bag to work out those little rage issues, lol).  I just had no way of holding a chrome piston tight enough while I turned the nut.  Got some wonky wrenches from Sears, but they didn't work.  Eventually took the damn strut (with spring compressors, to boot) into Sears to hunt for that elusive tool that would help me remove the stubborn nut.  I had tried sanding the nut off, but a dremel is no match for that kind of thing.  Eventually, I found an angled head box end wrench that fit PERFECTLY.  Got home, got a rag and my big pliers, and got that damn nut off once and for all.  Minor damage to the threads while using the pliers, but it came off.  Yay!!  Sunday night around midnight I finally finished putting the rear end together.  Took her for a nice shakedown around Fort Oglethorpe.  When it gets warmer, I'm going out there to make sure everything is nice and tight before I put the back seat in. 

The front will have to wait, though.  We need the money for other things, and I am currently planning on buying 2 more boots and bumpers for the the front.  Better to have the parts beforehand so that I am not carless for a week again...

In other technical news, I got my a new (to me) Minolta X-570!!  You know, for a digital guy, I sure still do love using my 35mm stuff.  Something really basic and primal about it that appeal to me.  Got it for $10 (plus some old beat up lenses and a Canon FTb that looks pretty but won't open) since it would power on, but not fire the shutter off.  Found a guy that will pretty much refurbish it for $40, so yay!! The 570 was a higher end model, so I don't feel bad about spending that to get an almost new camera.  Besides, my XG-1 cost about $40 to begin with.  If he does really good work, I'll send in my XG-1 as well, since it has a problem that I haven't figured out yet:o( 
And I am Feeling....: accomplishedaccomplished
My Tunes: Binomio de Oro--Aqui Esta tu Enamorado
Valkyrie VF2X
10 May 2009 @ 10:49 am
Day 1 of the Pearl battle is complete.  Pearl 1, me 0.  Got the rear seat removed so that I could get access to the rear strut towers.  Very odd location for them, but whatever.  After wondering whether I suspended the car properly, I was able to finally break loose the driver side rear strut.  I was supposed to disconnect the brake line, but that damn nut was on there too tight, and I could have easily damaged the brake line.  So, I took my trusty dremel, and cut the metal bracket that held that brake line.  Might do that on the new one so that I don't have to risk breaking the line.  I was paranoid at first at using the spring compressors (new to me), but once I saw that I didn't have to compact them so much since they are so soft now I felt a bit better.   The new springs will probably be a different story, though.  The old ones I can compress with my hands; the new ones BARELY compress when I stand on them.  Yay for stiffness!  But I did hit a snag that has put a hold on the project.  The bump stop for that shock was extremely deteriorated.  This is what protects your shocks when you bottom out, otherwise the shock gets damaged.  This one is totally rotten.  Since I am getting new shit installed, I should get a new set, but I don't know if it is part of the strut mount, or a separate piece I can order.  But all work stops for the time being, thus I am carless for a while....
And I am Feeling....: awake
Valkyrie VF2X
09 May 2009 @ 11:48 am
Well, been a busy busy week around here.  Tuesday I got Val's mother's day present installed.  Been planning it since Sunday, and Tuesday I stole the car to pull it off.  Got up early (couldn't sleep), showered myself and Sam, and head out to Val's work.  Pulled her car out, and parked Pearl in its place.  Went to Best Buy and had the new CD player installed (the old one was poo...couldn't play Cd's).  Then I realized I didn't have any Cd's with me, so I got back to the house when I left.  Since now I had a car with a good stereo system, I took Sam out for lunch, and then drove up to Craven's House up on Lookout Mountain.  Had a fun photo shoot with Sam.  She was being nice about it, and as a result, got some really nice pics of her.  Returned the car to Val's job, and took my ever so lovely Corolla back home in time for Tabby to get off the bus.  She says she loved her present, and as usual, was overly surprised.

I can't remember what else I did for the week. 

Today I am planning on swapping the suspension in Pearl.  Just need to go rent a spring compressor before I take the wheels and shit off.  The girls are gonna be gone all of today and some of tomorrow (my mother in law's house), so it seems like the best time to get this done.  Besides, I need to get in there anyway.  She definitely has something loose.  Hopefully I won't have to buy any other replacement parts.  HOPEFULLY, spring won't come loose and cave my chest in, lol.  Of course, that is not my track record...  Should be a bit of fun, though.
And I am Feeling....: busybusy
My Tunes: Binomio de Oro--Mirada Cruzada
Valkyrie VF2X
30 April 2009 @ 10:36 am
I keep forgetting to write here.  When you have a best friend that listens to all your weird ramblings, well, blogging is not that important, lol.  It has been a pretty uneventful week for me.  The usual cleaning, putting stuff away, laundry, etc etc.  Saturday, we went to the South Pittsburg Cornbread Festival.  It would have been a good time.  Well, except for the over crowding, ridiculous heat, too many whiteys (lol), and a stupid long line for cornbread, it was fun.  Seriously, it would have been better if it were later in the afternoon or evening.  It started at 9am and went to 6pm.  It was 90 that day.  People everywhere.  Yeah.  At least I got to tour the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Factory, though.  That was actually cool.  Both in the fact the shit was cool, and the fact that the factory where they melt iron at 2K degrees F was cooler than outside.  Went home, recharged our batteries, then did a bit of shopping.  Val wanted some more work outfits (she wants to look more professional) and I need more shorts (90% are all too big.  Yay!!).

BTW, I accidentally wore Val's belt last week.  It looks almost like mine (black, same brand and all).  I got dressed and put it on.  I noticed it fit well, so I didn't think of it.  Doing my routine cleaning, I found mine.  I put mine back on and it was loose at the waist.  Ok, no biggie.  I tell Val later, and she laughs at me, calling me a dope.  Then I told her that her belt fit me well, so no loss to me.  Her face just sank, haha. 

Sunday, Val and the kids went to the Aquarium, while Jessica and I went down to the bottom of Signal Point.  I was originally gonna do a zombie thing for some movie they were gonna be shooting in Smyrna, TN, but after the baking I got at the Festival, plus the fact I had to be up at 5am to get to Smyrna on time, I just stayed home.  Then I found out Jessica would have some time (and since her birthday had been the previous week), I thought I'd go hang out with her.  We never did see the damn main waterfalls, grrrr.  there is no set path to get there, so we lost a lot of time forging our own path.  this time, she ended up in the river while I didn't, lol.  I didn't get home until like 10 pm or so.  Helpful hint:  heavy physical activity is not recommended after only consuming a cup of coffee for the whole day.  Tore up my tripod bag, and got myself covered in all kinds of scratches.  Fun times!

My father in law is gonna be here this weekend, so I need to find some escape!!

My new toy arrived in the mail on Monday.  A new lens for the Minolta.... Woo!  It is a 400mm f5.6 lens.  Why did I get it?  Cause I could, lol.  This thing is MASSIVE!  Pics don't convey the size of it properly.  It has its own tripod mount.  Of course, since I can, I mounted it on the camera, and then the camera on the rifle stock.  The thing is so heavy that MY ARM WAS SORE THE NEXT DAY!  Frickin' awesome! Right now, I have the 2X teleconverter attached to it as well.  I can now shoot the moon and get a good amount of detail.  Yay! I'll try and get a pic of the whole set up soon.  Maybe I should dig up a Minolta MD /Nikon adapter...   
And I am Feeling....: awake
Valkyrie VF2X
20 April 2009 @ 01:04 pm
This week has been busy. Since Val had been practicing for her dragon boat race, the girls and I would meet her at the lake and watch her practice. The kids were happy chasing the birds, while I was working on my shooting technique. I had the opportunity to properly break in the 70-210mm lens. BTW, this lens is a constant f3.5, so yay! Anywho, since this is an older AIS lens, it is ALL manual. And since it has no electronics, I have to meter it the old fashioned way: sunny 16 rule, lol. As soon as I got over that minor hurdle, I got busy with the shooting. Tuesday I just had the Nikon. On Thursday, I had both Nikon and the Minolta. The new Nikon lens was not giving me enough reach to where the boats were gonna be, so I had the Minolta on the tripod and used the 300mm lens with 2X teleconverter. It was bright enough that I was able to get very good shutter speeds as well. All that shit gets heavy FAST, though...

We left early Saturday morning to the races. Had to be there around 7:30am, and her first race was at 8:30 or so. Cold! Btw, carrying so much glass, a tripod, and making sure your kids don't drown is HARD work. I got a few good pics of the first race, but with the sun behind them, I was having a few flare issues. Time for a hood I guess. Race 2 I had better luck with, and so did the team. I learned an important thing: people really like to dress weird, lol. Some of the drummers were just dressed in the most off of fashions. Anywho, the second race I shot with the same lenses, but no tripod. Pretty much amounted to two huge cannons hanging from my neck (yeah, that hurt), shooting with the Nikon until they were too far, then switching it up to the Minolta to continue the shooting. The moving back to the Nikon when they got closer again. I actually had a blast doing that. My new lens on the Nikon is super sharp. I was doing REALLY well, too, given that I had to focus manually, plus adjust the aperture and shutter speed manually as well.  Shot everything in RAW so that I didn't have to worry too much about the exposure adjustments until I got home.  PS took care of the rest.  We left around 3pm or so.  There was gonna be a 3rd race for the top 12, but by that point most of Val's team had left, so there was no point in staying.  We were beat!!  Val got her face a little sunburned... and so did I!  Hell, my arms still burn.  But at least I will have a nice tan here in a bit, lol.  Dropped some film off at Target, then came home, and more or less crashed.  I really enjoyed it a lot, though.  Maybe next year I'll volunteer, assuming I can swim or something....
And I am Feeling....: tiredtired