Orville Update

I recently had some new floor pans welded in to Orville. It is a bit more reassuring to not see the ground when you look down.
At the same time my welder modified my seat rails to accommodate the 911 seats I purchased this last summer. I was looking at refurbishing the old seats, but I found these on Craigslist and for the price $125 for the pair, I couldn't even get the fabric to re-do the old seats. Plus, now I have better seats. I also purchased some modern seatbelts which were military overstock...something like $20 (thanks for the #protip Samba posters!).

I started the wiring this summer. The old wiring was suspect at best and rotting out and rat-chewed in many places. (Because of teaching a course this summer that I was not expecting to teach, I didn't get nearly as far on the car as I wanted, but am reinvigorated after seeing the new pans and seats.) I am using a Watson Streetworks kit (which in retrospect maybe was not the best choice), and it has been a pretty smooth install right up to the turn signals.

Initially I had purchased some headlights with the LED turn signals in the headlight. I really did not like the turn signal lights that my '71 KG had, so we welded those over last year. But, after putting in the new signals, I was unhappy from an aesthetic standpoint. The new headlights were flat on the front which, to me, killed the lines of the car. So back to the old headlights.

But, what to do about the turn signals? After some muttering and contemplating, I opted to get some of the bullet turn signals from the earlier era KGs. The holes for install are drilled and ready. The only thing I need to get to do the install is the mounting rubber. The used signals I bought from the Samba forum had some old crusty rubber that needs replacing.

As can be seen in one of the pictures above, I also decided to move the battery and fusebox into the car. I picked up a gel-cel so the battery would not leak noxious fumes. We will weld in a battery tray to keep it in one spot and I will switch the fusebox and battery so the battery is behind the passenger seat and the fusebox is behind the driver's seat. (Should have done that from the start!)

I also added disc brakes to the rear wheels over the summer. The front brakes were already discs, but the back brakes were drums. While the disc brakes were not entirely necessary (the engine after all is only 1600cc), I figured if I were updating the car to something I like, why not do it.

The paint is a Volvo Blue, and I do not like it. I tried to go more era (and I wanted to try a blue), but the blue is too boring and light. I don't know which color I will eventually settle on. The VW Azure Blue is nice, but I miss the reddish orange that Orville used to have. I also like the Pearl White color of the old VWs...think Herbie.

Azure Blue
Pearl White
A KG in Pearl White



Fucking Developers...

...they screw up everything. Dinkytown used to be a pretty cool place. Multiple used bookstores; cool places to eat; cheap bars; coffee shops; independent businesses. Now it seems as though the goal is apartment central. How many places can they knock over and re-build with an over-priced apartment complex? And, judging from the way they look, these won't be inexpensive places for students to live. The only places worth going to there anymore are the bars....not that they are that special, but they are cheap.

Another old house gets knocked over for more apartments.
Now they want to knock over an entire block of Dinkytown to put in a luxury hotel?! It is going to be laughable when they have these apartments full of students and nowhere for them to hang out. Can you imagine the slogan..."Store your bed and your shit in Dinkytown, but you will have to go elsewhere to do anything."

The worst part about this is that they keep taking out parking. Where are the people who live there going to park? Oh, right, I forgot, they will ride the lightrail. Good thing we now have that handy route to St. Paul. Dumbasses. All of them.


June 2014 Reading

I have long been inspired to begin producing some sort of monthly report about my book habits (buying and reading) like what Nick Hornby does (did) for the Believer magazine. Every so often he writes a column in which he lists recent "Books Bought" and "Books Read". Like in my own life, the first list is generally longer. He also then writes about a select few books that appear on those lists. Many of these columns have been collected into the fine literary works: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books.

Rather than write about both sets, here I will only report the books bought. Two reasons for this: I have a GoodReads account where I report what I am reading, so interested folks can check there. And, more importantly writing about books I read feels like those dumb-ass book reports I had to do in elementary school. Nothing makes me want to quit doing something more than being forced to do that thing. Also, the anticipation of reading a book is almost as great (sometimes greater) as the very act of reading said book.

When you examine the list, there will be those who exclaim, "Holy Crap! That is a lot of books to buy in a month!" Others will have the opposite reaction, "Why so few?" I am without doubt a bibliophile. My house is filled with books. I can part with books, I have sold a lot, and given away more. However, books make me smile. I can't go into a bookstore without buying at least one book. The books I buy now are generally all hardcover (w/dust jacket), first edition/first printings.

I also collect Penguin Classics (black) and Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics (mint green). Almost all of the tomes I purchase are used from Goodwill, Arc, Savers, Half-Price Books, etc. It is like literary adoption. Also, many only cost a couple dollars.

So, without further ado...

  • Ill Wind—Nevada Barr (autographed)
  • Endangered Species–Nevada Barr
  • Borderline—Nevada Barr
  • Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC—Joseph McCormick & Susan Fisher–Hoch
  • Mystic River—Dennis Lehane
  • The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents—Terry Pratchett
  • Out of the Crisis—W. Edwards Deming
  • The Day Lincoln was Shot—Jim Bishop
  • Murder in Minnesota—Walter N. Trenerry
  • The Killer Angels—Michael Shaara
  • Second Nature—Alice Hoffman
  • Brightness Falls—Jay McInerney
  • Dead Air—Mike Lupica
  • Fugitives and Refugees—Chuck Palahniuk
  • Oblomov—Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov (Penguin Classics)
  • The Heart of Mid-Lothian—Sir Walter Scott (Penguin Classics)
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread—E. M. Forster (paperback)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—J. K. Rowling
  • Reamde—Neal Stephonson
  • The Pale King—David Foster Wallace
  • Distrust That Particular Flavor—William Gibson
  • One Mississippi—Mark Childress
Some of these purchases were to replace paperbacks or other editions. The Killer Angels is a classic book about the Civil War (it even won a Pulitzer) by the same guy who wrote For Love of the Game (yep...it was turned into a Kevin Costner movie, but it's ok since he plays a washed-up sports star). His son, Jeffrey, later wrote the prequel (Gods and Generals), as well as several other works of historical fiction. This is a 2007 hardcover version and will replace an older paperback, as will Mystic River. The Harry Potter book was one of those "OMG...this is a first edition" moments in a thrift store and will oust a non-collectable version from the shelf.

I bought Mike Lupica's Dead Air because of his sports writing. This was his first work of fiction—published in the era of Air Supply (1986)—and will be put in the "to read" queue. For now it will join Wild Pitch on the shelves. Fugitives and Refugees is as the dust jacket blurb puts it, "the closest thing [Chuck Palahniuk] may ever write to an autobiography." Into the queue it goes. The same for the Terry Pratchett book (purchased because of his work with Neil Gaiman on Good Omens), and the Virus Hunters book (can't get enough of Ebola, Lassa, and Crimean Congo Hemmorrhagic Fever, see also Hotzone and Demon in the Freezer).

Alice Hoffman's Second Nature will join Practical Magic and Turtle Moon on the shelf. Some year I will read all of her works, but for some reason I associate her books with autumn, and since it isn't autumn, on the shelf they go. Same with the Nevada Barr books. They all include the character Anna Pigeon, a Park Service ranger. These books are meant to be read in the winter (Why? Because!).

Brightness Falls I am excited to read and that will move to the front of the reading queue. I read several of McInerney's books this year and two of the characters in The Good Life were actually introduced in this book. How can you not like an author who is part of the "literary Brat Pack"?

Murder in Minnesota caught my eye at Arc, and I put it in the cart. It was published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1962 and recounts 15 murders that took place in Minnesota between 1858 and 1917. I have a penchant for the underbelly of Minnesota (got to shed that Minnesota Nice label). In fact, my friend Jeb and I once dreamed up a tour of the Twin-Cities in which tourists would be taken to several sites of shame and degradation (e.g., the parking lot of Red's Savoy in which Norm Coleman's dad got a hummer).  

The Day Lincoln was Shot was one of those books that takes you back to your childhood. As a younger lad, I was more of a reader than a socializer (yeah....really), especially during family events. Our grandparent's house in Duluth had the usual selection of Reader's Digest collections (magazines and edited novels), but the more interesting books were three small books by Jim Bishop, The Day Kennedy was Shot, The Day Lincoln was Shot, and The Day Jesus Died. I read, and re-read those three books a lot.

Although it was a paperback, Where Angels Fear to Tread had a beautiful cover. There are some books you covet only because of the cover, and this was one such book. It reminds me of an old bookstore, aisles overflowing with books stacked from floor to ceiling; literary mazes in which a person can lose herself for hours, emerging with dust-encased volumes and a feeling of satisfaction that can only come from the time spent perusing and pouring over hundreds of typeset cover flaps. In short, my dream home.

Deming's Out of the Crisis was another thrift store find. Typically selling for $40–$70, this book was a steal at $1.69. Deming's ideas of sampling and quality control led to Six Sigma. This book is like the Six Sigma Bible, albeit without as much begatting. (Aside: When the act of 'begatting' is taking place, is it called 'begetting'? As in, "Noah begetting some of that.")


69th Place or A Step Ahead for Next Year?

Since the Gophers won the N.I.T. there has been a lot of speculation about whether it will help them for next year. To provide some more informed speculation, we can turn to the data. After winning the N.I.T., how have teams done the following year?

I used Sports Reference to see how past N.I.T. champions have fared in the subsequent year. The data are based on 75 previous N.I.T. winners.

The year after winning the N.I.T., 43 of the 75 teams were ranked in the A.P. Top 25 at some point in the season! Five were ranked as #1. This is despite the fact that only 18 of the N.I.T. winners were ranked in the Top 25 at preseason. How did these teams do in the post-season? Fourteen of the 75 N.I.T. winners won their conference's regular season. Only six of the 75 won their conference tournament.

The Big Dance

When it comes NCAA tournament time, the N.I.T. winners don't fare as well. How did they do?

The good news for Gopher fans is that, since the NCAA tournament expanded to include 48 teams in 1975, two-thirds of the N.I.T. champions (26 teams) have made the NCAA tournament the year after winning the N.I.T.

Now for the bad news. Of those 26 N.I.T. winners that received a tournament bid, 10 were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament and another 10 were eliminated in the second round, leaving a mere six N.I.T. winners playing after the first weekend.

These teams included,
  • Kentucky (1976-77)
  • Indiana (1979-80)
  • Virgina (1980-81; 1992-93)
  • West Virginia (2007-08)
  • Baylor (2013-14)
Most of these six teams were dispatched in the region semifinals. The 1976-77 Kentucky Wildcat team lost in the regional final, and only the 1980-81 Virginia team made it to the National title game....where they lost.

Even if the causal claims of the N.I.T. leading to a team's eminent success were dubious before, the data suggest that a claim like that is just plain wrong. Maybe Minnesota will provide an outlying case. Maybe it's just a 69th place finish.


TV: An Update

I wrote a post a few years ago about what I was watching on TV, so I decided to update that.

What I am watching (in no particular order):
  • Scandal: Crap but ok
  • Nashville: Awesome!
  • Justified: Yep.
  • House of Lies: Get the afterwork!
  • House of Cards: The first season was better.
  • Reign: Arghhh
  • Vampire Diaries: Should have stopped a couple seasons ago
  • The Originals: Should have never started
  • The Following: Arghhhhh
  • Walking Dead: Zzzzzzzz
  • Mad Men: bhdsbfsdbfj,sdb
  • Sons of Anarchy: Can't wait til' it restarts
  • Californication: Duh!
  • Game of Thrones: OMG!
  • True Detective: I will give it another season
  • The League: Still cracks me up
  • Graceland: Not bad. Definitely not good either.
  • Suits: This one I like
  • The Americans: Really good
  • Homeland: Wasn't sure how well this was going to go, but they surprised me.
  • True Blood: I want to give up on this one
  • Masters of Sex: Masters of boring would have been a better title
  • Girls: Since it is only 1/2 an hour, I can handle it
  • Person of Interest: First season was good. Second season was less so. I will withhold judgment until I see the third season on dvd
  • Vegas: I like those cowboy archetypes
  • Elementary: The last few episodes haven't rocked my world
  • Arrow: Watched the first season and thought it was pretty good. Waiting for the second season on Netflix.
  • Dexter: I think this one is the last season...needs to end
  • Luther: I watched two seasons I think...very memorable, obviously.
  • The Newsroom: Really like this one. characters. writing, acting. all of it.
  • Gossip Girl: Finally finished it!
  • Big Bang Theory: we wait for it on DVD, and I am in no particular hurry.

Shows I gave up on
  • Revenge: Should have been one-and-done
  • 666 Park Avenue: Do they not have test audiences?
  • American Horror Story: After season 1, I just couldn't commit to this one anymore
  • Pretty Little Liars: Jesus Christ!
  •  Breaking Bad: I watched the whole thing, but I should have stopped two seasons earlier.
  • Hostages: Crap
  • White Collar: 5-6 episodes would have been enough
  • Portlandia: They could have called it Minneapolandia as well. This shit is too close to home and just makes me naseous and angry
  • Lilyhammer: The first season was slow, but watchable. The second season I lost all interest


Video Game Mashups

While sitting at the Acadia with Charles and Tom, I had my third billion-dollar idea in the last 6 months. The three of us are like idea ambassadors (don't know what that means, but a student used the word "ambassador" yesterday and I liked it). I think companies could pay us to come up with great ideas. We wouldn't even need office space. We could just chill at a pub and people could come to us, buy us beer, and we would supply great ideas….it would be like the Genius Bar…

The idea last night was simple…video game mashups. It would be amazing. Let me give some examples to get the creative juices flowing…

Shinobi vs. Duck Hunt

Take out ducks with your throwing stars. This could also be adapted for Big Buck Hunter.

Zork vs. Mortal Combat

West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

There is a small mailbox here.
There is also a man in horse-stance standing in the field.

> attack man in horse-stance.

The man giggles and pulls his katana.

> open mailbox

Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.

> get leaflet


> attack man in horse-stance with leaflet

The man cuts your arm off with his katana. You inflict several paper cuts.

> f$%ck

That sentence isn't one I recognize.

> read leaflet

The leaflet contains Vogon poetry.

> read leaflet to man in horse-stance

The man falls to the ground clutching his ears.

> finish him

The man is finished.

Frogger vs. Oregon Trail


Orville Update

Now tha the smelter has ended, it is time for an update on Orville. This fall he received a lot of body work to make him structurally sound. Welding is something I can't do and don't want to learn how to do, so I hired that out to my friend Bruce. You can see in one of the pics how bad the  rust was…far worse than initially anticipated. (Guess I will be doing the fill, paint prep and painting myself.)

Orville got new rocker panels, a new rear lock panel, rear apron, and battery tray. He also got new front and  rear quarters, as well as a new front apron. I also had Bruce fill in some of the front, including most noticeably the turn signal holes. I got new lights with LED turn signals in them, so I just wanted to tighten up the contour lines.

His doors now close as they are supposed to, and he is much less of a rattle trap. Still a long way to go, but you can start to see the vision.