I spent today doing the first round of long neglected maintenance on my car. The first challenge was overcoming the galvanic corrosion that fused my wheel to the wheel hub. In the presence of an electrolyte, such as road salt or acid rain the two different metals (alloy and steel) act as a battery and deposit metal from the anode to the cathode.

Oxidants will happen...

Oxidants will happen…

I tried everything I could think of, striking the wheel, treating the area with surfactants and rust penetrants, loosening the lugnuts and using the weight of the car to torque the wheel… Nothing. Eventually I just caved and paid for a service appointment with the first ball peen sledge I’ve ever seen.

Corrosion Joke

$55 later, I had the spare on, and was off to my current circle of purgatory – Merchant Tire. Like all sales transactions it’s some of the more exhausting elements of human nature: resisting the upsell, handling new problems uncovered during the “complimentary” diagnostics, further credit card entanglements, etc. So now I’m sitting here, hour one down reading Hyperion, listening to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, enjoying my first ever cup of Keurig coffee ever – which is to say, better coffee than I was expecting for an auto place and better coffee than I was expecting in general.

Nevermind how insecure most computerized vehicle sensor systems are...

Nevermind how insecure computerized vehicle sensors are…

After paying the reckoning and getting back on the road, it’s simply mindblowing how much better a car runs in the absence of cracked valve stems and leaky, misaligned tires.  One thing I don’t get is how anyone can think that $100/tire TPMS valve stems are more worthwhile than using a $3 tire pressure gauge to check their air pressure once a month.  Sure the tread and gas savings are substantial, but people are unbelievably lazy and a piece of tape over the tire pressure light is way less work than walking around your car before you start it up.  While my new found mobility is going to make life a lot easier as far as doing things like getting groceries, getting out of the house, and meeting up with folks – but at the same time I expect the increased freedom will compound, rather than relieve, some of the sleep deprivation I’ve been experiencing.

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Walk Without Rhythm, And We Won’t Attract The Worm (Part 1)

While waiting for a corporation application to clear and the 4-hour mission rejection timer to reset (Stupid mission agents trying to trick you into hauling into Low Security Space), I gathered some intestinal fortitude and decided to tackle one of the intimidating portions of the game: Wormholes and the space that loves them.  I  lined up a low-cost version of everything – a implantless jump clone, a bare bones exploration Imicus, and got to work scanning down an out-of-the-way wormhole.

Gravitational Lensing - Natures way of saying "Hold on to your butt!"

Gravitational Lensing – Natures way of saying “Hold on to your butt!”

After a bookmark for ease of access, I checked the information (R051 – stable, headed to Low Sec, undisturbed by ships), held my nose, and took the plunge. Immediately my ship approached, the screen shimmered, the HUD disappeared and I found I was holding my breath. And just like that, I had skipped past several systems of marauding gatecampers and was in the exact system my troublesome delivery was scheduled to.  I immediately went into self-preservation mode even though I was alone in Local. Another bookmark at the at the mouth of the wormhole, jam on my microwarp drive, set up a save spot in the middle of nowhere, turn on my prototype (read: abysmal) cloak and begin to pulse my directional scanner out to 14.93 AU from my position.  Coast is clear.  Things are calm. A chance to breath after the frenzy of activity following my 60s of gate cloak wore off.  Time to begin scanning things down.  Let’s see what we have:


I started scanning before I was 100% safe, but that Data Site was just too tempting.

The sheer number of sites, at least 13 were visible at this point, stressed the importance of filtering quickly. Ore and Combat sites? Eliminated. Bringing the number of sites needing to be scanned down to a much more manageable 4.  The presence of the third tier of scatter container (L1: Info Shard, L2: Com Tower, L3: Mainframe) had the computer beginning to push back against my intrusion attempts – Sorry I didn’t manage to get any screenshots, but the clock was ticking and there are lots of YouTube videos showing the higher levels of the Hacking minigame for the interested.  Defensive Subsystem: Restoration Nodes are one of my more recent less favorite things.


Triangulation – one of life’s little joys.

After looting and pillaging, and I loaded up my fast-hauling fit Nereus to sneak that L4 distribution mission around the gate campers during back-to-back unfortunate Low-Sec deliveries and eventually wound up checking out my haul.

9.59 mil ISK for 1 system worth of work

9.59 mil ISK for 1 system worth of work

A lot of the cans required multiple attempts as my level 3 Hacking and Archaeology skills left me a bit outclassed without specialized equipment or higher end implants (left behind for the sake of loss mitigation.)  I also reevaluated my load and left behind a lot of my general knapsack of equipment that I usually bring for clearing DED sites and Combat Anomalies – gone went the Mobile Depot & Tractor Unit, Shields, Railgun and Salvagers.  I wound up stripping down my Imicus to the barest of bare bones for future flights.


Bright.  Weird and bright.

Emboldened by my modest success and wondering why everybody thinks wormholes are such a big deal, little did I know that my latest crop of hubris was about to come to fruition.  In part two, we’ll go deeper into wormholes where the physics starts to get a little weird, and we’ll have our first encounter with the enigmatic Sleepers.

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Try, Try Again

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing, I pushed too hard to make things happen and wound up spinning my wheels. Things have settled down a bit, overwhelming pressure and dread have subsided to the more familiar friends of gentle frustration and general apprehension.  I’ve been catching up on a lot of small things around the apartment, taking care of all the little (read: big) things I let slide, and I’m just trying to make a concerted push in a few select directions.

Stratios and Astero - don't fly what you can't afford to lose.

Stratios and Astero – don’t fly what you can’t lose.

My sleep’s been pretty broken, with my biological clock falling into some sort of halting 32-hour pattern. There’s a lot of watching other people drift by. I’ve been retreating mainly into time-independent, solitary tasks. I got a copy of EVE Online from their recent Humble Bundle and it’s actually a lot more fun this time around. The first time I played, most of my time was spent doing things like learning skills to improve your learning, which when you’re just starting off, projecting two years into your character’s theoretical future isn’t necessarily the most compelling gameplay. Some comparable skills remain, boosts to faction rewards and NPC interactions and annual stats remapping give some small echoes of the previous system. For the most part I’ve been doing Exploration, Manufacturing, and Trade which has been pretty fun in spite of my lack of corporate affiliation. I’ve only run into 1.5 of the dreaded sociopaths that EVE is nefarious for housing. I wasn’t paying attention, working on my soft bricked phone and typing this post and a guy slapped my fast hauler fitted Nereus to the tune of maybe 20+ million of wreckage. Fortunately I had dressed appropriately for the mission I was running and had mitigated the complete disaster it could have been. The idea that not only is punishment for stupidity is not only likely, but encouraged, is one of the main draws of the game. Cutthroat I know, but actions having consequences is something I’m kind of down with. I’m having fun due to being able to step away from the computer to take the dogs out or double-check on food that’s on the stove, and boning up on my webpage scraping abilities, importing XML into spreadsheets, and just general organizational utility are useful, if relatively relaxing and mindless skills. I’ve stalled out a little bit as both my free agency as well as my lack of concrete goals have left me with the usual sandbox trap of having too many options to choose from. So I think I might take the plunge and actually try one of the more open teaching courses, so I can build up my knowledge and skills a bit more so I’ll be comfortable enough to dive in to a wormhole.


Good Ol’ Carl

I got a few books out of the Library in the supermarket sweep that was the 10 minutes before closing. A couple of Roger Zelazny anthologies that were put out in recent years along with Dan Simmons’ Hyperion. I’ve read parts of the former and several books in the series of the latter, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get few pages under my belt. As seems to be the theme, I think if I start small and simple things will hopefully pick up some momentum. I’ve been having a hard time finding books that I give a crap about, add to that the lack of time, and the literacy thing just wasn’t happening. I’m gathering materials for several electronics projects – milling down soda cans into raw material for solder paste stencils, breaking down batteries into their corresponding electrical or chemical components, terrorizing the dogs with chip deliveries, and gathering all the tools and components I’ll need on this end. I’m looking at starting low chip count, relatively large circuits, that should be pretty straightforward to simulate and troubleshoot. My efforts to get some of the most basic pieces of equipment yielded a really shitty experience at Harbor Freight. They were running a bunch of coupons for Father’s Day that I thought I would take advantage of. I decided I’d get a LED-lit “Helping Hand” for 8 bucks and I’d use a coupon to get a multimeter (which surprisingly I don’t have) for free. But they pulled some pretty shitty bait-and-switch and started to say how even though it was the exact same multimeter, it was a different lot number so I guess I can just go fuck myself. And to top it off, they’re overdriving the two 1.5V LEDs with a whole extra battery. As solid state physics tells us, all that does is provide a slight increase in output, before breaking the LED.  So I’m going to have solder in a bridge over the third battery compartment.

I think I’ve got a heat gun candidate picked out and I filled out one imaginary job application just to spice things up a bit, so we’ll see how all that goes.

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Obvious Grog