People are lovely, at least, the ones I know.

So, this was going to be a whiny depressed post. A fed up rant at all things DAF shaped, at myself for my desire to run classic cars as daily drivers, at the world for frustrating me every time I think I’m wining. That kind of tedious thing.

Why is this? Well, because this weekend an awesome band of wonderful people descended on Slough to aid and abet me in my classic car and MZ fetish. Enablers, one might call them. They rock. Nikki and Kate and John I’ve known for many years and they are known lovely people. Kate has overlooked my initial poor first impression (If I’d’ve written to Points of View I’d’ve been ‘angry of Colerne’), and is incredibly patient for someone with no interest whatsoever in classic cars with her partner’s interest and my obsession and came to Slough for a day which would be both long and involve very little of interest to her (she was also awesome because she helped Kathryn out).

Nikki has been mentioned many times, respected EV advocate she may be, but there lurks deep in her soul a dark secret. She still likes classic cars, even if they’ve got an Internal Combustion Engine. And while she’s not quite into the quirky bizarritude of classics that I am (Is it Communist? Is it Obscure and impossible to get new bits for? I’m in!) – she gathered her cadre and brought forth a person who I’d only met once before who possibly wins in the awesome stakes, because he injured himself in the call of getting someone he barely knows mobile in a non-ev.

John, for long time journal readers is a known fine gent. I recall him ferrying me back home after I had my wisdom teeth removed and while I was still under the effects of a general anesthetic. Despite me living 45 minutes from Bristol by that time and the fact it was snowing, he took me home and looked after me for the afternoon. He came, he soldered, and he went. He rocks too.

But Adam, Adam perhaps wins for helpfulness beyond the call of duty. I met him once, and between him, Nikki, Kate and John I felt a pining for Bristol. They are all part of what makes Bristol such a good place to live, and his generosity is proof that good human nature is extant. He came and helped out for an entire day to assist in rebuilding someone’s car who he’d barely met.

Between them they bring ‘rocking’ to a whole new level.

So why the rant?

Well, while disassembling and reassembling the engine I discovered this:

cracked cylinder head

And the general response from the owner’s club was “you’d’ve noticed if it was a problem by now” – but let’s be honest, that relied on me actually doing my research properly, and I was slack. With the engine very hot it more or less runs on both cylinders, not well, but it does. Pulling the plug from either cylinder produced an engine that ran attrociously. I should, however, have done it when cold. Or looked at the plugs from both cylinders. When I stripped the engine I wasn’t certain how so much oil had ended up in the cylinder bore. I should have thought more about it.

We needed to move the Minor to extract the DAF from the drive. The minor wouldn’t start. I suspect that the fuel pump needs priming – two weeks of baking heat have presumably evaporated the fuel. That has never happened before, though, and was frustrating.

On reassembly of the DAF, on Saturday night, at around ten PM, the engine limped and dragged the car around at the speed of a sloath. It actually required people pushing the car to get it back up on the pavement. After the very unfortunate and expensive discovery that I was on an early shift yesterday, not, as I’d thought, a late (requiring in the end 2 taxis), I came back from work and looked at the car. John, from the club, suggested that the uneven running might be that it was still firing on one cylinder. It was.

Because the side with the cracked head? It’s full of oil. I can make the car run beautifully for about 30 seconds by cleaning the plug, after which the oil fouls it completely and that cylinder becomes a display only one. The car is not immobile, but not driveable. As I contemplated the rust that needs repairing, the miriad of problems it’s had (70k miles is not a huge amount, but I think the maintenance has left something to be desired) and my (perceived) manifold failures in decision making, I was feeling deeply frustrated.

I was feeling a little better today, having at least organised supply of a replacement head for not very much, but it wasn’t going to arrive for at least a week. I resigned myself to at least another week of hire cars, and prepared to go and collect the rental – and then couldn’t find my debit card. I swore and stomped around and cursed the world. Kathryn very sweetly put up with me, for reasons I can’t quite work out, rather than telling me to grow up, which is what I really should have done.

Having found it I went and collected the card, and came back to find an incredibly nice e-mail from another star of incredible proportions. A fine gent in Ireland offered to send me a spare 44 cylinder head, potentially such that it would arrive this week. Potentially enabling me to get the car back on the road at the end of the week. If I catch the colleague from work, the welding might be done, and lo, the DAF shall rise again. Hopefully I&A will ring soon with a “the car’s ready” message and all shall be right in the world. Ish.

Kathryn & I found this…

Kathryn and I found this stove:

abandoned aga
 abandoned aga-oid

kicking around on the street near where I live. Sadly there was no-one in and it looks like they damaged it a little during it’s removal. But it’s almost certainly repairable, all there, and appears to have been left out for scrap.

If anyone wants it, give me a shout and see if I can sort it :) It’s a terrible shame for it to go to waste – it’d be ideal if someone’s doing a green/eco house project :)

Maths, lies, thrills and unthrills.

1) Kathryn drives much more economically than me.
2) It took me much longer than it should to work out the DAF’s MPG. Given that I think she’s still not running quite right (mixture wise), and am pondering whether there’s some clutch slippage going on, we should be able to get better fuel economy from ’em.

The result of the pondering is that a 1974 DAF 44 returns, with an economical driver, 38mpg (which equates to approximately a CO2 rating of 194g/km (or, adjusting for how optimistic auto manufacturers are, about 155g/km). That latter ‘adjusted’ value is disconcertingly close to a Mini One.

But the government in their pseudo-green drive are scrapping cars that are just as green as the modern ones, discounting the energy required to build cars, and essentially are propping up companies that failed to adapt to changing market conditions with more environmental destruction. Thanks Labour. Don’t think you’ll be having my vote. You’ve actually driven me to voting for the Greens. Seriously. I never thought I’d do that.

Sadly, incidentally, there’ve been some classics which were casualties of the destructiveness of this government… Anyone who said Classics wouldn’t be affected want to reconsider that answer.


In other news, I’ve been continuing to ponder the construction of an EV-DAF. Slightly prompted by Mr Clarkson’s annoying take on the (probably awful, but his whining about all EVs and his belief that climate change is all in everyone-elses heads make me want to recommend it anyhow) Honda Insight Mk II*. I knew it’d been done before, albeit somewhat badly – Nikki B, of the a minor journey EV blog & appearances on EV cast waved it at me a while ago – essentially, this conversion consisted of a Milkfloat motor dropped into a DAF with some scaffold board to support it. That the owner claimed it moved at all was no mean feat.

What I didn’t realise is that it’d been done somewhat more thoroughly somewhat earlier; twice. Shell used the cute little DAF to build a Fuel Cell Hybrid (yes, seriously) in the 60s.

I wonder if the technology of producing an extremely poor energy carrier for nothing is close to maturation yet ;)

Apparently it wasn’t great – but what do you expect from 60’s fuel cell and electric motor technology? The colour choice was good though :)

What was more interesting still (although the photo was very cool) was that there were two independent companies that built DAF 44 EVs in the states (in the 70s). CHW, in Athol, MA. (who later became ‘ElectriCar’ – and seem to have disappeared) and a company called EV Propulsion. Although the DCA chap has figures for CHW’s cars (around 60 produced) he didn’t mention how many EV Propulsion converted… But that, lack of money, time, space, and plans to do it in a vague and hazy future haven’t stopped me mailing them.

Still, there’s plenty to keep me entertained on them as it is. Vixy’s off to an actual factual garage to have the brakes done, although I’m going to have a little go at mixture again tomorrow, having invested in a colortune. I’m also going to give her actual new spark-plugs. We’ll see how that whole thing goes. Her new door should arrive in a couple of days time too, just a case of spraying it to, uh, match and fitting it. I’m looking forward to her having a window winder that works :)

Jejy’s new wheel bearing is sat in the lounge too, all ready to be fitted, and I’ve got a ‘source’ hopefully tracking down a silencer (or two), wheels and some clutch shoes to re-con. The new drum and inlet manifold have arrived, so that’s all shiny. Lots of work to do there…

I’ve got a quote for fetching the ‘zed from my mum’s to here. I think I’ll go make it accessible, and then get the couriers to bring it over.

Unrelated but very, very good: We were sat in the garden and one of the birds (?sparrow) decided it didn’t want to wait until we vacated the area – and hopped around a few feet from us (literally, 2-3 feet), fairly much disregarding us. It was really just incredible.

Unrelated but very, very bad: Change we can’t believe in.

* I always rather liked the look of the Mark I, although tbh I want an EV that looks all futuristic and modern, not a Hybrid. Basically I want an EV1. Yes, I’m still whining.

Today we went a wanderin’

So, we’ve been meaning to go for a walk, and today, the weather was good enough that we could take the coats and go. A few days ago – well about a week ago – when I took Vixy out for a spin (I guess, almost literally given the state of the brakes) – I found that we’re actually about 20 minutes from really pretty countryside. Really pretty.

So today, dans le minor, we headed out into the wilds of the environs of Slough, armed only with raincoats, my FF’s (and Kathryn’s walking boots) and a camera. We came back with some pretty pictures and some nice memories.

It’s teh pretty out there.

Set here.

Be gentle, I’ve not been able to take the camera out for months, so this is the first time I’ve been out in the wild with new batteries :)

Another day in the dirt

Not all car stuff today; to skip the car stuff just scroll down to where it proclaims that car stuff endeth. :)

So, today I shuffled the cars to get the Minor on the drive, and whipped off the ill-fitting exhaust, separated the 45 degree segment at the base of the downpipe (which I spent about 40 minutes attacking last time with ‘penetrating oil’, this time I got the Plus-Gas on it, and the thing just came apart. Simple as that). Then, with Kathryn’s help, we reattached the exhaust.

Only took from 11am to 3pm. I’m not very good at exhaust fitting, and having done it we drove into town and… it’s rattling against something at the back. Usually this is the exhaust hitting the fuel tank; not a soothing noise at the best of times; so that’s something to attack later.

Then I spent about half an hour adjusting the mixture. She’s been running rich and idling too high. A bit of a tweak to that and she’s now idling at a much more sensible speed and lord knows what the mixture’s doing. I suck at setting carbs up, I keep meaning to buy a colortune to aid in my attrociousness. The DAFs have a much more ‘relaxed’ carb than the HiF44 in the Minor, which is slightly worn (not terribly so, she doesn’t hunt horribly at idle) and which has proper mixture adjustment.

Still, she’s running okay, so I’m going to presume it’s alright for the minute.

Next week will be more car stuff, hopefully, in so far as I’m hoping that the brake bits will arrive for Jejy and Vixy and we can get them assembled.

Then comes the difficult decision, which of the cars to take on holiday with us. We’re looking at around 1000 miles plus whatever motoring we do while we’re there. The minor’s swivel pins are worn, but I don’t know how badly. Jejy’s a big no-no, without the new clutch drum she’s not going anywhere far (so that’s easy), but Vixy? Vixy’s kind of an unknown quantity. Unknown quantities aren’t good for holiday relaxing, I find, but on the other hand she’s been recently serviced by a garage, she’ll have new brakes, she’s got a spare pair of belts in the boot…

…and only 21k on the clock.

We’ll see.

Anyway, hopefully we’ll have less car-posts for y’all once this is done. Then we can return to the ‘house posts’

car stuff endeth here

Mind you, I ought to do a garden post because the garden is *awesome*. Kathryn spent time today breaking up soil and prepping it, then planted some of our wild-flower seeds; she’s hacked down pruned the buddleia, out the front, which officially needs to be dug up and moved into the raised bed at the front, but since the builders haven’t quoted (or contacted me) then, uh, that’s not quite happening yet. The back garden is looking really very nice; when she takes the photos off her camera and flickr’s them I’ll linky.

It is just amazing to look at the ground and go ‘my god, they’re beans. They are our beans, that we planted and they’re growing. I could get quite into gardening, I fear. It’s really lovely though, to go out there, in the nice weather we’ve been having and see plants we planted growing, and indeed growing well. It’s not like either of us is particularly ‘green fingered’, but we’ve got good soil, and my mum’s around to help and advise us (and Kathryn’s mom is available for advice too :) ) and it’s come together to be a really restful place, potentially.

And the lie and deception which is the gravel-over-concrete path appears to be working.

Anyhow, now it’s time to make dinner. So I shall scoot.

Another long day in mechanic mode

So today was hard going. Started at 9:30, finished at 17:30 with only a break for lunch and a couple of quick trips to (a)Halfords and (b)Proper MotorFactor.

At one point I was so demoralised I stood staring at Vixy wondering both how she’d actually managed to stay running so well, wondering if the fault I’d found had anything to do with the poor idle and failure to up-revs on braking, and contemplating whether she should return to the internet in search of a new home.

However, thankfully (I think), I opted not to do that.

Faults found and rectified today:
– Idle / Braking: There’s an Electro-Magnetic doojit on the carb, it wasn’t actually screwed in. I’ve no idea if it was sucking in air around the barely attached doojit, but certainly, doing it up screwed with the mixture. Then I found that the pipe which covers the join between the inlet manifold and one of the inlet pipes (it’s got a flexible segment made by having a sleeve and a tube with a bit of rubber over it) was completely beyond saving. It was cracked and split and a mess. It’s been replaced. The idle’s now much better and the engine does it’s thing when you put your foot on the brakes.

– Oil Leak: Turned out to be the oil-pressure warning sensor. It was leaking like a secret government meeting filled with double agents. Having spent an entertaining twenty minutes with my newly aquired ‘shop towel’ (like J-Cloths but less strength in tension and way more absorbent) cleaning gunky oil off bits of the engine I lay under the car waiting for the dripping to start. Sure enough, there was the leak, oozing it’s way out of the pressure switch. Amazingly my local autofactor had one in stock. Took them about 20 minutes to find it, but they had it.

– Radio: Wired in and working, but I still need the bracket and an arial. Remarkably it can pick up Heart 106 (not that I like Heart 106, or it might be Star 106. It’s 106, anyway) despite not having an arial. The tape bit sort-of-works, and sound comes out of the really rather silly Goodmans Speakers plonked on the back shelf. I do need some means of attaching them as they don’t actually appear to have any means of attachment.

Discoveries of a non-awful nature:
– According to my wildly innacurate Autodata manual, the DAF has the pre-1972 wiring scheme. This is odd for a late ’73 car. However, the Autodata manual is noted for it’s similarity to the Haynes Book of Lies in the respect of ensuring things are accurate (like, for example, the non-existent Lockwasher I spent time angsting about).
– The exhaust really is an astonishing piece of bodgery. It changes diameter twice and appears to have been made by someone going ‘hey, that’s a big ‘ol chunk of straight exhaust; that’ll do’.

Things not fixed today:
– The brakes.

Discoverys of an unfortunate and upsetting nature:
– Jejy’s brakes are dangerous. I took her to the store to get the oil pressure switch and had one of those ‘oh-dear-god-I’m-going-to-die’ moments when I put my foot on the brakes at a junction. The slightly weepy front cylinder has become the ‘pouring brake fluid out in a very generous and lubricous nature thus ensuring stopping is a gentle and largely terrifing experience’. I had a look on arriving home, having got Vixy fairly much as far sorted as I could, and basically, the brake cylinder is the fucked. I’ve asked my local autofactor if he can order 3 brake cylinders for me, if not then they’ll have to come urgent-first-class-next-day-as-soon-as from Holland, which’ll be pricey.

Still, I consider myself to have rocked today. You may all praise me :)

No going back

So, the Dell and the Apple are both now on ebay. Shinymac and Lapytopy will hopefully go to new owners, although to be honest, I doubt the Dell will sell. Added to the near 100 quid I got from the first auction I’m hoping that I’ll get enough from the Apple (starting bid 580 quid) that a MacBook (or ideally, a MacBook Pro) will be mine. I doubt the latter, but the former’s definately achievable. It’s a little weird to think that in a week I won’t actually have a ‘main’ computer. The RiscPC’s a bit past it, and the EntMac’s only connected to a TV (and not a HiDef one) so isn’t really useable in that way.

The DAF’s been ministered to, yesterday the throttle stuck open, the kink in the cable caught on the cable inner and it also seemed to possibly be unhooked at the pedal end. I’ve checked it over, and it shouldn’t happen again – but when the new inner arrives (it’s going to the new DAF) then I should hopefully be able to replace it without too much pain.

This time I shan’t kink it.

I went to pick up Kathryn after work yesterday, missed her junction and got to travel all the way into London before I could turn around. The traffic was awful and I ended up being around 40 minutes late :( But, it did mean that Kathryn had the opportunity to go out for more driving practice yesterday, and we pootled around Slough. Apart from the incident with the pedals (before we moved at all) there weren’t any problems, but the traffic was lousy, and it opted to snow, which was a little cruel. Today I’m hoping to put an hour or two into clearing the garden a bit. I’m just going to suck down my Chai.

I’ve been incredibly lazy today. Really, ridiculously lazy. Although, to be fair, it took me ages to get the Dell posted on e-bay. It’s taken days, actually, ‘cos the photo-upload wasn’t working last night.

As a side point, I’ve been listening to far too much VV Brown and The Ting Tings. The bloody VV Brown song (Crying blood) keeps getting stuck in my head. Too damn catchy.

And I keep wandering about going ‘Aaaaree yoooooooou caaaaaalling meeee darrrrrrlin(g)…’

I had something else to ramble about, but I’ve forgotten. I blame the Ting Tings.

Oh, no, I remember; I finally got around to entering Snapshot Hunter again. It’s not a great shot, some of the ones up there are way better (already, and we’re only on like the 6th photo), my excuse is that my camera dies after 8 photos now. Do I need new batteries? Yes I do. Not this month though, I think I’ve spent my money for this and next month.

Oh, and yes, my minimal bid is on the shite DAB adapter. I won the amplifier, so we’re all go for taking the Radiomobile to bits. Anyway. Chai. Garden. Collect Kathryn.

Today is a frothy coffee day

How very dare they complain about my nursing when they didn’t take adequate care of their child. How very dare they complain about my clinical judgement on appropriate first aid when they didn’t do any first aid themselves. How very dare they criticise my choice of analgesia when it was delivered to their injured child within 2 minutes of them arriving in the department (for a controlled drug, no less. If you’ve got any idea of how Controlled Drugs work, you’ve got to believe that’s impressive). How very dare they accuse me of forcing their child to have first aid whilst screaming and fighting when in fact I asked the mother to administer it while I got analgesia. And how very dare they misrepresent the advice from the team that helped their child.

I know why this has arisen, because when Social Services knocked on their door, and the Health Visitor popped around to check how mum’s coping with the kids (because to our eyes, she wasn’t coping very well) that must have upset the applecart in middleclassland. But to complain about us, when we helped your family? Well, you can get stuffed.

Thankfully, the Sister who asked me to write a statement to answer the complaint said “There’s really nothing to answer, you did everything right”. My clinical judgement was correct, and I’ve the evidence to prove it. But it’s left me fuming. I had things to do today after work, but instead I’m stuck doing this. And the irony is, I didn’t report them to the Health Visitor or Social Services; that was actually the staff who saw her at clinic and noted the story they gave then didn’t match the story they gave in A&E; one of the more common signs of abuse. We certainly discussed whether they warranted a referral to Social Services, or just the Health Visitor (more because we were concerned about the mother’s ability to cope with her children than the actual injury, the explanation for which was plausible), but decided that we were, having observed them for a bit, happy with the way things were.

What’s even more annoying is they’ve quoted some other family member who’s senior somewhere else who’d spouted a bucket load of crap about treatment, and has left us to pick up and sort out the mess.

So, once this is done, and we’re heading off to do our shopping we’ll stop off and get a frothy coffee, because I need some cheering up.

Memories and Thinks

I was about to post about my plan, which I shall do in a minute, but I was distracted by reading emilydm’s post about going skating. Years ago, years and years ago, when I was but tinysmall, and my friends were similarly sized, my dad used to take us to a skating rink in London. I’ve no idea where, which has always saddened me slightly, because I’d love to go back.

But it’s almost certainly been modernised.

I remember it being “world of the 70’s”, the clearly British but American-‘themed’* diner attached at one end of the rink, tinny music playing, some kind of stage-esque curtained thing at the other end of the ring (what in god’s name was that for? So they could put on stage shows while-you-skate? I can see why that might not have succeeded), Black and very worn rubber matting and the battered looking rink boundry with it’s chipped and broken paint.

It was enormous fun, circling the rink, in the 70s atmosphere (despite it being the mid 80s), the slightly run-down charm bringing back even earlier youthful fun in Hemel’s AMC Bowling Alley (which was demolished when I was pretty small and was a similarly 70s building – but that actually only just made it into the 80s).

The nice thing about these memories is the warm fuzzy family feeling. Remembering my dad taking me out onto the ice holding my hand, getting me started and then me flying off Hockey-Skater style, while my sister with her Ballet-learned grace would float round the rink.

It’s one of those…slightly melancholy nostalgias, perhaps it’s better that I can’t go back, it’s probably been either closed or drastically modernised; as is the wont of these places.

There is one place from my childhood I’d love to go to – the REX 1&2 – now known as The REX Cinema – this place has survived the ravages of time – in my youth it was a ratty but glorious piece of Deco artwork. I saw few films there – being as my dad was generally of the opinion that it was cheaper to wait and watch it on TV – something I sadly do out of financial distress rather than desire. I cherished that place, but never imagined that it would be saved – the Sad REX 1&2 sign lingered in my head. But now saved and restored, it’s a place I quite definately want to go and visit.

Anyhow, enough of that. Plans. Or specifically, the Laptop plan.

I had this idea – see, I want a new laptop. The Dell CPi that Lauren gave me has been soldiering on pretty well, really, given that it’s 8 years old, has a processor it doesn’t support in it, and is held together with a plate of steel, extra machine screws through the lid casing, copper mains-wire glued in with epoxy resin to support the cracked and damaged case and has a 4 key which is pops up because it’s lost part of it’s clipping mechanism. Oh, and it’s killed the 2nd new battery I gave it and about it’s 5th battery overall in that time.

Oh yes, and the screen connector is held in with cardboard because the bit of metal that ‘holds’ it in is bent, and too weak for the job.

So all in all, the fact it works at all is pretty impressive.

I do have other laptops. Kathryn gave me her old Clamshell ibook – which I was planning to fix and use, then I discovered that you can’t get a faster processor for it, or faster memory, and it’ll probably be slower than my 450Mhz Dell. It would, however, run OSx, which I kinda want. But it does need stripping down because the power connector is borked. And it only runs at 800×600, which is kinda painful these days.

The other laptop, the Powerbook G3 is even slower (233Mhz) – I did get a 300Mhz upgrade for it, but it doesn’t work with the Powerbook for reasons which the company (who instantly refunded my money on being told it didn’t work) informed me are obscure and strange, but there are, apparently laptops Apple made which are ‘finicky’.

The HP Laptop was sent off via freecycle to aid a kiddie in her schoolwork.

So 3 laptops, all of which aren’t entirely well.

So hence; the idea: Sell the whole damn lot of them.

More specifically, fix them all as well as they can be fixed. Flog the G3 with the Clamshell’s hard disk (because the Clamshell’s hard disk, is, iirc, bigger than the G3’s). Flog the Clamshell with the Dell’s hard disk having fixed it’s power connector. See if the G3’s memory upgrade that I bought before discovering that the processor upgrade didn’t work will, uh, work, in the Clamshell. Put the HDD I bought for the G3 into the Dell and flog it.

Unfortunately, I suspect that this won’t net me the amount I want. The G3 Clamshell appears to be the most valuable; the G3 Powerbook running in second. Looking at the value of Dell CPi’s? Distressing. Though there weren’t many working ones on e-bay. I was vaguely looking in the sense of ‘maybe it’d be worth loads more in a new case with a new battery’ but no. The poor bloody thing is valueless either way.

Ah well.

I’m aiming for around 300 quid – the cost of an MSI Wind. Why an MSI Wind and not a Apple of shinyness? Well, I’d love a real true honest to goodness apple. But what do I actually *use* my laptop for? Well: Browsing the web, doing my e-mail, doing paperwork, and that’s about it. I watch videos on it when I go on holiday… but, well, that’s really it. So why get a full-size laptop? Why not get something (a) dinky and (b) new – for once. Laptops are not the most long lived items. The Dell keeps it’s long lifespan mostly by being, well, treated quite gently. I don’t open and close the screen much (it lives open), and despite the fact it’s falling apart at the edges… it’s stood up pretty well to the abuse. Anyway, I never really answered the reason why I want an MSI Wind. The reason is, alledgedly it runs OSX really rather well. Apple don’t do a subnotebook (and I’d probably still not be able to afford it if they did) – but I would rather like one, so the MSI wind is currently my plan of action. I wonder if it’ll work.

So getting laptops second hand never seems like the greatest of the great idea. Although if I do carry out my plan and end up laptopless then I may have to consider it.

*If I’m being *really* generous I’ll use the word themed, styled would be going way too far.

Unadulterated warbling

So, more from the delayed update fairy.

Today Kathryn awoke me with a kiss and the information that Obama had won the US election. I was hopeful but wary, considering that I’d spent some of yesterday watching the video / reading the Rolling Stone article on Republican maneuvering to remove nearly 20% of voters  in some areas. And listening to NPR yesterday the discussion of malfunctioning machines, and then reading the news last night and finding that optical scanners were causing problems… well… it all boiled down to me not being utterly convinced that the election would go the way the voters intended.

But all that’s in the past – although I think some true electoral reform may be needed – in regards of making sure those who are registered to vote can vote, and maybe kicking Diebolt’s arse for manufacturing such attrocious voting machines :)

At any rate, it’s pleasing news. Maybe the world can get on with moving forward into a nice, sensible future, rather than attempting to bring back the inquisition.

So, on the topic of local news; Kathryn and I have been making use of wedding gifts – we tried out the new teapot a while ago and it was excellent – the cool thing about it is you can stop the brewing process; so once the tea’s ready, it stays in the pot ready, rather than going yicky. That, and it looks cool too. It is the Bodum teapot – much in the line of the cafetiers, but for tea. In fact, you probably could use the cafetier to make tea, should you wish. I may indeed try that at some point, for a one cup pot of tea.

We’ve also used the new mixer; it’s very, very nice. It does really quite yummy dough – and the metal bowl can stand near the fire being as we have no ‘warm place’ (i.e. there’s no airing cupboard) to put the dough in to rise. In it we made Calzones, which are yummy, and enabled us to christen our new baking tray (well, cookie tray, technically). And yesterday we had our first pasta experiment – which also seemed to go fairly well. I didn’t quite get the mix right in terms of consistency, and have realised I don’t need to bother with the hand mixing bit; I can just dump it all in with the dough hooks and it can do all the faffing. But, once cooked it tasted like pasta (pasta is just egg and really, really fine flour. Who knew!); and I suspect that given this (mixer related) information we may be able to produce pasta somewhat quicker.

The pasta maker got christened yesterday too – although we need something to clamp it to; so I suspect in future I’ll make pasta on the dining table because yesterday it was a two person job to make pasta (‘cos it kept sliding around).

I was going to post a picture of the pasta, because I was quite proud (a million italians are weeping right now), but unfortunately I’ve no idea what I did with the batteries from my camera. Not that they’re really working now – it’s on it’s third set and they’re nearly dead – I ought to take a whole bunch for recycling because it slaughters them. I’m not quite sure how or why, but they end up lying in the gutter after about 6 months of use; they still take an age to charge, but the camera only works for about 30 shots or 8 flash shots before they give up and start crying.

But I still can’t afford a shiny new SLR, so another set of batteries will have to be sought.

In other, other, news; I appear to have sourced a 3.9 ratio Diff for the minor. This will mean (a) she’ll go faster for less revs (the original diff is 4.22:1); (b) she’ll have a diff which isn’t producing little shards of metal as we go along (which is, I think we can all agree, a bad thing); and that (c) I need to get off my arse and sort a gearbox. The diff in question needs reconditioning, but honestly? 3.9 Diffs don’t come up *that* often, (3.7 Diffs even less so); so one that needs some new bearings is quite honestly a good find.

I’ve stuck a post on the MMOC to see if someone will pallet me a slightly knackered old gearbox – and if they will I may have to take over a spot of floor and strip and rebuild it. It’s a little scary, but me and my trusty Morris Manual (and a selection of tools) should be able to manage it. No, forget that; we will be able to manage it.

Sadly, the DAF has developed a new noise; although the DAF owners club reckon it might not be such a disasterous noise as I first thought – so the Minor’s due a service, and the DAF is due a service, and I need to run the Minor up to Leamington again to get the leaky oil-breather changed. It’s at this point that I could do with access to a garage.

And in the final piece of news; I’ve re-sealed the shower, again. What I pulled out was, to put not too finer point on it, manky. I cleaned within an inch of it’s life, and sealed it with fresh silicone sealant. What happens now is up to the gods. And now? Now it’s time for me to go dunk myself in a bath – ‘cos I’m giving the sealant lots of time to dry out.