Ruby Sue the Subaru

You’re doing what?

Yes exactly.

I’m driving a 31 year old Subaru Wagon literally half the way across the country, over mountain passes during snow season. Well at least I will be once Saturday gets here. My route is still to some degree entirely dependent on weather conditions, but I suppose that’s part of the adventure. I’m excited to visit Montana for the first time and Coeur d’Alene certainly has a cool name. I may just discover and be accepted into a tribal culture of sasquatch near Yellowstone never to return to civilization. I am to some degree prepared and have shipped out survival supplies ahead of me to keep in the car for the trip back. I’m planning on doing a bit of snowboarding maybe at Mt. Baker and definitely stopping for a latte in Kansas City on the way back. Since the Fiat is down and out until I can procur a garage and my Honda has left the stable here is what all the fuss is about.

Ruby Sue the Subaru

1981 Subaru GL Wagon 4×4. Also known as the cyclops model because of the center “passing” light hidden under the emblem of the Pleiades.

The beard is very nearly 1 year old and I’m pretty excited to stitch my weekly photos together and see what it looks like in a slide show of beard growth. It’s been pretty cool to see a few of the guys at work growing out their own very impressive beards.

JHA's own Duck Dynasty

Phil Tuten and Eli Barb with some impressive beards.

When it hits the fan

What a week. I’ll refrain from giving the specifics of the biggest event and just say that God came through when no other solution was possible. Monday after a weekend of work some things came up that I guess I didn’t think much of at the time, but ended up being quite a big deal. I knew better and yet put myself in a difficult situation by the actions I chose to take during our weekend work. I guess I thought crossing certain boundaries were ok as long as it didn’t happen very often. Probably also a bit of it was that I was trying to take care of something that came up unexpectedly in a way that hid the shortfall in preparation. Even though we’d been pushing the whole week prior to this to prepare it still wasn’t enough. Either way it has been painfully(in a good way) pointed out that I need to rely more on the people around me even when I feel capable of taking care of a situation. So I got myself in a poo load of hot water and almost had quite a bit of free time on my hands. Most difficult situations I encounter don’t cause me to lay awake at night and literally lose sleep, but I definitely didn’t sleep a wink Monday night. Dad came up that night to advise, encourage and pray with me. Tuesday came and I really didn’t know what to expect. I came to face the music, to pay the piper, to go down with the ship, but was shown mercy coupled with grace. Now I move on corrected and wiser from the experience. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts.” Some may look in from the outside and say well here’s a man not at all evil and this was unjust retribution for overly strict rules and regulations. I think though in this case the most difficult sins to be driven out can be those that we don’t quickly recognize for what they are. God had already been dealing with me on submission to governing authority just ask me about iPads and Nebraska’s fine state police sometime. However He wanted to drive the point home a little further and remind me that there are others also in authority over me whom I need to recognize as being placed there and show submission to as well. Secondly though I’m used to being able to do quite a bit on my own at work that I must recognize the importance of others in working towards a common goal. Having strong abilities and understanding is not a bad thing, but having pride enough in those skills to cause me not to engage others when I should is not wise.

So you’d think all this would make for a full enough week in of itself…

Well to top this off I’d been working on my Honda in my folk’s garage getting it ready to sell. It’d been up on the jack for about two weeks while I encountered problem after problem with getting the lower control arm bushings pressed out and replaced. The problem, as far as I’ve been able to interpret it, is that because the front jack point is slightly off center it causes the front of the car to twist slightly when you jack it up. One side jacks up higher than the other which is not a big deal normally as this is something cars are engineered to handle. Unfortunately somewhere during this process I opened the passenger door to get something out and because of the slight tweak to body while up on the jack it didn’t latch back immediately and so sat barely opened and tweaked the whole week and a half until I got the suspension pieces all put back together. I dropped the car back down and closed the door, but went to open it later and it wouldn’t open. It was binding up against the body by the hinge. As my boss Dave put it, two steps forward and one step back. So here I was swearing, and I mean SWEARING, at my car, my beard waving and aflame with anger and rage. All this after having just seen God intervene in my life in one of the biggest answers to prayer I’ve experienced only a couple days before. Dad brought a tough, but necessary correction. He pointed out that whatever I touched was going to fall to crap while I was in this raging, unclear frame of mind, that I needed to walk away and that I needed to rectify my attitude. So in the end I loaded my passenger door into my car and drove it up to the Honda body shop to get fixed. It sucks that I’ll have to drop another chunk of change into it just in order to sell it, but that’s just how it goes.

Fortunately with this correction I was set to be able to approach my Fiat the day after and undertake my fourth or fifth attempt at changing out the struts. I’ve had to strip down and then put the whole assembly back together so many times I could do it in my sleep. First I thought I’d use the struts from the Yugo, but after getting the Fiat all stripped down and the strut assembly out of the Yugo I couldn’t get the top nut loose in order to use it on the Fiat…so I put it all back together. Second, I bought new X1/9 struts because the struts for the 128 are a bit more expensive and hard to find, but are basically the same as the easier to source X1/9 parts…basically the same is not the same. So after getting the Fiat stripped down again and ready to go with the new parts I had to put it all back together because the thread on the strut is bigger on the X1/9 strut and the pieces I have from the 128 don’t fit. So I put the old ones back on. Then after getting new pieces to fit the thread for the top part of the assembly and grinding away to modify the to work I peeled it all apart again to finally replace them…not so fast sucker. There was a second bell shaped washer underneath that also needed to be ordered to fit the larger X1/9 strut thread. So one more time I put it all back together and ordered hopefully the last part. Finally after receiving the new pieces in and still needing to modify them just so the nut will thread at least a little ways down I finally have the struts replaced. However since I also used the shorter X1/9 spring my alignment was now super wacky. The car is now a full two and a half inches shorter and has some pretty wicked negative camber and some pretty extreme toe-in. I thought I’d be able to drive it home, but I had to put off one more day in order to try a DIY at home alignment just so the wheels won’t squeal while driving in a straight line. So I read up some tips on slotting the top strut mount holes to gain back a few degrees of camber and had to figure out how best to do the toe alignment. Handy tip #1 a couple of linoleum tiles with grease in between them make for great slip plates in order to work with the alignment. 66 cents a piece and totally worth the money. So I read up what to do and after a bit of trial and error it’s at least decent enough to be able to drive. I’ll probably take it somewhere this week to get it done by a pro. While I was doing the work though I went ahead and jacked up the rear to try and fix the bad toe-in on the driver side tire, which actually went smoothly. I also ordered new lower control arms with new ball joints which go on this next week after which the front of Sweet Pea should be tight and smooth.

So I think partly because of all the crap that I seem to be encountering lately I’ve been struggling with a defeatist attitude. I’ve almost come to expect that things will be difficult and whatever could go wrong will likely go wrong. This is not really a response that I want to foster so I’ve got to work at it. The Dude from The Big Lebowski is probably not someone I’d tell a teenager to model their life after, but in one regard he certainly has a quality to be admired. The dude abides. A china-man peeing on his rug(not the rug man), having his head dunked in the toliet, a weasel being thrown in the tub with him, Walter’s crazy scheming, or any of the bizarre circumstances he encounters the fact is that the dude abides. He abides in his dudely outlook and response to the trials and tribulations of life. He is the modern day expression of the maxim this too shall pass. That’s something worth thinking over. No matter the difficultly, no matter the ease, no matter the good, no matter the bad; this too shall pass. The situations we’re encountering will eventually pass by; either by their remittance or through our ability to learn how take them in stride.

Consider it pure joy dude, when you face gnarly trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces wicked awesome perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4(The Dude translation)

As an additional Fiat update Sweet Pea’s original engine is at the machine shop and it should be getting worked on in the next few weeks. I’ll soon have at my disposal one more working Fiat after I get the engine pieced together and dropped into The Swede(my yellow 74 128, still working out a nickname for it). This is extremely exciting.

w00t!! - John Titor has nothing on me.

When the moon hits your eye

Lately I’ve been hitting the streets during the late hours to get in a few miles on my bike. You might think this is a bit crazy, but so far I’ve found that the later that I go that the safer I feel. Traffic at 11:00pm on the secondary streets is much lower than during the day and after 1:00am is almost non-existent even on the main roads. That late at night the weather is perfect for riding too because the heat of the day is over and it has had a chance to cool off allowing for a rather pleasant ride. My average in town ride has been 25 miles and each time I’ve followed a slightly different path. Depending on my motivation there are routes I can go that are pretty much flat and easy or I’ve got the choice to push myself and take on some wicked gnarly hills should I want to.(west from Galloway station up towards Home Depot particularly sucks). I’ve been tracking my rides with a really cool cyclemeter app on my iPhone to show speed, distance, route and a number of other stats. Cool to know how many calories you’ve burnt or the amount of ascent/descent in a ride or just see your average speed.

I started piecing together a bike back around April so I could go riding with my buddy Greg. I way overpaid for the frame after finding it on CL offered by a hoarder up in Strafford. At the time I was just trying to find a bike of the same model as the Trek that I had just sold a couple years ago after I had failed to continue riding after a short lived bit of motivation to get back into biking. I decided I may as well just sell it, which was a terrible choice considering it was in immaculate condition and had pretty decent components as well. What can I say I was an idiot and some dude got a great bargain.

Well anyways after I got home with this new frame I inspected it a little closer and realized just how much I had overpaid the previously mentioned hoarder. The crank sprockets were bent and had dug into the aluminum frame gnarling it all up, the components were junk and just the overall condition of it was complete crap. I felt like just quietly admitting defeat and throwing it into the dumpster, but instead I decided to sink a bit more cash into it and try to salvage the situation. I stripped everything off; the bars, cranks, brakes, levers, shifters and anything else that would come loose. Then I started researching exactly the components my old bike would have had and began scouring online bike shops and ebay for each piece. The Shimano Exage brake levers that release the wheels by pressing a little button which gives slack to the brake line weren’t the easiest to locate, but I ended up finding them on ebay from a bike shop in France for only 20 bucks. The triple front crank from the Shimano RX100 series was kind of a pain to find too and when I did find one it came as part of a set so I ended up with a couple duplicate items. In the end though I was able to find all the parts I needed, but before I put them on I had to address the frame which still looked like garbage. So I began to sand…and sand…and sand. Eventually I turned to my dad’s electric drill and a wire brush to speed up the process a little. (as a side note wire brushes tend to shed/shoot their little wires everywhere during the process. For three months following I’ve been finding them with my bare feet still embedded into the carpet in my apartment) With the old paint stripped off I took her down to mom & dad’s to clean, prime and paint. Considering this is only the second thing I’ve ever painted in my life I’m actually quite pleased with the outcome. I went with a green pretty similar to Sweet Pea and after the guys at Sunshine bike got everything put back on for me and the bars wrapped with yellow tape it looks pretty freaking sick if I do say so myself…which I do.

So anyways I’ve been using nocturnally themed names for each of the different night time rides I’ve done so far.
Midnight Club
Night Burn
SPF 1000
Goodnight Moon

Riding 20 or 30 miles is fun, but it’s also been immensely fun riding down to the store instead of driving or riding in to work a few times. It’s good to be a bit more active especially with all this extra beard weight.

Johnny Popper and Ms. Allis

Friday Dad and I were moving tractors around to free up some room in their carport for my newest family member Lemondrop. Amazingly enough Dad has the magical touch and we almost almost had the John Deere started just from cranking over the flywheel. Close, but no cigar though and we ended up having to pull it out with the Allis and pop the clutch while being towed to get it going. Mom was shocked, Cassie was fearfully curious and dad was pumped. I took plenty of pictures and video to document it all since this is probably the last time we’ll have her started up and running.

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