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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Bob and Ray (1957)

Humor from the past for a time that really could use some.

On Midrats 30 September 2018 at 3pm EDT - Episode 456: European Naval Power, with Jeremy Stöhs

Note the time change for this episode!

Please join us at 3pm (EDT) on 30 September 2018 for Midrats Episode 456: European Naval Power, with Jeremy Stöhs
What is the status of European naval power? With growing challenges from the Arctic Sea to the Mediterranean and a growing call for presence operations from the Gulf of Guinea to the South China Sea, how are the European nations building and maintaining fleets to remain effective and relevant regionally and on the high seas?

Our guest to discuss this and more for the full hour will be Jeremy Stöhs.

Jeremy is an Austrian-American defense analyst at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) and its adjunct Center for Maritime Strategy & Security. He is also a non-resident fellow of the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda & Security Studies (ACIPSS) and author of The Decline of European Naval Forces: Challenges to Sea Power in an Age of Fiscal Austerity and Political Uncertainty. You can follow him on twitter at @JeremyStohs.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Hurricane Related Car Rant

Please bear with me on this one small rant about my 2004 VW New Beetle, which I bought used a few years ago. It's a 1.8 liter turbo gas engine thing that is both zippy and showing its age.

First off, I am aware that VW has announced plans to stop making New Beetles in the near term. To this I say, good.

The basic New Beetle vehicle is a compromised design - in order to have the "Bug" shape they had to cram components into the thing. As consequence, the engine is not easy to access for repairs. It is not the "shade tree mechanic" friendly vehicle that the old Beetles were.

I knew that when I bought it, but I needed a car and the price was good.

I have since spent more on repairs than on the car, but the bleeding has been over years so it could be planned for.

But - it's the quality of construction and the deterioration of little pieces that will make you wonder. The driver side interior door handle plastic broke. The plastic in the interior has not held up well in the Southern clime and in the summer heat. Bought a fix kit on E Bay and repaired the problem. The dash, which is quite large in this car to hold air bags and such is sort of melting and is gummy. Might be due to some chemical used by a prior owner or detail person. Doesn't matter much, the car is not for show, but for driving a dog places and doing shopping runs. The seat material is coming apart - heat, age, misuse - and one thing more.

That thing being that this car leaks in the rain. Not every rain, but usually in heavy rains which have been preceded by event like pollen (our cars and houses get a heavy dose here from the pine trees), pine needle drops, Fall leaves, etc. This debris clogs the already inadequate drain system for the sunroof.

It leaks around the sunroof where the track has four drain holes that clog easily and are difficult to maintain because of their design and construction. If these drains clog - no, make that - when inevitably these drains clog, the interior of the car fills with water sometimes inches deep in the rear area foot well and sometimes in other areas, including the seats and in the trunk area. Even if you regularly try to keep these drains clear, a heavy rain may still cause flooding because the drains are small and the rain of a severe storm like those of a hurricane or tropical storm can overwhelm them.

Now that might be minor thing, except that when the car is "sealed" - windows up, sunroof closed - the damp interior and the warm air outside and inside - are a perfect environment for the growth of fungi -mildew, mold, etc.

I should note that this drainage issue exists not only in VW New Beetles but also in other VWs and some Audi models also equipped with a sunroof. You can learn about the effort needed to repair the problem on YouTube:

You note that this "fix" requires removal of the headliner and other components in the interior. Which, you might also note, is a lot of work, especially since much of the effort goes to simply doing what should have been done at the factory in the first place - properly sealing the connecting pieces with useful goo instead of a slap of "mastic" at the joints, and perhaps installing a small mesh screen at the water entry points to the drains to prevent the movement of tree detritus into the tubes that are the drains.

I am not yet inclined to remove my headliner to make a sort of fix, as it will not solve the recurring problem of debris blocking the drains.

So there's the background.

Here's the current saga.

We were leaving town for a couple of weeks and I knew that there was the possibility that, while we were gone, a storm would hit our area. Florence was headed generally toward us. I could not put the VW in the garage because my MG is parked there along with other material that has turned a nominal two car garage into a functional one car garage. I could have covered the VW with a tarp but thought that might signal people that we were gone. So I spent substantial time cleaning out the drains on the VW in hopes that should we get rains from the storm it wouldn't be enough to cause the car to flood inside.

Upon return home I found my efforts were in vain, the VW had water in it and, in addition, had a flourishing mold/fungi population.

Yes, in that 100% perfection of hindsight, I should have covered the car. Which begs the point that the car shouldn't leak in the first place.

But I didn't and now had to clean up the mess. This involved using my shop vac to suck up the standing water, opening all the possible car openings and spraying white vinegar over everything in the interior to kill the unwelcome mold/fungi, then spreading Borax around to further protect the interior. Gloves and face mask respirator were the uniform of the day.

So far it has worked to kill what was there and prevent a return.

But how to prevent the problem of water entry without doing the work in the above video? And without needing to use a car cover all the time? My first thought was to use some plastic wrap held in place with magnets as a stop gap fix. Then I thought of using something like those magnetic signs people hang on the doors of their cars and trucks to advertise their businesses. A quick Google search revealed that many, many people had the same idea. So I ordered a large roll of that to experiment with.

It ought to be simple - put in on when rain is expected, take it off when I want to use the sunroof.

I'll let you know how the experiment works out.

By the way, my Subaru's sunroof doesn't have this problem. Perhaps VW/Audi should take a look at how they build their cars.

Thus ends this rant.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Film: "Freedom Comes High"

Not sure if this film was meant to boost morale or warn the home folks of war's costs ... or both.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Growing Up Words


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Father To His Son
By Carl Sandburg

A father sees his son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
"Life is hard; be steel; be a rock."
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum monotony
and guide him among sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
"Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy."
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split a rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
So does a rich soft wanting.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
and left them dead years before burial:
the quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
has twisted good enough men
sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use against other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations
Bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: BBC's Paul Temple Intervenes "The Marquis" series

A short serial show from the BBC with the now not unusual characters - a crime solving novelist and his reporter wife. More here:
Paul Temple is a fictional character, created by English writer Francis Durbridge (1912–1998). Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and an amateur private detective. Together with his journalist wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve from her pen name 'Steve Trent', he solves whodunnit crimes through subtle, humorously articulated deduction. Always the gentleman, the strongest oath he ever utters is "by Timothy".

Here are the episodes in the serial in order.

The Marquis

Concerning Felix Reybourn

Kellaway Manor

A Warning from the Marquis

Paul Temple Keeps an Appointment

Above Suspicion

The October Hotel

Introducing the Marquis