Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of year post 2013

Well, another year has passed and it is time to do a review. I think it sucked.

lets take a look at last year's post:

My plans for the new year, (2013):
  • Start it off right by going on a tropical vacation in the British Virgin Islands for two weeks in January. done and so much fun
  • Drink more Tea (existing stock pile should last a few months), Failed
  • Rearrange financial portfolio to increase monthly income, Failed
  • Get rid of/sell more stuff, moderately successful
  • Figure out what is bothering the van and improve running condition
    • currently building a gauge to monitor Oxygen Sensor voltages (will post when done) Done
  • Finish Mini projects and add to Mini site, Failed, no progress
  • Read more books so I can get rid of the ones on my bookshelf Failed, no progress
  • I suppose more money would be nice, Failed, no progress
  • More fun with my camera - I received some macro filters and need to figure them out, Failed, no progress
I'll address each point and then add notable things that happened as well as upcoming stuff/plans

  • Yes I did the BVI trip and it was fun, I wanted to do more but I guess that will happen at a some other time. Nothing like being in the tropics while CO is in the dead of winter. 
  • Did not even make a dent in my Tea supplies, I even added more too it.
  • I didn't do anything useful with my stocks other then add a bit to it and not as much as I wanted to.
  •  some stuff is gone but still have too much stuff. 
  • Van is running better thanks to the new motor and all the other crap I've done
  • Nothing happened with my mini, I hardly used it.
  • Hardly read any of my books, I did get through a couple but didn't get rid of them
  • I have less money then I did at the beginning of 2012 mainly due to co-buying a rental house
  • Not much camera fun last year, no new skills or techniques or technology
Notable stuff, co-purchased a rental house, BVI trip, Lake Tahoe trip, some camping and boating in the mtns, Van upgrades.

I have no enthusiasm for 2014.






    Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Bilsteins all around!

    Finally, after weeks of waiting and working, I have all four of the new Bilstein shocks as well as the four good used springs installed. I also installed two new upper ball joints in the front end. No more clunking noises! The rear shock and spring install was a piece of cake, the suspension arm drops low enough to allow the springs to go in without the use a compression tool but the fronts are an absolute pain to do. I had to rent a spring compressor tool to do the fronts and it was still an awful job. I ended up breaking one of the sway bar links trying to unbolt it from the control arm and had to get a used one from a local VW shop. The cold weather didn't help either, having to do car work with multiple layers of winter clothing is awful, no flexibility or dexterity. Most of the suspension noises and sagging are gone and I am enjoying the firm ride.

    Also managed to do the photo comparison of the old vs new headlight bulbs. see below, I think the photos speak for themselves. I need to do a bit of adjusting to really receive the full benefit of the new lights.

    Old stock bulbs (aka why you cant see anything at night)
    New High Power bulbs

    Installed a new rear washer pump and have on order a pair of dual washer nozzles to improve the front windshield cleaning ability. Will post photos of that when they arrive

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Light and Dark projects

    The water heater in the rental house failed on Thanksgiving. After 22 years of service it rusted through at the seams at the burners. Probably would have lasted longer if regular maintenance had been done to it. I spent saturday removing the old unit, adding some new plumbing valves, and installing the new one. Hope the new one lasts as long as the old one.

    More Van projects this past weekend.

    While at work I was able to bleed the front brakes, replace the front wiper blades, figure out why the rear window washer wasn't working, adjust the parking brake cable, and inspected the underside of the van.

    The brake fluid that has been coming out of the brakes has been quite dark. Brake fluid should be clear to honey colored but mine has been coming out coffee colored which means that it is absorbing bits of rubber from the brake lines, moisture, and other bits of debris. I ended up re-bleeding the system again on sunday just to get all the old fluid out. Since doing all this bleeding, the brake peddle pressure has been nice and firm but I know that it could be better. No more double pumping the brakes for quick stops. Probably needs a new master cylinder to make it perfect but I wont be doing that any time soon.

    After thoroughly cleaning the windshield and applying some RainX to help repel water a few weeks ago I noticed that the wiper blades were in poor shape. I purchased a set of Bosch blades through work to get a discount. After installing them, I ran the van through the car wash and was amazed at how well the new blades were working. I still need a new windshield but that can wait till spring.

    The rear window washer has internally failed. I've ordered a new one.

    While the van was in the air to do the brake bleeding I had a chance to adjust the parking brake cable since it was rather stiff after installing the new rear brakes. I also got a good look at all the suspension bits and noticed that I need to replace the driver side ball joint and both outer rear CV boots. I didn't see anything else of critical importance, most of the rubber bits are old but not trashed out. I've ordered a pair of ball joints and CV boots which I will do when I get time to switch the shocks and springs in the front.

    The last project was installing a relay into both headlight circuits. The van's headlights are terrible and no amount of adjusting can compensate for the lack of light that they put onto the road. One problem is that headlight switch is a major resistive point for the headlight circuit and I was measuring a 1 volt drop from the battery to the headlights. The other is that the stock headlight bulbs are only 55w each. The relays now handle the power draw eliminating the resistance of the switch and the switch just activates the relays. Full battery voltage is now at the headlights and, from what I have seen, they are a bit brighter too. I have some higher power bulbs to install in the headlights but want to wait a few days to see just how much brighter the stock bulbs seem. Maybe I will do a photo comparison with the higher output bulbs. There are some risks when installing the high power bulbs, mainly that they put out more heat and could damage the reflective coating.

    Oh and one more minor thing, I've also ordered some high power backup LED bulbs from the UK to help me see stuff when backing up. The window tint makes backing up a terrifying experience. They should arrive late December.


    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Weekend progress

    Well, I finally have something worthy of reporting here on this blog.
    This past weekend I sold the old motor from the van and also managed to put new rear brake pads on.

    Some random Craigslist guy had recently purchased an 89 westy and was wanting a spare motor to build up into a more powerful one. I am quite happy that it has gone to another van owner who is going to use it. Plus it is one less thing I have to worry about. With the sale of the motor I can now afford to get the new set of shocks I've been wanting.

    Another piece of progress is the rear brake pads. I was hoping that it would firm up my brake peddle pressure but it didn't. I might get a set of drums as the old ones may be too worn out to reuse which might be causing this pressure issue. Also, I wanted to bleed the brake fluid out to see if there is any air or other crap building up in the lines but one of the bleeders is frozen and I could tell that if I attempted to remove it it would break off. So, if I get new drums I will also get two new rear pistons.

    That is all

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Seasons change, people change

    Why did I move back to CO?
    I dont like winter or cold weather. What possessed me to come back to the square state?

    These are the questions that were running through my head as i watched the yellow, red, and gold colored aspen trees pass by while traveling to and from the boat this past weekend. We will need to haul the boat out of the water by Oct. 15th and so I decided to spend this past weekend on it with my parents since I only have complete weekends every couple of weeks.  Saturday was a perfect day with nice and sunny weather, perfect for a boat ride. Sunday ended up being rainy but we spent some time in a coffee shop and had lunch in the boat before heading home.

    What a novel idea it is to have two entire days off from work back to back.

     Why the hell do I have a full time job...oh yeah, thats right...I needed money

    I'll never be happy working, all those hours of what feels like forced labor and those regular scheduled work days. It is too rigid, too mechanical. I need fluid, flexible, and organic.

    I can't tell if my dream of living on a sailboat is based on personal needs or just a fantasy/delusion. Sailboat are not cheap to buy or own. I'd probably end up dieing from starvation and my body and boat would be found drifting across the Atlantic ocean. or I'd go for my first offshore trip and end up being swamped by a white squall and drowning. 

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Wish I was here

    Wish I was here...

    or here...
    or here

    pretty much anywhere in the islands or on a boat. And some of those painkiller drinks...

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    time to go a little faster

    After spending a year or so complaining about how slow the van is I finally did something about it. I had been planning on doing a rebuild of the stock motor during the upcoming winter but I spotted an already rebuilt and more powerful vw vanagon motor on craigslist. It was less then I was planning on spending on a basic rebuild and came with all kinds of good stuff as the previous owner was doing a subaru conversion. Along with the motor, I also got another set of stock wheels, tires, and vanagon hub caps. I drove up to Boulder to get the motor and extras. Before I headed up there I stripped everything I could out of the van to make it as light as possible to compensate for the extra weight. The old motor struggled but I managed to get everything home safely.



    I gave the new motor a through cleaning and changed out a couple of gaskets before installing it into my van. I also took the time to replace all the 25 year old fuel lines.


    One thing I have noticed is that it is a louder motor and it does have more power but I still need to take it into the mountains and see how it does.

    I also picked up a new beaded seat cover as my old beaded cover had fallen apart. I don't know if I totally like this new cover, I may need to do some modifications to it as it seems to move around a lot.


    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    Hydraulic pressure is impressive

    Just had a super heavy rain storm which flooded the roads and rivers in my area. Having a van with great ground clearance is great for times like this, you just drive straight through flooded areas without worrying about getting stuck. I had lots of fun. Unfortunately I did lose a hub cap to one of the deeper puddles I drove through. Must have hit it at high enough speed to cause the hub cap to go flying off due to the force of the water passing across it. I don't know if I will get a new set of caps or take the other three off. I am glad that I didn't have a set of stock vanagon ones on there.

    This sunday I will be attending a VW car show in Evergreen. Should be fun although I don't intend on driving the van to the show. I just want to attend and see the events, plus it is a rather steep and hilly road to get there and my van is tired.

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    The van gets a bit of an update

    My TX vehicle registration tags expired this month and so I had to go and get new CO license plates.
    Unfortunately the green CO plates clash with the Van's white paint scheme.

    I did manage to solve the issue with my coolant tank cap popping of. I think the new hose running to the expansion tank was too long and causing a pressure buildup in the main tank. So far I've been able to keep coolant in it.

    I am still getting intermittent oil pressure warnings, mostly right above 2000 rpms but below 2500. This is the switch over point between the two sensors and I think that the low pressure switch is going bad. I should switch the oil to a 20w50 for summer driving.

    The adjustment to the MAF sensor seems to be still be working, I have decent acceleration and am still getting the same mpgs. Will have to wait until winter to see if it accelerates any better when really cold.

    Not much else besides my vaction to California and working a lot. I will post a vacation post later on when I have some of the photos edited.

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    desserts

    Just tried some root beer ice cream and it is interesting. The flavor is there but the consistency is off putting. It is just like eating a frozen soda with some ice cream.

    I've been too busy to do anything of interest. I didn't post a financial update because I dont think it is providing any value to the readers of this blog.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    The longest winter

    I should have stayed in TX through the winter and spring, at least I would have a tan by now. The winter season in CO has been the longest I have ever known. Yet another storm with snow accumulation yesterday and today. The flowers are shot for this spring, all frozen and wilted. It is like one big cosmic joke to constantly torture me with crap weather.

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Car shows - where the human race ends

    I worry about the survival of the human race whenever I go to a car show.
    The cars aren't the problem, they are simply tools that we built to get around. It is the people at the show that bother me. On occasion you run into a decent person or car enthusiast who has high moral standard but the vast majority I wonder if they are capable of even understanding the difference between the words "capital" and "Capital". Yet somehow they have piles of cash to spend on some of the dumbest stuff I have ever seen. I can't exclude myself, I am infected with the same disease that everyone at the show has, we dig cars. For some of these people I wonder if they have any capacity for original thinking.

    So, why am I here. well...I want another trophy. yes, I could go out and buy my own from a trophy shop but that would feel wrong. I've taken a 2nd place trophy a few years ago but the show has gotten much larger since then and the number of nice cars have increased. If the category I was competing in was for English cars, I would have good odds of getting a trophy, however, I think I am lumped into the import category which has many cars. Perhaps I have a shot at the oddball trophy.

    Update: My Mini took second place in the Vintage category. Hooray!

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Van Runneth better

    I am really glad that I made the Air/Fuel gauge to monitor how the van was responding under throttle. It was saying that I had a lean-out condition under acceleration which corresponded to the feeling of a loss of power. I tried searching for any possible air leaks/vacuum leaks which cause this type of problem but couldn't find any.

    The solution was to adjust the AFR meter slightly. I found some diagrams and information about the meter on thesamba and followed their guidance on adjusting. I first tried going the way that I thought would solve my issues but after doing road testing, I had noticed that it made my van run worse. I tried going the other direction and it ran better on off throttle and acceleration conditions.
    I need to reseal the top of the AFR meter but otherwise I think I have solved my acceleration issue.

    Next up would be to do some sort of rebuild to get my compression and power back.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    mission to Mars

    There is a group attempting to send people on a one way trip to mars in 2026.

    http://mars-one.com/en/

    Sadly I am too tall to go to Mars :(

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    3/31/2013 - Monthly Financial Breakdown

    The Ninth Unemployed Monthly Financial Breakdown.
    Well, another month has passed and this means I need to do a financial breakdown. This past month went well enough...Lets see how it went. How much is Van dwelling in my VW Westfalia saving or costing me?
    Previous Monthly Financial post here
    Now that the vacation costs are out of the way, it is back to normal for me and my budget.

    If I sum up total expenses from 3/1/2012 through 3/31/2013 I get -$430 :-) A rough calculation would put my yearly expenses at $5160. I was under the 11K mark!!
    Regular Food costs: -$300 or -$75 per week (normal-ish)
    Fun Food Costs:  -$10 or -$2.5 per week (Ate out once)
    Fuel: -$53 or -$14 per week (Not much driving, mainly the return trip from the springs)
    Van: -$0 (No car projects)
    Travel: -$0 or -$0 per week (Next vacation is to Yosemite in June)
    Insurance: -$160  per month   (Reduced Van Insurance and health insurance)
    Clothing: -$0 (Nothing new in February)
    Misc: -$64 (Junkyard parts, Taxes, medical bill, mailbox mail)
    Mailbox:  -$15
    Gifts: -$0 (zip)

    Things that were not necessary this past month: Not much, maybe the one fun food expense and the mailbox mailing and the Tax filing costs.  This brings my luxury expenses to $106 and necessary to $330 Yikes!! Without the luxury for this month, my yearly is at $3960... :)

    Ok, clean out the unusual stuff and do a monthly for the rest
    Regular Food and fuel: -$300
    Mailbox only:  -$15
    Insurance: -$160 
    Clothes: -$0
    Van:  -$50 (minor maintenance next month)
    Fun: -$25 (very reasonable)
    Yearly expense estimate with the new numbers: $6600

    Estimated to be under my 11k mark again for April.

    Another Unemployed month but my expenses were great. The eye exam bill came in under my estimate which was a nice surprise.
    Here is the status of my dividend income:
    I have a running total of yearly expenses which I base my numbers off of so if my monthly goes up my dividend income against it decreases in value.
    Since I re-aligned my investment strategy I've been putting extra cash into dividend paying stocks and other investment opportunities.

     Last post it was at 47.63%. Previous Monthly Financial post here

    Current level is now estimated at 41.88%

    Progress is negative, My plan for April and the rest of the year is to put any spare cash that I receive into dividend stocks and trim expenses. Such slow progress and the market has not been very favorable. Currently in the red on several stocks but many are improving, I am still optimistic though. 
    I recently sold two very large positions because they reduced their dividends to levels below some of my more productive stocks. I will transfer the balance into the productive ones. 

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    new lifestyle

    I want a cave to live in and a garden to feed off of.

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Goodbye Atari

    With heavy heart, I bid you adieu. Sweet old friend, your black lines and wood grain shall never be forgotten. I only hope that you will receive the care and attention that you deserve for you have served me well.

    I sold my Atari today.

    Of all the game systems I have, the Atari is both the best and worst choice of systems to get rid of. The worst because of it's rarity and age but the best because it lacked the memories of my youth which the other systems are tied to.

    I never imagined getting rid of it before this week. I always thought that it would end up as an old dusty box that I would bring out later in life and surprise or entertain people with. Or perhaps I imagined having a house where I would keep all my game systems on display and ready to use at a moment's notice. Clearly it was a decision made by my logical side. In an effort to lighten the burden of my stuff it just happened to be in the way. I was running through the usual list of questions that I ask myself each time I encounter an object I don't know what to do with. Do I really need this? Do I use this object often? Can I get another one if needed?

    Somehow the Atari was in my direct line of sight while I was running through these questions and I couldn't answer "yes" to any of them. So onto craigslist it went and within a half day I had several responses. It ended up in the hands of a very odd video gamer. Which I guess is a good thing although I can't help but feel as though something is missing yet I can not remember the last time or place that I had used it.

    Perhaps it is the fear of losing the memories that I am most afraid of. Without the visual que for the memories will I still remember it?

    Right now there is a hole in the remaining fragments of my heart and a blank spot in the shed, how many holes and blank spots are needed until I feel free again? What happens when I have nothing?

    Saturday, March 9, 2013

    The battle over stuff continues

    A movie quote to start off:
    Once more into the fray,
    Into the last good fight I'll ever know,
    Live and Die on this day,
    Live and Die on this day.

    At least that is what it seems like when I have to deal with my stuff.

    What happens when you discover that you are the only person who cares about something? Am I the only person left who cares about the past?

    When I decide to let go of stuff, will there be anyone left who is interested in my things?

    For example, I like interesting cars, which just so happens to also be older cars. The number of people who also like the particular old cars I like keep dwindling each day till one day there are none left. Have you ever seen a 1961 Renault Caravelle?

    It eventually seems as if I am the only one left who gives a damn about old stuff, but what happens when I stop caring? Do those things disappear entirely? Do they end up in museums? Am I just an unpaid museum curator?

    What will happen to my 1963 Hughes Aircraft Industries Oscilloscope if I put it on the curb? Will it end up in the hands of someone who wants it or will it end up in the landfill or recycled? I look at it fondly and remember having fun with it, I appreciate the effort it took to construct, the craftsmanship in it's construction, the simplicity. Will anyone else appreciate it as much as I do?

    Is it worth keeping things of my past simply because they are obscure or obsolete? Should I hang onto my Atari 2600 gaming console with joysticks and games because I enjoy it or because it would end up in an attic or basement of someone else to be forgotten forever or worse, to be thrown out with the trash?

    Is there some sort of reward that comes from preserving old things for a lifetime? Will anyone care at that point in the future about old Ataris? old odd cars? or anything?

    If I let everything go, will I feel free? Will it be worth it to not have these boxes of things from my past anymore?

    Will I still be the same person without these things? 

    Hello Snow, I've missed you

    Denver is supposed to receive 8 - 14" of snow today.  I was wondering if it was ever going to snow around here. The state needs the moisture so I guess it is a good thing. It feels weird, but I think I am actually enjoying this storm. I have no where to go and nothing urgent to do so all I have to do today is enjoy the storm. It is fun to see everything disappear in a blanket of white. Fun to see but I have no intention of going outside today.

    I will be crunching numbers on investments and rental properties with my free time today. Yeay for numbers!

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    2/28/2013 - Monthly Financial Breakdown

    The Eighth Unemployed Monthly Financial Breakdown.

    Well, another month has passed and this means I need to do a financial breakdown. This past month is a mess due to the vacation...Lets see how it went. How much is Van dwelling in my VW Westfalia saving or costing me?

    Previous Monthly Financial post here

    The bill for the vacation came in, $1200 bucks. Ouch! I have already paid for the flight so this was just the raw cost of being in the virgin islands.

    If I sum up total expenses from 2/1/2012 through 2/28/2013 I get -$535 :-) A rough calculation would put my yearly expenses at $6420. I was under the 11K mark but the vacation expense isn't included
    Regular Food costs: -$47 or -$12 per week (normal-ish)
    Fun Food Costs:  -$38 or -$9.5 per week (eating out in the Springs)
    Fuel: -$62 or -$15 per week (Have a return trip from springs to add into bill)
    Van: -$8 (All for projects for the Mini )
    Travel: -$0 or -$0 per week (Next vacation is to Yosemite in June)
    Insurance: -$160  per month   (Reduced Van Insurance and health insurance)
    Clothing: -$0 (Nothing new in February)
    Misc: -$80 (Cash expenses, propane, medical bill)
    Mailbox:  -$15
    Gifts: -$0 (zip)

    Things that were not necessary this past month: The Vacation and fun food, the car projects.  This brings my luxury expenses to $46 and necessary to $489 Yikes!! Without the luxury for this month, my yearly is at $5868... :)

    Ok, clean out the unusual stuff and do a monthly for the rest
    Regular Food and fuel: -$200
    Mailbox only:  -$15
    Insurance: -$160 
    Clothes: -$0
    Van:  -$50 (minor maintenance next month)
    Fun: -$25 (very reasonable)
    Yearly expense estimate with the new numbers: $5400

    Estimated to be under my 11k mark again for March.

    Another Unemployed month but my expenses were OK if you don't include the vacation bill. I might have an extra bill for January, I do not know if my insurance paid for my eye exam, if not then I will own another 100 bucks or so. 

    Here is the status of my dividend income:
    I have a running total of yearly expenses which I base my numbers off of so if my monthly goes up my dividend income against it decreases in value.
    Since I re-aligned my investment strategy I've been putting extra cash into dividend paying stocks and other investment opportunities.

     Last post it was at 47.63%. Previous Monthly Financial post here

    Current level is now estimated at 47.64%

    Progress is stagnant, My plan for March and the rest of the year is to put any spare cash that I receive into dividend stocks and trim expenses. Such slow progress and the market has not been very favorable. Currently in the red on several stocks but many are improving, I am still optimistic though. 
    I recently sold two very large positions because they reduced their dividends to levels below some of my more productive stocks. I will transfer the balance into the productive ones. 

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Back from the BVI, van update

    Hello readers,
    I have returned from the British Virgin Islands and all I can say is that I want to live on a sailboat down there. It is such a beautiful place, warm and sunny, with white sand beaches. Lots of fun and adventure. I brought back three conch shells and also cracked a few coconuts.

    I also came back with a cold. Picked it up from all the flying we had to do on the way home. Currently in day two of being ill but hopefully tomorrow will be better.

    I will post a financial update tomorrow, I was holding off until the final bill for the boat came in but it is going to be a while so I will just estimate my costs.

    Since I am ill, I decided to spend time with the van and try to sort out the weird acceleration issue I have had. I pulled all the ignition parts off and tested them per Bently manual, all tested out ok. So then I continued testing untill I had tested everything electrical and they all came out functioning normally. At this point I needed to install my oxygen sensor and get some real time running data. I ran the wires and also tapped into the AFM wires and ran them to my digital oscilloscope. The result was that I am seeing a lean mixture issue on acceleration. Fortunately for the testing, I know that my fuel pressure regulator and AFM is working properly and I can now focus on other components.
    Tomorrow I will do some more testing and see what I can find. 



    Friday, February 1, 2013

    1/31/2013 - Monthly Financial Breakdown

    The Seventh Unemployed Monthly Financial Breakdown. **Vacation Edition**

    *note this is being posted retroactively and it should not be viewed as a regular month's expenses. I have not received the bill for the vacation. This would drive my numbers up significantly.*

    Well, another month has passed and this means I need to do a financial breakdown. This past month is a mess due to the vacation...Lets see how it went. How much is Van dwelling in my VW Westfalia saving or costing me?

    Previous Monthly Financial post here

    If I sum up total expenses from 12/31/2012 through 1/31/2013 I get -$956 :-) A rough calculation would put my yearly expenses at $11472. I was under the 11K mark but the number are all a mess and I am estimating some of the cash costs of the vacation

    Regular Food costs: -$0 or -$0 per week (I didn't buy any regular food this month)
    Fun Food Costs:  -$37 or -$9 per week (Tea and Ginger for the trip, )
    Fuel: -$0 or -$0 per week (basically didn't drive in January)
    Van: -$7 (All for projects for the Mini )
    Travel: -$400ish or -$100 per week (Cash expense estimate for vacation)
    Insurance: -$160  per month   (Reduced Van Insurance and health insurance)
    Clothing: -$0 (Nothing new in December)
    Misc: -$47 (Mini project stuff, ups shipping, website domain)
    Mailbox:  -$15
    Gifts: -$0 (zip)

    Things that were not necessary this past month: The Vacation, the car projects.  This brings my luxury expenses to $450 and necessary to $506 Yikes!! Without the luxury for this month, my yearly is at $6072... :)

    Ok, clean out the unusual stuff and do a monthly for the rest
    Regular Food and fuel: -$200
    Mailbox only:  -$15
    Insurance: -$160 
    Clothes: -$0
    Van:  -$50 (minor maintenance next month)
    Fun: -$25 (very reasonable)
    Yearly expense estimate with the new numbers: $5400

    Estimated to be under my 11k mark again.

    Another Unemployed month but my expenses were way up due to the vacation I had last month. I still do not know what the total bill for the boat will be, I am guessing it to be around $1300. I might have an extra bill for January, I do not know if my insurance paid for my eye exam, if not then I will own another 100 bucks or so. 

    I was successful in not drinking on the boat as I had intended but I do not know if anyone else on the boat noticed. I did drink on land though, those painkillers are delicious! Most of my cash expenses went to cab rides, hotel room and eating out. Everything down there is outrageously expensive (except rum)
    Here is the status of my dividend income:
    I have a running total of yearly expenses which I base my numbers off of so if my monthly goes up my dividend income against it decreases in value.
    Since I re-aligned my investment strategy I've been putting extra cash into dividend paying stocks and other investment opportunities.

     Last post it was at 47.63%. Previous Monthly Financial post here

    Current level is now estimated at 47.64%

    Progress is negligible, My plan for February and the rest of the year is to put any spare cash that I receive into dividend stocks and trim expenses. Such slow progress and the market has not been very favorable. Currently in the red on several stocks but many are improving, I am still optimistic though.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    The snow globe gets another shake

    Just when the daily temperatures were reaching highs in the 50s and the last remaining patches of snow/ice had melted, another storm comes rolling in.

    This time it has a name, Gandolf.

    Why on earth are we naming winter storms? I do not recall ever seeing a winter storm with a name before. I think the weather forecasters are simply getting bored. Maybe they are getting jealous of the hurricane people, either way I think it is dumb. Sure it is a major blizzard with very very cold temperatures but it isn't much different then any previous winter storm we have had. Instead of coming up with dumb ideas, they should be out there shoveling snow.

    Fortunately the storm arrives right on time to ruin the weekend, as usual. Thankfully I am not doing anything of importance outside this weekend.

    My plan for the storm is to sit by the pellet stove and drink Earl Grey tea.

    Did you know that Earl Grey tea is actually named after an Earl named Grey. The second Earl Grey was presented the tea by diplomats from the East and he decided to have it made locally. The same recipe has been used since like 1706. Either way it is tasty.

    I fly to the Virgin Islands this coming Wednesday and will be there for two weeks. I would imagine that I will miss the deadline for the monthly financial post since I arrive at midnight on the last day of the month but I will try to get it out as soon as I can. I am not looking forward to seeing the bill for this vacation.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Van Projects - Gauges

    In my quest to seek consistent performance from my westy, I have started adding additional gauges to monitor the engine.

    First, I added a fuel pressure gauge and now I have an O2 sensor gauge.


    I built this for less then $5, most of which was the cost of buying LEDs from Radioshack. The LED driver and voltage regulator came as free samples from TI and the rest of the parts I had in my electronics bin.

    I am looking forward to mounting, perhaps inside the ash tray or below the dash. I know that it doesn't look as nice as the $25 sunpro gauge but it was one fifth the price and I got to build it. Maybe I can build a nice wood case for it to live in.

    Currently it is set in Bar mode which will illuminate the LEDs from left to right. This corresponds to voltage output by the Oxygen sensor (signal wire is yellow). Green LEDs should be around a 15:1 mixture ratio which is ideal running conditions. Any LEDs to the right mean a rich running condition and any to the left mean lean running.

    You may be wondering why I would want to know what the mixture ratio is, well, it can tell me a number of things about how the engine is responding to certain driving situations as well as letting me know that the sensor is actually working (I replaced this early in 2012 so it should be good).

    I need to test it out on another car first to ensure that it is accurate and then install it into the van.

    I might add an additional LED to this board to tell me when the throttle switch is open or closed.

    FYI: I was following this site for the build http://www.scirocco.org/tech/misc/afgauge/af.html