Saturday, March 24, 2007

Arrgg!!! Don't go to Fields Auto Group!!!

Never a good sign...Work to be done.
So the local Volvo had been Smart Volvo Toyota. They got rid of the Volvo part of the dealership and decided to sell only to Toyota customers. I guess they didn't want the high-end business brought in by the Volvo customers. They sold it to Fields Auto group. Smart was so-so about service. They only liked working on Toyotas, but it seemed like maybe they had some decent techs who at least knew their stuff about Volvos. Fields just opened up in Madison with a Jag/Land Rover/Volvo place. Volvo is sort of displayed in the Janitor's closet. There is definitly no independent Volvo shop in Madison.
Anywho, to get to the point of the story, I've been chasing down a mystery rattle/clunk sound that sounds like it has been coming from the right rear of the car. It has been driving me crazy. I took the whole back end of the car apart when I was replacing the tailgate strut to see if I could track it down. So today I had Katie drive while we were going to the store so I could try to get a better handle on where it is coming from. On the way home I sat in the back seat. It was less pronounced while I was there. So then I moved to the rear, driver's side. I could hear it again. It sounded like it was coming from under the carpet. So we got home and I looked under the car at the suspension. The very same suspension that was removed from the car and had some new parts put on in December. The bolt holding the end of the "delta-link" suspension was nearly half an inch out and loose!! These fools didn't tighten the bolt all the way! This is besides the fact that they were supposed to replace the bolts with new ones. So this rattle that I have been chasing for the last 2-3 months has been this damn loose bolt. I guess I'm lucky that the suspension didn't just rip off of the car... Pictures shortly...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My New Toy!!

I'd say my style is mostly Eagles/Willie Nelson/Johnny Cash/Nirvana/Metallica/two-year-old-banging-on-a-pot. It just got a lot harder for Katie to study...

When you say Wisconsin...

...You've said it all

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Already a bike ride, on March 18

Today I went on a bike ride!! It was better than running or erging (it kept me entertained for a longer period of time). I rode out to Paoli. In a 10-15 mph headwind. I thought I was out of shape before, and the headwind really convinced me of that. I was going maybe 16 mph with a 160 heartrate. And then some dude on a Litespeed passed me. And I didn't care. I put up a little fight and tried to get back on his wheel, but he was gone. He pushed away until he got to the end of Fitchburg road and turned right to go up by the trailer place. I reeled him in (a crosswind now, not a head) and then just hung on the guy's wheel. The way he was going bananas before, I figured he could pull me for a mile or two. Well, after about a minute he noticed I was there, and ubruptly put on the brakes, so I went around him, and maybe a second later I heard a car horn. The guy had pulled a U-turn right in front of a car! Fortunately the Honda minivan was able to avoid him. So then the minivan pulled up to me and asked me what the guy was doing. I was able to tell the couple that I had no idea, and I was sorry for the scare the guy gave the drivers. They were happy I apologized, and I was happy to not have another run-in with an angry driver. The guy was lucky he didn't get taken out!
Eventually I arrived in Paoli (after 50 minutes of riding) and grabbed a drink of water. The way back was WAY better. I think my average on the way out was 15.3 mph, and I averaged 19.7 on the way back. On the way back I rode by some dude walking his Orbea up a hill. When I asked, he said he didn't need any help, but the hill was not that big...
All in all a good ride. It was only 45 degrees, and windy and I overdressed and sweated like crazy. But it was fun to go on a ride again. The bike is now a little dirty, but not too bad. I am definitely in worse shape than last year. I guess this is how you get old.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Erik doesn't like running too much either...

Since I did a take-off on the Saablog, I figure a take-off on Kevin Hates Running should be next in line.
Last year I did a fair amount of working out while I was coaching, mostly due to the fact that the coach thought I could be best used as a "coach in the boat." It was fun to row with the team, and it made it pretty easy to stay in shape, since I could work out regularly with a team. Also, as I discussed with my friend Simon, there was the issue of pride. I wanted to beat as many of those guys as possible. So I had a reason to work hard. Now, I don't really seem to have a reason to work hard at any sport. I can beat my team this year quite easily, whether I work out or not. I don't find myself racing the men very often. and I really don't like erging all tht much. I have tried challenging myself to do various workouts on the erg, or at least do certain amounts of mileage, but it isn't that fun. When it is warm, I'll row some and bike some, especially during the summer when I shouldn't really have that much to do during the days. I do miss being in shape, and I don't want to "get old" because I'm not working out anymore. I don't need to be at a national-team level, but I don't want to be a couch potato.
So katie has been trying to get me to run. I am not too big on running. Unlike rowing or cycling (or even erging) you don't get any free run. You can't sit and rest a little while and still make progress. It is not that I am not good at running, I just don't enjoy it. Kind of like erging. So katie has been trying to get me to run with her, and for three weekends she has been successful. I went 23 minutes the first time, then 33 minutes last weekend, and today went 43. She has kept going after I have stopped each time. So it is fine. I think the pace today was maybe 6:55 or so, which is okay. Maybe one of these times I'll run with Kevin and see if I can keep up.
Today on the run we were maybe a minute from out place when Katie decided it would be a good idea to tick off some foreign guy in a Honda. This guy pulled out onto the sidewalk/driveway while leaving Whole Foods and cut off our path maybe 5-10 feet before we got there. He wasn't looking. So we ran around the back of his Accord Coupe and as we did so Katie slapped her hand on the trunk lid of the car. This guy didn't take kindly to it. He drove around the block and was irritated with "whoever hits my car." "I should hit you...But I don't...but next time I hit you." He pulled up and walked towards us on the sidewalk, and we ran around him and he was yelling "Why you hit my car?" and so I told him that we were running, and if he wanted to talk to us he should catch up to us. So he ran and caught us, and we stopped and talked. We should have kept runnning and talking, because it would have been a short conversation. But he said he was looking left at traffic and was not concerned because we should be watching out because we are on the sidewalk. We tried to convince him that he should probably look right for pedestrians, and he said that he was looking for traffic and did not hit us, so we should not be mad and be hitting his car. Whatever, dude. It is a Honda. Now whenever I run I have to look for a crazy dude tracking me down to try and hit me with his car...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The weather again...

Dang it! After three days of decent weather (temps in the 50s two days, and then nearly 70 on Tuesday) yesterday grew colder all day long. It was in the 50s in the morning, and then it was 33 by the time I went to bed. There was even some rain and snow mixed in. I thought maybe we'd be rid of the ice soon, but there is still a way to go...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

VolvoBlog...tailgate struts

Following the content of the ever-popular Saablog I decided that my blog needed some car-repair stories to spice things up. So I will detail my project.

My rear hatch on the Volvo had been a bit saggy. The struts were able to hold the gate open under most conditions, but if the car was facing uphill or the weather was particularly cold, I would generally need to hold the hatch open in order to keep it from crashing down onto my head while I was getting my cargo from the cargo area. I asked my brother for replacement struts for my birthday, and he got some for me. I looked up instructions on Volvospeed and they seemed very straightforward. The trim seemed easy to remove, held in place by plastic clips and one screw on each side. It was removed more easily than I had anticipated.
Here is the original strut in place. At this point, it started to rain, so I went to my place of employment so I would be able to work on it inside. I would also have access to more and better tools from the shop. If I could find them.

The next step was to pry the old strut off of the car. Struts are held in place on each end by ball and socket joint. The ball is on the car, and the socket is on the strut. Removal was quite straightforward. Installation is the same as reverse...

So I got the first strut out, and it took not long at all. When only one strut is on the car, you need to prop the hatch open with a broom or something. While it was propped up, I was pretty nervous about it falling down and breaking my leg or skull...
So now installation. Should be easy. The first end went on...

So then the other end should be easy, right? Hah!!! The thing was seemingly too long. I could not raise the hatch high enough to get the socket over the ball. It was maybe 1/4 inch too long!!!

So, lets look at the struts. Old one on bottom, new one on top...

So, They're the same, right? They look the same. But I tried and tried for more than an hour to get the back end on. I used clamps, cables, zip-ties and pliers, but there was no way I could shorten up the strut and make it fit on. So, I'm looking and looking, and it looks like maybe the new one is just a touch longer. So I'm looking at the new one that is not on the car, andI notice that the silver end is loose. The ends are just screwed on. Look at the ends... The new one is on the left, the original is on the right.

The new one is that much longer and won't go on the car!!! So I just swapped the ends, and bing, bang, boom--it is on the car!! The right side took 2 hours, the left side took 5 minutes.

So while I was screwing around in the back of the car, I decided to see if i could figure out what the rattling was in the back. I ordered an anti-rattle kit for the hatch in the hopes that it would help. I got the interior of the back hatch off. I broke a couple of the clips holding it together. At least they should be included in the kit I ordered.

Here are the bits I broke off while removing the interior of the hatch. I hope I get some more! And then to add insult to injury, when I got the hatch off, I found that the upgrade for the anti-rattle had alerady been completed!!! The one thing I did find out was that the rattle was not coming from the rear hatch. With the hatch cover off, driving around the rattle that has been driving me crazy was still there. Arrgg!!! I'll be taking more parts off and driving around until I've removed the rattle!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The One thing I didn't want for my birthday...

Temperature this morning was 7 degrees F. Now, more snow...

Friday, March 2, 2007

Snow Totals

February saw 22.3 inches of snow fall in Madison, making it the 2nd snowiest February in the history of Madison (or at least the 2nd snowiest since they began keeping track of those things in the 1880s.) So far the seasonal snowfall is 46.6 inches. But not to fear, it is snowing again today and tomorrow, and it looks like we'll definitely top out above 50 inches for the season.
Today is the 8th day in a row of snow here in Madison, and I am grudgingly looking again at a car which needs to be cleaned off before I can drive it. (Fortunately I got the headlights put in last night!) I saw a story on the local news here that said that 8 of the city's 50 snowplows are out of commission from working lots of long days. They definitely are not keeping up with it. Which means that I get to go sliding around town (usually intentionally).
I know, it snowed in Seattle yesterday, and boo hoo, I'm crying big tears for everybody out there.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ahh, remember when?

I was on Row2k today when this picture came up. Yes, that is me in the bow of the near boat. We are in the lightweight eight racing against the Heavy eight and the heavy quad. I think it was probably a few weeks before worlds in Lucerne. Based on the splash, it looks like I was rowing pretty short on the front end or missing, since there is still a decent splash and my legs are nearly down. It also doesn't look like there is too much bend in the shaft. Maybe we were getting the boats even here (and we had to slow down and let the heavies catch up...)
Remember when you could look at a lake and see boats and rowers and water? Me neither.
now all I see is snow and ice and people sitting in little tents trying to catch fish. And the end of the season is now just 3 months away! I hope we can get on the water soon. My prediction is March 24. What is your prediction for when the ice will break?