Putting the pedal down

In times like these, it may seem like the best thing to do is to follow the herd. Which seems to be letting up, putting things on pause and waiting for things to get better. But, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. It’s time to double our efforts. We need to excel in our work lives, excel in our personal lives, be better partners, be better parents and most of all, use this new found time that we all seem to have to grow ourselves, learn new things and continue to do the things we love. Especially, those things that we might not have had time to do previously.

Rather than letting off the gas, I’ve been putting the pedal down. So, among trying to do those other things that I mentioned, I’ve been putting more time into something I love – this site. I’m trying to invest a little every day. And, it’s been therapeutic. One of the main things that I got done was to get this blog up and running again. And, by doing that, I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve had and used this as an avenue to express myself. If you read back a few posts, I didn’t think it was something I needed any more. Well, I think I was wrong.

In that vein, I wanted to give an update on the things I’ve been working on to make the best use of the free time I’ve been lucky to have.

Updates and security patches to the software used by this site and FoxFeatureCars.com

This site uses a number of separate software packages each for the main site, the forums and this blog. All of these require regular patching and updating. These types of things don’t usually result in a visible change on the site but are important to keep up with for bug fixes and, especially, for security patches. I’ve sometimes fallen behind on these. But, not recently.

Separate from this I also started the process of evaluating an upgrade the main software package that this site uses which is called Drupal. A more up to date version than what I’m currently using is available and I have started the process of determining the complexity and process of that upgrade.

Registering for the tent for Carlisle Ford 2020

It’d be easy to put this one off. The deadline for tent registration is still weeks away and the I question whether the event even will happen. But, I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve committed to it now and am paid in full for the tent and tables. And, I hope you commit to it, too. Don’t forget to register by May 4th!

We should again be located in the 1987 to 1993 Mustang LX Stock class.

Signing up for Ford Performance Club Connect

You may have seen the front page post on this. I had a nice email exchange over email with the Club Connect team to answer some questions that I had on the registration process. They were very helpful and responsive. As such, we are on the map but no longer listed at my home address!

Getting the auction history back up to date

This tracking has been on and off for the last couple of years. It’s a lot of work and, with the decline in ebay partner benefits, it has been a long time since it has been able to cover the costs of running this site. But, I still see the value in it so I continue. I’ve been considering other revenue models like a Patreon effort to support what I am doing. But, for now I’ll keep at it the best that I can. As always, click the links to support the site. Even if you aren’t purchasing the items I am linking to, I still benefit from your clicks.

Getting postings going again on FoxFeatureCars.com

Last year at this time, I went full out on the new project that Fox Feature Cars became. I posted nearly every day until I burnt after a few months of it. It was intense to post once a day. And, quite honestly, there aren’t enough feature cars for sale to warrant a daily post.

So, I’ve taken a more measured approach. I am going to post but not every day if it isn’t appropriate. If there are great cars, sure. But if there is nothing on my radar, I’m not going to dig deeper to find something that might be sketchy or something being pushed by a dealer and/or of questionable value.

So, join me on this. Let’s all improve ourselves and creation a distraction for ourselves and, quite possibly in doing so, create a distraction for others. And, since the weather is getting nice almost everywhere, get that Mustang out and put the literal pedal down.

Blog is back online

At some point, the WordPress software used here broke and was producing an error; no blog content, just the error.

“Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.”

I finally got off my butt and figured it out. I figure it broke when I upgraded the version of PHP being used on the site when trying to fix something else (possibly the forums) which made it incompatible with the really old version of WordPress being used.

The solution was to update to the latest version of WordPress. Which I did and the blog content is now back.

Now the question is whether I will continue writing new posts. I haven’t decided that yet. I know my last post states that I wouldn’t be posting anything else here and using either the main page or the forums. The truth is that those two options seem much more formal than I would like for my blog posts. Posting my sometimes random thoughts on the main page or in the forums just hasn’t been comfortable. I may restart using the blog. I’m not sure yet.

Blog now closed

Just a quick note that the blog is now maintained as an archive and will not receive new posts. Comments are closed as well. New content will appear on the front page of this site and no longer be “hidden” here. When new content warrants commenting, a discussion thread in the forum will be opened. This is being done to reduce the number of places where new content and commenting happen on the site.

We already know 5.0 Fox and Coyote 5.0. This is Bear 5.0

I’m a very data-oriented person. I find satisfaction in recognizing, in seemingly random situations, numbers that are meaningful to me.

For example, I have been agonizing over spending money on a new laptop when my current one was still mostly meeting my needs. When I finally pulled the trigger on a new one, I paid online using my credit card’s one time use account number feature. The last eight digits of which were exactly my birthday (YYYY MMDD). Weird. But, it helped me rationalize that the purchase was meant to be.

Anyway…

Last weekend, a bear visited our yard. We have heard there are bears in the area but have never seen one. I looked out just as this guy successfully lowered our bird feeder. The feeder is suspended about 15 feet above the ground using a rope and pulley system. He must have unhooked the rope looped on a j-hook on the tree by pulling it off the hook.

He cleaned out the feeder before moving on. While he was there I snapped many pictures of him. I took one as he recognized that I was watching him. At that point, I realized he was tagged. As I later reviewed the pictures I zoomed in and found a number very familiar to me.

Car repair and roasted nuts

This is a nice story about roasted nuts which is perfect as we head into the holiday season…

I just completed an interesting car ‘repair’. It was not on my Mustang but it was still pretty fun. And, a pretty good repair success that I don’t mind bragging about.

Yesterday, the family piled into the car for a trip to the store. As we sat there warming up the car, we smelled coming through the heater vents, the scent of something burning. It was not a typical synthetic, car problem smell but organic like burning wood or leaves. We all bailed out. Under the hood were signs that a mouse was active. Acorn shells and other bits were present in a couple of places but nothing that appeared to be burning. We took the other car.

Today, I started to debug the location of the problem. I hoped a mouse hadn’t made its was into the heating ducts. That’s happened to me before but the quickness of the burning in this case made me think that some part of the exhaust system was involved.  What else could heat up so quickly?

After a little looking around and removal of a heat shield, I spotted the problem. Actually, I almost missed it. Due to the strength of the smell I was looking for something big. I thought that I would find a mouse nest and possibly the remains of its inhabitant. But, there it was –

Acorn in its perch

A roasted acorn.

Burnt acorn

Back from sunny FLA (with a picture you probably wouldn’t expect to see here)

Yesterday, I got back from an 8 day trip to Florida. It was a nice winter break. I was in the Orlando area. Over a week ago when I left it was around 0 degrees here. The temperature gauge in my fathers car showed -5 at one point on the way to the airport. The weather there wasn’t perfect but it was still pretty good.

The trip was not without its hiccups. Our furnace here quit mid way through the week. I had the controller replaced just before we left due to some problems we were having. It turns out that the replacement was defective. Luckily, we had informed my father of the problem we thought was fixed and he was checking the house daily and discovered that the furnace was not running. He saved the day and was able to get it repaired before we got back and, more importantly, before any pipes froze.

Also, I had hoped my latest automation to ebay auction tracking would have kept it in low maintenance mode but things did not go so well with it. The automation did not pick up many of the feature car-related auctions as I had hoped it would. There were some oddities in the data coming back from ebay that I didn’t anticipate. I hope to write more details on it later. I was back on it tonight and have done more fine tuning.

While in Orlando, I went to EPCOT (as well as many other of the theme parks). At EPCOT, after I rode Test Track I was surprised to find a 2010 Camaro in the post-ride display area. I had no idea it was there although I can’t say I follow that car as closely as the Mustang. I only had my camera phone so the quality of the pictures I took was pretty poor.

2010 Camaro at EPCOT's Test Track

Overall, I liked the car in person even more than what I have seen in photos. This model seemed to be a base model with black steel wheels and plastic inserts where the fog lights would go on a higher trim model. After seeing this, I can’t wait to see the real thing when they come out later this year. Competition is good.

Achieving a balance with nature

I have a lot of respect for nature and our earth. I have written about preserving our earth for the future as well as responsible outdoor lighting. But, this isn’t about that at all.

I took my son to a birthday party over the weekend on Saturday. It was at a local farm. They had a petting/feeding event with a variety of animals as well as a hay ride. Good outdoor fun on a really nice spring day. Except, I was dissed by a llama. I took this picture about 30 seconds before this little ba$tard spit in my face!

Spitting llama

That’s my three year old son in the picture. He was going to put some food in that bucket but got understandably spooked when these guys quickly started moving in. So, he backed off. I guess this upset the one in the center because I then heard a hissing sound and was sprayed with…who knows what. I didn’t know what happened but a nearby mother heard my gasp and said “I heard that llamas spit but I’ve never seen it happen.” Until now I guess. I wiped it off my face and shirt and moved on.

That evening, I had an opportunity to take the Mustang out for the first top down drive of the season. It was awesome! About 10 minutes in, as it was nearing dusk, I noticed my windshield seemed to be much hazier than when I started out. I realized that I hadn’t washed the car after taking it out of storage and the windshield was covered with some of the overspray from the conditioner I used on the top before storing but it seemed odd.

When I got home I was shocked to see the carnage on my front bumper, hood, side-view mirrors, windshield, A-pillars, basically every front-facing surface. I think I must have taken out 1000 mosquitoes!

Bugs

Bugs

I originally thought that this was about balance. I am a firm believer that things always even out. I liken it to the amount of energy in the universe; none gets created nor destroyed. It just gets transferred from one place to another. Do something nice for someone and something nice will happen to you. Nature got me and I got it back.

But, this Sunday evening I had to clean off those bugs.

Nature 2, John 0.

My “MINI” obsession

Go easy on me…I need to get something off my chest.

Maybe it is just the time of year but I’m really starting to miss driving a fun car. My daily driver just isn’t doing it for me. Actually, my wife and I switched cars this winter since she needs 4WD for her commute more than I do. The Honda Accord we have just isn’t that exciting. OK, it’s not exciting at all.

Although it will probably never happen, I am always thinking about getting another fun car. Don’t worry I’m NOT thinking about replacing the Mustang. Seriously, I have no plans for that.

The MINI seems to be a car I keep coming back to. Curiously, it actually embodies most things I despise in cars: flashy color schemes, vinyl decals, tons of accessory add-ons and retro cuteness. I don’t know why I am attracted to it so much. On the other hand, I do know exactly why I like it. It seems like a blast to drive. The front wheel drive would allow me to drive it all year round. And, you can’t beat the gas mileage.

Mini

Now for the obsession part. I talk about the MINI regularly with coworkers. I think my friend at work who sits next to me must be sick of it already. I have a Matchbox MINI on my desk at work (but not a Mustang). I’m reading MINI forums more often than Mustang forums. I have signed up for the MINI web site and have currently two saved MINI configurations.

Phew, now that its out in the open, I feel better already.

When I was a kid and I wanted to purchase something I saved for it. As an adult with credit available I don’t have so much restraint. But, for this I am taking the old school savings approach. Although, at the rate I am going, I should be able to afford a 2008 MINI in 2018. Maybe I should get a paper route. More likely, I will be obsessing about the next want very shortly.