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05/23/08

Permalink 11:30:40 am, by millercommamatt, 111 words   English (US)
Categories: General

My Car Lives!

I managed to get my car fixed yesterday. I called Carquest to get the hoses I needed and I picked them up yesterday morning. I didn't need the first hose they gave me and the second hose they gave me wasn't even close to fitting. So, I took another trip to the auto parts store, returned the hoses they sold me and bought the correct one. I had a hell of a time getting one end of the hose to fit over a coupling, but I finally managed to get it attached and clamped down. And, as of yesterday, I finally have a functioning car again. Yea!

Bad Fuel Hose
The offending fuel hose.

05/21/08

Permalink 10:09:24 am, by millercommamatt, 201 words   English (US)
Categories: General

My @#$% Car

I have a 1991 BMW 318is. For the past few weeks, it has had a vacuum leak in the intake system that's prevented it from idling correctly. My father-in-law, a master mechanic, was kind enough to track down the leak for me. The culprit was the hose coming off the top of the idle control valve. I ordered a new hose off the internet from Bavarian Autosport and it took about a week to arrive. Yesterday, I replaced the leaking hose and started the engine. The car idled fine, but I noticed that it was leaking gasoline all over the floor of my garage from some point in the vicinity of the fuel filter near the back driver's side tire underneath the car. I'm pretty sure the leak is coming from one of the two rubber hoses on either side of the fuel filter. They look pretty cracked and dry rotted.

Needless to say, I'm annoyed. My car has been out of commission for a week now. Since I've moved, I'm no longer within walking or bus riding distance from campus. This makes getting to work difficult.

Anyway, I'm going to try my hand at fixing this problem myself. Wish me luck.

05/19/08

Permalink 09:51:34 am, by millercommamatt, 454 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Richard Petty Driving Experience

Saturday, my dad, brother, and I did the Richard Petty Driving Experience and Richmond International Raceway. We got to drive actual Nascar Sprint Cup stock cars around the racetrack. We had a lot of fun.

We started with an orientation session where we were given a run down off all the procedures on how to operate the car and move about the track. This included an in car demonstration of all the relevant safety equipment and an explanation of emergency procedures. That was followed by a van ride around the track where we were shown the best driving line, proper acceleration and deceleration locations, and how to manage traffic flow around the track.

After the orientation session we were finally granted the chance to drive around the track. The picture below is me in my jumpsuit waiting for my turn to drive.

Matthew waiting for his turn to drive

We were given helmets and helped into the race cars. The picture below is me in the car I drove waiting for the indication that I can follow the instructor's car onto the track.

Matthew in a race car

The driving experience basically operates like a high speed game of follow the leader. You are supposed to follow your instructor around the track. You are told to stay 3 to 5 car lengths behind the instructor and follow their tracks as closely as possible. The better you do this, the faster they'll let you drive. Once on the track, you quickly gain some respect for the people who race for a living. It's a lot of work to hit all your marks and do all the things you need to do to achieve a good lap time. A good lap time for a Sprint Cup driver and Richmond International Raceway is in the neighborhood of 22 seconds. My fastest lap was just over 32 seconds. Obviously I would have a lot to learn if I wanted to be a professional race car driver. Though, I will say I could have comfortably driven around the track faster than the instructor paced me. However, I don't think I could come very close to matching Sprint Cup speeds.

If I do something like this again, I would like to attend an actual racing school where you are given some instruction on how to improve your driving and given the chance to really stretch your limits and test your skills. I'd like to do something were the emphasis is to not just get around the track, but to get around the track at the best speed you're capable of. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is designed to give you the experience of driving a race car and is not designed to instruct you on how to really see what you're capable of on the track.

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05/15/08

Permalink 11:41:47 am, by millercommamatt, 251 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Vonage Woes

Since I moved, my Vonage VoIP internet phone service hasn't been working properly. I was receiving a lot of audio nose and I could barely make out incoming voices.

Through some troubleshooting, I isolated to cause of the problem to my Linksys RTP300 Vonage phone adapter. I tried to get Vonage customer support to transfer my telephone number to an alternate Vonage adapter that I had purchased a while ago. The service tech I was talking to ran into an error while trying to transfer my number. He said that he would have his supervisor work on the problem and that I would be called back, but the call never came. I did some extensive reading on the Vonage support internet forums and I came up with something to try. Vonage has a tool on their website where I move my number to a different port on my existing Vonage adapter (it has two). I did that this morning and it solved all my problems. I'm a little annoyed that Vonage customer support wasn't able to help me more. I essentially had to figure out and fix the problem entirely on my own.

I still think internet-based phone services are great because they are cheap and offer a lot of great features you can't get with traditional service. However, they're a royal pain when you have hardware that's not working correctly. I guess a positive thing to come out of this is that I can now troubleshoot VoIP problems fairly quickly.

05/13/08

Permalink 02:36:42 pm, by millercommamatt, 97 words   English (US)
Categories: Meteorology

GRL Article Accepted

An article I wrote, Lack of correlation between chlorophyll a and cloud droplet effective radius in shallow marine clouds, for publication in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) has been accepted for publication. I first mentioned this article here. This article will be my first professional publication as a scientist. I'm excited. This article was first submitted last year, but the editors wanted a major revision. I made the requested revisions and resubmitted the article last month. The article will be published both in the journal and online as soon as I can get the article formatted for publication.

05/12/08

Permalink 10:01:42 am, by millercommamatt, 95 words   English (US)
Categories: General

New Web-Comic

I'm a regular reader of the following web-comics:

XKCD
Ctrl-Alt-Del
Penny Arcade
Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD)

Recently I've found a new webcomic that I've added into my weekly lineup. The comic is Amazing Super Powers. The comic only updates twice a week, but it's pretty funny. It's a combination of XKCD with it's use of extra commentary via the mouse over alt tags and Cyanide and Happiness which portrays very dark humor. One of my favorite things about Amazing Super Powers is the constant changing animated slug logo at the top of every page.

05/11/08

Permalink 02:51:55 pm, by millercommamatt, 68 words   English (US)
Categories: General

We're Moved In!

Christina and I got all our stuff moved in Yesterday. Christina's mom, Sandy, and my friend Justin gave us a lot of much needed help. Thanks guys!

Now Christina and I just have a house full of boxes to unpack. This moving thing is a lot of work. Next time I move, I think I'm just going to hire some house elves to do the work for me.

05/08/08

Permalink 11:18:39 am, by millercommamatt, 52 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Spring 2008 Grades Are In!

Grades for this semester just came in. I got an A+ in every class! I'm pretty stoked. I put a lot of effort into the projects for my classes this year and it's nice to see it pay off. It's a shame that they don't have a dean's list for graduate students.

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This is where I rant about whatever I want. Here is where I share my thoughts, dreams, strange ideas, and general commentary on my life and the world around me.

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