The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

What you going to cut?

The great Global Warming Talk-Fest of Copenhagen is coming up soon.

One of the common demands being made is for a cut of Carbon Dioxide emissions by 80% (by 2040 or something like that).

So, in purely practical terms, how can one cut emissions that much? Bear in mind that ranting about governments doing so is silly. Only PEOPLE can, by their actions, cut emissions. Everything else is fudging.

Cutting emissions by 80%, of neccessity means that emissions would be about 20% of what they are today. Allowing for renewables, perhaps more efficient transport and so on might deliver on some of this. But in the end people will have to change their ways.

What are you prepared to give up? Because change of lifestyle will be mandatory. The following are ALL essential to meet the target, so you can’t pick and choose. You need to do them all:

- Driving to work – only permitted one day a week. If cars get REALLY energy efficient, then 2 days per week might be possible. This assumes cars are twice as efficient as today. Electric cars don’t count, they only shift the emission somewhere else – to the big evil coal buring power station.

- Air travel – only one (return) overseas plane flight per lifetime. Choose wisely now! Jet engines might get more efficient, but doubling the km per litre of fuel? Maybe…. In which case, two overseas holidays per lifetime. And forget nipping over to Melbourne or Sydney to see friends on a cheap flight – that’ll be a complete no-no.

- Plasma TV – but you can only watch one night a week. If you have an LCD TV, you can watch 2 nights a week. Which won’t matter, because to use less power, radio TV stations will only be permitted to broadcast for 1.5 days per week. Perhaps this is no great loss.

- Backyard swimming pools – totally forbidden. Pools need to run the filter and pump typically a few hours each day in order to remain hygienic. If the pump can only be run for 20% of the time, the pool won’t be fit to use, so drain and fill it. This has the added benefit in a dry country plagued by drought of reducing domestic / city water consumption.

- Ditto spa’s of all kinds – heating the water means that these won’t be worth having.

- Assuming LED lighting is a success (it will be), the efficiency of lamps will be about 3 to 4 x incandescent. That means you can run your house lights for about 4, or maybe 5 nights a week. If you use only half of them, you can have light every night.

- Refrigerators larger than a bar fridge will have to become illegal. Beer fridges will be totally forbidden. Even these smaller fridges will be a stretch.

- All amplified music and rock concerts will have to set the volume no higher than 2 out of 10. Limiters will be imposed by law on all new audio equipment to enforce this.

- Cooked meals will be permitted for only 1 in 5 meals. Typically this means that a cooked dinner will be allowed roughly once every second evening.

- A hot shower will be permitted once every 5 days. The remaining time the water must not be heated to avoid burning anything. This does not present much of a problem on a 45 degree Adelaide summer day, but it will be something of a challenge for Melbournites during their winter.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Reducing emissions means using less. By us all. Does the above sound extreme? That’s what is being expected of us.

Die Zitrone

The ongoing saga of The Lemon continues. In the spirit of it being an Opel car, it is also henceforth know as Die Zitrone. When means The Lemon. Although the car is of German origins, it was built in Belgium but we’ll ignore this minor detail.

About 3 weeks ago, I leapt into The Lemon to drive between the two offices at work that I currently split time between. The car promptly turned on 2 service lights and the automatic transmission would not shift out of 3rd gear.

Of course, this happened on the Wednesday before we were to go out looking to buy a replacement for it. :(

From that point on, it would run like Baby Bears Porridge – Just Right, until it warmed up. Then it would flip into emergency / limp-home mode.

I decided I was tired of throwing money in the direction of Holden – I’d do some car work of my own. First step was to find what the service codes were. Dealers and garages will happily attach their diagnostic equipment and find the service codes – for a fee. Mr Google came in handy, and I found a place selling car service code scanners. For less the price of paying a garage for 2 vehicle scans, I now have my very own service code scanner.

In the meantime, I found I could drive the car like a manual – just put the transmission in first, second, third, and try and do so at about the right engine speed. That got me to and from work for a fortnight.

Using the service code scanner turned up 3 codes: P0220, P1550 and P1890. These code indicate a throttle position sensor error and an automatic transmission switch to emergency / limp-home mode.

A bunch more googling showed that the fault here could be the electronic throttle body – they get gummed up and need cleaning. A happy day with oldest son pulling that out and cleaning it left the car no worse. And no better either.

The remaining possible faults were a serious failure of the throttle body, or a stuffed engine computer (also called the ECU or ECM). A quick trip to my friendly local mechanic confirmed this diagnosis. The packing-it-in-only-when-warmed up left me suspecting the more expensive of the possible failures – the ECU.

Now an ECU in a modern car is a pretty serious beast, and in this car it controls EVERYTHING. It makes the power windows go. It runs the engine. It runs the door locks. It does the cruise control. Without an ECU the car is just a big pile of scrap metal. Trouble is, a new ECU costs about $1500, and then you need your friendly local Holden dealer to program it to the car – setting things like the type of ABS you have, putting in the Vehicle ID number, setting the various car options (power windows – yes/no, rear window wiper – yes/no) and so on. Programming it to the car allegedly costs another $300.

Mr Google came to the rescue again. ECU’s can be repaired, they are know to fail quite frequently and especially in this model of car. HINT TO DESIGNERS: Bolting a lump of electronics onto the side of a hot vibrating engine is NOT the way to make the electronics reliable. Most of the ECU repairs I found require the unit to be sent to England. Then – relief, Injectronics in Melbourne also fix them, with agencies through Sprint Auto Parts in SA and REPCO nationally.

Ripping the ECU and immobiliser out is a 20 minute job if you know what you are doing. If you don’t, like me, it takes about 3 hours. Anyhow, I got the sucker out and dropped it in last weekend to be sent away for it’s lobotomy. A few days later an exchange unit was sent back with all the car programming transferred into it, and I fitted that today. The last week has been difficult – transport-wise, but we managed.

Re-assembly of everything, again, takes about 20 minutes when you know what you are doing. I did quite well to have it done in about an hour and a half.

HOORAY! The car seems to be running OK now.

Now we can sell it. I just need to get one more thing fixed first :(

When the time comes…

The slogan on the Kelloggs Nutri-grain pack reads:

When the time comes, will you be prepared?

A reference to having the energy and stamina to go and slay dragons, or play football, or catch fishies.

Clearly the Marketing People who put this together don’t remember the advertisements that used to be run by a prominent local funeral home, using almost exactly the same words.

I’m left wondering therefore just WHAT IS THE EFFECT of eating Nutri-grain?

Tips, tips, tips, tips, and more @$%^ tips

Is it me?

Am I going mad, have I just noticed, has it been going on forever?

I’ve just started to notice a vast number of TIPS.

TIPS on how to save money.

TIPS on how to use your time more wisely.

TIPS on better healthy living.

Blah blah blah.

The trend to tips
Gives me the shits
Cos the trouble with tips
Is there’s not time for thinks.

And that about sums it up really. TIPS. The things you have when you don’t want to think something through or take some time for reflection. Gimme some TIPS. Preferably in bullet point form. Keep it short. Use Readers Digest words. Give it me now. And then piss off.

Erk. A world full of no thinking and a bucket of tips. Yuk.  Bring back time for reflection, thinking, and the occasional hint. Tips suck.

Lemons and Slides

Today I took a day off work – second to last day of the school holidays.

When The Chaps were smaller I was going to a good dad. Around the place. Not one of those fellas at work till all hours. Alas, it’s not quite turned out like that. I’m usually at work till 6:30 pm, I have things to do both volunteer and otherwise on weekends, and so have all the usual regrets. Especially seeing as Oldest Chap will be 16 in about 3 weeks and wants to rush off and get his Learning-To-Drive permit. Ye Gods, it seems like only a few months ago that I was cleaning poo out of his socks. (And he’ll be mortified to read this, naturally, which is why I wrote it.)

So anyhow, today we did a bit of Boys Stuff and Silly Stuff.

The Lemon, see, is playing up again. This time with some kind of weirdness where after it’s been driven about 10 minutes the automatic transmission gives a big “clunk” and after that its locked in 3rd gear. At the same time it seems to be running hot. Again. A few days ago I bought a car diagnostic fault analyser that you plug into the vehicle – it extracts and displays the fault codes from the car on-board engine management computer.

This is very informative, it tells me I have a P0220, a P1550 and a P1890. Gosh.

It seems that P0220 is related to muck building up the in the throttle body (the newfangled version of the carby that applies to fuel injected vehicles). So we went and bought some carby cleaner, and pulled bits of the engine apart. Got the throttle body out enough to squirt cleaner in, and polished it all up nicely so you could eat yer dinner orf it. Oldest Chap got covered in as much grot as me so it must have been fun!

After reassembly – the car did actually start. I cleared all the fault codes from the computer, and we took it for a spin. Ten minutes in…. CLUNK. And a Christmas tree worth of fault indicators on the dash. Drat. Well, that one didn’t work then.

So what the heck – we went off to the St Kilda adventure playground with a couple of daggy old towels, climbed the fort and the hill, and spent an hour zipping down the huge slides, the double helix slide, and generally being a bit silly. The Lemon got us there and back – driving the automatic as a manual and changing through the gears works reasonably well.

But after 40-mumble years I feel I’m getting a bit old for  this playground thing. The slides are not wide enough, so I have bruises on the sides of my hips. And have had the living daylights shaken out of me from the bumps. They still terrify me – looking down – and they still exhilarate - sliding down. But it sure is more difficult than it used to be.

Perhaps I just need more practice.

Friday Photo(s) – Late Again

Today’s Phriday Photo’s are late – yes – posted on Saturday.

Today I’m doing a batch – from my wanderings at Port Adelaide of a month or so ago. The theme today is a bit woolly. Yes, that’s right. Sheep and how the nation made a motza flogging fleeces to The Empire, or perhaps that should be, Empahh.

Port Adelaide had, and still has, vast Wool Stores. Many of these were built in the 1930’s or before – as best I can find out anyhow. They vary between the elegant and the utilitarian tatty.

Today’s photos then, are a selection of wools stores.

Wool Store 
Wool Store

Wool Store 
Wool Store

(Click for a full size version)

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