Life of a Stick


  • Category Archives Car
  • Recent Events

    Last Friday and Saturday I went to the 2D or not 2D animation festival. It was awesome. I got to meet amazing people like Barry Cook and Dean Yeagle and Michel Gange. Of course, my DigiPen professor Tony White was there, seeing as he was hosting the festival in the first place.

    After getting an exclusive first look on Gange’s upcoming game and getting a bunch of stuff signed by him, and watching some fantastic shorts like Chicken Cowboy, and listening to an orchestra at close range (they took up half the big room the final mingle was in) I went back to my car and found a car window and my backpack missing. Whoops.

    Let that be a lesson to everyone: Don’t leave tempting unknowns sitting around where someone may see it. Save yourself some trouble. Now I gotta buy a new backpack, a new sketchbook, and some new charcoal. I feel kinda sorry for the guy who stole it… he risked the law for… well, nothing.

    So I got home, and my good friend tek_hed who’d lent me a Wacom tablet for the past many years, finally needed it back. So I was now tabletless.

    Feeling sorry for myself, and a bit stupid for getting my backpack stolen, I went and ordered a new toy. A 12″ Cintiq. Seeing as it was only $400 more than the $600 for a new tablet, I figured I might as well splurge. Man, this stuff is expensive. It should get here in a week or two.

    But wait, that’s not all!

    I got an email from Rick Simmons, CEO of Virtrium LLC about a press release he was making about my Seawolf dragons..

    I think I’m getting ahead of myself, as I haven’t mentioned the dragons here yet. The dragons link above should explain a bit about them. They’re an avatar available for Second Life that use a bug (that hadn’t been exploited previously) to increase the size of your avatar. I don’t have any size references images or even videos handy, so I’m just going to give a link to an image of the vendor location. The top of the smallest dragon’s head is about as tall as a normal person. If you have Second Life, you can visit the location inworld by clicking this SLurl.

    Oh, and Left 4 Dead came out. Valve’s latest masterpiece, and more proof that finding awesome people and buying them into the company is a very smart idea.


  • Snow Totals Cars

    Earlier yesterday I went out for a bite to eat. It was raining, surprise surprise. On the way back the rain had little ice chunks in it.

    “Aw, how cute,” I thought! “It’s trying to snow!”

    When I left school that evening, it was snowing, but it was only sticking a little on the grass. By the time I was halfway home, I was driving behind a snowplow and I couldn’t see the lines on the road.

    When I got to that last turn before my house, I took a couple runs at it, and found I couldn’t get up the hill. So I parked down on the main road, inches off the guardrail, away from side-streets and turns where people were likely to hit me, and well on the other side of the non-visible white line. Then I walked the short distance home.

    My mom woke me up this morning with a phone call to tell me she saw some damage on my car, and I should take some pictures and drive it home.

    I put on a coat and shoes and walked down, and found out the following.

    1) It was a hit and run. No note was left.

    2) It was undrivable. The tire would get shredded if I tried to drive it. Oh, and there was a four inch gash in the tire already.

    3) The car that did it was white.

    A short while ago, I was making a u-turn, didn’t have as much clearance as I thought, and hit the sidewall of my tire on the curb pretty hard, destroying a tire. The tread on my tires was low, so I already had a new set of four tires at home. I put on a spare and drove home.

    Note: Always put the spare on a tire that doesn’t drive the car. I ripped out a front tire, and mine is front wheel drive. I should have switched it with a back tire, and put the spare on the back. I didn’t know this, and fortunately nothing bad came of it.

    So yeah, the tires were rather new.

    The good news is that insurance looks like it’ll cover it.

    Edit: A note was later found stuffed completely in the mirror. Our insurance just passed the information over to their insurance, and it was no skin off our nose.


  • Surgery and Rollcages

    My sister recently got her adenoids out. She was supposed to get her tonsils and adenoids out, but the doctor doing the surgery decided that they adenoids didn’t need to come out. So a little after she got out of surgery the second time, she decided it would be a good idea to go four wheeling with her finance.

    She came over and told us about it afterwards. “Yeah, the rollcage works great. None of the windows even broke or cracked. We just rolled it back over and drove away. We had to replace some transmission fluid that leaked out, but it was fine.”

    Here’s a picture:

    Sister's Rolled Truck


  • Bunch of Stuff Happened

    It’s probably best to order things chronologically rather than categorically for this post. It’s a long story that lasts about five days. I’ll see if I can condense it into less than five days of reading.

    It all started on Thursday, December 14th. “High wind warnings” were on the news, saying winds would get up to 80-90mph with 130mph gusts. Silly me didn’t realize quite how serious this is. If these numbers don’t mean much to you (and you haven’t been watching the news), then this is enough wind to knock over many, many trees. And when trees fall down, they land on things. Like power lines. And cars. And roads. And houses. But back to the story at hand.

    I showed up at DigiPen campus around 4pm, I think. My plans were to mat mount the final project for Art 101 so I could turn it in before 5pm the next day, when it was due. Then I would work on animation. I’d expected the power to go out, as I’d brought some flashlights.

    When I arrived at school, there were signs posted at every corner that the school was closing at 10pm instead of midnight due to the high winds warning.

    After I left, it was only slightly gusty. I took the “back road” home, like I usually did, because even at 10pm traffic is decently heavy and moving around 50mph through Bellevue. Besides, the back road was a straight shot to my house, and the freeway went in the opposite direction for a bit before turning my way.

    The back road was already littered with tree branches. It was fun to dodge them, and felt a bit like a video game. Then something above me went SHAZAM! and all the lights on the street went out. The scariest part of the drive was when a few cars were coming in the opposite direction so I was effectively blinded, and my car a puddle I didn’t see and sprayed water off the side of the road. Normal enough, except the puddle didn’t end. After the three cars had passed me, I could see the end of the “puddle” about 50m further up.

    The last exciting thing about the back road was when I was halfway home. The sky lit up briefly with this beautiful blue and purple explosion in the distance. I was sure it was the power at my house. Fortunately, it was all the power just before my house. Unfortunately, that meant the streetlight were out, and traffic in the Seattle area is notoriously bad not because of the sheer amounts of people, but because the people suck at driving. So no one had no idea that a downed traffic light means you’re supposed to behave like it’s a stop sign. And no one knew the proper way to handle a six lane, four way intersection as a stop sign, either. I’ll admit, it’s a little daunting, but if you face it logically you don’t have a problem.

    The power didn’t go out until an hour or so after I got home. I spent that night doing general maintenance. I cleaned the dust out of Goliath, this webserver, I put a new PSU in the internet gateway box (which had a faulty fan for the past year or so and required external cooling), and I took the last of the good pieces out of my downed main computer (namely, the CPU) and put it into my secondary machine. So I’m still down to one desktop computer, but it’s almost as good as my best one was. I also did a little general cleaning around my desk. The rest of the night was spent drawing some Trivium comics.

    So the power went out Thursday night. Friday morning at something before 7am I get a call from my good friend xcXEON wondering how things were and if everything was ok. I told him we were out of power, but otherwise fine. I was out of touch. I don’t normally watch the news — I’d heard about the strong winds from my brother, and probably then only because I live in the same house as him. The scope of power outages and damage was much larger than I thought it was, which is why he’d thought it important enough to call me. I enjoyed talking to him, it had been a while, but then I had to get ready and go to school. I had a final project to turn in, and an animation to redo so I could try to up my grade in Animation 101. I had my friend check www.schoolreport.org to make sure DigiPen wasn’t closed, got up and headed out.

    Bad idea. The first road I tried was blocked by half a dozen downed trees. (Ok, only three were visible, but I bet there were more further down) After going through a dozen intersections with broken stoplights, I finally made it to DigiPen after only a little over an hour. Not like it meant much. The doors are electronically sealed, and there was no power. A random programmer and I took a walk around the block to gawk at all the pretty damage from downed trees. Later, the head of facilities showed up and told all the people milling around the sign that said “DigiPen’s closed” that the finals will be rescheduled, and the final project that’s due will be turned in at the start of next semester. I asked about www.schoolreports.org and he said they’d managed to leave a message for them around 8am. The cell phone lines were jammed, and there was probably a downed tower or two.

    I was not looking forward to driving home. Against my better judgement (I claim curiosity), I took the freeway home. I noticed a few cars by the side of the road as traffic crawled along and wondered why they were there.

    A few places started getting power restored during the day. The first ones were the stores and malls. Makes you wonder. A gas station or two got power, and then I noticed something a little scary. There were only one or two gas stations in the area that had power. The line of cars wrapped around the block.

    The night, my dad informed me he was out of gas. Completely empty, and maybe only enough to drive to the gas station. I told him since I was going to be up late working on drawing Triviums, I’d take his car out at around 11pm and gas it up.

    Another bad idea. There was one gas station with gas left (the others had their lights of with “no gas” signs in the driveways) and the line was still around the block. I managed to make it home, and left a note for my dad to take my car, since it still had half a tank.

    Saturday, my friends I’m working on Booster Logic with called me and said their power was back, and that I could stay with them until mine came back.

    I left out two events. One was a trip to a church Christmas dinner party where I brought my phone charger and charged it while I was eating, and the other was a trip to Bellevue Square Mall where I picked up the Playstation 2 game Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. I got lucky. The game’s rare, and the Gamestop at the mall just happened to have ae copy when I was there.

    So when I got the invite from my friends, I packed up my PS2, Disgaea, Shadow of the Colossus (another great game), a change of clothes, my clothes for church, and left. My dad wasn’t interested in taking a free shower for some reason, so he stayed behind in our dark, cold house that was starting to smell a lot like burnt candles.

    The next couple days were a blur. Disgaea is awesome. I felt no guilt, as the power was out at my house and all my plans revolved around the internet (which they didn’t have yet). Been a long time since I’ve played a game for more than an hour or two without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else more important.

    I called my mom about halfway through to see how they were fairing at home. Turns out my dad had tried to light a fire and hadn’t put it far enough back in the fireplace. Nothing burnt down, but the entire house was filled with smoke. It still smells, and probably will for weeks. They also got invited to stay at someone else’s house, but for some reason my dad had declined them again. I’ve been taught that doing good deeds is all well and good, but denying other people the good deeds they want to do isn’t actually very nice. I don’t think anyone ever taught him that. Or maybe he just really needed his special matress for his back, since it’s so bad. Who knows. (I’m rather certain he doesn’t read this, and my mom isn’t tactless enough to tattle-tale on me, so I should be safe in questioning his sanity here.)

    So the last thing of note that happened was this: I woke up this morning at around 10am to the sound of my phone ringing. My brother was calling to let me know that the power had come back on, and that he wanted to make the internet work, but the power buttons on the router wasn’t working. I let him know it wasn’t broken, and I’d just flipped the switch on back, but I’d prefer he wait for me to get home and get everything working.

    I started packing up and I noticed the end of the extension cord that I unplugged my phone from wasn’t glowing green. I checked, and the cable modem/router wasn’t lit up. Oh noes, I thought. What have I done! Then I noticed that the red light on my PS2 wasn’t lit up, and I realized the power was out.

    So I packed up, came home, turned on my computers with only minor issues, and here I am.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get those Triviums I drew inked, or this Christmas Special will never go live.


  • Typical Wakeup

    I woke up this “morning” at 2pm and stumbled out of my bedroom only to encounter my brother rushing downstairs.

    “My computer broke,” he says, so I stumble after him for more details. Typical things — bluescreen, won’t boot anymore, etc. Then as we get to his room he rushes out the door and says, “Gotta go help dad before he runs that car into a tree.”

    So I stumble into his room and boot. One of the HDs isn’t being auto-detected. I’m trying to pry the case open when he comes back in and says, “Nevermind. He was trying to run it into a tree.”

    I fiddled with the ribbon cable and his HD started working again, but this isn’t the first time it’s given problems and I already replaced the last ribbon cable with a factory sealed one, so his hard drive may be dying.

    And my dad successful ran the car into a tree. The end.

    PS: That’s how you put bumpers on some cars apparently.


  • Ker-Crash

    Last week hard drive crash, this week car crash. Luckily, it wasn’t my car. Nor was it me driving.

    So what happens when you mix freezing hail rain, a sharp turn, and a ditch? A sore neck and a few hundred dollars worth of damage. Ba-dum-ching! Oh wait. That wasn’t funny.


  • Car Picking Gone Bad

    I got home from my “weekend” last night. That was a Thursday. Let me give some more details.

    The purpose of the trip was to pick up a car in Northern Utah my dad had bought on eBay. The plane ride there was uneventful, and lasted maybe an hour and a half. My uncle picked us up from the airport and we drove back to his and my aunt’s house. We visited for a few hours and then my brother and I, eager to get home and handle all of the tasks we had waiting for us, went out and saw about getting the car in working order so we could drive it home.

    The car was (note the past tense) a 2005 Nissan Sentra. From the look of it, it was somehow hit at an angle, from the front, on the right side. (An accident while turning left, maybe?) The right front fender (fender is the piece between the wheel and hood) was missing, the right front door was crunched and the glass was broken out, the right rear door was obliterated (pushed in about a foot or so), and the right quarterpanel (that’s a “rear fender”) was rather in the same condition of the door and had some nice sharp metal pieces pointing at the tire. It looked like when the car was hit on the right it was shoved into a guardrail on the left. Most of the damage on the left was on the quarterpanel. Both bumper covers were missing, as well.

    We used clear packaging tape to cover up the missing windows (prevents the wind, but not much of the noise), covered up the missing right taillight with red tape, took a crowbar to the right quarterpanel to make it less tire-pokey, and took it for a spin.

    There were two problems we noticed in the spin we took it for. First, the right quarterpanel was still scraping up the tire whenever the car bounced at all, and second, the rear end was swaying a few inches back and forth as we were driving down the road.

    For those of you that aren’t very familiar with cars, I’d like to try to explain the “rear end swaying”. I’ve experienced the sensation before a time or two, usually on icey roads. It happens when the rear tires lose traction and move back and forth on their own accord, without the front moving similarly. The problem with this situation is that there was no ice, and we were moving very slowly. It felt not entirely unlike trying to drive a fish.

    After driving the car back into the driveway (we only made it half a block before it was obvious this car wasn’t going from Northern Utah to Northwest Washington), we took a look under it to find out why it was swaying.

    Front wheel drive cars don’t have a rear axel. They have a rear beam. Looking at a cut of the car on the back tires, it would be something like this:

          ------------------
          |____ car _______|
    shocks> \   o====    /
         |-| \      \\  / |-|
         | |--------------| | <tire
         |_|   ^     ^    |_|
              beam   mount

    Please remember that I’m not very good with cars, and learned everything I know about this particular situation simply by being in it.

    Now the problem we had with the car is that the brackets that hold the mount on, and the mount itself, had become mangled, and the weld points had broken off, and some things like that. The mount is able to bend, so when the shocks do their bouncing thing, it will bend, too. It’s also apparently the piece the keps the tires from moving side-to-side, because that’s what they were doing.


    (Click to enlarge)

    My brother called around and managed to find a new rear beam. It turns out that the 2000 through 2005 have the same body style, and the only beam in the state we could find was a 2000 Sentra, so we ordered that. We picked it up on Wednesday morning and had a lot of fun getting it installed that day. It was actually the first time I’d ever worked on a car before, besides a little fidgeting here and there. Not that I did anything really major, most of it was my brother’s doing.

    We finished replacing the beam Wednesday evening, and then we set off in the car for home Thursday morning. Ten minutes later we were pulled over by a police officer. The rest of the trip was rather uneventful.

    The part I enjoyed the most about my vacation was the stresslessness of simply existing without responsibilities. The part I disliked the most about it was living in the immaculate house of my aunt and worrying about leaving anything out of place.


  • Car Picking

    I’m gone for the weekend. I’m picking up a car in Utah (I’m in Washington) with my siblings. We’ll visit some relatives we have there, maybe see some sights, then drive for 14 hours to bring it home.



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