Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rebuilt a Carburetor

I have a 1995 Tomos Targa moped (like the one at the left, only mine is white with burgundy bits) that Kris bought me many years ago. I drove it work regularly for a while, then after I moved further away from work I parked it in the garden shed and have ignored it for more than a few years.

With gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon I got motivated to find a more economical way to get to work, so (with the prompting from Susie) it was time to revive the moped. I dug it out of the shed, washed the grime off, and started figuring out the mechanical problems.

I had to destroy the gas cap lock to get it off. It, and the inside top of the tank was pretty badly rusted. The 5 year old gas was the color of Coke. The carb was in as bad a shape as the tank. What gas was there had dried up over time and gummed up the works pretty severely. After a few hours of carb cleaner, lacquer thinner, acetone and elbow grease the carb is all clean and clear.

This is sort of a first - I've never redone a carburetor before and, despite me being paranoid about permanently breaking things, it went surprisingly well. Of course I don't know if it runs yet - time will tell after I get all the other stuff going - but I took on something that I had doubts about doing and did a pretty decent job at doing it.

Next projects on the moped are to acid etch the tank rust, and free up the reverse-kick starter. The gearbox oil is probably going to need changing too. This all wouldn't have been necessary if I'd either drained all the gas out before I stored is for such a long time or if I'd just start it and run it every few months.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

On being Baptist

I'm a self-proclaimed Christian-Deist (the Deist thing is a recent refinement from just "Christian" and I'm still grappling with what this means.). This being the case, it's been tough finding a church home that some part of didn't seem disconnected or awkward or just wrong. The music at this one would be great, but there'd be no freedom to think differently from the "right way"; this one had more freedom, but the people were aloof and there was no music program and, well the list goes on. I'd kind of accepted that I should find the best compromise of what I wanted and make the best of it. That said, it is with great surprise that I tell you that Susie and I just recently joined a Baptist church. After being ticked at the Southern Baptists (with their too-conservative ways and Jerry Fallwell and ) for so many years, I had written them off.

I was raised in a begnign, middle-class Baptist church, and generally, because of my parent's low level of involvement in the church, I never saw the operational side of Baptism. I went primarily to Sunday school, and did youth group stuff, but seldom went to actual Sunday services and had no clue about how the church was run. It was only in the last 10 years did I really start to get a handle on how Baptists differ from Methodists, Presbyterian and Catholics. Baptists seem unique in that they have a bottom-up governance system. That is, each church is entitled to establish their own beliefs. There are lots of conservative Baptist churches out there that adhere closely to the Southern Baptist guidelines. But not every Baptist church does. Thanks to Kris (my lovely ex-wife) and Jim, we found one that very happily doesn't.

Watts Street Baptist Church is that place. They've got a great community of folks who are very accepting, and open to discussions about (literally!) everything, even when your views don't necessarily match those of the majority. The music program rocks, with everything from great sacred music to spirituals to more contemporary pieces. The outreach opportunities range from intra-church to neighborhood, city, national and international. Ways to get involved are too numerous to list. Kids opportunity abound. The congregation is warm and accepting and made us feel instantly at home. It's gay and lesbian friendly in a way that I didn't think was possible for a Baptist church. Wednesday-night suppers are a great chance to eat and socialize with folks on a more casual basis that you typically see them on Sundays, with some great program times afterwards. Lifting a quote from their home page:
Watts Street Baptist Church is an inclusive ecumenical congregation uniting prayer, learning, and social justice in the context of a vibrant community.
That sums them up perfectly. It's great to be home.

(Coming soon, I'll cover the passionate, democratic process that was our first congrational meeting.)


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Monday, May 15, 2006

Family Oral History

On the tails of reading about Robert Scoble's family tragedy, I ran across this site:
Family Oral History Using Digital Tools. This is one of those things I've been meaning to do for forever, but Mother's Day and Robert's stories have prompted me into action on. I'll keep you all posted on the results of my efforts.