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Update…

Much to the chagrin of the universe in general – I'm still alive.

My leg is doing much better now and as soon as the infernal itching subsides I'll be back to normal.

Over the weekend I took the upper half of the engine in the WarWagon apart in preparation for repair, someday when I have money. The fellow who owned the Jeep before me had switched out the stock Motorcraft 4300 4-barrel for a Motorcraft 2100 2-barrel – which is where things get weird…

See, the stock intake on the Jeep's 360 was made for the 4300, which is a spread-bore design (think 2 2-barrel carbs of different sizes welded together in some unholy machine shop) and therefore will *only* fit the 4300 carb. So, the fellow who owned the Jeep before me used some “engineering” and put a 4-barrel spread-bore to square-bore adapter on the intake, then put a 4-barrel to 2-barrel adapter on top of that, then put a tired 2100D on top of that.

While this in and of itself is asking for trouble, he also used the wrong spread-bore adapter (one for a quadrajet), which in turn had the wrong gasket, and wound up covering half the induction area of the intake with gasket. This in turn caused all sorts of odd, uneven fuel-air mixtures in the cylinders.

But, the 360 is pretty bullet-proof and should be just fine once I put a new Edelbrock intake and 600 CFM 4-barrel on it. This will also have the effect of doubling my performance and dropping my gas mileage into the realm of “special use vehicle”.

Now all I need is the money to buy the parts…

Which segues nicely into part two of this post; how unbelievably expensive life is these days…

I remember back when I was a kid how my mother would buy $100 worth of groceries per month to feed four people… I spent $250 yesterday on about ten plastic bags of groceries, all of which were ingredients for prepared dinners and not box-meals. What makes this worse is, by my calculations this was roughly 7 meals… One *week* of food for four, $250…

Now, things around here are a bit more complex than my family was 30 years ago: Zeze is horribly picky and simply won't eat what is prepared for dinner 99% of the time so the kitchen runs double duty every night – dinner is made and then Zeze fixes something. Max is about 1/2 as picky as Zeze and if the dinner contains more than black pepper in it (and that has to be pretty minor), he won't eat it either. Meanwhile Kalira and I will eat anything that holds still long enough to be stuck with a fork… So most of the time food is made for four to keep the per-meal cost down but only 2.5 eat it…

Normally this means that there would be lunches taken care of from this, but Zeze again won't eat it and therefore eats out at work every day and Max is about 50/50… Which is fine, it's their money, but I wind up having to cover things that other folks should be at least helping out with because everyone is broke all the time.

So, in an attempt to allieviate this a bit I've instituted a new rule around here where every week a different person will buy groceries – hopefully this means that for at least 7 days out of every month folks will at least eat what is prepared.

Then there are the utility costs… When we moved in here the electric was about $80 a month, last month the electric bill was $180.

See, the supplemental heat here at Ravenwood is electric baseboard heat, which is crazy expensive to operate and therefore each room has a thermostat which ranges from “off” to something a bit warmer. The downside to this is that there is only one meter, so if someone turns on the heat somewhere and spins the meter off the wall, we all get to pay for it.

Well, two of us here are from cold climates; I'm from the Rockies and Kalira grew up in Canada so we just grab a blanket and keep on typing or if its realy cold we build a fire. Zeze and Max on the other hand are built from slightly less rugged stock and if it drops into the 40's here they start to get edgy and reach for the mearest electrical warming device… Well twice now I've found the electric heat running and once it was the main bathroom (which only Max and I use) and that bathroom heater had been on all day when I discovered it.

The problem is that I have no way of isolating a particular (ab)user and saying “you're a wimp, $100 of this electric bill is yours”, so there's no direct correlation between running the heat and paying for it, which promotes running the heat and we all pay for it.

Then again, Max also runs his computers 24/7 and when he's not using them they run “folding at home” which runs them at 100%, he also tends to leave his bedroom lights on all the time as well. But again, I have no way of quoting a hard “you used %X of the power and get to pay %X of the bill” so I just keep griping about the rising costs of running this place and hoping someone hears me.

And I'm not even going to get into gas costs… Zeze and I try to split the costs and each spend about $300 a month in gas to get back and forth to work.

But, as always it will work out. Though in this case it might not work out until my lease is up…