Saturday, June 29, 2013

Terror of the Vacuum Leak

Tuesday brought me a most unpleasant surprise.  My 1956 Ford Fairlane left me stranded in Calais, about 11 miles from home.  It was a most sudden and unpredicted experience, and of course it happened on the hottest day of the year (thus far), and when I had my wife and 3 of my 4 children along for the ride.

Pulling out of Hospital Lane onto South Street, the engine went dead.  As soon as I gave it gas, nothing.  It rolled to a stop in the wrong lane, and I was fortunate to have nobody coming down the road toward me.  That gave us time to push the thing back out of the way before traffic flowed.  An older gentleman then stopped and further helped us push it down the road and into the driveway of a now vacant house; that little green one across from Palmer Street with the boat painted on the garage.
The 1956 Ford Fairlane after its triumphant return.
Once we were out of the way, my wife went to call for help.  While I sat with my 3 daughters in the car, I did a quick exam of the engine.  I had first thought it was the fuel pump, but checking the carburetor I found it was certainly getting gas.  I tried the ignition again, and it actually started, but the engine was really rough.  I turned the car around and waited for the tow truck.  Once we were back home, I checked my second suspect; the old vacuum lines.  There are 3 of them, and after a quick inspection the problem became clear.  They were goners.

Rotten hose, split off the carb!

The hunks of hose appeared to be original, putting their age at 57+ years old.  Two of them were in really rough shape, and the primary vacuum advance hose was split right off of the carburetor.  I'd noticed the car was getting sluggish at times, and that explained why.  Tuesday's heat must have been the final straw that made them get so bad the car wouldn't even run.

Fortunately, I still had a fresh hunk of vacuum hose from the old wiper motor I had to scrap.  You see, I'd bought a brand new hose for the vacuum wipers last summer while I was still trying to  get them working, but since the old motor had refused to cooperate, I replaced it with an electric model.  So, I had this nice hunk of hose lying around that came in real handy.  I replaced all 3 vacuum hoses, and what a difference.  Without a vacuum leak, the car is back to running right.  It's something I should have done a while ago, and I wouldn't have had to pay a towing charge.

Vacuum leaks are the bane of old engines, and a few dollars worth of hose can make all the difference.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Roses –by The Cranberries (Album Review)

It's been too long since I put new material on the blog, so I'll take a few minutes to review the latest album by The Cranberries, a band I enjoyed in my youth.  I started listening to them with their second album, No Need to Argue (which remains their best album, in my opinion), and I kept listening straight until their "last" album in the early 2000's.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing music on, just to see what was out there after many years of not buying much new, and lo and behold the Cranberries put out a new album in 2012, their first in over a decade.  Well, I couldn't let that pass without a listen, so I bought the digital MP3 version and had at it.

"Roses" is a good warm-up comeback album, something reminiscent of their earliest material, and a potential stepping-stone toward future hits.

This album has a lot of songs I'd classify as okay, but only a couple that stand out to me.  "Conduct," the first song on the album, is my personal favorite of the collection, while "Waiting in Walthamstow" is a haunting melody which seems eerily familiar (though I can't tell what it reminds me of).  "Tomorrow" is reminiscent of one of their earliest hits, "Dreams," and the others should satisfy those familiar with the Cranberries song stylings.

So, how does this album compare to their earlier works?  I'd say it is their best overall album since No Need to Argue, but it lacks a major hit.  As I said, there are a few songs that I really like, but nothing really jumps out at me as a single.  "Show Me" had real potential, and listening to the first forty-five seconds for the first time I was expecting it to be that stand-out song, but the chorus just fell short.  It seemed to be building up to something that could have been a real head-banger, but it didn't.

I'd put this as a solid 3-star album; definitely worth buying for Cranberries fans.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Long Overdue Update

It has been far too long since I posted on the blog, so here is a brief update about my current writing/editing activities.

Martinus Publishing is currently taking submissions for 3 anthologies, and several more are in the planning stages.  The "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance" anthology will be coming out in August, and I'll be doing the final round of edits on the stories therein once the various authors get their final drafts in to me (right now, about half of the final versions have been received, and the rest should be in by the end of June).

With warm weather comes other work for me, so reading slush has slowed a bit.  That's not to say I couldn't rush through the slush, but I don't think that would be fair to the writers involved.  When I'm reading stories for anthologies, I do it when I can truly give those stories the attention they deserve.  If I'm too fatigued to give them my full attention, I set them aside for another time.  This weekend, I have 8 stories on tap, and I hope to find some publishable gems!

Meanwhile, The Temporal Element will be making an appearance at the American Library Association's annual convention in Chicago next month.  Hopefully, someone will take notice.  The many talented authors in that collection are worthy of real praise and publicity (not to mention the need for Martinus Publishing to be noticed).

My own writing has slowed lately, but I can report that work has resumed on "Unforsaken," the 4th book in the West of the Warlock series.  This is good news for those of you who have already enjoyed the first two volumes in the series.  I hope to release the 3rd book, "The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison," sometime next winter.

That's all for now.  As we get closer to the publication date of Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, I have some promotional specials planned, including an exciting book giveaway!  We'll also have a new shootout writing contest coming up later this year, for talented authors seeking to test their mettle.