More Muffler Hijinks

Man, that whole muffler thing made me crazy. All that cursing and what-not; shameful!

It did remind me of a funny story from several years ago, though.
I was living in Chattanooga at the time and was driving back home from Ohio. As is my custom, the music was loud and I was passing everyone in sight. And they were all giving me an inordinate amount of leeway; politely moving aside to let me by, changing lanes to avoid being behind me, slowing way down as I passed them, etc. I didn’t think much of it and it wasn’t until I slowed to exit for gas in Kentucky that I heard the muffler dragging. When I got stopped and took a look, the pavement had ground a hole in the bottom of the muffler about 6 inches wide by 3 inches long, so I imagine it was spraying some serious sparks. I left the remains of the muffler beside the gas station trash can and chuckled all the way home at the spectre of my ’87 Sentra barrelling down the highway, spewing sparks, with me totally oblivious.
That’s just how I roll, boyyyyyyy!

Like I Needed Another Reason To Hate Winter

So, I’m driving home from work today, and as I come across one of the speed-bumps by the park, the whole goddamned exhaust falls off of my beloved Maxima. Well, not off exactly, but down, as in ‘suddenly my car sounds like my idiot neighbor’s far-too-loud-to-be-legal-jackass-mobile’ and I can hear shit dragging the ground.

Crawling under the car upon arriving home, I discover that that the intermediate pipe has rusted completely through (thanks, road salt!) and the resonator is now dragging the ground. At a minimum, everything downstream from the catalytic converter will have to be replaced. Oh, joy! Looks like the new bike will have to wait. Thankfully the money that I had saved up for the new bike should just about cover it. Let me just say:

“Shit!”

Speaking of Speed Racer

Back on May 8th I got a ticket; 79MPH in a 50MPH zone. I’ve really been sweating, thinking it was going to cost me a fortune. Around these parts, anything above 25 over the limit and you have to appear in court, the fine (if you waive your right to spend the day in court) for 15-25 over is $135, so I’m thinking this is going to be a $200 deal, minimum.

Anyway, I originally went to night court on the 15th, but there was a civil trial that was running extremely late, so they let me postpone; I could come back any day there was open court (Monday or Tuesday at 5:30PM, Wednesday at 9:00AM) within 2 weeks. After over a week of dread-filled procrastination, I decided Wednesday morning would be the least busy, so today was the day.

So, I show up at 9:00, find a parking spot right at the door, then discover the meter is only 30 minutes max. “No worries”, I think, “I’ll just move the car to a 2 hour spot down the block after I sign in.” I sign in, and sit and wait. Much better looking crowd in the mornings, apparently, so that’s a plus (Monday night it looked more like they were taking job applications for carnival workers). 9:30 comes, they haven’t called me into the courtroom yet, so I ask the lady next to me to listen for my name and I run down to the car. Naturally, the meter’s expired and I now have a parking ticket, too. Oh, joy!

Thankfully there’s an open 2 hour spot just down the block. I move the car and return to the waiting room. They didn’t come for me while I was gone, so I sit and wait some more. Finally around 10:30 they call me and a couple of other lucky contestants into the court room.

The girl before the judge (the Honorable Susan L. Goldie) finishes up with her time and the Judge says: “Gregory Evans”, Gregory, just to remind me that I’m in trouble. I approach the bench, feeling like I just got called into the Principal’s office. She reads the complaint against me and tells me the maximum fine is $150. “Yep”, I’m thinking, “with court costs that’ll be twohundred-something.” She asks how I plead, I plead guilty, and she fines me… $35! And I swear, she even gave me an almost imperceptible “I’m letting you off easy” smile. No apologizing, no begging for leniency, and for whatever reason she gives me a huge break and sends me on my way.

With court costs the total was $102. I was so relieved that it wasn’t double or triple that amount that I didn’t even care about getting the parking ticket anymore.

Since I wouldn’t have gone to court if I didn’t have to, it actually would have cost me more money if I had been going slower!

1958 Impala Chevrolet

Shortly after returning back to Ohio after Dad’s funeral I had an email exchange with my best friend, Sheldon (The Mighty Polecat), back in Tennessee. I mentioned that he’d have to get me to tell him the story of the “1958 Impala Chevrolet”. Some time passed and he prodded me to tell him the story, so of course I did. After reading it, he was adamant that I should archive it with all my other writings, so… here is that email, minus salutations, complementary closings and such (months after the fact).

When my parents met, Dad drove a “1958 Impala Chevrolet”, I don’t know why, but that’s the way he’s always said it. This was a pretty cool ride for a young dude in 1965-66. He also inexplicably said “Big Red Sodee Pop” the only context in which I ever heard him use the word “sodee”… it was a secret carp catching recipe… dough balls formed from Wonder Bread and “Big Red Sodee Pop” are apparently irresistable to Carp.

Anyway, back to the car…
As this was the first year for the Impala, they are quite sought-after (and thus, expensive) now.

Dad and Roger (his then best friend; later my step-father) both had ’58 Impalas. Dad had a 283, Roger had the 348. Dad says his would run right with Roger’s until they hit top end. Dad’s was light blue, Roger’s was (I think) white.

The Impala had 6 round, bullet shaped tail-lights, 2 red ones on each side flanking the clear back up light. Dad and Roger both had 6 red tail-lights, having purloined the spares from some unfortunate Bel Air drivers (after all, nobody cool drove a Bel Air). A funny aside… for years Dad denied the whole 6 red tail-lights thing, it wasn’t until his later years that he owned up to it (with a twinkle in his eye).

Anyway, for years Dad had dreamed of owning one again, but alas, none of us could afford one (we were all looking, too!)

When I went to visit in February, Mom sent along a 1958 Chevrolet Impala model kit. We got all the correct colors, and Dad and I (mostly me, he mainly gave input on color and options and the like; and supervised) spent DAYS working on that thing, getting everything just so, doing all the really fine detail work.

He loved that model, he would sit in his recliner holding it, looking it over with a far-away look in his eyes just about every day. The model even came with 6 red tail-lights! We were so afraid we’d have to liberate some off of some unsuspecting Bel Air model.

Anyway, the last time Dad ‘played’ with it, one of the wheels had fallen off, easy enough to fix.

At the funeral home they had (one of) Dad’s rod and reels, his tackle box, Walter (Walter’s a mounted bass), and the model. Much to my surprise it survived being carted about and riding home in the trunk of a limo none the worse for wear.

Then later, either that day or the next, Leslie was moving the aforementioned fishing rod which was leaning against the mantle. The car was also sitting on the mantle. The car came crashing down onto the brick hearth, and I thought Les was going to cry. I was a bit sick over it myself, but I managed to affect Dad’s cool and assured her it would be fine, that I’d fixed it before (several times) and I could do it again.

The amazing/ironic thing is that it wasn’t a wild kid, an errant ball, or any of the things I expected to do it. It was a fishing pole!

I brought the car home, it’s fixable; I just can’t handle it emotionally right now.

I also brought back a couple of fishing reels (one’s a FINE Abu Garcia I gave him about 18 years ago) and I have rods coming (wouldn’t fit/couldn’t be trusted in baggage). I’ll just have to keep the rods away from that 1958 Impala Chevrolet!

Damnit Polecat! You made me cry!

So, there it is. As a post-script, the car is now repaired, my brother-in-law sent the rods, and I’ve made darned sure to keep them away from Dad’s car!

ECheck

So, here in Ohio (in some counties) we have emissions testing. I suppose I’m in favor of this, what with decreasing pollution and all. The thing is this; my “new” car, the ’96 Maxima’s check engine light was on, and my temporary tags expire May 13. According to the Ohio EPA website, a vehicle automatically fails ECheck if the check engine light is on.

So, anyway… I get the codes from the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and they are:

1) Front/Left O2 sensor… this isn’t too bad, it’s at least the easiest one to reach (~$75 for the part).
2) Knock Sensor… this one’s a fairly monumental PITA, it’s located in the “V” of the engine, under the intake manifold, thankfully I have small enough hands that it’s at least feasible without removing the manifold (~$115 for the part).
3) EVAP control system/Flow… this is one of those “jackpot” codes, could be any of about 12 different things, probably not terribly expensive, but potentially very time consuming to track down.

Hmm… this presents quite a dilemma, indeed. I decide to reset the ECU (and thus, the check engine light) and try my luck at the E-Check place; the worst that can happen is the car doesn’t pass, and that’s free!

So, I go, I pass (with flying colors), I pay my $19.50 and I’m reading the printout; it says “your vehicle received a tailpipe test because its OBD system was not ready”

I don’t know for certain why it (the On Board Diagnostics System/ECU) “was not ready”, but I have a strong suspicion it may have been because I just reset it. Somehow it just seems wrong that my car was WELL below the limits for hydrocarbons and NOx (like 1/10 of the allowable amount) but it would have failed had the “check engine” light been on.

What this all means that I now have plenty of time to address these issues, rather than knocking myself out trying to scrape together the money and get it done in the next month.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of knowledge and a screwdriver!

Good Friday

So, (have you noticed how I like to start off with “so”? Yeah, me too.) several years ago on Good Friday, the roof blew off of my apartment building. Today, noting it was Good Friday, I laughingly thought to myself “I sure hope my house doesn’t blow down again”. Anyway, bright and early, before the sun was really up, I needed to run to the bank. Immediately I sensed something was amiss with the car. My right rear tire was flat, completely flat. It’s 30-something degrees, raining just a bit, and I’ve got to change the tire, get to the bank, get to bed, and go to work tonight. I get the tire changed by 7-ish and decide that I’ll go ahead and hit Discount Tire right after they open at 8 and cash in my road hazard free replacement certificate… how busy could they be at 8 o’clock on a Friday morning?

Well, let me tell you, the Friday before Easter is apparently a very popular tire purchasing day, what with all the going to Grandma’s house and all. It reminded me of the time that I decided that the day before Thanksgiving was the perfect day to get a haircut. Who gets a haircut the day before Thanksgiving, after all? I’ll tell you who; every man in the world, that’s who!

Anyway, as I was limping the 20 or so miles to the nearest Discount Tire on that ridiculous looking miniature spare tire, bemoaning my misfortune, a thought occurred to me. Compared to the day that Jesus fella had a couple of thousand years ago, I really didn’t have a thing to complain about.

The moral to this story? Don’t buy tires on Good Friday if you can help it, don’t get your hair cut the day before Thanksgiving, and for Heaven’s sake; don’t sweat the small stuff.

Posted in car

Wrinkles in the fabric of time/space

Einstein (with whom I happen to share a birthday) was right vis-à-vis the relativity of time and space, and I have proof.

As you drive from Indianapolis, Indiana toward Dayton, Ohio on Interstate 70 there’s a sign not too far from the Ohio border that says “Dayton 40” (miles). Roughly 1 mile later there’s another sign; this one says “Dayton 39”. So far so good. 5.2 miles later, after crossing into Ohio, there’s a sign. This one reads: “Dayton 40”. Not 34, not 35… 40!!!

Richmond, Indiana (right on the state-line) has always made me vaguely uneasy, now I know why!

Ok, maybe it doesn’t prove the theory of relativity, but it certainly proves something!

Travelogue Part 6, the Trip back to Indianapolis (Or, “Thank You, Officer!”),

So, it was with a heavy heart and 20 dozen tamales packed in styrofoam coolers that I left Midland, on my way to Mom’s house in Indianapolis to pick up my cat and part with some of my beloved tamales before the short jaunt from there back to Ohio. I was a bit concerned that I was leaving several hours later than I had planned and that shortly after awakening I felt as though I hadn’t had enough sleep. No worries, though; after all, sleep is for sissies!

Having renewed my vow never to return to the state of Oklahoma, my chosen return route was; Fort Worth, Dallas, Texarkana, Little Rock, West Memphis, then north along the Mississipi river on I-55, across the SE corner of Missouri, to I-57 into and across Illinois, to I-70, then through Terre Haute, and on to Indianapolis.

I was quickly approaching Fort Worth and making very good time. A group of trucks seemed a little too eager to move aside and let me pass, but I chose to ignore the alarm that this sounded in the back of my mind. A little while later, I’m about 5 miles west of Ranger, Texas (Not to be confused with “Walker, Texas Ranger”, the worst TV show ever made. Well one of them, anyway.) when I crest a small rise while passing another group of slower traffic. As soon as I come over the top of the hill, “Shit!” the median just ahead comes to life with headlights and flashing blue lights. I glance at the speedometer, which is now swinging down toward 80 (the posted limit was 65) as I signal my lane change back to the right, frantically hoping it’s not me he’s after. Alas, there is no one else, it has to be me. I’m filled with a heart-pumping, sick to my stomach rush of adrenaline, but I can’t help smiling just a bit as my mind replays the tape of Johhny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” saying:

Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. Your normal speeder will immediately panic and pull over to the side. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop heart. Make the bastard chase you, he will follow.

Ignoring the good Doctor’s words, I immediately panicked and pulled to the side. Texas Highway Patrol officers don’t mince words, as soon as he stepped up to the passenger’s side window he told me who he was and why was stopping me.

Texas Highway Patrol. I pulled you over for exceeding the posted speed limit.

Of course, I’m very contrite and apologetic, explaining that I’ve had to leave my father, who’s very ill, back in Midland and that I guess I was a little distracted and got to going faster than I intended. You know, basically pleading for mercy without coming right and begging (and not really expecting it to work). He asks for my license and proof of insurance. I promptly hand over my license but can only find expired insurance cards. He suggests I continue to look while he checks my license. When he reapproaches the window he asks, “Did you find that?”
“Yes sir, it’s right here”, I reply, shakily handing the current insurance card over.
He glances at it, hands it back, then reaches back in with the dreaded pad and pen. I am positively dumbstruck as he tells me that he’s giving me a written warning, I feel as though I’m having some sort of out of body experience. I sign where he tells me, and hand it back saying, “Thank you, officer.” I’ve never uttered those words with more conviction in my life… I really meant it.
He tells me to be safe and keep my speed down, then sends me on my way.

I’m not sure if it was divine intervention, mercy on his part, or dumb luck (perhaps brought on by the figure of Señor Misterioso glowing atop my dashboard), to which I owe this good fortune, but believe you me, I am immensely grateful and thankful.

Travelogue Part 5 (or, “The ‘Race'”)

So, my Brother-in-law Danny has this Camaro. It’s a 3rd Gen (1982-92) model of indeterminate year(s), painted 2004-5 Corvette ‘Le Mans Blue’. For the first week+ of my visit it had been in the shop. One day, Danny comes by Dad’s, positively aglow; he got his car back! He asks if I’d like to go for a ride. My Sister (bless her heart) says that she thinks I’ve been wanting to drive it. Amazingly, he hands me the keys, asks Zac, my 8 year old nephew if he wants to go (of course he does!), and off we go.

First of all, I love the exhaust note. Not many things sound better to these ears than a built small block chevy with a good set of pipes. Even with catalytic converters, this car just sings (in a lusty, rumbling sort of way). We’re tooling down Midland Drive, and Danny suggests that at the next light I should put it to the floor when the light turns green. I don’t think he realized at this point that there was a new Corvette the exact same color as his car right behind us. Anyway… the light turns green, I stomp the gas, and the Camaro surges forward, the cam timing is still a little off, so it bogs down a bit at first, then clears its throat and pushes me hard back into my seat. We quickly come up on slower traffic, and as I’m about to pass, the Corvette, apparently upset by this display of power, is swinging out from behind us and coming around. He’s not leaving us behind though, and now that the Camaro has caught up with the fuel supply we’re hanging with him. Then we both spot the cop, ease off the gas and put on our best choir-boy faces. At the next light we’re beside the Vette, Danny and I both smile and wave, then I turn right, back toward the casa. Danny’s pleased with how well his car measured up to Vette, especially considering the Corvette’s ~$50K price tag.

Upon our arrival, our little backseat passenger runs into the house, shouting excitedly to everone about how we raced a Corvette, leaving us, the two uncles, attempting to explain that it really wasn’t like that at all. The good news is, no one was (too) upset with us, no one got a ticket, and now my nephew has a great story to tell all his friends about going out ‘drag racing’ with his two cool uncles.

I wimped out!

So, Sunday night was even colder than the original forecast. The temp as I prepared to leave for work was 2! Two freaking degrees Farhenheit! And still windy! Thus I was reduced to driving the metal box to work, like some common sissy.

I went out to start my car, and was greatly relieved when the door opened right up for me (there’s a long history of the doors freezing shut, the locks freezing, and the entire inner workings of the doors freezing solid… as a consequence of past instances of this and my trying to overcome this phenomenon by brute force, my front passenger’s side door will only open from the outside and my rear passenger’s side door won’t open at all… but anyway, I digress).

I start the car, relieved again that it started rather easily (my car and I both only operate properly at 60 degrees and above). When I go to get out… the door won’t open! After a few moments of cursing I decide to roll the window down and try it from the outside. Bingo! It pops open easily.

The truly awful part is that Winter is only just beginning (technically). Have I mentioned that I hate Winter?