Sturgeon’s Law

Ninety Per­cent Of Every­thing Is Crap

Derived from a quote by sci­ence fic­tion author Theodore Stur­geon, who once said, “Sure, 90% of sci­ence fic­tion is crud. That’s because 90% of every­thing is crud.” Oddly, when Sturgeon’s Law is cited, the final word is almost invari­ably changed to ‘crap’.

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A Decade Ago


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Sonata or Miata

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49,000 Orange Skinny Plastic Posts

Not My Photo

Not My Photo

That is all that sep­a­rates us ple­beian I-95 dri­vers from those that are will­ing to pay extra to travel in the Express Lanes in the cen­ter of Miami. The lanes run for about 10 miles from cen­tral Miami to Exit 12, Miami Gar­dens Drive. What they have done is take two exist­ing lanes and seg­re­gate them from the other 4 or 5 with plas­tic poles and charge your Sun­Pass device 75¢ to $1.50 for the priv­i­lege of rid­ing in these spe­cial lanes. Trou­ble is that dur­ing busy times, and I saw a cou­ple of them last week, these “express” lanes are no bet­ter than the reg­u­lar lanes.

About the time I was watch­ing a car squeeze through two of these poles to go from the Express Lanes to the reg­u­lar ones dur­ing Fri­day evening rush hour, the Pur­ple Whale was pass­ing through the 49,000 mile mark on his odometer.

Like A Virgin, Touched For The Very First Time

Every Thurs­day for the last few months Donna’s sis­ter Sandy, her hus­band Paul and Paul’s mother Dot­tie have had a masseuse come to their house to give each one of them a mas­sage. Because Sandy & Paul are in Miami right now leav­ing Donna and I to “babysit” 99-year old Dot­tie, Donna took Sandy’s place and I got Paul’s spot.

Back in the day when I was cycling a lot, a few of the guys in the bicy­cle club swore that after doing a long ride a mas­sage was just the ticket to work out the kinks. After every Aiken Bicy­cle Club’s yearly cen­tury rides and at most other 100 mile fund raiser rides offered by other cycling clubs there was a masseuse avail­able. I was only mildly curi­ous as to what a mas­sage would accom­plish, plus I’m kinda cheap, so I never took advan­tage of the offer.

As pay­ment for our “babysit­ting”, Dot­tie offered to pay, so I was finally get­ting that mas­sage and I wouldn’t have to ride a bicy­cle 100 miles to get it. This was noth­ing like the 20 minute long con­cen­trate on the legs post cen­tury mas­sage though, but a full 1-hour deep tis­sue mas­sage. Well, what did I think? It was not unpleas­ant. It was not the be all to end all in mus­cle relax­ation either.

It is eight hours later and I still feel a lit­tle beat up in a few places. Maybe it is because Kelly used the same amount of pres­sure on me, a clas­sic ecto­morph that she uses on Paul, who is more of a meso­morph and 30 pounds heav­ier. Or maybe I am just like Mac from that old Charles Atlas body build­ing ad that was on the inside back cover of the comic books of my youth.

Trailering the Purple Whale


Donna flew down last Sun­day to spend some more time with her sis­ter. I drove the Sonata down to Florida yes­ter­day. This is a cou­ple of firsts (for a while) as we can’t really remem­ber the last time Donna flew on a com­mer­cial air­plane* with­out me sit­ting next to her and the first time we have spent more than 5 nights apart since 1983. This is also the first time I’ve dri­ven that far with­out her sit­ting next to me since way back when we first knew each other back in 1976.

Kids, don’t try this at home, some­where on I-95 I caught up to a shiny trailer haul­ing who knows what and thought that maybe I should take one hand off the steer­ing, root around in the cen­ter con­sole, find my cam­era, pull it out and press some but­tons while dri­ving at 80 MPH.

*She did fly on a cou­ple of mil­i­tary hops to visit me once while I was on Guam before her (back in 1976 too.)

Bloody Moon

Bloddy Moon

I got up slightly early this morn­ing to go out and see the “Blood Moon.” Because of the total eclipse of the moon by the Earth’s shadow it appears red­dish in color. I left the house so I was prob­a­bly the first cus­tomer of the day at the local DD. With my cup of cof­fee I started head­ing west hop­ing to find a high spot with a good sight line of the moon as it set. I tried a cou­ple of spots, but couldn’t find the right com­bi­na­tion. at this point the moon was still high enough in the sky that it was easy to see no mat­ter where you were. As I drove along and the Earth’s shadow crept across the moon’s face it didn’t look very red. When I stopped just after the eclipse reach total­ity I rolled down my tinted win­dow and Boom!, the moon was red.

Try­ing to hand hold a zoomed in shot of the Earth’s satel­lite, even with the cam­era braced against the car roof, means you are going to get what you see above. The two hor­i­zon­tal streaks are a set of power lines that got in the frame.

Now That’s Scary

Black SoxIt is that time of year again. There are bright orange pump­kins for sale every­where. Place a large whole one on your porch for dec­o­ra­tion or place a small one on the din­ing room table as a cen­ter piece. Or cut one up and make a pie 9don’t for­get to bake the seeds for a deli­cious sea­sonal snack. Or of course you could carve that sucker up into a jack-o-lantern.

Every year the Valve Store™ has a lit­tle pump­kin carv­ing con­test and every year I think I’ll carve some­thing up to enter, but my artis­tic imag­i­na­tion is far supe­rior to my artis­tic carv­ing abil­ity. One time I did make a Miata-O-Lantern, but not in time to enter in the con­test. This year it will be dif­fer­ent, I’ve got the per­fect idea, the FRS logo.

There won’t be many employ­ees who think it is scary, well except for the three Red Sox fans I know of…

What’s That Sound?

We did some local run­ning around on Sat­ur­day morn­ing and on the way home we could both heard a weird sound once we got to stop and the Miata was idling. It wasn’t a rat­tle, but more a grum­ble. As we parked in the garage, the close quar­ters made the sound really notice­able. I thought it sounded bearing-ish, not main bear­ing, but maybe some­thing in the valve train.

We started talk­ing about what to do. I def­i­nitely didn’t want to drive it some­where to have it looked at and my shop of choice would be Panic Motor­sports about 50 miles away. They aren’t open on Saturday’s so I left a mes­sage to have them call me back when they get in.

Now, how do I get the car there. I called a local tow­ing com­pany and got an esti­mate; $240. Wow, seems high, but might be cheap if I try and drive the 50 miles and the car dies part way because then I still have a tow bill and maybe then a more seri­ous issue. Next was to call a cou­ple folks in the Miata club that have trail­ers for their rac­ing machines and see if gas and din­ner would be enough for one of them to get me there.

Call num­ber one was a no go, not that the price was wrong, but they were head­ing out of town for a cou­ple weeks on Mon­day. The sec­ond call was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. I didn’t get a def­i­nite no, but the days avail­able for the trip were very lim­ited. But Kurt vol­un­teered to drive over from Augusta and take a lis­ten to the sound to see I even needed the tow or it might be OK to drive it to the shop.

When he got here I started it up and before the engine could get too warm he laid hands on sev­eral placed to see if he could feel any weird vibra­tions. Feel­ing noth­ing, he then told me he wished he had brought over his mechanic’s stetho­scope that he had just bought on a whim recently from Har­bor Freight. Did I have one? I think he knew that was a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion when he asked it, given his knowl­edge of my auto wrench­ing capa­bil­i­ties (very lit­tle), but it was worth a shot, I might have won one in a raf­fle. He asked if I had any tygon tub­ing. “Nope,” I reply, “the clos­est to any tub­ing I’ve got is this extra piece of wash­ing machine hose. So, using this poor sub­sti­tute for the real this, Kurt announced that he was pretty sure that it is the bear­ing in the water pump mak­ing the growl­ing noise. It didn’t sound too bad and I prob­a­bly could drive it the 50 miles.

Both Donna and I agree, bet­ter safe than sorry, so we will prob­a­bly have it towed. No sense in tempt­ing fate. Now I’m just wait­ing on a call back from Steve at Panic.

48,000 Valves

I don’t know who the heck is buy­ing all these sole­noid valves but we ship out a crap load every day. The PIC (Pro­duc­tion & Inven­tory Con­trol) Man­ager sends me a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion chart to print out at 18 x 24 on my plot­ter that shows Daily Goal, Daily Ship, Monthly Goal and Monthly Ship dol­lars. The daily goal num­ber for Sep­tem­ber was 480k.

If each valve was $10 the would mean 48,000 valves went out our back door every work day, but I’m bet­ting it is a lot fewer than that though. If you work in the process indus­try you’d know that an ASCO valve is pre­mium prod­uct, sort of the Mer­cedes Benz of sole­noid valves, so I think that $10 price is at the very bot­tom of our price chart.

As I backed into the park­ing spot in the North 40 of the Valve Store™ park­ing lot (our usual place) on Fri­day, I noticed that the odome­ter of the Pur­ple Whale read 48000.