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.
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.
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.)
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.
It 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…
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.
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.