Friday the 2nd
On our Christmas Day road trip, we stopped at a convenience store at the crossroads of No and Where for a snack and a restroom break. I opened the door to the single toilet Men’s Room and there was already someone in there, so I backed out saying I’m sorry. As I played back the scene in my mind’s eye, I realized he wasn’t going to the bathroom, he was dropping quarter’s in the condom machine.
I cooled my heels, inventorying the Lance crackers on a rack a few feet from the door, waiting for the guy to finish his “business” in there. As he walked by, tucking a small packet into his jacket’s inside pocket, I asked, “Going to get your Christmas present?” He shrugged and replied, “I hope so.”
Good Morning Sunshine
Saturday the 7th
On our trip down to FLA we spent the night in Darien, GA right next to I-95, so come morning we could jump on the Interstate and get by Jacksonville before the commuters clogged the roadways. I set the alarm for 5:30 and double checked to make sure it was AM as I’ve mis-set that a few times in the past. Thursday morning we woke without the alarm at almost 7 o’clock. My alarm setting was spot on, but I failed to make sure the clock itself was set to the correct Meridian, Ante or Post. Actually the late start was not a problem as this put us passing around Jacksonville after the morning rush.
Friday night I set the alarm on the cell phone for 5:30 AM, because Donna wanted to be up to say goodbye to one of Sandy’s Seattle area friends before she headed to the airport to fly home. Saturday morning we woke without the alarm at about 20 minutes after 6:00 AM. The alarm never went off because we keep the thing on silent so as to not bother us at an inopportune time, but unfortunately that also prevents it from waking us at the opportune one.
We’ll finish the trip home tomorrow, but for today we’ve stopped in Ocala because it is about halfway and we wanted to try and find the one geocache left not found in a local Conservation Area. About 4 this afternoon Donna wanted a nap, she said I could read if I wanted, but could I lay on the bed with her. I opted to shut my eyes for a bit too. Saturday afternoon we woke to the blaring of the hotel alarm clock at 5:30. Whoever was here last must have wanted it to go off at 5:30 PM. Or maybe they meant 5:30 AM and messed it up. Then again we stayed in this very same hotel back in November on a return trip Florida, maybe that someone was me.
Six Foot Tall
Thursday the 5th
My height was listed as 5′-11″ on my very first driver’s license when I was sixteen. 6-00 is what it reads now on my current South Carolina driver’s license. I grew an inch in Navy boot camp and this height is what has been listed on every subsequent driver’s license, in whatever form required by any of the several states I’ve lived in since. In the intervening *cough* *cough* years I’m thinking that if measured it stocking feet today, I’d be back at the five foot eleven inch mark. In shoes though, still six foot even.
Back in May 2011 we bought a metal awning to park the Purple Whale under. The bottom edge of the powder coated mild steel side edge is 6’ 3” from the surface of the driveway which allows for me to walk right under it. Normally. Sometimes I forget, like I did the day before yesterday, and step on the 3” square tubing that serves as its base.
This caused me to bop the very tippy-top of my slightly pointed head. Fortunately I was wearing a hat so that instead of scraping off a dime sized layer of skin, I only ended up with a 1/4 inch long cut. Still it’s a head wound, so stopping the slight bit of bleeding took a while and a band aid.
In the past four years this happened with some regularity and you would think that I would avoid doing this and you’re right. I remember to step over the base or duck slightly when stepping on it for about two months, just about the time the previous wound heals
Full Moon Flush
Friday the 3rd
Shortly after takeoff from Atlanta, Donna noticed the full moon out her window hovering just off the wing tip, so I thought I’d get a picture. About the time I got the camera out from under seat in front of me and leaned over her to take some pictures the plane started its turn to the west. Just managed to get one with the wing and moon in the same frame.
About 30 minutes into the flight the Captain made an announcement from the cockpit they were having toilet troubles, seems like only a couple of them would actually flush. He literally told us to hold for a bit while they tried a couple things to fix it. If those failed, we were going have to land shy of our destination to get another plane. A few minutes later he came back on and apologized for the inconvenience, but good news, they all seemed to be working now.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and we finally arrived at our hotel near the airport at about 11:30 PM Seattle time, but for our bodies it was really 2:30 AM Saturday. We got checked into a room and before we even got settled in we had go back down to the lobby to get a different room, the reason – the toilet wouldn’t flush…
I Lettered In Drafting…
Friday the 8th
…in both high school and college.
I stunk at both Wood Shop and Metal Working in high school, but did manage to get an industrial course that I was not only good at, but liked as well when I got to Drafting. So I kept at it, taking couple more classes in it during my time at good ol’ NBHS. After getting out of the Navy I took a Blueprint Reading in my first semester in college and realized that being a Draftsman was what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Every drawing has something called a Revision Letter that is used to keep track of any changes made to a drawing. Some places start with an A, some start with no letter before going to A, but the Valve Store(tm) starts with a – and then the first change is an A. In the beginning of my training as a draftsman I was taught that there are 5 letters that are never used as a Rev Ltr because they might be confused as a number, I, O, Q, S & Z.
Without using those five you still get 21 revisions before you have to start over again at AA. Because ASCO has been in business for 126 years now, a few of our older drawings have the honor of dual letters. Even though there is now a prefix, those five letters are skipped again the next time around. One of the sets of drawings I was working on the other day had a B as the first letter, meaning it has had over 40 revisions. This particular drawing’s previous Rev Ltr was BH, so naturally the BI letter combo was skipped and next pair in line was used – BJ.
Now, maybe because I was in the Navy or maybe because I’m a guy or maybe I have a dirty mind, but I think there are a few 2 letter combos that don’t include the fab five that should not be used as Rev Ltrs, that’s one of them. The next one is less likely because a drawing would have to be on its 122nd revision for it to occur, but FU probably should get a pass. The next one my dirty mind comes up with is at 177and that is HJ.
Got any more?
The Prodigal Travel Mug Returns
Tuesday the 30th
A little over two weeks ago we took the Emperor to Columbia to have some maintenance done. Panic Motorsports is closed on the weekends (they’re usually off racing Miatas somewhere), but they were nice enough to give me the gate code, so that Donna and I could drop off the car on Saturday, thereby avoiding the possibility of having to drive the 100 mile round trip on consecutive days.
When we got back home later that day and unloaded the Sonata I couldn’t find my favorite travel mug. Drove up there in the Miata drinking from it. I remember locking up the car and it wasn’t in the cupholder in the center console. Other than that I was unsure of anything else, so after the Emperor had been away at camp for a couple days I sent Steve an email:
Subj: How’s the prognosis?
And more importantly, did you find my Contigo Travel Mug?
Subj: It’s going home tomorrow.
Probably get the transmission out before the end of the day, then slam it back together and align in the morning.
Coffee mug is not on the premises sir.
Subj: Good deal
Let me know before 3:30 tomorrow if it is not. And if it is, let me know the total, because that is the first thing my CFO will ask.
I know I drove up there to drop off the car drinking from it…from that point I don’t know what I did with it. The thing didn’t come back in the support vehicle. There are a couple places I might have put it down, the roof of the Protege (you’d have
seen it) and the front seat of the red Miata (probably noticeable when retrieving the keys.) The only other place might have been when I unlocked the gate…ooh, a memory just floated to the surface, my hand placing a bronze colored Contigo travel mug on a wooden fence post.
P.S. “Slam it back together” might be OK amongst us guys, but please use something like “precisely realigned” while the previously mentioned CFO is present…
We brought the Miata home and a day later thanks to Amazon Prime I was drinking from my new Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug in Trans-Matte Latte.
Fast forward to yesterday and I had almost forgot about losing the old one when an unexpected package arrived in the mail with a return address of Old Dunbar Road, West Columbia, SC.
Subj: Where Was It?
On the floor of the red Miata?
No, apparently you did leave it on the fence post. My neighbor in the cabinet shop came in and found/recovered it, and we haven’t seen each other in a couple weeks. He asked me if I’d lost a coffee cup and I said “No, I don’t drink coffee”. He said, “Well, it sure is a nice one” That’s when it clicked
One of my fears was that someone had found it and was enjoying drinking from the best travel mug in all the world on my dime. Well, when I opened the box and unscrewed the lid, I knew that wasn’t the case.
Maybe, just maybe, if I drank my coffee black it might have been salvageable, but the 1/2 oz of Dunkin Donuts coffee infused with Dunkin Donuts creamer/sweetener that I had left in there had turned into a petri dish full of the beginnings of some sort of alien life form. A quick rinse in some hot water removed quite a bit of the larger chunks of stringy, slimy black colored gunk. But there were still a crap ton of brownish-black large amoeba looking spots still stuck all over the sides, so I filled it up 3/4 of the way with a diluted solution of Simple Green and shook it up for a few minutes. Oooh, that’s still ugly in there. Now I started working on the insides with hot water, dish soap & a toothbrush.
I’m making slow progress when the CFO notices what I’m doing and says, “Throw it out and get a new one.” I hate to admit defeat, but acquiesce. I was confident I could get the stainless steel body clean enough to drink from, the rubber and plastic fancy mechanism top, not so much. After seeing the inside and how hard it was to try and get clean, I don’t think I would have felt comfortable drinking from it anyway.
I didn’t order a new one because I only need the one and if by some chance I leave this on a fence post somewhere too, a replacement is only $15-20 & 2 days away.
This Come Off Of The Emperor?
Sunday the 5th
So I pull a u-turn and about a 100 feet back is a big bolt smack in between the yellow lines. I continue past a bit and pull another u-turn. Stopping in mid lane I get out and pick up the bolt. Yikes! It’s hot. And it has a very thin coating of something that looks like anti-seize compound. Now is it hot because it just came off our car or a car not too far ahead of us or because it is 95° out and laying on a dark surface? Time-wise I can narrow it down only to it has been on the road since after the last thunderstorm here because otherwise the fluid on it would have washed off.
I pull the car off the road onto the shoulder and crawl around a bit underneath looking around at the suspension because that is the last thing that was worked on. I also take a peek at the brake calipers as it almost looks like a slider pin, but see nothing amiss. Might be off the PPF as that was probably loosened or removed for the recent clutch change, but I can’t get that far under there to see.
We get back in the car and slowly start back down the road. I get it up to about 15 MPH and hit the brakes hard and the car responds as it should, with a sudden stop. I then wig/wag down the road like a race car driver warming his tires on the pace lap and the Miata dances back and forth with no drama. But we are both a little spooked, so I drive home at the speed limit with both hands on the wheel.
When we got home I jacked up the car about 12? off the ground and put all 4 jack stands under it. Looked at everything I could possibly see and there was nothing missing on the PPF or nothing absent at any of the suspension connections. Must be someone else’s bolt.
I swear I did not see anything on the road in front of me before the sudden noises, so I’m guessing it was there already and I scooped it up with a tire and bounced it back and forth between the car and road a bit before ejecting it out the back.
NO to ND
Saturday the 29th
Last weekend at the finish of the Bug Splat (which I really need to write about over on the Club site) Donna and I noticed one couple’s car had nice new shiny leather seats in their 2001 Miata. We asked where they had them done and they said a little place called Evans Upholstery over in Georgia, $800 installed. This is a pretty good deal as the seats themselves from leatherseats.com would be anywhere from $700-750, then you’d have to install them yourself or pay someone a couple hundred more to do it.
This morning when we got up, with the practically fall-like weather decided to drive over and check the shop out. Most places like this aren’t open weekends, but the Internet’s know-it-all Google said that they were open from 8 ’til noon. Because the GPS was giving Donna fits when she was trying to enter in their address we opted to see if we could find it using my hazy memory of the Google map I looked at for 45 seconds yesterday. Predictably, that didn’t work out so well.
I pulled into a quick-stop and while Donna was inside I tried the GPS again. This time, it magically knew where to go. When we pulled up front Donna said, “Looks dark. They’re closed.” I said, “Nah. There’s an OPEN sign in the window.” When I pulled on the door, it didn’t open. Donna handed me the phone and I dialed the number on the door. After each ring in my ear I could hear the muffled ring in the shop. When the answering machine clicked on, I clicked off the phone. Turns out that Google is just like every other know-it-all I’ve ever known; they just think they know it all.
Another thing we learned at last week’s Bug Splat was that Gerald Jones Mazda over in Augusta had a couple of the 4th generation cars, AKA the ND, in stock. Seeing as we were over this way anyway we thought we’d go check and see if they were still there. One was, a Ceramic Metallic GT. It was right out front with the top down. As we parked and started walking towards it a salesman who was walking around the lot plotted an intercept course and headed that way too. Donna and I arrived first and popped open the doors and sat right down.
It’s still a Miata, just updated. Kinda like your living room if you painted the walls a shade brighter color and bought new furniture. The good news is that the passenger leg room has returned from its absence in the 3rd gen car, the bad news is the 4 x 6 x 1-1”? high hump adjacent to the transmission tunnel is still there. The good news is that it doesn’t feel like sitting in a bathtub as much as the 3rd gen car did, the bad news is it still feels a lot more enclosed than our car. The good news is that as everyone on the Miata.net has said, it is much nicer looking in person than it is in pictures, the bad news is that Donna is still not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from its appearance.1 While I give it 4 out of 5 stars and Donna gives it about 2-1/2, I’m pretty sure the Emperor’s reign over the Bogardus household is safe for the next several years.
When the salesman asked if we wanted to take it for spin we said, “No thanks, it’s an automatic.” When he asked if we wanted a call when they got a six-speed in, I said sure and gave him my work phone. And depending on if it is not too inconvenient when he calls, we just might go over.
I spent the rest of the day pampering the Emperor in preparation for our big trip. Rotated the tires and changed the oil. Checked all the fluid levels and air pressures. Then washed and waxed (with actual paste wax) the car. Couple items left to do, clean the inside glass and top off the air in the spare, these will happen tomorrow in the garage while it rains outside.
Can I See Your Visa Please?
Thursday the 3rd
Not the credit card kind either.
We are coming up on our two-week vacation and while filling up our pill containers there were four prescriptions that didn’t even have enough pills in them to put in all slots of both of containers. I entered the script numbers into the pharmacy’s web site and two went through fine, but the other two came back as being too soon the be refilled. No problem, we have done it before, I just call and ask for a vacation over ride. The pharmacist who answered, said he’d call the insurance company and call me back if there was any problem.
Ten minutes later the phone rings. It’s the pharmacist. There’s a problem.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama wanted to know what day I was leaving on and where I was
going on my vacation! I told him we were leaving Saturday on a driving trip through 20 states. BCBS of AL needed to know if I was staying in the U.S. or going out of the country. Seems that their rules have changed, if you are staying in the country, you would need to have the prescription transferred to a pharmacy local to where you were going. Only if you were leaving the U.S. would they refill a script early. I asked, “How would they know?” He said, “I have to ask for your itinerary.” “Just take the pill bottles with you and get a pharmacist to call us and I can give him all the information he needs.”
Donna asked me to go back and check to see where the two that we couldn’t get refilled ran out. We got lucky, in one of them there were enough to make it through the second Friday evening when are planning on being back anyway. The other only had enough to make it until the second Thursday evening, but seeing as it was the same acid reflux stuff that I take, I had enough extra to front her the one needed.
Next year if we take another two-week vacation, I’m telling them we are going on a hiking trip in Swiss Alps or something. I just hope Blue Cross/Blue Shield doesn’t make the pharmacist ask to see my passport to check for the proper visas.
Did You Have a Fight?
Sunday the 4th
Friday I had to be at Aiken City Court, my number was up, I’d been summoned to be a juror. I had to report at 9:00 AM and while technically I didn’t have to go to work, what else was I going to do, watch the Today Show? So I went in to work. Because I didn’t know if I would be selected to actually serve on a jury or not, Donna drove in in the Sonata and I drove the Miata. We parked next to each other in the usual far corner of the parking lot.
Not long into the day, a co-worker comes up to Donna and asks, “Did you have a fight?” Her perplexed look back signaled further explanation was required. He said, “You came in separate cars.” She replied derisively, “No”, turned around and returned to work.
When she told me the story later, my first thought was, if we did have a fight, would we have still parked next to each other?
What Did You Want It For Then?
Sunday the 22nd
November’s Masters Miata Club breakfast was yesterday and the responsibility of the new President of the Club He picked Betsy’s in downtown Aiken. When he asked me to post the info on the web site he said to have everyone meet up at the usual gas station off Exit 1 of I-20 and could I send him a copy of my route I used the last time I did the very same run. I assumed that meant he was planning on leading the group from there to the breakfast spot. Silly me.
Donna and I arrived at the gas station about 6 minutes before the appointed 8:00AM meeting time and were surprised that there was no one else there, especially the event organizer. A couple minutes later another car showed up. By 8 o’clock there were three cars, but none were the leader of the breakfast event. We waited another ten minutes and when the President and event leader never showed up, I ended up leading the small group on a slightly different route to the breakfast place.
When our three car caravan arrived at Betsy’s there were already two Miatas outside. One of them belonged to the President of the Club and when we got inside he and another member were just finishing their meal.
When I asked what he wanted the route map for all he said was, “That was if I did do the route I needed to study it because I don’t have a navigator.” So I asked did he read the post on the web site and the reply was, “No, but I figured it out when my dining companion asked where everyone else was.”
What could I say, I just went over to the table with the rest of the group than drove in together and ordered some breakfast.
A Variation On The Elf On The Shelf
Saturday the 12th
Back in February when I needed to replace one of the Emperor’s 02 sensors I bought it and the wrench I needed to change it online. The sensor showed up, but the wrench was back ordered, so I went down to the local Advanced Auto and bought one to do the job with. Naturally the online wrench arrived a couple days after I finished the job. I couldn’t return the used one locally and I didn’t feel like spending the $5 to return the online wrench just to get $6 back, so now I have two of the same wrenches that I might not ever have to use again.
A couple times during the year I thought that maybe I’d just give one away as a “Door Prize” to an attendee to one of my Masters Miata Club led events, but never did. Well it is now towards the end of the year and the Masters Miata Club Christmas Party was coming up, maybe I’ll just wrap it up and put it under the “tree” for Ol’ Swapperoo Gift Exchange.
Then a couple of weeks ago I overheard my cubical neighbor telling another co-worker about his experience with The Elf On The Shelf and his 3-year old twins. I had heard of The Elf On The Shelf before, but never knew what it was all about. So rather than let on that I was ignorant of the subject, I Googled it. WOW! There is a whole subset of America’s mommies that are The Elf On The Shelf disciples and are not afraid to swap stories and activities and tips on how to make this “fun” for the month of December. This is where I discovered that some folks, that now knew what The Elf On The Shelf was about, but didn’t feel like spending the money on the book and the official elf doll and could just make their own. A light bulb figuratively illuminated over my head at this point, I’d turn the extra wrench into a automotively themed The Elf On The Shelf.
What followed was a weeks worth of some fun and some frustration for me and mostly frustration for Donna as we perused local stores scanning shelves for the ingredients for my Masters Miata Club Christmas present. I already had some red paint for the wrench/body, but needed a small Santa hat, a styrofoam ball for the head, red pipe cleaners for arms and legs and some colored felt for the hands, feet, etc. Then we needed just the right size plain box to put him in. Just when finding all the required pieces proved too elusive we got lucky in Hobby Lobby when we found a $6 elf ornament for half price.
The right box was still missing. Google to the rescue again, the 6th link down for DIY Gift Boxes led to a hexagonal shaped box that I could scale to fit. What better style box for a wrench could there be?
Fearing a copyright infringement lawsuit I couldn’t call it The Elf On The Shelf, so in keeping with the car theme called it The Wrench On The Bench. I photoshopped an homage to the actual The Elf On The Shelf book cover and now I just needed to put something on the inside to tell the story of The Wrench On The Bench. Hoping to find a passage or two from the real book to inspire a new story once again I turned to Google. No actual words from the book, but I did find a poem on lil’ luna that got me going enough to hack something just long enough to go on the inside of the hex box cover:
How does Santa know who’s naughty or Nice?
The Wrench on the Bench sits in your garage
Watching if what you do is wrong or right
And reports back to the North Pole every night.
Harbor freight junk from Ol’ Saint Nick
Is going to be under yor tree if,
You crawl under a car without jack stands, or,
Use pliers when a 6-point socket is called for.
Santa will make sure it is presents you’ll get
If you always consult your Chilton or Haynes,
Use a torque wrench instead of a guess
And at every 3,000 miles your motor oil is fresh.
There are only two rules for the Wrench on the Bench;
1. Never touch the Wrench on the Bench or it will be gone forever.
2. The Wrench on the Bench needs a name that is clever, but not Murphy, not never.