Thursday, October 29, 2009

Attend a week long IBM seminar

I’ve been in Las Vegas all week attending the IBM Information On Demand (IOD) conference. I’ll post some other blogs about all the events on this trip. But one person at the conference kept showing up in my sessions. This guy sat in the back and read the newspaper half the time. Rustling his papers and only half paying attention. I wondered what his boss and company would think. They paid IBM about $2000 for him to attend and learn about new technology, they paid his airfare and hotel. He didn’t care. He was too busy reading the paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This company needs to find another marketing company

They are an electrical repair company. They have a crappy jingle, then they add some person who is supposed to represent an electrician. Looks like Farmer Ted to me. Someone needs to switch the farmer's head with the pumpkin.
And then at the very last second of the advertisement, they have a FLASH! Looks like the same electrical shorting flash which would make a homeowner want to hire an electrician! Not AFTER they SHOULD have fixed it!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Weekend of unexpected car issues – day 2

So on Sunday wife and I did church and headed to the grocery store. While on the way I asked her if she also needed to stop at Wally World. There were a few items I needed, truck oil filters and printer cartridges. But we decided not to stop yet. It takes a left turn into and out of the place, through a construction zone. I would return later on, via another road where I can make a protected left and a right turn. So we proceed on to the grocery store and then home. I did a few chores and then decided to head back to Wally World before lunch. I head out and get into my truck. I turn and wait for the diesel “wait to start” light to turn off. I turn the key and am greeted with a slow “rraaaww…rraaawww…CLICK CLICK CLICK”. Yes, dead batteries. The Ford F250 diesel takes two batteries to start it. I get out and get back into the wifes Corolla and head to Wally World.

After I get back I changed into my old work clothes and go out and disconnect both batteries. I then perform a load test on one battery. The load tester basically doesn’t even know it is hooked up to a battery. I try and put my battery charger on it and it won’t register either. That one was DOA. I load test the second and it has about 9 Volts instead of 13. I put it on the charger and then remove the alternator. The last time both batteries had died, it was caused by the alternator failing.

Then I headed inside to grab some lunch. I also called my car buddy again! Daughter and her car were gone. The wife would be leaving to visit her father in Big-D and my other car was sitting inside the trailer with a DOA transmission! My car buddy had some time to spare.

So he picked me up and we decided to go to the O’Reilly’s first and have the alternator tested. It tested DOA also. Twice. Then the parts guy went looking for the part. And looking, and looking. Soon, half the sales people were looking for the part. Their computer showed they should have had two. They couldn’t find even one. So he called his other store and they made sure they had their hand on it! So we headed off to that store and picked up the alternator. $185.

We then headed to the local Firestone. I’d called them up as they were listed as a site for the brand of battery I had and mine were only two years old. We get there and the guy tested both batteries. One was DOA and the other showed “charge me and re-test”. He then said that we’d NEED THE RECEIPT to warrantee or pro-rate the batteries! I’d wished he’d said that before we drove over there! So we head back home. Unfortunately, I only find a receipt showing one battery. And it was for about five months earlier than the punch-out deal on the tops of the batteries. I then remembered what had happened two years back. The alternator went out, but the now-out-of-business-mom-and-pop car parts place and just replaced them for me. No paperwork at all. So we present ourselves back at Firestone with one receipt. The guy who first helped us was GONE TO LUNCH! At 3 PM in the afternoon when they closed in two hours! So the next guy does a “By the book” deal and finally decides that I’m not going to leave until he at least pro-rates the batteries and I get two new batteries. We then repeat the ordeal of Saturday.

Him: “What car are these on?”
Me: “None, the truck is home, dead, awaiting these batteries”
Him: “so you are going to carry these out?”
Me: “sort of. I plan on putting them into the back of my friends truck first”
Him: “what are these from then?”
Me: “OK. Punch in my phone number, xxx-xxx-xxxx. You’ll find that the other guy already has all this in your computer system”
Him: “oh, yeah here it is”

I was about ready to ask him if he needed to know the color of the truck, the one sitting in my driveway with the dead batteries!

But we finally get the two batteries and head home, $118 poorer. That was pretty much a buy-one, get one free deal. Except if they’d used the punch-outs on the batteries, they should have replaced them under warrantee. See the batteries were right at two years old and they are fully replaced in the first two years.

He hadn’t bothered to even look at the punch outs, nor did he bother to punch out the one’s on the new batteries.

I finally get home, after two hours of running around and FOUR trips to three different stores. I put in the new batteries and place them on my chargers. I put on the alternator. Thankfully, it is easy. Release the tension on the serpentine belt. Remove the small wire connector, remove the 10MM bolt for the main wire, remove three 14MM bolts and lift it off. I’d taken it with me, so all I had to do now was put it back on and make sure the serpentine belt went on all the pulleys correctly.

So the uneventful weekend wound up with almost $400 spent for a tire, alternator and two batteries.

I finally finished up and headed for my walk. I got back home just in time to see the Dallas Cowboys, lose another one.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My weekend of unexpected car issues – day one

So this past weekend I didn’t have a whole lot of items to take care of around the house.
Here it was:
1) check the tire pressures.
2) Change the air filters in the “new” part of the house
3) Get my car friend over and we push my Mustang into the enclosed trailer

Estimated times to completion (ETC)
1) About one hour for the tires (see below)
2) About 10 minutes, start to finish for the filters
3) About 45 minutes from hooking up the trailer, to pushing the car and disconnecting again.

Here is what really happened:
Item one, where I check tire pressures. We have five cars and two trailers. One car was gone. I still checked the tire pressure on the wife’s car (5 tires), my truck (5 more), two Mustangs (8 tires total, I ignored the spare tires), two trailers (8 more) and a spare for the trailers. 27 tires total. But then Saturday afternoon, I remembered that the wife’s car needed the tires rotated. I figured that wouldn’t take long, an hour tops. Except when I got to the left front, there was a hunk of missing rubber! That was not missing that same morning. So at 4 PM I called up Goodyear to check on a replacement tire. Yes, they have one. Then it gets stranger. You see, they have electronic forms to fill out and there must be a LOT of mandatory fields.

“Color” the service writer asks me me.
“Black….oh wait, the CAR or the TIRE I just rolled in here?” He wanted the car color. I guess that makes it easier to find the car when they send the 16 year old kid with the grease on his pants out to find your car.

“How many miles on it?”
“28000, I guess. Remember IT’S AT HOME!”

“So…the car isn’t here?” the service guy asks.
“No. I just took off the tire and brought it in”.

The look on his face was pretty funny. Like he’d never heard of such a thing. What I suspect he was really ticked about was that they couldn’t get grease on the seats, and declare that I’d need a new air filter, or my blinker fluid was low or some other nonsense.

I’ll give them credit, he had the tire on and off the rim in 10 minutes and I was headed back home.
Wife confirmed that she’d smacked a curb up at the drive in bank lane.
So the hour long tire pressure check, became a rotation and a new tire. Two hours and $118 spent!

Item two, where I change air filters. Actually, this was pretty uneventful. Except I totally forgot to do it until about 11 PM Sunday night. I did the filter change in my jammies, but I didn’t flash the butt-crack to anyone. With our new HVAC system, the other major filters are up in the attic now. But you only change or clean them twice a year. Earlier in the week I’d been up there to check them out.

Item three, where we push the Mustang into the trailer. I decided to quit messing around with the transmission repair and just trailer the car down to the transmission shop. So after lunch on Saturday, I called a car buddy and he came over 30 minutes later. That gave me time to hook the truck up to the trailer, get the junk out of the trailer and then move it all and have it ready. My shop is about the highest point on the property, so we had a nice slope to let the car roll down. The only heart stopper, was as I tried to turn the Armstrong-Steering and line up the car to the trailer. Except I wasn’t IN the car! The car rolled a foot up the drop down door on the trailer and slowly rolled back. We’d done really well, but needed to move the car a few inches one way. We pushed the car up the hill and got it lined up and then pushed it into the trailer. After that I pointed out that one of the four trailer lights wasn’t working. So he and I take that off and decide to make a trip to the RV place and see about a new light. I was hoping to just change the bulb, but the lamps are sealed units, making them water proof. This also gave us a good excuse to take his 1970 Mustang Mach 1 out and terrorize old people. Wait….we ARE old. Oh well. His Mustang always attracts a crowd. We get to the first RV place and they don’t have the lamp. The salesman didn’t think anyone would. It seems that there is planned obsolescence on these and the trailer was “more than 10 years old”. We decided to fire up the hot rod and try another trailer store. Same story, second verse. Finally, we decide that maybe the Northern Tool store might have something. Strike three!!! But we did get some week-trimmer string and got to look at all the tools in the place. Tool stores and Victoria’s Secrets, stores where men will actually browse.
We gave up on the trailer light and he drops me back off. After I backed the trailer up so it was out of the way, I decided to get my test light out and check on the wiring. YEP! The wiring was bad, causing the one lamp not to work! It took me about 10 minutes to rewire it. Oh well, we got to drive one of the old cars about.
Three hours, mostly driving around.

The next item wasn’t on the list, but cost the most in time, money and frustration.

To be continued……

Sunday, October 4, 2009

One of those moments in the Cosmo's

It was a cool rainy weekend in North Texas. I had car and truck issues all weekend, but by 4 PM Sunday, departed on my walk. I planned on doing four miles, but went the full five miles. On the way back, I had one of those strange happenings.
I was walking along and Elvis came on the IPOD, singing All Shook Up.

But then my IPOD is on Shuffle. And the next song is Dire Straights, Calling Elvis!

Reminded me of the stoner's in College. You remember the song Never Been Any Reason by Head East. All the stoner's would always get all spacey when they would reminisce about when the line in the song was about breaking glass and CRASH, a bottle would break.