Another Fine Example of American Car Quality

I have stopped speculating as to why American car company quality is considered inferior to the imports.  The reason for this is now I know why by example.  When I did break from tradition and purchase a foreign car last year, I received an owner’s manual that was at least 3 inches thick.  It was frankly quite a shock, but there is not a question you could think of that is not answered in that manual.  Let’s compare that to a recent experience we had with our Dodge Durango.  For what seems like the 20th time we had an electrical issue with this SUV.   These issues have ranged from an all out dashboard power failure, a strange conflict that caused the blowers to go out when a random combination of radio and lights were on to the recent issue where the interior lights would not turn off even when all the doors were closed.  Linda takes this SUV to various dog shows and uses the light wheel to shut off the interior lights so she can keep the tailgate open for the pups.  All of a sudden, that switch would not work and the lights in the tailgate would not shut off even when all the doors were closed.  Frustrated with the poor electrical systems, I headed out to see if I could remedy the problem, but as in the previous cases, no luck.   Assuming another inconvenient trip to the dealer the next day, I decided to at least pull the fuse to save the battery.

I pulled off the fuse panel to see what I was in for:

The very first thing I notice is there is NOT A FUSE PULLER in the compartment.  What does it take to verify that a .5 cent plastic tool is included as it rolls of the assembly line?  Let’s just call that quality defect #1.  My next task was to locate which fuse to remove (with my own tool!).  The most obvious place to me would be on the fuse box panel – maybe a quick two word summary of what each fuse is for like interior lights or headlights or radio.

This was a big strike out, since all the cover had was 3 extra fuses (at least those were there) and although you cannot read it from the picture, it appeared to just have the fuse numbers on it – that of course is something I can obtain from the fuse itself and therefore completely useless to me (if it says something else, please enlighten me).  For the meantime,  I am naming it defect #2.  No worries I thought, I’ll break down and get the user manual… all .25 inch of it and use the schematic in there to selectively pull the appropriate fuse. Wait for it… wait for it… (hit the page jump)

Continue reading Another Fine Example of American Car Quality

That is One Steller Jay

The WordPress update effort has put me slightly behind, but nothing a quick jump back to the Yellowstone pictures can’t fix.  While we were out there, we came across this interesting bird.  This was actually the first time I have ever seen this particular variety and it caught me off guard when I saw it walking across a picnic table.  This is not my best effort in getting tack sharp photos, but it was a struggle to get it to stand still for even a second so I could zero in on it or attempt to focus through the branches.  According the trusty Audubon guide this is a Steller’s Jay and member of the Jay and Crow family.

According to the field guide, this bird is on the brash side and mostly omnivorous.  True to the description, it was indeed scrounging for food among the various groups picnicking in the area.  From a visual perspective, it is quite stellar looking with a bright blue back offset by a black plumed head…. somewhat woodpecker looking with a different color pallet.

From this particular picture it is obvious our presence was intruding on his foraging.  Okay, I admit it, my focus hand was shaking out of fear the bird was going to stab me with its beak and rip my eyeball out.  What, you do not believe me?  Take a look at this shot smarty pants and tell me if this isn’t one pissed off bird.

Oh yeah, his meat instincts are kicking into high gear.  I decided from that point on that all further pictures would stealth shots outside its vision.  Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this quite interesting bird

Continue reading That is One Steller Jay

Slob or Pure Genius

A few weeks ago Linda and I were picking up some dinner at the KFC out on Allen Rd.  For the second (and last) time, my experience was less than satisfying.  This time I had to question the cashier whether I could get the new grilled chicken in a sandwich (couldn’t find it on the menu) and basically had to beg for an explanation of what comes on it.  I ended up getting the sandwich plain.  Well plain was the request, when I got back in the car  on our way home, I pulled it out in order to finish eating so I could run when we got home.  Turns out this sandwich is about 2.5 bites big and sure enough had a giant tomato on it which I HATE.

But I digress from my original intent of this post.  As I was standing there waiting for my disappointing dinner, a young Generation Xbox kid comes waddling up to the buffet counter.  He then proceeded to badger the cashier as to whether there was dessert on the food trough.  She ended up telling him there was bread pudding available and he was satisfied.  Grabbing his plate, he quickly turned to go past me in order to get to the dessert.   Two observations hit me within a split second of each other.  The first is he had his shirt inside out.  I remember when this was the fashion trend, but generally it was on sweatshirts and not so much just plain t-shirts.  I quickly decided it he was a trend setter and just might give it that tipping point moment.  The other visual oddity that caught my eye was the fact he had spilled food all over the front of said t-shirt.  Now at the trough, the kid was visually upset because he was having difficulty locating the pudding which means he did not understand the “bread” part of her response since he was standing right in front of it.  Then my powers of reasoning kicked in and it occurred to me I could take this experience in two ways.

  1. The kid was a slob and the strong thumbs from the video controllers were now so disproportional to the fingers that the act of shoveling food into the mouth had become a challenge …. or….
  2. This kid is a total genius and was so aware of his potential to spill food that he purposely turned his t-shirt inside out allowing him to flip it right side out to hiding the  dirty deed.

I badly wanted to stay and get resolution to this quandary, but I had to get the running shoes on before the sun started setting.  I will never know for sure, but it has made me add a micro step in my observation methodology to see if other kids are now wearing their shirts inside out or if fat kids are making the trip to the bathroom for the switch before they order.  I will keep you posted on what I learn, but free to provide your own assessments or observations for discussion.

By the way, I just noticed I used this same guy in another post… can you locate it?

Another Successful WordPress Upgrade

Well, the sweating and sleepless nights are hopefully over for a little while now.  A few weeks ago, the WordPress community was informed there was a security hole in their toolset.  I just recently found enough time to dig into the upgrade process and get the blog protected again.  Based on my preliminary tests, this effort was completely successful and quite frankly not nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be.  In fact, it probably took me longer to create the graphic for this post than it did to complete all of the tasks.  Thankfully, I took the time to upgrade back in January which lined up well with the directions I had.  Kudos to the WordPress team for the quality in their documentation.  All of my plugins successfully migrated and my theme (the part I was dreading the most) came over without a hitch.  Now I can get back to making some posts, with this one (yes, I am counting this one) I have 3 more to hit my mark.

Hopefully the script kiddies out there will keep themselves busy with Windows 7 which is coming out soon and allow me to get some sleep although it looks like I need to spend a few minutes learning this new dashboard.

In Need of a Quick Calculation

Quick Calc at Menards

My summer task for this year is to finally do some clearing on my lot in order to highlight the scenic stream that runs through the middle of the woods.  This task may just kill me (now down over 10 pounds since my Steamboat Race and a mere 3 pounds away from my college graduation weight.  Fortunately, this is the kind of thing I love to do so even though it is hard work, I am smiling the entire time.  Part of this endeavor is to build a bridge so I can actually get to the back portion of my lot without getting wet.  My oldest brother is thankfully helping out with the design which is proving to be very interesting since it is over 49 feet across and I am unable to place a support structure in the middle due to the water and rock bed.  After trying all options to get a mechanical hole digger (nothing viable under a $600 rental fee) I decided to dig the footings and pour the concrete by hand.  So with my hands, a spade, a post hole digger, a 4′ chipping bar and a significant amount of sweat, 8 four foot deep by 12″ wide holes were dug.  Thankfully the new chipping bar (best $35 ever spent) made it through the roots and hardened sandstone.

The next stage in this endeavor was pouring the footings.  This consisted of hauling 64 of the 60lb bags of concrete and 8 of the cardboard pillar forms from Menards to the construction site.  For the record, a Menards’ employee managed to help load 16 (most my truck is rated for) of them into the truck – all the rest were loaded, unloaded and hauled through the woods with an ATV (5 at a time).  On the 3rd trip to Menards, I purchased the remaining four 12″ tubes for the job.  Now these tubes are 12″ nominal with a +- of 0.5″.  You might ask why they would bother with the size variance in today’s precision machinery era.  I am not sure if this is intentional or not, but this variance allows you to insert the tubes inside each other (depending on the variance of course).  I should also point out that the next size down had an 8″ diameter.

With that background in place, we are at the heart of this post.  Two of the four tubes fit inside the third, the third and fourth were the same size and purposely both at the large end of the tolerance.  While checking out, I informed the cashier there were four tubes in total and they were all 12″ in diameter.  The cashier then proceeded to look at the two exposed tubes with some confusion.  Noting that, I informed him that there was a half inch tolerance.  Without a doubt this resulted in math fog and I could tell he did not understand how that statement resolved the two inner tubes.  Keeping my peripheral vision, I proceeded to the credit card swiper.  Sure enough, he took the two tubes out and checked their labeling to make sure they were both 12″ as I had previously informed him.

I can understand the employees need to protect the company’s assets, but two things intrigued me about this event.  The first is an employee at a home improvement store having difficulty judging a half inch tolerance, but more importantly the 8″ tubes are CHEAPER.  Why would I willingly pay more for the extra two tubes?  If they were 8’s I would have pulled them out myself in order to save a few bucks.  Maybe lifting all those concrete bags impacted my powers of reasoning, but there is definitely room there for some lightening math skills.  By the way, the book used in the image is fantastic for those who like to improve their mental calculation abilities.  I was taking the picture of the ruler and noticed the binding on my bookshelf and felt it was a good fit.

Now time to go eat something.

An Annoying Rip

Medical Shredder

I recently went along with my wife to her doctor’s appointment.  I tend to dread this event because of one key element.  Her particular doctor never holds his schedule … EVER.  This is not a 10 or 15 minute inconvenience.  If you actually see him under an hour past your schedule slot, you might as well go play the lottery because the planets are aligned.  On this particular day, it was not the schedule issue that caused my major portion of annoyance.  Instead, as Linda was checking out with the receptionist, the doctor’s accountant caught my attention.  To be honest, my life runs at a pretty hurriedly pace.  This includes my walking pace, my reading pace, my speech cadence and my inability to actually just sit down and watch a TV program.  Linda classifies this as an O/C disorder but I view it as getting the most out of each and every day.  This disorder (if you must) causes me to be more sensitive to inefficient actions of others.  This particular accountant was standing over a desk and reading pieces of paper.  Once read he would proceed to slowly rip it lengthwise into about 7 strips.  Then he would take each strip and tear it again into about 10 pieces.  Once a strip was completed, he would then gather up each of the pieces and stack them neatly on top of each other until he had a neatly organized pile of paper.  Imagine this at a pace of 10 seconds for each long strip and another 10 for the cross rips.  Once stacked he would slowly place them by hand in a garbage can and then start the whole process over again.  I watched 3 of these cycles which literally felt like fingernail scratches on a blackboard (does anyone actually know what a blackboard is anymore?).  Linda completed her business and we exited the office.  I explained to Linda what she forced me to go through (prompting the “disorder” label again) and explained how Office Max has ads about every Sunday for shredders which are a) faster and b) far more efficient especially if you get the cross cutting ones.  The bright side of this was I completely forgot about the hour delay in seeing the doctor.

While I am on the subject of annoyances I have a survey question.  Who is the more annoying marketing spokesperson?

  • Paul Sherman (from the Sherman Store)
  • The Mac Guy
  • The Progressive Lady

In case those marketing organizations are reading, I refuse to even watch, much less purchase the product, based on their condescending tone.  Guessing I must not fit their target demographic.