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Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Hi, I'm Clippy. I see you want to start your car. Can I help?"

so we got done installing lawn signs for a candidate, and we've had our "atta boy" lunch, and go out to the car.

starts fine.  won't go into gear.  at all.  the cosmic welder has zapped the shifter.

you must understand that GM and Ford have adhered for decades to the idea that you must not go into gear unless your foot is on the brake, and thus have shift interlock systems.  if you high brake lights go out, you are sitting there until you replace them.

or a wiring harness diode has quit.  that's a no-fun job getting to them.

or a computer is constipated and won't let the bits pass and unlock the shifter.

or the feedback switch on the shift controller is not working.

or this or that or the other thing.  fah.  just shoot me.

if the dash was electronic, I would expect to see  everybody's favorite impediment, Clippy.

after the well-meaning came by to look and mutter and walk away, and I cleaned some connector contacts and gave a little sorta-love tap to the shift control shaft, and nothing worked... I cried uncle.  opened the manual.  looked up "brake interlock."  page 86 if you have a jelly-bean Taurus.

most automakers have a cheat mode for most of the things that will keep you from driving to the dealership and dumping more money than your mortgage for basically nothing done.  in this case, it's a Village People routine that involves stomping the emergency brake down, shutting off the car, turning the key to off-unlocked position, shifting to neutral, and then starting and getting out of the way on your own power.  got the rhythmn down in 5 tries.

it hasn't failed again.

son #2 says if the manual trick doesn't work, best to disconnect the car battery for the usual deprogramming time (mostly 20 to 30 minutes) and trying again when the computer has fully drained its states and is back to a cold ROM restart.

for everybody who is NOT a safety nazi, first thing you need to do is check to see if the high brake lights work when you hit the pedal.  if not, start with bulbs.  you may be able to swipe a bulb from under the hood, or the trunk light, or one of the courtesy lights inside, to get you by until you can get the right bulbs.

Heckuva job, Brownie...

collecting the sound bites as the GOP is bunching up the balloon bags in Tampa.

Tuesday:  confident the Lord will keep bad weather away from the convention.

Thursday:  we're staying put no matter what.

Friday:  stockpiling lots of umbrellas.  red umbrellas to ward off a hurricane.  oh, and tents.  you can't learn this level of stupid, you have to be born with it.

Saturday:  well, maybe we won't meet Monday.

later Saturday:  we'll convene to say "hi" and immediately adjourn on Monday.  this of course is no different than holding a full meeting with all the delegates in the convention hall as a hurricane bears down, except then the thousands will be kicked onto the streets right away to scatter among the 20 miles of hotels in a gale or worse.

Sunday:  John McCain saying woe is us if a storm goes on for 4 days, and prevents us from getting out our message.

well, uh, you know, I think we already got it.  the GOP also denies hurricanes when they're in them.  yeah, that's just what we need for four years in charge, here, seeing we already have a Congress that absolutely, positively won't do any work.

yeah, we got the message loud and clear, Senator.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Observations from the Back of a Parade

Yes, my ebullient folk loved me.

well, let's back to some reality here.  I was one of a dozen people marching for a favored political candidate on Saturday morning, and that candidate was not me.

(reference to long-running joke used to shut down arguments turning nasty in election years, to wit:  "well, if nobody can agree, then I presume you will all be supporting me for Benevolent Dictator For Three Lifetimes.  Everything will be fine, and my ebullient folk will always be happy."  shuts a crowd down and disperses them better than a tank car full of tear gas.)

so I'm one of four people cutting, weaving along handing out candidate stickers to anybody with a hand up.  reach to slap a bug, you got a sticker.

what we see is that kids are kids, they like things that come around that have pretty colors and/or are candy.  kids were plastered with everybody's stickers, spray paint the ballot black and push it in the scanner so everybody wins and all get prizes.

adults are way cautious.  those who don't want to seem involved were sitting behind the sidewalks, way back there 4 or 5 yards.  approach within half that distance, see a scowl.  bet they didn't see anything they liked... not the clown car with a clown boat on the back and a toy fish on a kiddie rod.  not the calliope 90 years old.  not the bands.  not even their candidate.  if still alive lo these many generations.

those who came for the parade and not for spitting practice are on the curb with the kids.  most of them won't take a sticker either.  oh, no, then we'd be "involved."  some will take stickers along straight party lines... all for one, and one for all, either red or blue.  only a rare few will mix 'em up.

the parents who are holding a zipper bag with the kids' candy in it, to be doled out later, or not, might have one sticker at the most.  more likely, the kids' stickers are on the bag, too, and face down.

I interpret this as nobody wants to be within the boundaries of a decision.

so they get the gridlocked government they deserve.

and we suffer, too.

meanwhile, some weasel has already started stealing signs from front yards, and based upon the last presidential election, I am starting to reinforce mine with a sheet of metal or plywood behind them, and none of the flimsy lift-up stands for the plastic cardboardy ones.  tear down, don't build up.  sneak around and don't stand up.

my, wonderful place we got here today.

Friday, August 10, 2012

back in a tent at 59 years

had to take Mom's ashes up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and scatter them furtively, lest some ranger chain me to a truck and clear a path with my face.  might scratch my glasses.  so the wife and I loaded up my old camp gear, and a few new budget items to round out the kit, and up Detour Lane to the wilderness.

most of the flood damage to roads and utilities around Duluth was either fixed or patched around... but 61 north was a whole bunch of one-lane for blacktop sealcoating.

it turns out that I can't read bed sizes using the common industry terms, and for the Gunflint Trail side of the adventure, we were sharing a single-size air mattress.  ouch.  nice time, for the first two days... the second two were drizzlefest.

drove down, and cut over on state 1 to Ely for the Blueberry Festival, and the 23 mile detour seemed like a million.  got into town, puzzled over maps, and drove back beyond the "detour now, dammit" signage four miles to get to the dirt roads to our campsite.  we had picked up the right air mattress in Grand Marais at Joynes', which is as close to a full service General Store as you'll ever find.

two good days, and we found a nice upholstered bench at the Festival for the landing of the stairs into DeBasement.  barely got it into the car.

not too sore afterwards, but there are a few things we're not doing again if we get back under a tent.

Friday, August 3, 2012