Interesting Travel Stories

 

In my years of traveling in my work,

I come across some weird things.

This is a collection of the best of them:

 What a mess!!!

        I am writing this on my restored computer. I say “restored” because I had to restore the operating system myself after a simple repair on my computer.

        On June 13, 2009, I brought my 15 month old Sony Vaio laptop computer (purchased as an open box item, with no accompanying disks, with a 2 year warranty) to be repaired. The problem with the computer was that the screen was blanking out occasionally. I filled out the forms and left the computer with the representative.

        Four weeks later I received a call that the computer was repaired and ready to be picked up. I went to the store to pick up my computer and was told that it had not arrived from the repair facility yet. After another two weeks, they finally called informing me of my computer arrival. I went back to the store and inquired how the repairs were performed on the computer. I was told that the screen and hinges were replaced as well as the HARD DRIVE. I was shocked! I was having no problems whatever with the hard drive. I asked if I could have the old hard drive back so that I could recover sensitive encrypted customer information, and was informed that the drive had already been destroyed. When I open the computer and turned it on, I got another shock:  a message that said: NO OPERATION SYSTEM FOUND. I insisted that the store install the Windows Vista that the computer came with, but they refused. I insisted to higher management, but to no avail. I left the store very upset, with a useless computer and a lot of lost information.

        I run a business off of this computer. I am the sole employee of my business and I depended on that sensitive information to service my customer’s vehicles. Some of this information is not replaceable. I do run backups on a regular basis, but the last backup was 3 weeks before the computer was sent in for repair. I had no idea that repairing the screen involved replacing the hard drive.

        If I had been informed that the hard drive was going to be replaced, I would have postponed the replacement until I could have run a full backup and create recovery disks. I was forced to buy a full version of the operating system, install that, as well as all the subsequent updates. I then installed my other software and configured that.

        Since I was not informed of the replacement, I am left with gaps in my customer information database. I had

have had to go back through all the invoices that I had written since June 21, 2009 and input them again into my

customer files. Some of the pictures of the new customers are gone forever.

 

 

Things happen to Honda Bob, Too!

Last week, I was on my way to Saugus, California to check out a customers car, when I had to make a pit stop.  Well, I pulled off the freeway and parked in a cafe parking lot. When I came out a few minutes later, I got back into my car, and started it up. That's when I noticed the smoke and smell from under the hood. I immediately turned off the engine and opened the hood to find that there was a fire burning on the back side of my engine compartment. I grabbed a shop towel and my spray hand cleaner and patted the fire, then sprayed the cleaner all around the back side of the engine until the fire went out. The only damage was a slightly blackened engine compartment and the plastic hose to my air horn. I guess that when the fire started, the hose melted and air from my air horns leaked onto the fire supplying it with air to burn. It seems that the return oil line coming from my Frantz oil filter had come loose from the top to the valve cover where it was attached. The oil from the line was running down onto the exhaust manifold and caught fire.

I carry several containers with spare bolts and things. In one of these, I found a fitting that I could replace in the hole in the valve cover. I took the valve cover off and installed a new fitting for the return oil line,  then found another fitting that I could attach to the return line from the oil filter. When I looked around, I noticed one of those Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks about 30 feet across the parking lot. The driver in the tow truck was sound asleep the whole time.

The following day,  I cleaned up the oil residue from the engine compartment, and replaced the length of plastic hose for my air horns.

Thinking back on the whole episode,  I was lucky to make a pit stop when I did. If the fire has started on the freeway at speed, the fire would probably have been fatal for my car. And possibly me too.

The following day, I went out and bought a fire extinguisher.

 

Driving in Los Angeles

After living in the Los Angeles area for the last 35 years, I have come to realize that Los Angeles traffic is different than anywhere else in the country. Twice a year I take a road trip to my Parents house in Louisiana, so I have the opportunity to drive through several major cities and a lot of smaller cities.

Los Angeles traffic has the tendency to drive 10 to 20 miles per hour faster than anywhere else. Everywhere else, people tend to stay within the speed limits. Since there are so many cars in the Los Angeles area (Los Angeles has more cars registered in the county than people) people tend to also follow too closely. My general rule of thumb for following is one car length for every 10 miles per hour. When I do maintain my distance while driving on the freeway, someone inevitably pulls in front. In other cities, people tend to keep their distance.

When a lane ends on the right, in Los Angeles, everybody must get as far ahead until almost driving on the shoulder, or drive on the shoulder for a distance.  In other places, when a lane is ending, people merge in smoothly, without any problems.

Be careful driving in the far right lane in Los Angeles...if a car is coming up an on-ramp, he will always speed up and pull directly in front of you, with inches to spare! Road rage is often started this way. When this happens, I just count to 5 and calm down. I do have an advantage that I use in Los Angeles traffic...I just crank up the fabulous stereo in my Element and enjoy my tunes. It's funny how Brian Adams seems to have a calming effect on me.
In Los Angeles, the roads are always under construction somewhere, so lane diversions are a way of life. I do have to hand it to CalTrans though. They really try to open lanes as soon as they can.

When an accident happens in Los Angeles, it seems that everybody on the freeway has to stop and look at someone elses misfortune. It's like they want to see blood. I thought that was just in racing! CalTrans is helping, though. Recently I have noticed an improvement in the construction of the center dividers. They are making them about one to two feet higher. This seems to cut down on the looky-loo traffic slowing down the flow of traffic on the freeways.

If you have a problem with your car on the freeway, if possible, don't stop in the lane. Pull off to the side of the freeway as soon as safely possible, so as to not block the smooth flow of traffic.

I think that the best way to avoid being caught in an accident is to drive your car as if you and your car were invisible. If no one can see you, you tend to drive in a way that is ultimately safer.  I learned this technique while I was in the military, driving my motorcycle.

Maintain your car! Check the tire pressure (including the spare) once a month. Get it serviced when necessary. A properly maintained vehicle will be efficient, safe and economical.

Be safe, get home alive and well.

 

 Storage Auction

A couple months ago I got a call from a customer who works for one of those multiple storage unit places. He calls me when they plan to have an auction for spaces whose owners have defaulted on the rent. They are required to try and contact the renter for 6 months before they are allowed to auction off the contents of the storage areas. Well, I show up with about 6 other people to look at the contents of several storage area units. I say look, because we were not allowed to touch anything in the units until someone wins the auction for that unit. We were going down the hall bidding on several units when we came up on a unit filled with boxes of what looked like printer paper. It looked like pretty old paper because it was the paper with the holes on each side. I'm not even sure if they still make printers for this paper, so I didn't bid. A lady bid $50 and no one else bidded, so she got it for $50. We all moved on the the next space open for bidding when we heard her scream. We all went back expecting her to find a rat or something in a box, but when we got back to her space, we all gasped. The boxes, apparently all of them were filled to capacity with CASH. Hundreds and hundreds of $20 bills, all loose in each box. She immediately called her husband to come down with a truck for all the boxes. By the time we left, she and her husband had loaded 46 boxes of money into a U-haul truck. The customer who had worked there told me about a week later that the previous renter of the space had died in jail and was a convicted gun  runner with no living relatives. The lady called him back with the final total of $1,250,000 in cash. For then on, I go to every auction!

 

 

Recharge

      A few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to attend a car show at the Bob's Big Boy in Burbank. While I was there, a guy with an electric car came in with his kids. I was sitting with a friend who has a classic truck at the show. When the guy came around where I was, he was holding an extension cord looking for a plug to recharge his battery in his new electric car. I told him that if he parked his car next to mine, I could recharge his battery while he was there. He pulled his car over to where mine was parked and plugged his extension cord into the invertor I installed under the hood. For the next 4 hours, my invertor was generating 110V AC, charging his battery. I did not even have the engine running, but the battery on my car never dropped below 13.1 V DC. The solar cell I have on the dash kept the battery fully charged. At about 7:30, he informed me that his battery was fully charged. It's always nice to help out a total stranger once in a while. I found out that he has 2 other Honda cars at home, so I WILL be seeing him again.

  

 

Stuck door latch

Sometimes I do jobs that even the dealerships hesitate doing. Recently I got a call from a lady who had trouble opening her drivers door. It seems that no matter what she did, the door just refused to open. Well, I had heard of this problem from the Honda Tech-line. It seems that someone had figured out how to get the door open from the inside without destroying the door. The problem was that you had to get the door panel off to access the inside of the door. To get the door panel off without breaking it, the seat needed to be removed. With the seat removed and the door panel removed, it was a fairly simple matter to drill the latch with a portable drill in a VERY specific spot. Hopefully the drill bit hits the release mechanism and the door opens. But, not this time. I drilled the hole in the exact spot and the door still refused to open. So, I drilled a bigger hole in the latch. Still no open door. Well, I then went to "PLAN B". Which was to drill out the latch everywhere and hope to hit just the right spot. I drilled and drilled and drilled. Finally after about an hour of totally destroying the latch, the door opened. After which I installed a new latch and reinstalled the seat and the door panel.

 

Carburetor

Several years ago a customer called me and said that his car was dying every time he stopped at a red light. I went out to his work in Montebello. He happened to be a principal of an elementary school. After checking out the car, I determined that the carburetor was broken and needed to be replaced. I told him so and he said to go ahead and take it off and match it with a rebuilt unit because he only lived a couple blocks away and he could walk home. I proceeded to remove the carburetor and left.  The next day I got a call from him saying that the car had caught fire. He intended to go on an errand with his car at lunchtime. He jumped into his car and started cranking. Well, after a minute or two he remembered that I had taken off the carburetor the day before. He then got out of the car a smelled a very strong odor of gasoline. As soon as he closed the door the car burst into flame. The whole time the ignition switch was on, it was pumping gasoline out onto the ground. I guess it didn't take much to set it off. The car was a total loss. If you know anyone that needs a carburetor for a 1989 Honda Accord, would you let me know. I still have it. Now, when I do a job like this, I disconnect the battery.

 

A kind and friendly gesture

This story  begins over  35  years ago while I was in the Air Force.  It was Christmas time  1972  and  I was going  home on leave for the holidays. That winter was especially cold and rainy in southern Texas. I took off on my motorcycle about 5 o’clock on the Friday before Christmas,  on  my  way to  Eunice,  Louisiana, my hometown.  By midnight I was just getting into San Antonio, Texas and I was FREEZING!  I pulled over to  the side of the road  to  try  and warm up my freezing  hands on my exhaust  pipes  before proceeding.  Soon a San Antonio Sheriff patrol car pulled up behind me.  He got out and asked if I needed a tow  truck,  when I told him I was just trying to warm my hands  on  the exhaust pipe. He told me to come in and have  a  seat  in  the  passenger seat of his cruiser and warm up for a little while.  Well,  I jumped at the chance to warm up.  We sat  there talking for about  half an hour.  He  told me that he used  to  be a motor officer,  so he  KNEW  what I was   feeling  like.  Warmed  up  by his cruiser  heater,  I continued   on  my  way,  but  never  forgot his kind and friendly gesture.

Toward the end of February 2007, I took an emergency road  trip  back to Louisiana to help my mother care  for my  ailing father.  On the way back  my return  trip took me  through San  Antonio.   It was  6 AM, and  I  had   just  left  the  rest  stop  where  I  had  spent  the  night,   when  I  saw  an  inviting  sight .  .  . a DENNY'S restaurant!  I went in  and happened to sit  next to two  San Antonio  Sheriff  Deputies   eating  breakfast.  I  finished  my  breakfast  and   went  up   to  pay  the  bill.   Remembering  back  to  what  had happened 35 years ago,  I asked the cashier to include their bill with mine.  She just smiled and gave me the change from my $20  bill.  I looked at the receipt and the change due was   $9.11!

 

  

Freeway Stuff

     Do you ever see things on the freeway that you wish you could stop and pick up?

     Sometimes I come across opportunities like that. Several years ago, I was driving on the 91 Freeway eastbound in the lane to take the 710 north. Near the end of the transition lane I ran over a piece of metal. It appeared to be very heavy and about 2 inches thick. Since I take this route often, I had run over this metal about 3 times. It didn't seem to be moving, even though thousands of cars and trucks had run over it. I formulated a plan to come back later to try and pick it up. I went back about 9PM when the traffic was slower. I returned in my truck because I knew it looked heavy. I parked on the shoulder before the metal. With a rope I had brought along, I threw out the rope and looped it around the metal and, when the traffic cleared momentarily, pulled--hard. It slid towards me with such force that it snapped off one of those reflectors on the side of the road.  It was then that I saw that the metal was a machined piece exactly 3 inches thick by 4 feet by 4 feet. And it was heavy! I got my heavy screwdriver and a hammer. I hammered the screwdriver under the metal enough to put the hammer under it. I then got my fingers under it and stood it up on end. I walked it over to the back of my truck, opened the doors and lifted it into the truck. I must have weighed about 100 pounds.

      The next day I went over to a friends machine shop to show him my prize. He offered me $500 on the spot. He was looking for something like this to put on his resurfacing table. It weighed exactly 200 pounds, and was obviously high quality steel. After measuring it with a straightedge, he found it to be perfectly level. Even after falling off a truck (I assume), and being run over countless times. 

      A few months later I was driving home from a job replacing an engine in Fountain Valley. I noticed a piece of what looked sheet metal in the bushes just off the side of the freeway. I went around and came to the site again. I found that this piece of metal was a full sheet of titanium. I pulled it into the truck and measured it. It was 1/16 inches thick, 14 feet long and 4 feet wide. I again went to see my friend at the machine shop and asked him if he wanted to buy it. He looked up the numbers stamped on the sheet and found out that this sheet was very high quality titanium. VERY EXPENSIVE titanium. This sheet was valued at $15,000 wholesale! He contacted a friend of his that was building a kit helicopter and was about to buy a sheet of aluminum because he couldn't afford the titanium he wanted. When he asked what I wanted for the sheet, I told him to make me an offer. He gave me $5000 for it and we both came away happy.

I'm still keeping my eyes peeled!

 

 

Classic Car

      Several years ago I went to service a customer's car. While I was there in his driveway, I noticed that he had a nice looking Pontiac in his garage. I asked him about it, because it looked pretty good. He explained that it was his Father's car. When his father died about 10 years ago, he left this car to him. Since he already had a good car, he just put it away in the garage and sort of forgot about it for nine years. He was planning to move out of state, so he decided to take the car out and have it fixed. The car was a black 1963 Pontiac LeMans Convertible with leather seats. Over the past year he had the convertible top replaced, and the whole car detailed, including the engine compartment. After putting on new tires, he took out an ad in the Los Angeles times to sell it. It had been two weeks since the ad, and he had gotten NO response. I asked him what price he advertised it for and he said he only wanted $2000 for the car. I told him that anybody seeing that ad would think that from the low price, they assumed the car was not worth restoring. This car was a Classic in perfect condition with 23,000 miles on it, so I told him to put another ad in the Times, this time advertise it for $15,000 and see what happens. He said he would try that but didn't have much hope for selling the car.

      He called me up about a week later, telling me that he sold the car. When I asked him how much he got for it, he told me that the day after the ad came out, he had 3 guys at his house bidding on the car. He finally sold it for $17,000. He told me that a check for $500 was already in the mail for me.

      Thinking back, I should have bought that car.

 

 

 

Superbowl Sunday

      About 7 years ago on Superbowl Sunday, I had gone up to Rosemond to help my brother with a project. I left his place for home about 4PM. I had gotten on the 14 Freeway heading south. When I passed Ave N in Lancaster, I noticed some dust on the side of the road ahead. Slowing down, I noticed it was a 4 wheel off-road vehicle called a Honda Odyssey. At the controls was a young boy. I pulled up next to him and asked him if he could stop for me. He just said “OK”. I pulled up behind him and went up to him and asked how old he was. He said “I’m five years old”. I pulled the key out and told him to stay right there. I got on my cell phone and called 911. I told the operator that I had a 5 year old boy driving an off-road vehicle on the shoulder of the 14 Freeway at Ave M. I don’t think she believed me so she asked me to repeat what I just said. She told me to keep him there; the CHP will be there shortly. Within 5 minutes, the CHP, an ambulance, and a fire truck showed up. While I was waiting for emergency services to arrive, I started talking to the kid asking him where he lived, and did his mom and dad know where he was. All he said was “I don’t know”.  He told me that he asked his dad to take him for a ride in the vehicle, but he was too busy. He said that he had driven this vehicle several times on his dad’s lap, so he knew how to start it and drive it. When the CHP arrived, I told him what the kid said and he got the registration number off the off-road sticker. He went back to his car and called in to check the owner information. He told me later that the parents were home watching the Superbowl game and that they were unaware that their son had even left. They lived near AVE A. The kid had driven 17 miles on the shoulder of the freeway…and what surprised both me and the CHP officer…no one driving past this kid for at least 45 minutes, reported anything! The parents were both immediately arrested and charged with child endangerment. The kid was put into a foster home, pending trial. Three months later, I got a letter of commendation from the CHP for probably saving that boy’s life.

 

 

 

Speeding  Ticket

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from one of my good customers. He drives an ACURA NSX. I might add that he drives it with, well, vigor!  It seems that he was pulled over by the CHP for speeding on his way home one night. When the officer asked for his licence information, he told the officer a joke I had told him about a year ago. He asked me not to tell the joke here but call me and I will tell you. Anyway, the officer laughed so hard he just gave him back his license and told him to slow down. This was the 6th time he had used that joke to get out of a ticket. It seems that sometimes CHP officers DO have a sense of humor.

 

 

 

Door  Locks

Several years ago I had a customer who had a 1989 Honda Accord Special Edition. She had called me up to replace her drivers window. It had gotten broken when someone tried to break into it. Well, a couple days later, I went out to her location and proceeded to replace the window. After vacuuming up the broken glass inside the car and inside the door, I began to reassemble the door. I finished the job and left. The next morning I got a call from the customer stating that the door locks didn't work. She told me in no uncertain terms how difficult it was to crawl out the window. Surprised, I asked her what was wrong with her finger? Puzzled, she answered nothing was wrong with her finger. she just couldn't open the door from the inside. I told her that she could just push up on the lock button to unlock the doors. She said she had never thought of that. She thought that the only way to get out of the car was to crawl out the open window, open the door, put up the window and close and lock the door. she had crawled out the window 3 times. This lady was 60 years old! I went out the next day and hooked up the single wire that operates the door locks (that I had forgot to hook up). Now, every time I work on her car, she insists that check that the door locks are operating properly.

 

 

Brakes

About a year after the preceding incident, I got a call from another customer who happened to be  that lady's next door neighbor. It seemed that the front brakes on her 1989 Honda Prelude were squeaking and needed replacement. I made an appointment and went out several days later. Her car was parked in her driveway all the way to the back. When I started, I put the car in neutral and released the emergency brake and let the car roll downhill several feet to have access to the front of the car for my floor jack. I pulled up on the emergency brake and proceeded to replace the front brake pads. After I was done, she paid me for my services and I left. Later that night I received a phone call from her, saying that she had had a little accident. It seems that she wanted to go to the market after I had worked on her car. She got into her car and tried to release the emergency brake. Well, being 64 years old and not as strong as me, she couldn't get the brake handle pulled up far enough to release the brakes.  She tried and tried but to no avail. Then she had an idea...she got out, pulled the seat forward and climbed into the rear seat with both feet on the floor and both hands on the brake lever. Pulling hard, she finally was able to release the brakes. When she did, the car was still in neutral, so naturally, it started rolling downhill. She was so stunned when the car started rolling that she just screamed and froze. The open door hit a large pole at the end of her driveway, snapping it off at the hinges,  then continued down the street until she realized that she had her hands on the emergency brake. She then pulled up on the lever and got the car stopped before hitting anything else. I went out the next day and replaced the hinges on the door for no charge, and gave her my sincerest apology. The only evidence of the incident was a slight dent on the inside of the door.

 

 

Bureau of Automotive Repair

A couple years ago, I got a call one morning from a gentleman who said that he was a representative of the Bureau of Consumer affairs, automotive division. He told me that there was a problem with my business and he and his partner needed to see me right away. I told them where I was going to be the entire day. (That day, I was changing a transmission in Long Beach), and gave him the address. I went to work as I usually do and started working on the car. About 4 hours later, two men in black business suits and briefcases found me in Long Beach. They had come from Sacramento to see every aspect of my business, so I told them to look around at anything they wanted. I went back to work on the transmission. After several minutes, they started asking me all sorts of questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. It seems that they had come across my name through a customer whose car I had worked on several years before. She had taken her car in for service at another shop and had a problem with their work. She submitted a complaint to the Bureau of Consumer Affairs. They investigate all claims submitted to them. In the process, she gave them the past maintenance records for her car which included several of my invoices. Since my registration number is printed right on the top of my invoices, they put my registration number into their computer and came up with nothing. It showed that I had been in business for 25 years and not had a single complaint against my business in those 25 years. They thought that this had to be a mistake, so they decided to investigate me.

When they were interviewing me while I was working, they couldn't find anything wrong. They thought it was impossible for anybody to be in the automotive repair business for 25 years and not have a single complaint against him. I just told them that I treat my customers like my friends. And that if anything was wrong with anything I had done in relation to their car, I would immediately come back and fix it. No arguments, no charges, no problems. That was just the way I run my business.

By then, I had finished replacing the transmission. I started the car and let it warm up for a few minutes. Then, I test drove the car, taking them along. As I pulled out to the street, I floored the throttle, taking them by surprise. I pushed the transmission to it's limit. They thought that this was abusing the car, but I explained to them that whenever I test drive a car after working on it, I test it to the limit, because I KNOW what that limit is. If the car can take the limit I give it, I know that the customer will probably never see that limit. Upon my return, the customer came out and paid for the service. They talked to the customer, asking him several questions. Afterwards, they interviewing me for about an hour, asking about every facet of my business. They were both satisfied that they had found a legitimate, honest, trustworthy, and dependable businessman. One of them told me that if he had a Honda or Acura automobile, he would drive down from Sacramento to have me service his car.

 

 

 

My Grandmothers Legacy

When I was growing up in southern Louisiana, occasionally my parents and us kids would go to visit my grandmother. When we arrived, my older brother and younger sister and I would rush to the back room to play with what we thought were Lego blocks. In reality, they were 4.5X3X1" packages of Gulf Paraffin Wax. She always kept hundreds of them in the back room. Later, I found out just what the paraffin wax was for. It seems that my Grandmother had a hobby. She would make artificial flowers from crape paper and very fine wire. She would shape the leaves of the flowers and support them with the fine wire. She made mostly roses in all the usual colors. Her other bedroom was filled with these flowers. She would sell them to people who had just lost a loved one to be put on the gravesites. After she died in 1966, we moved into her old house. After about three months, my father decided to rebuild the house to bring it up to date. We tore it down to the foundation and rebuilt it with three smaller bedrooms instead of two large ones. We also made the kitchen and living room smaller. We also installed a bathroom. It formerly had an outhouse around the back. We all lived there until the kids went their separate ways. My parents still live there today. I still think of it as Home.

In 2003, my Father developed an aneurism and I needed to make an emergency trip back there. I was there for a couple days, my father was recovering in good condition. My mother suggested that this would be a good time to go to the grandparents gravesite and clean up the area. We went back home and got cleaning utensils and proceeded to the graveyard. When we arrived, I looked around and saw literally hundreds of bouquets of artificial flowers. I asked my mother who took over making the flowers after my grandmother died. She said "nobody, those are the same flowers she made". That was over 35 years ago. The flower bouquets were still beautiful and vibrant. Everybody in town knew her as "The Flower Lady". I wonder how much longer those flowers will last.

 

 

 

 

Test Drive

From time to time, customers will ask me to check out a vehicle that they are considering buying. When I check out a vehicle for a customer, I make it a point to push the car to it's limits. This usually includes acceleration, braking and handling. If it will handle what I can give it, it will handle anything a customer can do to it. Several months ago, a customer called me up and asks if I could meet her at a Honda dealership in Orange County to check out a 2005 Honda Accord V6 coupe. I set up an appointment for the following Sunday afternoon. When I arrived at the dealership, I found the customer. She informed me that she had changed her mind on the car she wanted me to check out. Instead, she had me check out a 2005 Honda S2000 6 speed. This car was built to be a sports car, so I jumped at the chance to drive one again. Since the salesman was required to accompany any test drive, I had to leave the customer there while I test drove the car with the salesman in the passenger seat. When I left the dealership, I got on the freeway and just floored it. This car went from 0 to 135 in a matter of seconds. The salesman was shaking like a leaf and holding on for dear life. We had gone down the freeway a short distance then got off at the next exit, testing the anti-lock brakes. When I was getting back on the freeway around a 25 MPH curve, I told the salesman to watch the speedometer. By the time I got straightened out on the freeway I was doing 75 MPH! He had never been in one of these cars (what he thought was an econo box) before. He had just started working at this Honda dealership, having left the Nissan dealership recently. He said he was familiar with the performance of the Z cars, but this was, he thought, faster. When we got back to the dealership after the test drive, the salesman could barely walk and told me that he was surprised that this car could perform like it did. The customer ended up buying the car and still enjoys driving it, and driving it hard.

 

 

 

Don't Mess With Honda Bob!

Several weeks ago, I was visiting my local Electronics store. While driving around looking for a parking spot, I sighted a car just pulling out of a space next to a large SUV that was parked across 3 parking spaces. There was a guy in the passenger seat listening to Rap music that hollered to me that he thought I was too close to his vehicle. I told him that it was a valid parking space as I walked away. After returning to my car, I found the SUV empty and locked up, but was about six inches from my drivers door. Unable to enter my car from the drivers side, I looked around for the owner of this vehicle to ask him to move. After about a minute of contemplation, I removed the floor jack from the back of my car and jacked up the rear of the SUV. With the back wheels off the ground, I pulled the SUV away from my drivers door enough to allow me to get in. While It was up on my jack, I figured, what the hell! I placed a couple jack stands under the  rear axle, leaving the back wheels about a foot in the air. I threw my jack into the back of my car and quickly left. I hope he learned his lesson!

Update...The other day I went back to the same electronics store. I parked in the same general area I had parked before. When I came back to my car, the car next to mine was gone and in the asphalt was two triangular imprints of the jack stands when the SUV was on them. The jack stands had sunk into the hot asphalt about half an inch and left permanent impressions.

 

 

 

Reunion

About 10 years ago, I got a call from an elderly man in Sherman Oaks to change the clutch on his gold 1988 Honda Accord LX 4 door 5 Speed. Well, I went out and did the job for this very short man. Afterwards, he asked what I would recommend to help him sit up higher in his seat. I recommended getting a used drivers seat from a 1994 Honda Accord EX. This seat has a motor to raise and lower the seat height. He readily agreed and about a week later, I installed this seat. He was sitting up high and was delighted.

About 4 months later, I got a call from a man in Huntington Beach (with the same last name as the man in Sherman Oaks) who was having a clutch problem with his gold 1988 Honda Accord LX 4 door 5 speed. I went out to check out the car and met another very short man. I mentioned the man with the same last name in Sherman Oaks. He looked very surprised and told me that it was his identical brother who he hadn’t seen in over 50 years. He said that they had an argument and hadn’t spoken in 50 years. And, that they both were living in Ohio at the time. This was the first time he had heard about him in all that time. I gave him the Sherman Oaks number and apparently he called, because later that day, the man in Sherman Oaks called me later and thanked me.

Last year I got a call from the customer in Huntington Beach, that his brother in Sherman Oaks had died of a massive heart attack. I went to visit the man in Huntington Beach the next day to offer my condolences. When I arrived at his house, the coroner was there taking him away. I asked what happened, and the coroner informed me that the gentleman had died of a massive heart attack.

I thought it very coincidental that two men, who hadn’t been in contact with each other for 50 years, end up in the same area of the country with IDENTICAL cars, with nearly IDENTICAL mileage, with IDENTICAL problems. And in the end, they both died within 24 hours of each other.

 

 

Speed

      When I was in the U.S. Air Force, I worked part time as a Yamaha motorcycle mechanic in the nearby City of Del Rio, Texas. One day a young man from Mexico came in and ordered a 750TZ road race motorcycle. At the time, Yahama was selling race motorcycles. These were specially built motorcycles, designed to be driven only on road race tracks. These bikes were true race bikes: no lights, no kickstand, no starter, slick tires front and rear, full cover fairings with number plates. About a week later, the specialty motorcycle came in, and the boss told me to PDI (pre delivery inspection) this bike and he will call the man to come and pick it up. When I finished the PDI, I asked the boss where the hell was I supposed to test drive this bike, which was the final test of the PDI. He just walked away telling me to “take it to Bracketville and back”. Bracketville, Texas was about 30 miles down Hwy 90 east of Del Rio and about 15 miles past the Air Force base I was stationed at. It was a sunny day, about 2PM. Well, I figured that I would just take it down the road a little way just to check out the running of the bike. I was just cruising easily when I realized I was within sight if Bracketville. I turned around and stopped on the shoulder of the road pointing toward Del Rio. I looked over the gauges to see if everything was normal, and then decided to see what this bike would do. (This bike had 6 gears, and a 750cc inline 4 cylinder 2 stroke high performance engine. The Tachometer STARTS at 6,000RPM to a redline of 18,000)

       Well, I took off and accelerated through all the gears, right up to the redline in each gear. A short time later I was back in Del Rio. I pulled into the shop, and looked up the chart that shows SPEED vs. RPM and found out that in top gear at redline the speed was 205 MPH! That was by far the fastest I have ever been on a road! That WAS fun.

       About two weeks later, I was on duty on the flight line of the air base changing a rear stickgrip in a T-38 talon trainer aircraft, when the pilot, a Captain, was on the ladder watching me and waiting for his plane with a student in the front seat, when he mentioned a funny thing he saw a couple weeks earlier. I asked what was that? He told me that he was coming in for a landing with a student when he looked down at the Hwy 90 that parallels the runway, and saw someone on a yellow motorcycle traveling faster than he was landing. (The T-38 landing speed is 150 MPH.) I told him in uncertain terms that I thought he was lying, but he assured me he was being truthful. I didn’t have the nerve to tell him it was ME on that motorcycle. I just walked away with a big grin.

 

 

 

"There he is...grab him"

 

A couple years after I had retired from the Air Force, I took a road trip from California back home to Louisiana. On the way I decided to take a detour in Texas to visit my buddies at my old airbase. I still had a base sticker on my car, so the guard at the gate just waved me through. The second I set foot into the shop where I worked for 3 years, I saw someone point at me and yell "there he is...grab him!" I said " hey, wait a minute, I didn't do anything!" I looked around and the Master Sergeant approached me and explained. It seems that about 2 years before, I had performed a periodic maintenance on one of the airplanes that was in for periodic maintenance again. As part of this maintenance procedure, the invertors (devices that change 36 VDC to 110 VAC for the instruments) are removed and rebuilt. The invertors are situated in the airplane, a Northrop T-37 jet trainer, in the right front nose compartment side by side, with the cannon plugs (connectors) toward the back. To do this job, first you install the forward one, connecting the cannon plug then safety wiring it to the frame. Then you install the rear one, connecting the cannon plug, then safety wire that one. There is just enough room to get your hand back there to reach the cannon plugs. All this has to be done blind, because you can't see back there. Well, apparently when I tightened the cannon plugs with my left hand (I'm left-handed) I tightened them too tight for anyone else in the shop to loosen them. They were just looking back in the records to see who had put them in, when lo and behold, I show up. Well, the sergeant took me down to the hanger and tells me to loosen them up. I reach in and loosen them up without a problem. While they were discussing the problem before my arrival, they were contemplating removing the upper skin of the aircraft to access the cannon plugs from the top. This particular panel consists of about 300 rivets. Afterwards, I went back to the shop and had an enjoyable visit with my former coworkers.

 

 

 

Temporary Duty

While in the military, I was assigned temporary duty in Ubon, Thailand. When I got there, the electric shop that I was supposed to be assigned to never got my orders to be there. Because of no orders, the Sergeant in charge didn't want me there. Also, I found out later that my paycheck was also missing in action. Here I was in a foreign country, no work, no money. Luckily there was room in the enlisted men's barracks. I depended on the Base Chaplin for a few bucks a week to eat with. Since I has 6 months to kill, I wandered the base until I found the hobby shop. There, I found things to do to pass the time. It was there that I met a fighter combat pilot. He would come in every few days to work on his project: A remote control model helicopter he was building from scratch. We became friends and would work on his helicopter together when he came in. While he was building his model, it occurred to me that I could build a helicopter, too. So I designed and built a single blade free-flight helicopter. This machine had a small engine on one end of the blade and an airfoil on the other end. I never could get it to fly, though. I was getting short on time, so I packed it up and shipped it home. About two weeks before I was due to return to the states, I was in the hobby shop when my friend the fighter pilot came in and was very angry. He told me that he had a ticket for a big rock concert in Japan, but he said that he had to go on a mission over Viet Nam. He gave me the ticket and just said "have fun". It was easy to get a hop in a C-130 cargo plane to Tokyo. The concert hall was just a short walk from the base in Japan. The concert was featuring a rock & roll band called Deep Purple. The ticket was for a seat in the fifth row dead center. WOW, what a concert. I had never been to a concert before, so I was thrilled to be there. It turns out that the band was recording an album featuring this concert. Before one of the many songs that the band played, the lead singer asked the engineer beside the stage: "Can I get a bit more monitor". The guy next to me hollered out: "Can I have everything louder than everything else". And the singer repeated it for the audience. You can still hear that quote on the album: Deep Purple, made in Japan.

I shipped out a couple weeks later. When I got back to my home base, I got a paycheck for the 6 months I spent in Thailand, and combat pay for being close to Viet Nam.  I even got a service medal for being in a combat zone, but I never did wear it because I didn't think it was justified.  With the extra money, I was able to buy my first new car: a new 1974 Honda Civic. I've had nothing but Honda's ever since.

It wasn't until 2 years later that I went back home to Louisiana, and my mother asked me about that package with the model helicopter I had sent home. I had forgotten all about it. I brought it back with me and started tinkering with it, trying to get it to fly, without success. While visiting a friend in his lapidary shop (a place that shapes and polishes jewelry) I came across a substance that is used to hold jewelry stones while they are being shaped. I used this blob on the end of a 1 ft stick to counterbalance the model helicopter and amazingly...it flew!!! It just went straight up for about 100 feet. I kept saying "when is this thing going to run out of gas?" When it did run out of gas, it auto-rotated softly to the ground, just like a real helicopter.  I still take it out and fly it now and then.

 

 

Introduction

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