Ghosts of the Machines, and Horse Meat in the Dog Food

 

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The town where I grew up was doomed. It became a falling behemoth even before I understood that the world around me was crumbling beneath my feet, and a once prosperous town had faded into ignonimy, becoming known more as a haven for welfare slackers and a hotbed of heroin activity than as an industrial powerhouse.

I grew up amidst the towering smoke stacks, the perpetually clanging, moving factories, and with the constant sounds of the trains- the rhythmic clack-clack, the dull roar of the diesel engines, and the mournful braying of the whistles. The trains were the unwitting instruments playing the muted symphony of the night, coming from anywhere, going to nowhere- everywhere and nowhere all at the same time- as if in defiance of the laws of time and space.

When I was very young the air was dirty. On the rare days where there was no wind, a thick stagnant gray haze hung in the air like a pall. There was a pervasive slimy, smoky film that coated windows and adhered to curtains and windowsills should one dare to open the windows. Should the wind blow from the southwest, (which happens often in summer) one would get a foul whiff of the various odors of rendering and not-so-fresh flesh emanating from the Ken-L-Ration dog food factory (believe it or not, a subsidiary of Quaker Oats.)

This was an imposing, windowless facility where horses were once slaughtered, transformed into a pasty, meaty muck, (hooves, ears, and shall we say, all the “not fit for human consumption” bits included) and packed into tin cans with bright, colorful labels that reassured dog owners that this horse paste was 100% Balanced Nutrition for Your Dog!

ken-l-ration

Eh, so it’s canned dog food.

ken-l-ration ingredients

At least they were straight about what was in it. Unlike the UK lasagna.

You don’t want to know what a “by-product” is. Suffice to say that a “meat by-product” in the 1950s could be anything from roadkill, to dead livestock, to lips and assholes.

NASA-Crawler

Then there was the Marion Power Shovel, whose last great hurrah was building the crawler that moved the space shuttle. In its heyday the Power Shovel complex cut a five-mile long stretch along the west end of town. Now most of the buildings have been demolished. A few have been repurposed as either warehouses or trucking depots. The skeletons of the massive outdoor cranes that once moved parts of power shovels and other large machines down the assembly line still stand as silent witnesses to a time when the survival of the free world hinged upon the industrial might of America. Now the existence of either the “free world” or the “might of America” is decaying and becoming more and more a distant memory, just like those abandoned factories.

cranes

By 1980, the industrial machine that had functioned so mightily- for a hundred years- collapsed upon itself.

I can name a plethora of reasons why half the population was gone in four years, with three-quarters of the factories either having gone out of business entirely, relocating to the southern right-to-work states, or relocating to foreign countries. I can say the fall was brought on by union greed, or excessive taxation and regulation, or the changes in the world economy, or the cost of energy, but to be honest it wasn’t any one factor that led to the fall, but the perfect storm that brewed when all of the above converged.

Now my home town is little more than a crumbling, dead monument to the industrial revolution, long since passed by, and the only constant is the sound of the trains, still everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

downtownmarion

That, and it was once the home of President Harding. Harding is much maligned among many historians. He was a tomcat, he had shady friends, and for a time he was a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan. But, to his credit, he did keep the budget balanced, and he was well-liked during his term of office. He was so well-liked right after he died that school kids saved up their pennies and dimes and people raised money to build him a memorial that is only slightly less opulent than the Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson monuments.

The Harding Memorial is rather expansive, and very cool to visit- if you can find it. It’s on Ohio 423, on the south side of town, on the east side of the road.

hardingmemorial2

You’re Probably Doing it Wrong, Screw-Up #432 and “March Madness” is Driving Me Apeshit

‘sdoing it wrong

“Isn’t that cuuuute? BUT IT’S WRONG!!!”

It’s good that I had the foresight to DVR some old 2 Stupid Dogs episodes.  It would have been better, if I could hear the cartoons and Top Gear episodes over the man-yelpings in the next room.  I know Jerry gambles on just about anything anyone is goofy enough to organize a pool on, and he really gets into that brackets noise.  He is also a big Ohio State fan, so I’ve been having to endure both the football season and basketball season.

I am so glad he has his own TV.

In a twisted way it’s almost nice that Jerry’s so occupied with basketball.  It gives him less time to complain about other things, and that’s almost a relief.  It does not,  however, keep him from his incessant whining over food.

If I fix something nice and homemade such as chicken-n-noodles:

chicken-n-noodles

I even make my own noodles- flour, eggs and a lot of rolling and cutting-

Then Cap’n Happy will decide he wants something salty and processed such as:

06-totinos-pizza-rolls

Admittedly, they’re tasty, but I’m sure there’s not much nutrition going on here.

The only reason why I have even a passing interest in eating for health is because I’ve pretty much been forced into it.  There was a time in my life when the “four food groups” consisted of caffeine, nicotine, sugar and grease, remembering always that alcohol is a sugar.  That worked for me for awhile- until my health crashed in my late 20’s-early 30’s- and I had to pay attention or else.  I really don’t care what other people eat, and I really have no desire to impose my dietary preferences / restrictions on anyone else, but generally it means I get to fix two meals- mine, and whatever junk food du jour that Jerry wants.

I still miss looking at a créme horn as a mid-morning snack and/or lunch substitute sometimes.  I remember days where my eating schedule would look like this:

6 AM: Black coffee, brewed to espresso strength, 32 oz tumbler to get started, another 32 oz to last the rest of the day.

11 AM: Créme horn scored from sales department’s leftover donuts, coffee, coffee, coffee

6 PM: Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries, coffee

6:30-9:30 PM: Wine coolers and/or Bailey’s & coffee, or Kahlua and coffee

Of course, other days would look even more bizarre, like the two months somewhere in the mid-90s that I lived on nothing but Slim-Fast and coffee.  My abysmal nutritional habits in those days were supplemented by packs and packs of 120 menthol cigarettes.

gross ashtray

Nasty, I know.

So I am the last one on the planet who should be lecturing anyone on health and fitness, except maybe to serve as a warning.

I’ve always been the one to find the exception to prove the rule.  I’ve always found the movie Grumpy Old Men to be hilarious.  Burgess Meredith played the senior John Gustafson.  (See the classic bacon and beer tirade video.) His character reminds me of Jerry- cranky, fussy and of course, enamored of bacon and beer.  These are the guys who live to be 120, like the Russians who swill vodka and toke cigars their whole lives.

burgess meredith

I can’t help to think this will be Jerry in thirty years- drinking up my life insurance.

Maybe when I die and he gets all that cash (if he doesn’t blow it all on Natties and gambling) he might be able to afford real beer, like maybe Bud Lite.

Someone like me, well, I can watch everything I eat, work out 3-5 times a week, and will likely be taking the Dirt Nap by age 60 no matter what I do.   It must be my lovely type-A personality. I’d also speculate that my piss-poor draw in the genetic lottery didn’t help much either.

ohio_state basketball

I’m glad they’re winning, if for no other reason than it makes Jerry happy.  But why does a 1 hour game merit a week’s worth of commentary?

And why can’t they use the Oprah channel for all these damned games instead of TruTV? Or some other channel I don’t watch…like one of the 400 ESPNs?  I understand that there’s not much good on TV right now because all the jocks and wanna be jocks, and people who will bet on anything are watching basketball, but come on!  There is a niche out there called the Non Sports Fan.  It’s OK to pander to that niche, alright?

But just as I thought of my Non Sports Fan category of TV viewer, I thought of something non-sports that I loathe even more than 24-7 sports.  I absolutely can’t tolerate “Chick TV”: i.e. soap opera type fictional shows that do not involve either gratuitous sex or things catching on fire, anything involving non-talented schmucks trying to perform glorified karaoke, anything fictional and designed to make one cry, and worst of all, “improvement” type shows where some jackwagon from either coast tries to tell me how to dress and/or do interior design.

what-not-to-wear

Green shirt and green tie? That blecchy green?  And you’re going to tell me how to dress?

I have the 3 “c” rule: is it comfortable, cheap (as in inexpensive) and does it afford good coverage?

So what kind of programming is left for me?

Top Gear.  But only the BBC one.  The one with Jeremy Clarkson.

World’s Dumbest

-Anything on Investigation Discovery

-Most of the programming on The Military Channel, The History Channel and The Military History Channel.

-Some programming on Comedy Central, i.e. Tosh.0, and South Park

-Most of the programming on Boomerang and Cartoon Network except for Pokèmon and some of that other bizzaro anime stuff.

-Most of Adult Swim, except Family Guy.  I just can’t get into that show.

1000 Ways to Die

If I didn’t pay the big bucks for cable, I would really be going nuts by now.

The Error of the Nanny State, Actions Have Consequences, and Eat Whatever You Want!

TopGearInstantComplaintLetter

I love British humor.

I’m glad to see that not everyone has bothered to subscribe to the politically correct movement.  I am so tired of the mentality some people have that specifies if that one person has a problem or a special need – or even a booger up his/her ass about something inane, trivial and stupid, that everyone else has to pander to it.  For example (and I hear this one a lot) so and so’s kid requires a special diet.  That sucks, but should all the other kids be subjected to a diabetic/corn-free/gluten-free/peanut-free and guaranteed to be taste-free diet because one kid has a restriction that can easily be accommodated by that kid’s parents sending him/her with his/her own nutritionally correct meals?

I don’t expect anyone to pander to my dietary requirements.  While there is nothing about a diabetic eating strategy that would be harmful to a normal person, that’s not the point.  If you want to eat bacon, or cotton candy, a three patty greasy burger, or a 120 sugar-gram latte, that is 100% your business.  It’s going to stick to your thighs.  I’m not playing food police for anyone.  It’s none of my business.  I’m the odd one out, therefore it is on me to adjust.  When in doubt, I bring my own chow, or better yet, eat meals at home that I prepared for myself so I know exactly what’s in them.  Problem solved.

SlowCarbSalmonMeal

My healthy dinner tastes better than your crappy fast food, but you are perfectly free NOT to eat my healthy dinner.

burger1_big

Go ahead and have your burger.  What I eat is my business, what you eat is yours.  How simple is that?

Unfortunately there are too many self-righteous weenies out there who believe that if one person gets their undies in a bunch over something, the other 99% who have no problem with their issue have to suffer.  A good example of that is the whole hoo-hah over sexual harassment.  I grew up in the automotive business.  I supervised technicians.  I’ve been called everything but a fine upstanding white woman.  So what? I’ve told more than one techie to kiss my ass or given one the finger and instructed him to “sit and spin.”   Crass jokes are normal in the culture that surrounds automotive.  It reduces the stress and shows everyone that you’re human too.  I like an off-color joke as well as anyone else (probably more.)   Just don’t touch me, and you will live.

Maybe those who think it’s “inappropriate” to joke and have fun are the kinds of people who should automatically receive the male enhancement e-mails.  We can start with this guy:

bloombergthenanny

But, Mr. Bloomberg, what about clearing out the gene pool?  What about actions having consequences?  Can we protect everyone from their own poor decisions?

I’ve noted the wussification of our culture (especially men) and I really can’t stand it.  Now there’s a middle school with an “all inclusive” honors banquet.  So you get a reward for getting straight D’s and eating dead bugs off the windowsills now? What about the kids who actually take some pride in themselves and actually do what it takes to maintain a 3.5 average or higher?

I’m not saying this because I was an honor student.  I was.  I freely admit I didn’t have to do much else beyond showing up and actually turning in homework in every class I took with the exceptions of freaking algebra and geometry.  (I actually did have to study that shit.)

I’m saying this because in today’s dumbed down schools, if you’re not getting at least a 3.5 (non-weighted) average, you have the intellectual ability of paste, and you don’t deserve an award.

Giving everyone a “special” reward for simply sucking up valuable oxygen is a disincentive for those who actually do study hard and take pride in their academic achievements.  And quite frankly, it’s high time parents, schools and society stop worrying about what failure might do to little Johnny or Julie’s fragile little self-esteem.  Kids need to learn what to do when they fail: work harder.  I know it sounds like a foreign concept, but it’s an idea whose time has come.

honors0001

And we wonder why unemployment is so high among the young?

Bad Fashion Choices, Where did the Pink Toilet Paper Go? and Other Mysteries

???????????????????????????????

When, oh, when will the “pants halfway down the ass” trend go out of style?

This just plain looks dorky, and further proves my theory that the devolution of humanity is moving forward at an incrementally swifter speed. The other disturbing fashion trend I observe rather frequently here in beautiful central Ohio is large women failing to wear enough clothing to adequately cover their surface area.   There is no crime in being large, but I don’t want to see your “muffins.”

I also feel it unnecessary for you to burn my retinas with the visual of your behemoth buncakes so tightly wrapped in stretched out spandex so that I see both the cellulite and your size 20 thong.   Neither do I want to see the misspelled memorial to “Cuzzin Skeezix, RIP 6-3-03” that’s tattooed on your shoulder along with a badly drawn eagle with “Freebird” written under it.  Either you’re memorializing your cousin, or paying tribute to Lynryd Skynyrd, but it’s sort of in poor taste to do both with the same tat.

woof

May I suggest less revealing swimwear?

walmart

Really?  You thought your two year old’s shorts would fit your lard ass?

I’ve wondered for a long time where the pink toilet paper went.  Grandma always had pink toilet paper, to match her pink bathroom and her pink shitter lid covers and all that, even though Mom got on her about it because Mom thought there was something in the dye that would both clog up the john and give you ass cancer.

Then again, Mom had some pretty weird thoughts about both plumbing issues and what gives you cancer.  In her world there was a major choice between pouring bacon grease down the sink (granted, that will clog up your plumbing, and I do not advocate pouring grease down the drain) and getting cancer from consuming bacon and/or bacon grease.  I solve that problem by letting the dogs eat the bacon grease, because I figure Jerry eats enough bacon that if it gave one ass cancer he would have it by now, and dogs don’t generally live long enough to get ass cancer anyway.

However, I don’t pour bacon grease down the sink.  Ever.   That shit will clog the pipes, and the plumber is expensive.  The last time I had to call a plumber was over the catfish head in the disposal.  That cost $250 as well as the dude left an epic shitcaked mess all over the kitchen floor.  You would think for that kind of scratch the dude would have returned my under-sink items to their former locations and freaking mopped the floor.

Northern Toilet Paper Pink

Grandma had these stacked under the bathroom sink.

Even so, I sort of miss pink toilet paper in a strange kind of way.  It did cost a bit more than plain white, but not that much more to make any kind of difference.  I think the greenies scared people off of it, but Grandma had neither ass cancer nor plumbing issues associated with it.  For my own use, I prefer regular white toilet paper, simply because it’s easier to see whether or not you got the job done, but colored toilet paper was sort of a curious thing.

I’m kind of glad to know there are people weirder than me.  For instance, who would want black toilet paper?  Vampires?  And if you can’t see what’s on the paper how do you know when you’ve finished the job, unless you have a wet wipe -or a bidet?

black tp

This might be a hit at the funeral home.

Then there’s the quandary regarding men and toilet paper.  If a roll lasts a single guy a month, what is he doing with it? I have to assume he’s blowing his nose with it (men do not buy Kleenex, but they will use them when women strategically place them) but probably not wiping his ass.

I do the laundry.  There’s either not much TP being used for actual hiney hygiene, or they’re doing it wrong.

ridengo

Solve two problems at once, and never endure another filthy gas station bathroom again.

Simply Enchanting, Of Rainy Days and Melancholy

melancholy tracks

There’s something about days like today- cold, heavily overcast, with torrential rain, that makes me wish I could stay home in bed.  When I was working out this morning and had done my laps in the pool, I didn’t want to leave the hot tub.  For a fleeting moment I thought about how nice it would be to say screw it all and just plain not do anything today- or do what I want to on my own time. Until I remembered all the crap I absolutely have to do today that can’t just be blown off, that is.

This picture reminds me of the times I spent wandering the railroad tracks that went past my grandparents’ house.  Technically we kids were not supposed to go anywhere near the railroad tracks, as they were live and in use until they were pulled up some time in 1983 or so, but there were two irresistable lures that made the tracks worth the possibility of encountering an oncoming train, and/or being eaten alive by the local insect life.   As far as oncoming trains, one could generally hear and see them in more than sufficient time to get clear.  The bugs were another story. The ground around the tracks was swampy and there were plenty of sources of stagnant water for mosquitos to breed in.   The open sewage creek that ran a few yards south down in the ditch alongside the tracks could be a source of foul odor in high summer, and it was positively rancid when the water levels in the creek got low and the wind blew in the wrong direction.  There was a reason why Dad freaked out when he found us floating paper boats in the creek. We had already figured out we were floating our boats in an open air toilet when we saw the dookie floating in in the creek.  Sometimes there was toilet paper and feminine hygiene items too.   He didn’t have to warn us “not to touch the water.”   Sometimes the dookie made it downstream faster than the boats.

Railroad spikes were worth fifty cents apiece to the right buyer, (if you could find one who didn’t ask questions as to how you got railroad spikes to begin with) which was a small fortune for a kid back then.  There were bushels and bushels of black raspberries to be had (in season) and they were well within reach.  Even so, while picking berries, one still had to be wary of both poison ivy and bugs.

spikesThese were actually worth some money in 1974- don’t know if they’re worth anything today.

Probably the one time I can remember getting a good thrashing from Dad instead of just having to deal with Mom breaking wooden paddles on my ill-fated fanny, was when my sister and I (not the sadistic one) decided to take a big gym bag down to the tracks and fill it up with spikes.  Never mind she was six, I was five, and we were both small for our respective ages.  We loaded this gym bag down until we could barely carry it with all the spikes in it.  It was a good eighth of a mile from the tracks to our house, and in order to get to the house from the tracks we had to wander by the whole neighborhood lugging this thing.

Dad’s friends had spotted us, and he had gotten numerous phone calls before we were even close to getting home.  Back then a kid couldn’t cut a popcorn fart without the whole neighborhood knowing about it.  He was waiting to tan our hides the minute we dragged the spikes in the door.

Back in the day no one would hesitate to narc on other people’s kids, and there was no mollycoddling – or mercy- when it came time for the punishment.  When punishment was administered, the neighbors didn’t hear a thing.  If nothing was broken or bleeding and they couldn’t discern any flaming injuries when your parents were done with you, they figured justice had been served and that was the end of it.

black-raspberriesWe generally got away with the raspberries, though.

The raspberries went when the railroad pulled up the tracks.  It seems as if all the weeds and garbage have come back to over grow the track bed, but the last time I went wandering where the tracks used to be it was rather frightening even in broad daylight.  I spotted plenty of trash, used syringes (not the ones used for insulin, either,) used condoms, had a near-death encounter with some redneck’s pit bull, and all sorts of nastiness, but no berry bushes.

I don’t like going to where my grandparents used to live.  It’s creepy knowing there are strange people living in their house.  It’s never been a particularly nice neighborhood (although when the tracks were pulled up, the city tiled over the sewage creek, which was a bit of an improvement) but it went from ‘po folks to dangerous folks.

I can’t fault anyone for having dogs, but when I bring Clara with me (partially because she likes to explore, and partially for protection) I don’t need someone’s pit bull coming at her as if it were going to tear out her throat.  Clara is formidable (she’s half Malinois, after all) but if a pit bull really wanted to get aggressive with Clara it would be ugly, and it would break my heart to see either her or another dog injured unnecessarily.  One of the most important tasks of a dog owner is to teach good socialization skills and appropriate behavior with other dogs.  Protection breeds are more prone to dog-aggression than most, so I try to keep all my dogs’ encounters with other dogs as positive ones.  Clara is particularly well mannered with other dogs and I want to keep her that way.  Should she have a bad encounter with another dog, it would be harmful to her physical well-being as well as her mindset toward other dogs.

pit-bull-dog-pI have mulled over the possibility of getting a pittie- though I am more familiar with the herding breed mentality.

I don’t have a problem with pit bulls- or any other dog breed- when the dog is handled responsibly.  A well trained and properly socialized pittie can be a fantastic, gentle, intelligent dog, but even an ankle biter can be dangerous if it’s ill-treated and improperly trained.  A pit bull can be deadly in the wrong hands, just as a GSD, Malinois, Doberman, Rottie,  and just about any other breed, etc. can be as well.  No dog is born aggressive or dangerous.  He / she has to be made that way.

Today I’m just trying to keep my mind off the rain and the funk and the dreariness.

basketball

Then I remember the damned basketball tournament is going to be all over TruTV, and I hope and pray I DVRd a whole lot of episodes of Top Gear and the bizarre 90’s cartoons I love so well.  Mmm, three middle aged Brits playing with cars, Cow and Chicken and 2 Stupid Dogs.  I guess that will have to be intellectual enough for me.

2stupiddogs

At Least It Wasn’t Detroit, and the Art of the Impromptu Road Trip

big-john-steak-onion

I enjoy the rare and tasty privilege of an impromptu road trip, but I’ve not gotten to take one on my own terms for a long time.  This was not a trip I took on my own terms.  I can’t think of anyone who says to him or herself, “Gee, I’d like to go up to Lansing, MI for shits and grins.”  It’s not abysmal as Detroit or Cleveland, but it’s not what I would call a tourist destination either.  There’s enough ghettos in Columbus without having to drive 270 miles one way to visit another one.  Even so, I can look a little bit on the bright side. There is one memorable thing about the mid-Michigan area I like well enough that I’d love to see it come to central Ohio.

Normally I enjoy trying mom & pop local places when I travel, as I’m pretty open minded about food, but Steve-o can be very hard to please and quite difficult about food. Even so, he grew a pair on the way back and took my suggestion to try a local sub chain called Big John’s. The steak, cheese and mushroom (#4) sub is to die for.  If you go, be sure to try the red sauce.  Even Steve-o enjoyed his sandwich- and it’s rare to get a good food review from a guy who is very fussy about food and will seldom eat at any restaurant other than Taco Bell.

mmm steakNow THIS is a sandwich!

As I said earlier, awesome steak subs aside, I would still have to have a compelling reason to go anywhere in Michigan.  Michigan is NOT a vacation destination, IMO, except for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and even then one should remember you have to go through Detroit to get to Dearborn, and you should also remember that anywhere in that area apart from being directly on the museum grounds is highly, highly unsafe.   You couldn’t pay me enough money to be anywhere near Detroit at night, even though an Ohio CCW is also valid in Michigan.  I only have five rounds.

I don’t see it happening anytime soon, but should I ever have to end up in Lansing again for any reason, I will be sure to remember Big John’s.  I will try to forget that Dad and Steve-o and Spencer ended up staying in yet another roach motel, and that half of the city looks like a war zone.  Perhaps I didn’t see the right part of the city.  I know there are neighborhoods right here in Columbus that look almost as bad.  If all I saw in Columbus was the near east side I’d think it was a hole too.

shooting capital of central ohioPlenty of law enforcement are always down in this hizzy!

Saturday night I get a very late call (10:30 PM, and yes, that’s late for me to be getting phone calls) and wouldn’t  have bothered to answer it except for it was Steve-o and he knows better than to wake me up at night unless either a.) someone’s on the way to the ER, b.) someone’s dead, or c.) he has a catastrophic need that if unaddressed will lead to a. or b.

Now I know why I was so wigged out about Dad taking either one of their aged and increasingly unreliable vans to NC last summer, and I’d managed to talk him into letting me drive them down there.

The oil pressure sending unit failed on the van.  GM vehicles are rather notorious for this- especially the 3.4 V6, and any vehicle with 200K (especially an aging GM van) on it is pretty much on borrowed time to begin with.  That van is at the point where I would be surprised if it didn’t have a catastrophic failure on any road trip of more than 20 miles or so.

When an OPS fails, it’s almost always the high pressure unit, which on a 3.4 is only accessible with the vehicle on a rack, and then only after the starter’s been removed.  Pretty.  The sensor itself comes apart, and then suddenly the vehicle’s spewing oil all over the engine compartment- at 60 PSI.  Worse yet, there’s no way to know when one of these is going to fail.  Age can be a factor, but even so, I’ve seen these rude dudes fail on vehicles with less than 100 miles on them.

sensor

Two very bad things can happen if one continues to drive a vehicle with a failed OPS.  One of course, is that Al Gore and the greenies aren’t going to be happy with you, because you’re blowing motor oil all over God’s creation, including your engine compartment, windshield, mirrors, back glass  and all over the ten cars behind you.  The other is that if the oil pressure drops too low (and it inevitably will, since you’re blowing oil out the side of the engine) the lifters will fail to be lubricated and the valves will start seizing up which can lead to the cylinder head warping and/or head gasket failure.  That’s bad, but if the oil completely runs out, the crankshaft will no longer be lubricated, which will cause the crank to overheat and seize, potentially blowing a connecting rod through the engine block, which means there is no fixing that- save for replacing the entire engine assembly.

Cliff’s notes version for the non-motorhead:  If you smell oil or see it spattering on your windshield, shut it off. NOW.  Call AAA.  You are very likely screwed.  Especially if you didn’t shut it off right away.

Fortunately the boys knew exactly what was happening.  They knew that if they ran it out of oil they were done.  Even more fortunately, it happened about a mile from the hotel where they were staying.

The only thing about the hotel was it wasn’t terribly sanitary.  Poor Spencer had brought his swim trunks, but the pool wasn’t clean enough for him.  Spencer is not prissy, so I am assuming this pool was pretty gross.

dirty-pool-where-i-foundAn indoor pool is a beautiful thing- if it’s clean.

They had a place to stay the night, but the shower was filthy, the bed sheets looked as if they might have been changed sometime when Jimmy Carter was president, and someone had used the roof outside the window as a party patio.  The window screen was broken and there were several empty liquor bottles standing on the roof when they got there.

Even better, for Dad, they found a Firestone across from the hotel who managed to work them in to get the sensor changed out so he could get to the swap meet they were going to, and so they could get back home.  I took Steve-o back home early so I would be sure he would be back in time to go to work.  The van managed to make it back with Dad and Spencer, although they’ve got some serious powerwashing to do.

Maybe the next time I go on a road trip I’ll get to go somewhere fun, but for going somewhere not particularly fun, it wasn’t a bad trip.  It got me out of the house and to somewhere different, and that’s saying something.

My Little Top Gear Obsession, Other Things Brit, and Jezebel

JeremyClarksonSecAmendTyranny1

 

I’m an American.  Unlike the current squatter in our White House, not only do I understand the purpose of the Second Amendment, I can prove that I was born in this country, and I can even prove my parents and grandparents were too.

Even though I’m American, I enjoy British humor.  I also enjoy European cars, even though I can’t afford them, and even though I drive a Toyota for the low cost and reliability.

So when Steve-o turned me on to Top Gear on BBC America, I was fascinated.  The premise of the show is simple: three middle-aged, irreverent Brits (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) driving and critiquing cars that I never knew existed.  They combined British humor with European cars, and now I’m finding myself DVRing it for later when I can’t stay up all night to watch it. For those who have never viewed the Brit Top Gear, the best way to describe it is, Benny Hill meets the automotive fancy!

ClarksonGTI

I have to love a guy who thinks Piers Morgan is a knob, AND digs the old VW GTIs as much as I do.

I do find it hard to believe that a guy who is 6’5″ can fit in an old GTI, much less drive one, but wonders never cease.

They have good taste in cars, even for guys who drive cars with the steering wheels on the wrong side.  I would think it rather awkward to shift with my left hand, but I guess it would be normal if you’re used to it.

top gear peniston oilThe BBC doesn’t let the Top Gear guys have sponsors, so they make up their own.

top gear rainbow flagThey aren’t politically correct, either.

I don’t think James May is gay.  I think they are acting like adolescent boys who call each other “gay” in an attempt to slam the other guy’s masculinity.  They may be middle-aged men, but like all men, they are pubescent boys at heart.  I think the pranking is funny, but I’ve always gravitated toward puerile and sophomoric humor.  I still find Benny Hill hilarious.

bennyhill cupidI don’t know why, but Benny Hill was even funnier in drag.

Now that Top Gear is on BBC almost every day, I have something fun to watch when World’s Dumbest isn’t on.

jezebel isabelJezebel (at 6 1/2 months) is still smaller than Isabel.

Jezebel came home last night, clawless and a bit disoriented, but OK.  She’s more energetic and looked a lot better than I had anticipated,  but I still have to keep her isolated and away from the dogs and the basement (where the regular cat boxes, plus various other basement funk is.)  Apparently she is simply meant to be a very petite cat (she is about 3#, but she is well proportioned)  which should not affect her overall health.  I do wonder if she was born a runt- the other three kittens we trapped at the same time (may or may not have been siblings) also still had blue eyes and appeared to be about the same age, (under seven weeks) but they were markedly larger.  Most of the ferals in our area are small cats, (even the toms) so I really didn’t expect Jezebel to be of Fanny-sized (aka:epic) proportions.  Isabel has always been right around 5# all of her adult life and her small size doesn’t seem to faze her in the least.

bennyhill flowerRIP, Benny Hill.

I think that we could make an interesting Anglo-American exchange (even though both guys involved are Brits.)  We’ll send Piers Morgan back to England, because there’s more of an audience for his politically correct whining in the UK,  but only if we can have Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy makes sense.

Jeremy-ClarksonIf all foreigners were like Jeremy, I would be a huge advocate for immigration!

I mean, really.  He speaks English*, is gainfully employed, and has intelligent opinions- unlike the terrorists and non-English speaking third world refugee Obama-lovers who are bombarding our borders.  Just a thought.

(*some people consider British English and American English to be two separate languages- which may be true if you consider some Southern dialects to be representative of American English- however, most of us can understand most of what they say and vice versa, so close enough!)