16 March 2019

New Vehicle?

We've had a couple interesting encounters this week, both driven by our experience with our 2014 Yamaha Super Tenere.
If you come here often you know we had a problem with the bike. Just before we arrived here in Gilbert, Arizona, our son reported the bike wouldn't start. On 27 December we had the bike towed to the dealership/Service Center where we bought it. Staring New Year's Day in the face, we figured it might take a while for them to get around to fixing it. But after two weeks, when we still hadn't heard from them, we gave them a call.
"You need to come and see this."
(Our experience there is described in an earlier post here. See below.)
The intake valves had carbon caked onto their stems.

They were confused as to how to proceed.
Their confusion sent me scrambling online to do some research.
I don't much like what I've found.Turns out, all gasoline direct-fuel injected engines are susceptible to this problem.
That includes our car... a 2014 Taurus SHO.

The Yamaha has 30,000 miles on it. This is the earliest stage most people report beginning to have a problem with intake valves coking up with carbon.
Our Taurus has 30K miles on it. (VERY low mileage for a '14 model year car.) But the fix for intake valve problems on the Taurus?
Remove and replace the cylinder heads... obviously NOT under warranty.

So I thought, "Why not trade it for a new Taurus SHO?"
Ford, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to focus on SUV's and will not make the Taurus in '20 so if we want one, we MUST buy it now.
There's a car nearly like ours at a local dealership. We went to try to negotiate a deal.

They want $46,000 for the new car. They want to give us $18,000 for our (like new) '14 model.
I won't repeat what I told them they could do with their offer.

I used to be able to fix most things ailing my car.
No longer.
Cars and motorcycles are now computers with engines and wheels.
And some of this technology is gonna bite us in the butt and require BIG BUCKS to fix when things go wrong.

We got the Yamaha back yesterday.
They STILL didn't fix everything that ails the bike, but it runs fine and we simply wanted to get it out from under their roof.
Total bill? $4200.00.
But they gave us a break on the parts and I paid $2400.00 to drive it away.
I'm angry, frustrated, and confused about the future.
How do we avoid this happening again in 30K miles?

Hyundai and Kia's 100,000 mile warranty looks mighty attractive right now!

13 March 2019

Typing Paper

"Grab that restaurant coupon for me son",  I said.
"Where is it?", was his response.
"It's on that sheet of typing paper" I replied, pointing to it.

He had no idea what I was talking about.
I forgot... they call it "keyboarding" now, don't they?
Is it now "keyboarding paper"?

09 March 2019

The Playboy Bunny

I learned early on the truth that "Faint heart ne'er won Fair Lady". 
She lived in my apartment complex. I had seen her coming and going from the parking lot. I heard she had formerly worked as a "Bunny" at the local Playboy Club.
She was petite, blonde, shapely, and confident.
I asked her out. She accepted.

On our way to dinner I asked, "My boss wants me to drop by the (Dog) Pound to verify he locked the kennel. Do you mind if we stop by?"
"No, not at all" was her response.

I parked in the lot, left the car running, and checked the lock... it was secure. But while I was there I figured I might as well walk around the kennel to check on the dogs and insure everything was okay. Doing so took me out of sight of the car. Walking down one side of the cages, then around the backside of the building I came to the gate that lead back to the parking lot. This gate was made of wood slats and was abeam where I had parked my car.
I peaked between the slats to surreptitiously get a glimpse of this gorgeous woman-
And got a glimpse of this beauty with the index finger of her right hand buried almost to the second knuckle up her right nostril.
Shocked, I waited to see what she would do with what she found there. I have this "thing" about booger eaters... had she stuck her finger in her mouth I would have feigned illness and taken her home. She picked up her purse, removed a tissue, and wiped her finger thoroughly.
Beauty. Confidence. Class.
And decent hygiene.

As I recall we had a fine, enjoyable dinner.

27 February 2019

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I began to hear better when my hearing aids were two rooms away on my bedroom nightstand. So I took 'em to the VA Clinic here in Gilbert, AZ to have the technician take a look.
As I walked through the entrance to the clinic I was confronted by a group of girls, maybe 15 in all with three adult supervisors, excitedly asking, "Would you like some cookies?"
As you may know, I've been on a diet and have lost 36 pounds in just under a year. I want to keep that fat off.
So my initial thought was "How do I say 'no thank you' to these beautiful faces?" 

And then they said, "They're FREE!"

I asked one of the chaperones, "How do you expect to make enough money to go on excursions if you give your cookies away?"
She answered, "Someone already bought all these and donated them to be given away here at the VA."

I took two boxes.
And I gave the chaperone $10 with instructions to buy some more cookies to give to Veterans.

In a world that appears to be coming apart at the seams, sometimes there are events that nearly bring me to tears.

13 February 2019

"New And Improved", When It Ain't:

I've had an education.
You might need one too. This post is about internal combustion.
If you have no interest about what gets you to work or the grocery, skip this one.

Our Yamaha Super Tenere has now been at the dealership for repair almost two months.
One morning it would not start. We had it transported to the dealership where we bought it new and told them to "make it run".
We've love the bike. We've had a good relationship with the service the dealer has provided, (routine stuff like tire replacement, although the cost of same has been $omewhat eye-opening.)
But this event has been nothing short of extraordinary. 

I really feel at this point that they're searching for a needle in a haystack.
They can't get the bike to run.

The intake valves had obvious, SERIOUS carbon deposits. After breaking the engine down they got after those deposits like a Dentist attacking plaque on your teeth and removed them. They re-assembled the engine.
It still wouldn't start.

Much head scratching followed.
They actually had commented how clean the engine internals looked. We've paid "religious" attention to changing the oil and filter.
Only the valves look funky.

This is a "direct injection" gasoline engine, meaning the fuel is introduced directly into the combustion chamber. Fuel DOES NOT pass by the intake valves on the way to being burned.
So no amount of "Sea Foam" or "Chevron Techron" or "BG44" will improve this situation because none of that stuff will touch the intake valves. It CANNOT clean them. In the pursuit of improved fuel efficiency we may now be facing ugly "unintended consequences"...
Carbon buildup on intake valves, starting at about the 30,000 mile mark.

I'm now worried about our Taurus SHO, the engine in which has a similar design to the Yamaha, and seems to suffer a similar fate according to forums on that "Ecoboost" engine.
(And adding chemicals to the fuel to attempt to remedy the problem there overheats the turbochargers causing them to fail... $$$$$.)

This situation has a lot of people baffled.
And it makes carburetors look like wonderful, "Old Faithful" devices.

Any helpful comments would be GREATLY appreciated!
I'm sure experts would be grateful.

08 February 2019


I was about 13. One of my friend's Fathers, comparing me to one of his friends,  said I was "Chunky", like that guy.
He may as well have slapped me upside the head with a 2X4.
But just as we are sometimes surprised when looking at a candid photograph, it made me take a close look at myself.
My Mother was 5'2" tall. During my early teen years she weighed 190 lbs.. At that point she saw a photograph I had taken of her and had her own "2X4" moment.
But she continually had problems with her weight because she had virtually NO discipline. She always seemed to be on the "see food" diet.
She was also diabetic.

From my Mother I inherited my lifelong battle with "chunkiness". I have never been "sloppy fat", but that too is a problem. My body stores fat in my trunk and that fat does not feel like sponge.
It feels solid. And research I have done indicates that's the most dangerous kind. Solid fat is stored around vital organs and can lead to infarction, stroke, and other interesting health difficulties.
At my annual VA checkup in April I weighed in at 235 pounds. My A1C indicated I was diabetic. My eye check was a relief; no damage SO FAR. I'd like to continue to pass eye exams and flight physicals, so I realized it was time to get serious.

We've been here in Gilbert, AZ two months, and have been walking from 3 to 6 miles daily depending on mood.
The dog enjoys it. Us? Ehh... At times it's hard to get in the mood.
But this is no longer a game.
This morning I got on my scale.
It read 199.

And my blood glucose reading is back in the normal range.
I feel great. My stomach has flattened. Sara Jean is pleased.
But WOW... I want pizza, ice cream, mashed potatoes, wine/beer!

My intent is for my scale to say 185.
When I get there I'll have to take a hard look at a maintenance diet.

Life ain't fair, is it?
And as you've no doubt heard, getting old(er) sux.

03 February 2019

Radio Ga-Ga

I come from the age of vacuum operated windshield wipers, balloon-tire bicycles, and TV Repairmen.
Our family had one TV. I'm afraid my memory is faulty, but I remember the set was so small it had a handle on top so it could be carried from one room to another... (12-inch?).
It had vacuum tubes. 

You'd turn the thing on and initially there'd be a tiny dot appear on the center of the screen. Then when the tubes warmed up, which took about 30 seconds, the black and white(!) picture would appear.
The integral speaker was probably five inches or so in diameter.
We knew nothing different. We thought it was great.
I LOVED "The Steve Allen Show"!

Vacuum tubes wore out.
Local hardware and drug stores had machines that could test 'em, and had replacement tubes for sale.
When the set failed you'd remove all the tubes and carry them in a brown paper sack for testing.
If the tubes all tested "normal" your heart sank 'cause there was one recourse-
You called the TV Repairman.

This guy was always covered up with work. It would inevitably take him DAYS to work on your set.
We knew nothing different...
Grit your teeth and tolerate the denial of stimulation.
And resort to the next-best-thing-
The radio.
AM radio.

In my adolescence, Soap Operas were still being played during mid-day.
I can remember my babysitter listening to "Guiding Light" at Noon.
Mornings were devoted to Ruth Lyon's breakfast show broadcast out of Cincinnati.
Evenings, DJ's would spin records.
During summertime we listened to the broadcast of White Sox games out of Chicago.
With no TV, we accepted what was broadcast and were glad to have it.

It's very odd now how the memories of those "No TV" periods are some of my fondest.

I think of 'em every time I hear-
"G'night John-Boy.
G'night Grandpa!"

29 January 2019

Give Me Sanctuary!


Mom and Dad owned lakefront property.
A breeding pair of Canada Geese started feeding on their land. Mom and Dad, (wildlife lovers), thought they were beautiful, and bought a 

50-lb bag of cracked corn to entice the geese to stick around. It worked. The breeding pair hatched a brood of 8 goslings and Mom and Dad enjoyed watching the family thrive and grow.
Winter came, and all the geese flew to warmer climes.

Next Spring, Mama and Papa goose came back. The eight goslings also returned, bringing their mates with them... eighteen birds in total.
Mom and Dad bought more cracked corn. By mid-summer they, retired and on a limited budget, became pretty vocal about the cost of feeding their adopted, feathered friends.
Mama and Papa goose and all the other gooses had broods of 6-8 goslings. Dad watched as an adult from one family attacked and drowned one of the little ones from another family.
What uncivilized behavior! This, and the fact that their waterfront was now covered in goose excrement, began to give them concern.
Winter came. Geese departed. Spring returned.
And so did ALL the geese.
It was impossible to count them all.
Mom and Dad called the State Department of Natural Resources.
No one knows how they did it or what they did, but the geese disappeared.
And Mom and Dad's retirement funds were no longer spent on cracked corn.

Psychology and Sociology 101:

You get MORE of what you reward.
We must insure that we reward behavior that makes the world a better place.

11 January 2019

Our Carbon Footprint

Five years ago I bought a Yamaha "Super Tenere" adventure bike to leave behind here in Phoenix for my son to use, and for us to use while we're here during Winter. Until now the bike has given us 30,00 trouble-free miles and has been a pleasure to ride.
When our son went out to ride just before Christmas, the bike failed to start. The starter would spin the motor and the bike would cough as if a cylinder was firing now and then, but that was as close as it would come to running. Holidays approaching, we postponed taking the bike to the shop thinking they'd probably be working with a skeleton crew 'til after New Year's. Still, we delivered the bike to them on the 30th of December.

Nearly two weeks later we hadn't heard from them. We called.
"We'd like you to come see this!"

In the shop, the bike looks like a bomb hit it...
Side covers off. Gas tank off. Air cleaner system off. Radiators (two of 'em) detached and laid off and out of the way. Both throttle bodies- ditto.
It looks sad.

But all this work exposes the intake system, and allows us to look at the intake valves.
And they are a MESS. There's a half inch of carbon caked around the stem, extending outward almost a quarter inch. An accumulation of gunk like this HAD to have had an effect on the gas/fuel mixture entering the bike's combustion chamber!
What would cause such a phenomenon?

"How do you ride this bike?"

My son has used to bike mostly to commute to/from work. He rides city streets 10 minutes to the freeway, then spends another 20 minutes riding 65+- mph there. At this speed the bike is turning about 2,000 RPM.
And there, apparently, is the problem-
He should be putting more stress on this engine!

Our parents used to talk about "blowing the engine out" now and then by taking the car onto the open road and "opening her up".
Turns out that's true.

And this is why it was a good idea for Granny to take her "Brand-new, shiny red, Super Stock Dodge" to the drags. (Thanks, Jan and Dean!)

And our behavior on the bike will have to change.

24 December 2018

A Baby Is Born!

I've always been one to listen to lyrics. If you suffer from this same affliction and, like me, enjoy a "seasonal boost", I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did: