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!"