30 January 2005

What's up, Doc?

I got this e-mail from my friend Larry in L.A. a few minutes ago.

Things Are Not Always As Easy As They Seem

A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop.

The surgeon was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, can I ask you a question?"

The surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, "So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic..."Try doing it with the engine running."

Now, that's pretty funny.

Truth of the matter is, mechanics would go to jail for doing some of the shit doctors get away with as a matter of course. In matters of diagnosis, estimates, and billing, let alone performance, mechanics are bound by so many laws it's a wonder sometimes that we can fix anything and make a little money on it.

Doctors work on one basic model. Mechanics may work on hundreds and are expected to be experts on all of them.

Doctors have a powerful lobby and malpractice insurance to pay for their fuck-ups. Mechanics have neither.

I've heard of artificial hip salesmen coming to the operation and making sure the doctor installs it correctly. I can honestly say I've never had the parts guy do this when I'm putting some new high-zoot accessory that I've never seen before into someone's sled. Don't human replacement parts come with installation instructions?

Mechanics are bound to their diagnosis the minute the customer signs to authorize the repair. If we mis-diagnose something, we eat it. Doctors just keep working and the meter just keeps running. To be fair, we can take something as far apart as we have to to find out what's wrong with it, and leave it in boxes until the part comes in. I'm not sure doctors can do this.

Hospitals charge $6 for an aspirin. I'd love to be able to charge $6 for a shot of WD-40!

If we make a mistake, we are bound to fix it, and good mechanics will do this so the customer never knows about it. If a doctor makes a serious mistake, he can simply bury it. He still gets paid, too.

To be perfectly candid, we can probably fix a lot more shit with a ball peen hammer than a doctor can, but we still have to know how and where to hit it.

Mechanics must know what they are doing better than doctors. We apply our skill. Doctors are always practicing their trade.

If my doctor reads this, I hope I don't get sick.

27 January 2005

What'll they think of next?

Go see the Jeep Hurricane and Gladiator, and the Chrysler Firepower. Concepts only, but perhaps a portent of things to come. Look for the photo gallery.

I think the Hurricane might be a little over-the-top, but I like the styling. The Gladiator is bitchin'.

The Firepower is cool. Chizler has some great styling lately in the 300, Magnum, Crossfire, etc. Must be the Kraut influence.

20 January 2005

Jury duty in New York

From fellow New Yorker James Wolcott:

[Jury Duty]...two words that make hardened New Yorkers break out in hives.

. . .on TV, it's the sexy lawyers who drive the action, but in the court room it's the froggy judges who set the tempo, draw the eye. Sam Waterson's McCoy. . . wouldn't last ten minutes in Judge Ira Gammerman's court . . .

Been there, done that. It ain't nothing like Law & Order.

18 January 2005

Man wisdom

Cross-posted from The Brain:

This probably belongs at TF&G, but what the hell. It's a subject near and dear to my heart. From Jen at Gillard:

[. . .]

If nothing else, most Smart Boys know that a) giving a lady an orgasm earlier in the night takes a lot of pressure off for "the main event" and b) decent "oral debate" skills make up for any, um, underendowment issues quite a bit.

[. . .]

I might not know the ins and outs of the political/government situation as well as I'd like, but pleasing a woman is something I'm eminently qualified to speak on. No bragging, statement of fact. Guys, please your woman (or man, but it's not the same) before you do your thing, or just after, or both. They are not objects solely for your gratification. If you don't know how (common, for some reason) ask her to show you. You'll thank me.

13 January 2005

Man rules

Another gem from Mrs. Indian. (She and Mrs. F email all day long. Surprised any work gets done.)

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are n! ever going to think of it that way .

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't ! expect us to act like soap opera g uys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a Vegetable. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question you don 't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

12 January 2005

Be careful

Now your car can be used as a witness for the prosecution:

The National Transportation Safety Board wants all cars to be equipped with black box data recorders, which keep records of, as Fox News reports, "everything from speed, brake pressure, seat belt use and air bag deployment."

The Fox story sums up some privacy advocate objections, and includes this mordantly amusing example of regulators' thinking:

According to Joe Osterman, director of highway safety at the NTSB, the recommendation was inspired in part by a tragic auto accident involving a 86-year-old man who drove his car into a crowded Santa Monica farmers├ó€™ market last summer, killing 10 and injuring 63.

Osterman said a black box in the car might have not saved the people in the crash, but would have allowed investigators to find out how it happened and how cars could be better designed to reduce the likelihood of greater injury in the future.

Since there is no reason to believe that that tragedy occurred for any reason other than a bad driver stepping hard on the gas, thusly propelling him forward, at a time when a competent driver would have been stepping on the brakes, Osterman's comment belongs in the hall of fame of lame uses of tragedy to justify government action.

I debated this topic last December, when California became the first and so far only state to mandate that car buyers had to be told when their cars had the devices, on CNN's Talkback Live with Public Safety's Joan Claybrook; transcript here.

I saw an article in Newsday (the fishwrapper) yesterday at the shop about an accident here on Long Island where the anti-lock brake computer was allowed as evidence against the driver at fault. I'm still looking for the link to the story online. The story above was written last September.

Now, I personally think the computer is the greatest thing that ever happened to the automobile. They're cleaner, faster, and more powerful while using less gas than ever. You three-huggers bitch about a 10-cylinder Excursion, but it still gets better gas mileage than a mid-60s 6-cylinder and runs a thousand percent cleaner.

Thing is, if you got a problem with your car's computer tattling on you, you'd better get with your elected representatives, cause the computer in your car is here to stay.

11 January 2005

Is he fucking kidding me?

You're in New York now
, Dicknose. We don't care that you're 6'10" and a 5-time Cy Young winner. Keep up that attitude, somebody's gonna hand you your head.
The 6-10 Johnson, who was traded to the Yankees last week, got into a confrontation on a Manhattan sidewalk with a newspaper photographer and a television cameraman Monday on the way to his physical, then apologized in a statement released later in the day.

10 January 2005


Out West here, we're having a terrific series of Winter Storms. I've dug myself out every day since last Wednesday. Down in Reno, they've got two feet of snow on the ground, the most since 1916, and it has flat paralyzed the "Biggest Little City In The World". It's kinda funny, actually. I mean, they've got the Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "Snowy Range") in their back yard, literally, but when the snowfall moves two miles and actually gets to town it shocks the shit out of them and brings the whole joint to a slippin', slidin', shovelin' halt.

I remember that when I worked at Harley-Davidson of Reno a few years back, we were next door to a four-wheel-drive emporium, and every time it snowed they had a rash of jobs fixing locking hubs (I'm dating myself, huh?) that had rusted in the "unlocked" position due to lack of use. Remember, "SUV" stands for "Shiny Unused Vehicle". We got a big kick out of it.

We benefit, however, from their discomfort in the fact that there have been many articles about Winter in their media. Here's one that I felt would be of interest to TF&G readers. From the Reno Gazette-Journal column, "Street Beat".
Look outside. If you see a white blob where your car should be, stop reading now, and head outside with a shovel.

No, wait. First read this, from Puzzled Reader (not her real name):

No, wait. First read this, from One Who Knows (not my real name): Shovel around your car. Don't shovel snow off your car. You'll fuck it up. Use a Snohoe. A shameless local plug. They're made in the next town down the road from here.
“All around me,” she wrote (I’m paraphrasing here), “I see people zipping effortlessly through the snow, while my delightful Ford Ranger gets stuck every other block.

“I thought trucks were good in snow. How can I join that mobile throng?”

You need a combination of will, new tires, judgment, faith and a handful of no-cost hints Street Beat will hereby impart. Keep reading even if you don’t have a pickup, because they’re applicable to nearly all vehicles.

Enjoy. Learn. Snicker at the un-preparedness of them city slickers. Something I've known for years: The real reason for four-wheel-drive is to get a thousand pounds over the drive wheels, not to make your dick bigger.

08 January 2005

07 January 2005

License Plate Cams

Now, I know that no one smart enough to read TF&G would ever even think of doing anything illegal or unsafe, but we all screw up once in a while and so do the cameras. You might be interested in this product:
A product that hides license plates from traffic-enforcement cameras at intersections may appeal to those frustrated by malfunctioning cameras but poses a major safety threat from those who hope to use it to slip through red lights.

I understand there are automated toll booths with cams, too....

01 January 2005

The class of 2004

Happy New Year, folks. If your one-year-older sled is looking a little raggedy, this article in the LATimes oughta give you some good ideas. Since these are last year's leftovers you can probably get a smokin' deal.
It was a good year for machinery. We saw a gangsta Chrysler, a $90,000 VW, the Ford Mustang and Ford GT born in clouds of vaporized-rubber glory. We saw a 617-hp Mercedes-Benz SLR and the $450,000 Porsche Carrera GT — these cars, collectively, might be called the Excess Express. For every one of these machines, there is an ideal buyer. On this page, some of the great cars of 2004 and the types of L.A. owners they might attract. Here's hoping for better times and better cars in 2005

As for me and Mrs. G, we think we can sqeeze another year out of the '92 Dakota while thinking about a Tundra. Why mess with success?