Category Archives: rants

“It’s that damn Obamacare!!”

Don’s Automotive has provided its employees with 100% paid health insurance for years. (I hope that makes you feel a LITTLE better about the cost of getting your car fixed.) 🙂 Anyway, we recently changed banks after years of suffering with Wells Fargo and had to transfer all the bank drafts for health insurance to the new and much nicer Prosperity Bank. The Humana website took us around and around in circles and calling Humana resulted in 2 hour hold times so I enlisted the help of our insurance agent only to hear a rant that went something like this: “Don, its not just Humana, its all the companies. Ever since Obamacare…….” Give me a break! What does that have to do with inept crappy service? My reply to him: “Ever since that damn Obamacare my wife wants separate bedrooms. I came out this morning and my left rear tire was flat on my Honda Fit. I put on the spare and got 3 miles down the road and the spare went flat! It’s that damn Obamacare!” Obamacare may have its problems, but the way it is the scapegoat for everything under the sun is ridiculous. Every year health insurance and the cost of medical care gets more expensive at a rate far greater than the G.N.P. or inflation. Before we blame it all on Obamacare perhaps it would be prudent to remember this has been going on for decades? What is with this rant about “socialized medicine?” What do you call it when a visit to the emergency room costs 10 times what it should because those that can pay or are insured subsidize masses of non-payers that the ER can not turn away? And these non-insured and impoverished are coming to the ER for sore throats and headaches resulting in a gross inefficiency and waste of resources. I call this the WORST kind of socialized medicine and it was entrenched when nobody had ever heard of Barack Obama.

Segways on park sidewalks

3-09-2013 —

I have an issue with people in their teens and 20s touring Austin sidewalks on motorized transportation. They are too weak to walk? I have a REAL issue with the fact that I and my 78 year old buddy, who has two artificial hips, were on a park sidewalk headed to rollerderby at the Palmer Even Center, and a Segway tour came at us with the attitude, “Excuse us, move over, coming through!” It really didn’t kill us to step aside into the grass while they didn’t even slow down, but if I had any iota of respect for them their actions pretty much killed it.

The Segway is brilliant technology serving an almost nonexistent need. I wrote a letter to the Statesman about this once and it was the last letter to the Statesman I will ever write. In my letter expressing contempt for Segway users, I expressly excluded from my contempt Segway users who, because of disability, would otherwise be less mobile. The Statesman edited that out making me look like an insensitive jerk and I got a bunch of letters from irate people who had an uncle or whatever who was disabled and relied on a Segway to get around.

Click and Clack, this is pitiful!

3-09-2013 —

http://www.lowellsun.com/autos/ci_22639303/click-clack-talk-cars-get-second-opinion-shocks

(Don’t know how long this link will be good.) On one of my professional forums everybody got a good laugh out of the brothers’ pitiful answer. Any shop owner who does any volume of repair work at all will sooner or later put a vehicle on the lift and when the suspension hangs all the way down a failing strut will seize up. When lowered, the vehicle will be essentially un-driveable with no suspension compliance whatsoever on the bad corner. It has happened in our shop three times and, I am happy to say, in every case we had such good mutual trust and rapport with our customers that we were not blamed despite the timing of the problem. The story speaks very poorly of both the shop that blamed the problem on “air” and the brothers Click and Clack.

An oil and filter change every 3000 miles = money down the toilet

This says it pretty well. An elevator arrives no sooner because you push the button repeatedly with all the strength in your body. Add 2000 miles to that “next service due” on your lube sticker, or much better yet, used the computerized reminder indicator on your dash if so equipped. Be advised, these reminders frequently fail to get reset at your drive-through lube facility so will often come up prematurely.

Remind me to address “tune-ups” before too long — a term that should be considered obsolete for the modern automobile.

Gabrielle Nestande

I feel too strongly about this to say nothing. Ms. Nestande thought someone through a rock at her windshield, she thought she hit a deer, she was scared because the BMW daddy bought her got a booboo, she “knew what happened,” but didn’t see the blood, flesh and clothing on the windshield, she will never drink again, but drinking apparently had nothing to do with the “accident” because she was “ok to drive”….and etc. It makes me physically ill to think about it. Had I been on the jury I would have held out for guilty on all three counts come hell or high water.

Telemarketers & statements about them I don’t agree with

“One shouldn’t be rude to a telemarketer, after all, he/she’s just trying to earn a living.”

You can say the same of a crack dealer, a prostitute, or someone who rifles your car looking for money or credit cards. The telemarketer is taking something of value from you — your time — without your consent or invitation in the hopes of financial gain. This is a form of petty thievery. I guess if you feel you should be polite and turn the other cheek to thieves, then it follows you should be courteous to a telemarketer. In any case, when the phone rings and a telemarketer is on the other end rudeness has already been initiated by the caller.

“You can take care of telemarketers by putting your phone number on the “Do Not Call” registry.”

This is of some use for a residential phone number, but of no use at all for a business. The telemarketers that harass businesses are an almost entirely different group than the ones that call your home. They mostly push credit card processing services, group health plans, questionable loan programs and internet marketing schemes. The “Do Not Call” registry has no legal application to a business phone. In any case, even at your home, telemarketers trying to sell political candidates, a telemarketer calling from an entity you have transacted business with, and telemarketers trying to stick a hand in your wallet on behalf of alleged charities are all exempt from being required to follow the registry. An ethical law-abiding telemarketer will honor the registry and not call your home. Wait a minute! “Ethical, law-abiding telemarketer?” Isn’t that an oxymoron?

“You invite telemarketing calls by owning and answering your telephone.”

In one sense true, in another sense not even worthy of rebuttal, but I have heard it said.

“You should put your cell phone on a “Do Not Call” registry because publication of a directory of all cell phone numbers is imminent.”

This is a persistent urban myth. See this Snopes report. I suspect it’s probably a bad idea to put your cell phone on any list which could be used to verify its a working number.

“I am NOT a telemarketer…….”

“I am simply trying to help your business get to the top of the Google listings, I am trying to help you save money on your credit card fees, I have a college degree and am trying to help you manage investments…..” Etc., etc., etc….. Barf! OK, you are not only a telemarketer, but you are trying to insult my intelligence with an obvious lie, or perhaps you need a dictionary.

“Telemarketers raise money for causes such as fighting drugs, aiding the family of fallen law enforcement officers, etc. etc.”

They raise money for those that own the boiler room operations. The state troopers associations or whatever get only the most token percentage. Its despicable and wrong that they let their name be used by disreputable businesses on the theory that any pittance they might receive is that much more than nothing. Perhaps even worse, is that public school athletic booster clubs do the same.

There’s nothing you can do except hang up on them.

I use this program which I cannot recommend too highly. You will also need a voice modem in your PC (cost approx. $19), caller ID service from your phone company, and to plug a phone line into your PC. The program is highly configurable and you can rest assured that any telemarketer who transmits caller ID will only cause you to answer a call from them phone the one first time. You can block anonymous calls also if you wish, and you can play any message to them that suits your taste. It can be loud painful screeching noises or a polite “Not interested. Please don’t call again.”

More misinformation from Click & Clack

I don’t listen to their radio show because it annoys me how much they laugh at their own tired jokes. But today I read their column in the Statesman. The first topic they answered well, the second, not too well at all. It concerned someone who drove a ’98 Toyota Corolla on bad roads and experienced steering wheel shimmy at 60-70 mph despite having had the car’s wheels “balanced and aligned.” Click and Clack offered two possible explanations:

1. Tread separation on a front tire.

2. A loose tie rod end or ball joint in the front suspension.

Tread separation would have been caught by a proper wheel balance job. A loose tie rod end or ball joint has the following symptoms: Clunking and knocking at low speeds when turning or going over bumps. If a tie rod end or ball joint is catastrophically loose, a wicked “death wobble” vibration will be triggered when you go over a bump at about 30 mph or less. This vibration is such that you will pull over to the side of the road wishing you had a change of underwear with you.. High speed shimmy is not generally a symptom of a loose tie rod end or ball joint.

The following are common explanations for high speed steering wheel shimmy:

1. A wheel balance operation was not successful due to poor equipment, poorly maintained equipment or operator error — happens all the time. My 3/4 ton crew cab diesel truck has wheels too big to fit our shop’s balancer. NTB flat out cannot balance my truck’s wheels — after they tried several times I got disgusted and tore off all the weights they had put on and it shimmied far less! Recently, Discount Tire was finally successful on about the sixth try. This was with new Michelins and me standing over them telling them how to do it and insisting they use different equipment than what they had tried without success on two sets of new tires. And, that said, Discount Tire is one of the best of the “big box” tire chains.

2. Front tire out of round or rim grossly bent so the wheel/tire assembly is technically balanced but does not roll true.

3. Shimmies when brakes are applied at highway speed because of brake rotors that are not flat and of uniform thickness due to warpage from the repeated heat generated by braking. Probably 50% of vehicles on the highway have this syndrome to a greater or lesser degree.

4. Inner CV (constant velocity) joints on the front wheel drive axles can cause a wicked vibration up the steering wheel any time the gas pedal is applied at high speed and they are under torque. This is, in fact, particularly common with the drive axles used on certain Toyota Corollas and Geo Prisms.

All four of the above are commonplace, but Click and Clack only mentioned #2, (sort of).

If you think they are entertaining, that is a matter of personal taste. If you think their information is to be trusted, I regret to inform you it is not.

What have things come to? Bottled water—rant!

8-12-11 —

Yes I know its hot, and as someone who bicycles 100+ miles/week I know the importance of drinking plenty of water in August in central Texas. But what seems insane to me is Nestle’ or some other mega-food corporation takes municipal water somewhere, possibly performs minimal filtration on it, puts it in a plastic bottle, ships it a few hundred or a few thousand miles and marks it up like 10,000%!! This is madness! Its only water! When I was a kid, bottled water was unheard of, but we were not dying of thirst right and left. We drank out of water fountains and water was free and available at most any public place. If you want your water filtered — not that Austin tap water is at all bad — its child’s play for a handyman to plumb a filter under your kitchen sink, that is if your refrigerator doesn’t already have a filter in it. There all all manner of insulated stainless steel canteens for sale allowing you to drink water that has not absorbed carcinogenic plastics. In our current Texas climate, it won’t take any time at all for these to pay for themselves, to say nothing of the huge environmental benefits. I am not a hard-core tree-hugging, recycling freak, eco-nazi — unlike my stepson Tony 🙂 🙂 — but bottled water strikes me as an abomination! Happy to report that Tony comes to the shop and fills his one gallon canteen from the water cooler/filtration unit in the office. Apparently bottled water does somehow appeal to many “tree-hugging, re-cycling, green” folks, because it occupies considerable shelf space at Whole Foods Market and other such stores.

I’m listening if anyone can explain this to me!

Segways, why??

Recently a customer commented to me that he works downtown where he frequently has to dodge Segway tours that seem intent on running him over. He identified with sentiments I expressed in a letter to the Statesman a couple of years ago where I described the Segway device as brilliant technology serving little or no purpose. I should have known the Statesman would edit out my disclaimer regarding those with certain specific disabilities for whom it could possibly be a godsend. Such cases are probably uncommon because if you can’t walk you probably can’t stand for a long time and likely have balance problems, but is my understanding they do exist. So I received indignant e-mails accusing me of insensitivity towards disabled people. Well, nobody can edit this rant but me, so here we go….. My disdain for Segway tour members is strictly for those able-bodied individuals, and teenagers of most of all, who choose this mode of transportation over walking or bicycling. What in the hell can you see piloting a Segway that you can’t see walking? In this era of rampant obesity and type 2 diabetes — 10% heredity and 90% lifestyle induced — choosing not to walk when it is so obviously appropriate is downright pathetic.