Saturday, July 06, 2013

FORD stands for Found On Road Dead!

ADVENTURE:  - the experience when someone travels far from home, where exciting and unusual events occur in a place where nobody is around to help you.

CRAPPY DAY: - see "ADVENTURE", except it happens to you.

Some of you may have been aware that I had planned my annual vacation for this week.  My plan was that I would leave Monday, July 1, and drive the 900 miles from my home to San Diego.  My children, and my grandchildren, live there.  This has become an annual event over the past few years and I have been looking forward to the trip for months.

It's a not-insignificant drive but I've made it before.  A 300-mile-a-day average isn't beyond reason, even though I'll be doing all the driving myself.  I had many gifts for my family members in the car, and I was eager to share their holiday with them.  Someone had suggested that I just fly down there, but the gifts included family heirlooms made of glass, and I am unwilling to subject those items to UPS, or other trans-shipment firms.   They are literally irreplaceable.

In the actual event, I got a late start on Monday the First, so I only made 100 miles the first day.   It was still daylight when I got to the area where I had made phone reservations for a motel room, and I couldn't find the hotel sign which the company representative had assured me was "visible from the hiway".

I pulled off at the Sutherlin, Oregon exit and decided to use the GPS/MAPS function of my new StupidPhone to find directions.  Unfortunately, since I'm still learning to use this device-of-the-devil, I missed a turn and had gone 4 miles past the 6.6 mile distance I had expected to travel before I decided I had made a mistake.  Obviously, I needed to backtrack, as I was traveling WEST when I intuitively knew I should be traveling NORTH.

I found a short straight stretch on the back-country road, and attempted a U-turn.

I completed the first half of the turn when my engine died.  I couldn't get it started again.  I was blocking the road in both directions .. there was no room for any vehicle to avoid me on either side of the road, and there was only 50 yards of straight travel in either direction.  In the west, there was a blind curve; in the east, there was a hill.

Fortunately, I didn't panic.  The first thing I did was to put on my emergency blinkers.  Then, noticing that there was a short 'down-slope' behind me, and the entrance to a gravel pit with room to accomodate my SUV, I managed to jump out and laboriously push my D.O.F. ("Damned Old Ford") far enough that only the first two feet of the car projected out into one lane.

THEN I paniced!

By the time all of this happened, it was already 7:30pm. Only a little over 90 minutes remained until night, and my car was black.

Fortunately, a couple of young men came by, traveling in the same direction I had came from .. toward civilization, as passes for such in this benighted country where (you can see this coming) there was no cell phone reception.  Since I could not call AAA for help, I was mightily grateful that they volunteered to help me push the D.O.F. fully off the road, and then give  me a ride back to town.

Nick and Justin were generous, responsible young men.  And I didn't say a word about their learned analysis of the probably causes of my mechanical issues.  Nor did I mention that I had experienced the same problem in May, had my car towed to the local FORD dealer, and that their mechanics were unable to diagnose the problem (and charged me $100 to tell me they don't know why it mysteriously dies).

Unknown to them, the same thing had happened to me in April, but I was in a 'safe place' when it happened.

Having been forewarned that this was a recurring problem, I had undertaken the trip with some trepidation.  My game plan was that if it happened again, I would wait until the car had cooled down sufficiently to restart, and then immediately return home.

In the actual event, I called AAA at 8:30pm (when I finally got back to a place -- Sutherlin, on the I5 Freeway-- where there were places to eat and cell phone service.  It took until 10pm until the towing service phoned me (there was some communications problems; AAA didn't tell the tow truck driver that I was in Sutherlin and my car was 10 miles West of there.  Eventually, at 10:30 the tow truck and I got to the D.O.F. at 10:30 pm, and it was another 30 minutes until he helped me find my hotel.  It was 15 miles further up the road. (When the tow truck got me to the car, it started right up!  So I asked him to lead me to my motel, which at least HE had no trouble finding.)

Note to future travelers:  the "Oakland, Oregon Motel 6" is actually located in RICE HILL, which is 10 miles north of Oakland, Oregon.  Which, in turn, is 6 miles north of Sutherlin, which is 10 miles east of where I broke down.

I'm still grumpy.  I spent Independence Day at home, alone, listening to my collegiate neighbors blowing up firecrackers and bottle rockets.  It reminded me of Viet Nam in it's intensity; now I wish I had been in a sufficiently good mood to go outside and watch the local fireworks show.  As it was, I heard the neighbors stomping on my roof as they were jostling for "the good seats".  I was not in a mood for community or conviviality, though.

After the holiday week is fully over, I'll be taking my D.O.F. back to the dealership which was unable to diagnose the problem.  I'll instruct them to start replacing fuel-system components, starting with the fuel line and up to (and including) fuel pump until I quit having these problems.


I've always looked upon this annual journey as an adventure.  Sometimes, though, the adventure is just too much,

I told my Daughter and Son, and their spouses, that I knew their children would be terribly disappointed that I would not get to see them this summer.

The grandchildren did not disappoint me;  they were entirely unmoved by the news that "Grandpa Won't Be With Us This Summer".

Good News:  Both Daughter and Son, and their families, will probably be moving closer (by 600 miles) to where I live, by next summer.

I'm thinking of renting hotel space for all 11 of them for next Fourth of July, and inviting them to visit ME next Fourth of July.

It would be a lot cheaper.

And a whole lot less frustrating.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Stoopid Computer Things!

A few days ago I decided to re-install a piece of software which I had used for (literally) years with no problems .. but had not previously installed on my recently-purchased computer.

Doesn't matter what it was .. I had full confidence.

But the links lead to an unfamiliar link.  Doesn't matter what that was, either.

The point is ... it lead me to a website named something like "" and the sequence of accept/reject questions managed to sneak in a few questions which were formatted in the EXACT same way without making it clear that they were suggesting that I accept software which I had not ever heard of before.

Fool that I was, I accepted a couple of them before I realized what was going on.  And I have had nothing but problems with "pop-ups" and inadvertant sidetracks in the days since I made my unwise decisions.

So, here's a few (hopefully) helpful suggestions for you:

  • When you decide to download/install software online .. be really careful that you read EACH page of text,
  • If the test seems the same as your original "OKAY" page , it's not something that you entered incorrectly .. it's a subtly different test sequence which commits you to accepting software that you've never heard of before.
  • Any software which begins with "SWEET" or "TIDY" .. unless you have already made the fully informed decision to download that software ... should be definitively rejected!
  • You may think that anything you  download can be uninstalled using the Microsoft UNINSTALL protocols (for example).  Here's a tip:  it doesn't always completely delete/uninstall the software that you may 'suspect' is causing you problems.
  • the stuff you realize .. belatedly .. that is is f*cking up your system?  It is.  And you let it in, because you didn't pay attention to the original questions when you were trying to install a perfectly benign software package.
  • STOP!  You're ignoring this!  I am telling you, this sh*t can f*ck you up seriously .. and if you're ignoring it, you're more of a dumb-ass than I was!  (Don't say I didn't warn you!) 
  • When you try to uninstall this bogus software .. don't expect the usual Windows (?) software to deal with it.  It's sneakier than that.


Okay, all I'm sayng is that .. I consider myself a fairly 'savvy' computer guy, but I discovered (too late) that I had been cleverly lolled into complacency because I became impatient while downloading "trusted" softwar .. and I mindlessly hit  the "accept" button because it looked to me as if the computer was slow in responding, and I was bored.

These folks are smarter than I am.  Maybe they're even smarter than you!

So, just in case: when you EVER accept an online download, do NOT do what I did!

Don't click on "ACCEPT" or even hit ENTER when you are already downloading software.  Download-dot-com may  be a legitimate website; but it only takes ONE  broken link in the admittedly  fault chain of internet access to be "dirtied" to the effect that you are sucked into giving them  information  (or access permissions) which are inappropriate. Happened to me, but I don 't think I sent out TOO much information  before I caught on to them.

No, that's not honest.  I was Totally taken by surprise, and I provided a LOT of private information before I discovered that these guys were ,,,

It won't help me, but it may help you if you decide to stand up to the  Corporate Greed which has led us to this juncture.

I don't believe. I just type these words;  hopefully next year when I will "BRILLIANTLY" think it out  to its logical conclusion, I can fix it.  In the meantime.. just do the best you can, okay?

  These guys are .....      

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