Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've got a set that doesn't work. My car died close to 2 1/2 years ago. In early 2005, my Ford Tempo developed overheating problems. The water pump went out. When the mechanic showed me the old water pump, the fins on the immpeller were gone! I could tell they had been reduced to rust. I found out later where that rust went.

The overheating problems started up again that summer. Short distances weren't a problem. But long distances during the day were another story. I wound up stopping and waiting for the crumpled compact (that's another story!) to cool down several times before going on to my destination.

At one point, I had the mechanic replace the lower radiator hose. He told me that the bottom of the radiator was full of the rust that came from the water pump impeller. Chances are, the engine coolant wasn't circulating enough, if it was even able to move at all!

The oveheating problems caused me to replace the alternator and the fan motor. Then, one night I went to the Red Cross headquarters in Tulsa to check on the progress of the ham radio operations in support of the Hurricane Katrina evacuee shelter at Camp Gruber. Before I could get out of the parking lot to go home, the muffler drops down! Fortunately, it was under warranty from Midas. Unfortunately, on my way home from getting the muffler replaced, the engine overheated again and got hotter than it ever did before. After that, the Fractured Ford was hard to start and produced a strong smell of gasoline.

Later, while discussing the possibility of fixing the Twisted Tempo with a mechanic who seemed to be very familiar with Tempos and their problems, we determined the problem was most likely a cracked head. Well, the Twisted Tempo is now the Terminated Tempo.

I have thought about taking a picture of it, showing the body damage, and putting it up for sale on e-bay as an ugly lawn ornament. That's about all it is good for, except for storing some tools and a few other things in the trunk.

The good news is that I am in the market again for a vehicle. I have saved up enough that I can officailly start looking for something.
My first choice is a small pickup. Next would be an older half-ton pickup, but I would go for a car if that's the best deal I could get.

I do know one thing already about my next vehicle. It will not be a Ford!!!!!

FORD = Fix Or Repair Daily, Fill Oil Reservoir Daily, Flippin' Old Rebuilt Dodge, Found On Road Dead (Ford LTD = Found On Road Dead, Left There Dead, LTD by itself means Look Twice Dummy!), Failed On Race Day, Foul Obnoxious Repulsive Dud, Future Operation Requires Dementia.

One thing I have noticed is when someone parts ways with a vehicle that is not a Ford, they will say that they sold it, traded it in, gave it away, or whatever. When talking about a Ford, they say "I got rid of it." Nobody gets rid of something they really want to keep.

In case you haven't noticed by now, I HATE FORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Politics, again

Well, Super Tuesday was almost a week ago, and the political landscape has changed a bit. Some of the changes were not to my liking, and they are beyond my control, but I did what I could. I voted. In the long run, voting is the most significant thing anyone can do during an election. Of course, you could actively campaign for the candidates and issues you care about, but isn't the goal of your campaigning to influence the votes of others?

Many question the need to follow the issues and vote. They think it doesn't affect them. Oh, but it does! If you want proof, look no further than your own pocketbook.
Get out your wallet or pocketbook sometime, along with blank sheet of paper. Make a list of everything you find in there. Then put a checkmark by anything that is issued or regulated by any government agency. Put a second mark by those items issued by the government. Now count up the number of items and the number of check marks. Divide the number of check marks by the numer of items, and multiply that by 100. That gives you the percentage of how much you should care about politics and government policy.

Of course, some say that all politicians are crooks, and they don't deserve your vote. Well, I will say, that in America, you get to choose your crook. Let's say you are given a choice between a crook who wants $50 of you money, and another who wants $50, 000. Which one would you choose?
And that's not the most relevant aspect of this situation. The politicians are going to get elected anyway. Do you want to let someone else decide which crook takes your money?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Storm Warnings and the Public

The tornado outbreak on Super Tuesday once again brings up the issue of why some people died and why some people don't heed or receive warnings.

As a storm spotter, I am concerned about this issue. I spot storms because I enjoy looking at the storms and trying to analyze what I see. But storm spotting is primarily a public safety effort, so I don't just watch the storms, I report on anything I see that needs to be reported to either help in the warning decision process or to confirm warnings by providing ground truth.

Many times after a major tornado event, TV stations and newspapers will carry a quote from a survivor saying, "We didn't get a warning!"
With all due respect, many people don't get warnings, not because the warning didn't come out, but because they just don't "get" the warning.

Part of the problem is the criteria the National Weather Service uses to define a severe thunderstorm. The thresholds for wind and hail are too low. The NWS considers a storm severe if winds are at least 58 miles per hour, or hail is 3/4 inch in diameter, about the size of a penny. As a result, the NWS issues severe thunderstorm warnings, the warnings get confirmed because a spotter reports wind or hail that matches the criteria, but no damage occurs. The public then becomes accustomed over time to not expecting anything bad to happen. Then later, a thnderstorm drops golfball-sized hail on someone or strong winds knock out power and tears up some stuff, and people are surprised that something bad happened!
The NWS has improved their warnings. They no longer issue warnings that blanket entire counties.except when the entire county is threatened. Now the warnings will cover only the threatened areas, and the text of the message will mention specific cities and towns.

The biggest element in this issue is the public: how they perceive and receive the warnings.
In some places, the public receives no warnings because of in insufficient delivery system. Many areas do not have sirens to alert those who are outside, or in their cars. Some areas have poor TV and radio reception, and some TV and radio stations will not interrupt their regular programming to give out the warning. To solve this, the FCC could require all TV and radio stations relay storm warnings, and people in communities without sirens could seek government grants and such to buy sirens.

A related problem is that many warning messages make a blanket statement that everyone in the warned area should take shelter. When people do, and then they find out later that all that happened was that someone several miles away lost a few shingles, they start to regard warnings as overblown, and then they tend to disregard any warning that comes out. I believe, that unless a storm has a history of producing damage and injury, or the radar clearly indicates strom characteristics that will definitely mean that damage or injury will occur, then messages should state that people should watch their local area and be ready to move to shelter quickly.

The biggest contribution to the solution would be public education. The public needs to be informed about the difference between watches and warnings, the availability or NOAA Weather Radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology, and the just how real the threats of severe weather are.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Politics and religion

Two topics you should never discuss in bars and at family reunions. But on a blog -- they're in open season. In this presidential election cycle, I've seen more discussion of the role religion plays in politics. Here's a few of my thoughts:

Most say you shouldn't mix politics and religion. If you are talking about basing political decisions on religous affliation, I would agree. The conflict in Northern Ireland is an example of that. When it comes to political positions based on religous beliefs, how can you keep those separated?

Too many people try to make Jesus into some kind of a social or political revolutionary. Sure, He talked about taking care of the poor. But He never said anything about government doing that. He did say we would always have poor people among us. Why do some then try to eliminate poverty by political or government means? I often hear people say the government shouldn't spend money on the space program, the war on drugs, military defense, etc., that the money should be spent on the poor. Yet I never hear anyone say that candidates for political office shouldn't spend millions on TV ads, that that money should go to the poor. (I will probably add another post later, on whether Jesus is a conservative or a liberal, and go more in depth.)

Many of my fellow evangelical Christians are reluctant to vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. I do see most Mormon beliefs as false, so I would nver encourage any one to become a Mormon. But does that disqualify him as President? IIRC, President Taft in the early 20th cetnury was a Unitarian. Unitarians' basic beliefs differ from those of most who call themselves Christian. While Taft might not be regarded as a great or outstanding president, he is not considered to be a bad president either. He also served on the Supreme Court after his presidency, and his record as a justice is comparable to his record as president. In light of this, and considering Romney's record, his experience in government and business, and the way he conducts himself, I would have no problems with him as president. Of the candidates left in the race, he appears the most presidential to me.