Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Miscellania”

Tears for Gears

They washed it, and the tires are actually BLACK, not deep grey! The dot inside the cargo box lid is a mini-thermometer so I can monitor interior temps.

Well, among the final prep for departure items on my list is maintenance service that’s due on the Mighty Furd, and I also wanted them to check the front wheel alignment and check the front suspension parts, since the tires have been insistently cupping (wearing in weird and warpy concave patterns). That usually indicates suspension problems, and it’s been going on for a couple of years. The cupping transforms the aggressive Cooper ST/Maxx treads from their normal whine to a sound that closely mimics the harmonics of a blown wheel bearing, just enough to make it unsettling. The maintenance items were to change the coolant (best done every 3 years on this engine), change out the fuel filters (2) along with making sure that the water drain valve isn’t plugged up with sludge, and change the oil and filter. The service writer suggested changing the rear diff oil if not already done, which it has not been, which he said was normally due at 90,000 miles. Naturally, I suspected foul play here to drum up business, but agreed to have that added in. As it turns out, it was due at 100,000 miles and I just reached 105. Missed that one. Total bill when it was all over, $730. I’d suspected $600 going in, not including the diff change, and had braced myself for it. Didn’t stop the hanky from having to come out. The other people in the waiting room understood, but I don’t think the cashier likes to see grown men sobbing into one. She did pat my shoulder and say “There, there, now …Check or credit card?” I suspect she rightfully tagged me as one unlikely to carry that much cash. Ever.

I was in by 7AM and left at about 2:30, the main drag being that you normally don’t want to drop all the coolant out until the motor has cooled down some. I sensed bad news coming when the work was done and the writer was not smiling. He herded me toward where we could sit down. Turns out Read more…

Wow! The Opportunities Never End!

Throw me a frickin’ BONE here! …Need the info. Can anyone here tell me what I pay you people for? Honestly.

I received this urgent missive just today!


“Thank you very much for your urgent response to to me

“I am Ms. Liza Wong the Head of Accounting Audit Department of HSBC BANK (HSBC)in Malaysia. In my department in the Bank where i work, I discovered a sum of $85.5 Million USD In an account that belongs to one of our foreign deceased customers, a billionaire Business Mogul Late Mr.Moises Saba Masri, a Jew from Mexico who was a victim of a helicopter crash since 2010 which resulting to his death and his family members.

“You can see more information about Saba Masri Mr.Moises unfortunate end accident on the website-link below.
[link deleted to ensure your safety]

“Now our bank has been waiting for any of the relatives to come forth for the claim but nobody has done that SINCE 2010. I personally have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives,Which the Board of Directors are planning to share this funds among them-self. Which i have good heart Read more…

Overland Expo West Tickets

Roughing it has its appeal, but a hot shower has more.

Well, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The good news is that, as of yesterday, tickets are now on sale for this year’s Expo, if you’re planning on going. The bad news is cost. Apparently, the expenses incurred by moving this event to Fort Tuthill County Park near Flagstaff were higher than expected last year. That’s just a guess on my part. Whatever the reason, the result is that day passes are now $25 instead of $15, and 3-day weekend camping passes have jumped from $95 to $155 in one year. I do not know what the gate cost of day passes will be, but I do know there will be no such thing for the camping passes, since those will be sold out before long. I have mine now, but I can tell you that this will likely be my last Expo attend for awhile. I will make it a point to enjoy it!

The Mighty Furd Gets a Report Card

The Mighty Furd’s lab test report is in and, on the whole, it’s quite good! Blackstone Labs is located in Indiana, so sending in a sample from Arizona via the Post Office takes a week, plus a couple of days to do the test and write up the results in humanspeak. They are one of several outfits that can test any automotive fluid you send them, and the usual goal in doing so is to evaluate wear status as well as fluid condition. In this case, if my oil’s additives are pretty well used up, then it’s high time for an oil change no matter what the odometer says. If there’s some coolant in the oil (or vice-versa) then it’s likely high time to address a blown head gasket. If trace metals commonly found in cylinder walls, the valve train or elsewhere are found in unusually high amounts, then decisions can be made now instead of during a mechanical crisis.

Since knowledge is power, then the the whole goal here is to become aware of budding problems long before they can wreak their havoc on your wallet. The more of your resources you have tied up in your vehicle(s), the more dependent you are on them for income, or the less financially able you are to deal with major breakdowns in equipment, the more valuable it becomes to know ahead of time what situation is or is not coming up. While it’s normally much cheaper to suffer the costs of regular maintenance than the costs of neglect, it’s also typically much cheaper to catch and address individual problems as they surface, than it is to wait until the damage has been done. Sitting beside the road with a connecting rod sticking out of a hole in the crankcase is a bigger problem to deal with than having to shorten up your oil change intervals. With the 6.4, not all potential harbingers of doom throw a visible warning flag ahead of time, but enough do that it pays to monitor what one can.

Having engine fluids analyzed – in my case engine oil – is not cheap. The base rate at Blackstone Labs runs $28, and for that you get Read more…

Left Without a Scanner to Stand On

Preciousssss! Mine’s perpetually coated with dust, but the touchscreen-style controls across the top surface don’t care. They visibly appear only when they are able to be used for what you’re doing. Otherwise, there’s only an entirely blacked out disc, the main power button, and the display, which folds back flat. A door swings up like a drawbridge to seal off the front.

There’s always something disappointingly inevitable when updates to the operating system on a computer wind up leaving some gizmo that you use back in the dust. You know, some kind of clever device that works great until suddenly it is no longer compatible with your computer. For example, printer manufacturers eventually abandon the high road for their “obsoleted” models, though the computer’s operating system itself often takes over for basic printing functions. Sure, they all kick out some new drivers, updated software or firmware for a few years, but eventually, the party’s over. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

The party’s over a lot sooner with scanners, especially when a built-in flatbed scanner is built into an “All-in-One” unit. That abandonment happened early in my case, since my 2010 Canon Pixma MG8120 lost its ability to scan 35mm film (using Canon’s software) a long time ago. An update to High Sierra (MacOS 10.13) clinched the deal, with the scanner part being left for dead by Canon. That’s not the best, since I’ve just loaded up on inkjet cartridges for it – it uses 6 of them at a time – and mechanically, it’s been the most problem-free inkjet printer I’ve had since my HP 500 B&W printer back in the 1980s.

The changes within High Sierra are significant enough to throw a wrench into a lot of third-party software, Canon’s included. But the only market that Canon pays attention to are the Read more…

The Glock Model 23


A Glock Model 23 in .40SW.

A Glock Model 23 in .40S&W. It’s considered to be mid-sized.

Part of my opportunity to evaluate three different pistols, one after the other, while at the Silver Island Mountains near Wendover, Utah included an Austrian-made Glock Model 23, a semi-automatic (self-loading) pistol in the .40 S&W (Smith & Wesson) caliber. (It is common for a given caliber of ammo to include a qualifier after it, since multiple purpose-driven variations often follow which are not interchangeable.) This Glock was a Gen4 (Generation 4) version, which is the latest. Apart from an internal spring change for longer service life, the Gen4 is mechanically similar to previous versions except for some ergonomic improvements. Those include a size-adjustable grip assembly as well as equal adaptability for left-handed people. That may make me yawn, but if I were a lefty, I’d suddenly think it was a very big deal.


Glock, as a brand, is heavily used by military, security agencies, and law enforcement agencies throughout the world, including about 65% of U.S. law enforcement agencies. It initially gained publicity in the 1980s as the infamous “plastic gun” that would surely sail through airport metal detectors and jeopardize the lives of thousands of American citizens, according to the popular press. It garnered lots of attention and sold a lot of newspapers by hyping fear and chaos, but the truth is that the frame itself is polymer, while the barrel, slide, and internals are steel – because they have to be. Glock sidearms have become so popular not because of misleading articles, but because of Read more…

New Name, Same Game

What’s in a name? Since I want to upload a special audio file to this blog, the only way to do that with as my webhost is to change my free “” account into a Personal Pay to Play account that costs $48/year. That also provides other perks of course, one of them being a new domain name of my choice, should I prefer that. Uploading audio files used to be in the free plan, as were plugins. But I guess that came to be viewed as less economically viable than charging money for them. A portion of businesses sometimes take their modus operandi from drug dealers, and the rest of the time from pirates.

I chose “” as the new web address. You can probably see that up above, in the web address window of your browser. That address change doesn’t alter anything you have to do to get here, because the old name and old links out there simply redirect all inbound traffic to the new web moniker automagically. Functionally, it makes no difference – except to me. Now I can better clog this Internet Tragedy with even stupider content than I could before, and in greater quantity. What more could one ask?

Introducing: Team Shoestring

Now that some of us will soon be recovering from injuries received over the Christmas dinner table, whether digestive or emotional, I present something which will almost certainly damage your psyche. That is the reassembled promotional website of Team Shoestring. So let me refer you to the diabolical Team Shoestring blog page that currently contains a half-hour audio recording called “The Team Shoestring Updates”. I plan to expand this page over time with a little of the pictorial shenanigans originally depicted on the original Team Shoestring website. I’m undecided as to whether that’s a promise or a threat, so you be the judge. As I do so, more of the topic titles on that page will be changed into active links which lead to their own special pages.

Backstory: Actually, you need this in order to have the anything on that page make any sense at all, particularly the “Team Shoestring Updates” audio recordings. This is a blatantly ridiculous promotional scheme that goes back to Read more…

Merry Christmas!

In the true spirit of the holiday, at least as we practice it here at Rancho Begley…


But personally, I have minimal expectations this year, as always.

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again!

The Bridge of the USS Defiant as it was in 2013. It’s pretty much the same now, except for a thick layer of paperwork needing to be scanned or otherwise dealt with.

I’ve got this big-screen iMac, circa 2009, and it’s proven wonderful both for critically editing and cleaning up film photographs to make art prints, and also simply to be able to work on one document while another reference source is on the screen right beside it. Its screen sharpness is fabulous, which makes me wonder why Apple later upgraded it to just barely beyond the visual limits of human eye resolution. Apart from being a marketing brag, what’s the practical use for all that extra cost? No matter. I was pleased to be able to concentrate on my workload rather than have to frequently troubleshoot why my computer suddenly couldn’t find my printer.

Regardless, the iMac has been a real workhorse right up until Apple emailed me in 2013 that too many of the special Seagate hard disk drives (HDD) they use were failing, and would I please take my iMac to one of their authorized service centers for an HDD replacement at no charge. I found this notable because they knew I was several months out of warranty and Read more…

Post Navigation