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Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

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Posts posted by Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

  1. 56 minutes ago, Cypress Sun said:

    I've been to the Garlits museum several times, even met "Big Daddy" Don Garlits himself once. You're right about needing the day to experience it all. Easy to get to and right off I-75. Well worth the days time and admission fee.


    If I remember right, Garlits is missing part of a foot due to an exploding transmission during a run.


    Built in early 1969 at Seffner by Garlits Chassis shop.  this was the first dragster to successfully emply a planetary two-speed transmission reaching a top speed of 240 MPH and 6.51 second ET.  Unfortunately, this success nearly cost Don his life.  In a freak transmission explosion at Long Beach, California on March 8, 1970 Don lost part of his right foot and injured a spectator.  It was this accident that led to the development of the rear engine car.



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  2. .45 Colt.


    I have a few.  Also, from my late teens (1960's) I always wanted a lever action rifle or carbine thusly chambered; alas, none made.  I searched for a reasonable priced used Winchester or Marlin receiver to resurrect as a .45 Colt, but never did find one.  Vendors at gun shows wanted new rifle prices for junk actions.  I even considered converting my Marlin 336, which I bought new in '71, but just never got around to it.


    And now, thanks to the popularity of Cowboy Action Shooting, they're as common as springtime buttercups along the roadside and I gots some!  ^_^





  3. Driver kept swerving into oncoming traffic... trooper did as ordered; driver perished, but did not take anyone else with him.


    Almost daily I drive past two artificial flower memorials on opposite sides of two-lane  Avenue 12 in Madera County.  Certainly not as with the above incident, but a 17-year old driver, possibly distracted with texting, swerved into the oncoming lane and struck an SUV head-on with a combined speed of over 120 mph.  The teenaged driver was alone; the SUV carried a family heading home from a day at an amusement park.  The teenaged driver died, as did a child in the SUV; the others in his family were all seriously injured.  I happened upon the scene just as the Life Flight helicopter was lifting off.


    If the trooper had not taken the pickup out, would that driver had done the same?  Or, should he have backed off  (which seems to be SOP in california) in the hopes that the pickup driver would have slowed down and driven more safely?  And would he have?  Or would he have continued to drive reckessly fast and erratically and killed a bunch of people?  


    In this state I have no doubt that the agency and the trooper himself would have been sued into oblivion.  :mellow:




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  4. 2 minutes ago, Rip Snorter said:

    The Ace Hardware here in Montana makes and somehow programs those keys.  Never used the service, but they offer it.


    Oh, I tried 'em.  Locksmiths, several hardware stores - no go.  It seems that Mazda has proprietary software for their PCM's ("Power Control Module" - aka, on-board computer).  The software can be leased, but it's quite expensive, and generally not worthwhile for other businesses.


    Incidentally, when I took the car in for the second key, I was told that the PCM had to be replaced under a factory recall order.  Not happy, but I let them do it.  Almost immediately, the car began having issues, like failing O2 sensors.  Mazda would have been more than happy to change one for about five hundred bucks or so, or sell me an "official" OEM sensor for $300+.  I replaced them twice with OEM units that cost under forty bucks - they seemed to last less than a week.


    Long story shortened, a year or so later I paid Mazda to do a diagnostic - they claimed that the PCM was faulty.  The one they installed.  And, I was told, recall repairs were not warranted (!?), therefor it would cost me $1,500 - $2,000 to have it replaced.  After over twenty calls to various Mazda personnel - including their national offices - off to small claims court we went.


    I won.


    By the way... they showed up with four people - the mechanic who installed the module, the service writer, the Service Manager, and the General Manager.  The service manager tried to come on like a heavy, stating that I did not know what I was doing.  He was both embarassed and furious when I whipped out the schematics and described in detail what I had done, including my own diagnostic procedures, and pointed out that my measured voltage and impedence readings were all within specs.  The service manager snorted derisively, and said I should have brought it to them directly -  but when I did take the car to them to diagnose, they could only charge me $120 for their quoted one hour shop time.  It took them six hours, and involved remote dagnostic procedures from a national-level tech.


    He then stated that they could have simply re-programmed the PCM.  He was almost apoplectic when I told him that the Miata NB PCM - and quoted the model numbers - was a ROM-chip equipped ("Read-Only Memory"), which could NOT be re-programmed; it wasn't until the introduction of the NC that they went to PROM ("Programmable Read-Only Memory") units.


    He was absolutely furious, and stomped off when we were done.  The General Manager, who had looked on with amusement, smiled, shook my hand, and said "bring it in at your conveniece.  We'll even give you an extra key."


    Dunno if it was related or not, but the Service Manager was gone a couple weeks later. 





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  5. I'm the third owner of my '02 Miata, which is equipped with an "immobilizer."  When I bought it about seven years ago it had only one key - a cut key with a chip.  No chip, car will not work.  So off to Mazda of Fresno I go - and was totally shocked to learn that a second key would cost well north of three hundred bucks.


    Now, my impression was that the new key, after being cut to fit the locks, was not programmed to match the car - rather, the car's computer had to be programmed to recognize the key.  I also learned that many folks, upon losing their second key, simply wire or zip-tie the remaining key inside the steering column cover.  This allows any five dollar key cut for that car's locks to work, as the car reads the RFID chip from the hidden key.


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  6. Ironically, Half-Breed Pete (visiting from the coast) and I watched Mistress of the Dark just last night.  :lol:


    Dumb, campy, but still fun.  And yep, still easy on the eyes.  ^_^


    But fellas, don't get overly excited ~ remember, she "switched teams" a bit over twenty years ago.  "Not that there's anything wrong with that," as Seinfeld sez.  :rolleyes:




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  7. On 9/16/2023 at 8:07 AM, Subdeacon Joe said:

    The question are not as open ended as you say they are. "Are you now, or have you ever been" isn't part of the question about substance abuse.


    Buying a firearm as a gift varies from state to state, and I don't think any state sees it as a straw purchase, unless you way th intend giving it to a prohibited person.



    Sadly, Joe, 'tain't exactly so in california.  :(


    Firearms can be "gifted" without going through an FFL (with the obligatory ten-day "lock-up" period) only between spouses and parents/offspring.  Even then, a Form BOF 4544A has to be filed, along with a payment of $19.  :angry:


    I'm sure this requirement is pretty universally followed in the state... wouldn't you agree?  :rolleyes:




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  8. Bit of a booger logging in to watch it, but worth the effort.


    Haven't seen the film since Junior High School.  Thanks, Joe!  




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  9. 49 minutes ago, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

    When was this, Hardpan? I was a frat boy at Cal in 1966-67 era and engaged in a couple of scavenger hunt hijinks in SF related to the brotherhood....


    Well, Red, this was I think late 1970 or early 1971 - as near as I can recall.  :rolleyes:


    I have another story about a brief crossing-of-paths with a Berkeley sorority... Alpha Omicron Pi maybe?  :rolleyes:

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  10. Grace Cathedral


         It has been said that God has a good sense of humor.  A Godly sense of humor, at that.  And, it has been said that God is gracious and forgiving.  And for both these attributes I am grateful – otherwise, I could have possibly been smitten many times in my life.  Zapped by a lightning bolt.  Turned into a pillar of salt.  Heck… maybe depicted in an Hieronymus Bosch painting four hundred fifty years before I even arrived.


         Now, I understand that pretty much all religions have protocols for dealing with “sins.”  Some may be pretty harsh, with stoning, dismembering, and the like coming to mind; many are much more benign.  Take Christianity, for example.  My Catholic friends and relations do this thing where they confess their transgressions to a priest and are assigned some sort of penance, like reciting a bunch of “Hail Mary’s” or “Our Fathers” or such. 


         And then you have us Baptists.  I once faced a challenge of trying to explain to a Catholic friend why we don’t have to do the “confession” thing.  “Well Jeeze, Sheila!  We’re allowed to talk to God directly our-own-selves! We don’t need an intermediary!” 


         Pretty much, a good Baptist pastor can anonymously work miracles of a minor (or not-so-minor) sort by making us feel just plain awful and resolving to not do such-and-so again.  “No more dancing at the Junior High Sock-Hop!  No more stealing a smooch from Betty Ann behind the bleachers after the football game!”  Yup… we’ll behave for sure.  Sorta.  For the most part.


         As an interesting side-note, for a period of my late teens – early twenties, I worked in a mailroom for a large banking firm.  Amongst my co-workers were a number of moonlighting Baptist pastors, working their way through a graduate program at Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley.  I have to say, I was astounded at the philosophical disparity between these gentlemen; I was privy to many, many spirited discussions about Biblical topics.  Some were amazingly esoteric; some were downright surprising, like the simple topic of eligibility for admission into Heaven.  Opinions differed greatly, ranging from “a person who is good and pure of heart will find his [or her] way into Heaven,” to “Only Baptists Allowed!” 




         Anyway, I have digressed enough – now, on with the story:


         I believe I may have mentioned somewhere along the way that the men of Kappa Phi Delta enjoyed and sponsored many celebrations, most of which could be loosely classified as “frat parties.”  Outside of the one time where some knothead set the Kappa Phi house on fire and a few miscellaneous injuries, pretty much all our events were fun and successful.  And also memorable were the “after party” episodes, following official events, and the common mid-week impromptu gatherings.  These could be anything from a few of us hanging about scarfing up leftover snacks and beer to hitting the road for adventures.  As one might assume, the former of the two was the safest; the second could, and at times did, lead to something being broken or lost (including me), something expensive happening, or even police interest.  Like the time some poor football player “fell asleep” after consuming copious quantities of booze – and was left stretched out on the lawn of a mortuary, with his hands clutching a lilly to his chest.  Or the time another drunken football player was poured onto a plane to San Diego (“family emergency!”) with a dime in his pocket for a phone call after his arrival.


         But there was one event that I’m sure got the attention of The Big Guy.


         Atop Nob Hill, at 1100 California Street in San Francisco and occupying the entire block, stands Grace Cathedral.  The modest Grace Church, founded during the Gold Rush in 1849, had by 1965 evolved into the magnificent edifice that was the center of  the Episcopalian Diocese of California, and historical “home” for a number of well known Bishops.  Including the notorious Bishop James Pike, whose life included multiple marriages, family suicides, participation in séances, and even his own claim of being vexed by poltergeists.


         So… can any of this possibly have anything at all to do with the gentlemen of Kappa Phi Delta?   Well heck yeah it does!


         One of the wonders of Grace Cathedral was its amazing pipe organ.  Touted as “the largest organ West of the Mississippi,” the Aeolian-Skinner instrument boasted some 7,466 pipes.  These tubes ranged in size from tiny, offering-pencil size to hollowed out metal telephone poles.  Impressive as all get-out – more in just a moment!


         Well, as luck would have it, one of our guys just happened to be an Episcopalian.  And happened to be a member of the Grace congregation.  But that’s not all!  Doug also just happened to be musician; in this, he also just happened to be one of the official Grace Cathedral organists.  Perhaps of a junior status, but a bona fide pedal-stompin’, ivory tickling church musician. 


         And there we were.


         I think it was a Wednesday evening.  Mighta been a Tuesday, or heck, even a Thursday.  But I think it was most likely a Wednesday.


         Doug (“Dougly Do-Right”) Wheelright, Bill “Wynuts” Wyant, Ray Gee, and a few other stalwarts and I were sitting about hoisting a few.  Mostly beer; Hank undoubtedly with his bottle of Old Crow, and the rest of us – including Half-Breed Pete - sharing a jug of Red Mountain.


         Eventually most of the gang faded.  Being naturally responsible fellas facing sentences of work or school the next morning, they’d wandered off to bed, leaving Doug, Bill, Ray and myself.  Of course we were wide awake and focused, engaged in serious discussions about the state of the world, our campus, and most importantly some shortcomings (very few, of course!) of the Kappa Phi Delta house.


         Now, Doug was fairly well off.  He evidently hailed from a family of means:  his normal attire was Brooks Brothers; he often drove a newer, black Chrysler Imperial, and was noted for being quite generous with donations to the House.  He had sponsored a number of repairs and basic improvements, including decorating the downstairs pool room/bar as a rathskeller.  Nicely done!


         Well-fueled by wine and beer, we became heavily engaged in discussion about current House needs.  And we identified one glaring need:  we had noted that during parties, we had a shortage of seating.  With living room (parlor) furnishing moved out to make room for dancing, few places remained for guests to perch between dance numbers.  And, sometimes seating was dicey even for mid-week dinners.


         “Why, fellas!  I have a solution!” declared Dougie-Doo.


         We looked at him expectantly; he grinned and said “Guess what!  We have surplus chairs at Church!  Why, I’ve even already been given approval for a donation of a dozen ‘extra seating’ chairs.  All we gotta do is go get ‘em!”


         Wow!  Cool!  Free chairs?  What a windfall!  So just when can we collect these chairs?    


         “Well… how ‘bout right now?  I have my car; we can probably put a few in the trunk and just tie the lid down, and the rest in Bill’s Bronco!"


         Naturally, it didn’t take any more urging for us to be mounted up and headed off to Grace Cathedral.  On a Wednesday (?) night.  After midnight.


         But not to worry – we had Doug.  And Doug had keys; he was, after all, staff. 


         “Let’s go!”


         And with that we were off.


         As I said, it has been said that God has a good sense of humor.  A Godly sense of humor, at that.  And a good thing, too.


         In retrospect, I truly do not believe that Doug had received official clearance for the disposition of a dozen or so chairs.  And really cool chairs they were!  Padded, and upholstered with durable blue vinyl.  Gold-painted metal frames.  Quite handsome furnishings!  And, as they were stackable, we did manage to neatly fit a dozen (or so) into the two vehicles.  It meant that one or more of us would be riding back to the house in a fashion which would not be legal today, but this was then and we made it work.


         But no… I don’t think God would have given the chairs a second thought.


         However, there was a bit more to the visit.


         For starters, there was Doug, seated at the console or keyboard or whatever it’s called of the largest organ west of the Mississippi.  At a time that was roughly halfway between midnight and sunrise.  Playing – quite well, and of course quite loudly – Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  If you’re not familiar with the piece, think Disney’s Fantasia.  Or Captain Nemo at his organ aboard the Nautilus.  I doubt if it had ever before been played on that instrument – or since.  But I’m here to tell you, it was danged impressive!


         So, what is the most natural thing in the world to enjoy with good music?  Why, snacks, of course!  And of course, we had neglected to bring anything along.  But wonder of wonders, we rummaged about the altar and discovered a sizable stash of crackers - and bottles of wine!  Perhaps not exactly Mouton Rothschild, but certainly better than our normal juice of the vine.  The crackers were kind of bland, but heck... they were free, and they wend well with the vino.  Oh, yum!


         After our impromptu concert and noshes, we talked Doug into giving us a tour of the grand minster.  He was more than happy to proudly escort us about the place - and we were privileged indeed to see areas never disclosed to the public.  Included were the mechanical rooms, the innards of the organ, and even the bell tower!  Accessing the tower was a mite dicey; my memory clearly recalls us walking single-file along a very, very narrow path that was not a path at all - might've actually been a rain gutter, probably fifty feet or more above the ground.


         And that part of the visit is what brought about our abrupt departure.  It seems that one of us - um, that just might have been yours truly - found a large wrench, measuring at least four and a half feet in length, leaning in a corner of the tower.  Undoubtedly for the purpose of adjusting something with the hanging or ringing apparatus for the HUGE bells.  Bells as big as me.  Or bigger.  But the larger discovery was that said wrench indeed made for a perfectly serviceable substitute bell clapper, or striker.  And those bells rang MOST magnificently in the wee hours of the San Francisco night.


         I was somewhat astonished at Doug's reaction to hearing the splendid (but admittedly loud) peals that echoed about the sleeping city.  And I still marvel at the recollection of how quickly he had us out of the tower, back along the path-that-was-not-a-path, off the roof, into our vehicles, and flat-out away from Grace Cathedral.


         As I said, it's a darn good thing that God has a good, and Godly, sense of humor.  And on that night, His guffaws may have been heard above the San Francisco fog in the form of discordant cathedral bells, clanging and tolling at an hour never before - and never again - heard.


    Bell Ringing at Night Drawing by CSA Images - Fine Art America



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