Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Noble Quest -Gone, Somehow, Horribly Wrong

Well, the Rolling Home made a two-day foray into the Kingdom of Winnebago this week. It was supposed to be a three-day, laid-back kind of trip, but somehow the Force conspired on a number of fronts to make it not so.
I suppose I should start at the beginning, in which case I've already digressed, so I'll take us all back in time to January, and the promising beginning of a new and glorious year:
We were a bit nervous financially, because our water heater had stopped working, and we really had no idea how serious the problem was. So we travelled some 70 miles to an RV repair shop, and to our delight, found out it was a quick, 38-dollar fix. Very nice. So we happily paid the bill and headed to Wally World (because that's where RV'ers go when they're happy) to pick up a few things and head home.
We picked up a few things, got in the rig, then headed for the gas pumps to fill the tank, still happy, still smi...then it happened.
I know for a fact that sign posts are supposed to stay where they are planted...and normally they do, especially in Wally World. But this time, we were blatantly and unmercifully attacked by one of them: Blind-sided as I was making a perfectly-executed left turn. The sign post jumped into the middle of my lane and slammed itself into the rig, just as it entered my blind spot. Either that, or I took the turn too tight, but that makes no sense because I am an EXCELLENT driver.
Anyway, we still needed gas, so we headed for the pumps...a little more slowly and tentatively. After filling up and leaving the gas cap behind, we returned home, went to bed and tried to have happy thoughts about the nice new year ahead of us. (I subsequently was able to surreptitiously replace the gas cap without my wife finding out....uh...oh. This is on the Internet, right? Yeah....uhhh).
Anyway, the insurance guy came, did his thing, ball's in my court now...find somebody to fix it. Long story short, the Land of Winnebago is a few hours along the Freeway...time to set up a trip to go get an estimate. So here we are in late March, ready to do that, and take three days off work for the project so we can enjoy the environs of Winnebago Land in the process. Good plan. Arrangements made. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, so we can "get 'er done" (as we say here) and maybe find a tow car and visit some local attractions we've been wanting to see.
  • Monday...

Wake up kinda groggy. Wife says she's been up all night with the dog. Neither one could sleep because of all the thunder and lightening. Torrential rain. I hadn't noticed, but now I see rivers running around the back of the RV. So I turn on the Weather Channel. Flash floods in the Kingdom of Winnebago. Not goin' today...uh-uh. One day down the drain.

  • Tuesday...

OK. This will still be alright. Two days instead of three. We'll start nice and early...get 'er done (see above), still have a day for fun and car hunting. We hit the road...pick up the mail...grab a couple breakfast burritos, and eat them in the rig to save time...finish up...good to go. Turn the ignition...Turn the ignition......Turn...the......#$%##***............#$##***#####%&^&&***. Not only that, but %$#%%###***$#**!

Which is to say, the RV wouldn't start. It would click, but it wouldn't start. Click, click, click. #$##%%&, ##*#$#$%^&%%, #$#$%&**##*. Click, click, click.

"Hello, Good Sam?" Time to put that roadside assistance plan to work. Paid an arm and a leg for it. OK. Made the call. Nice young lady. Sounds friendly. Sympathetic. She'll get back to me soon.

Fifteen minutes...half hour. They're going to have to look out of town for a mechanic. OK. Half hour later...Someone will be on the way soon. No later than 1:30 this afternoon. O....OK.

Sit. Wait. Sit.

Mechanic's running a little late. OK.

Sit. Wait. Sit. Wait...

2:00 o'clock. Here he comes.

Bad starter. (We're in luck! Auto parts store right here! We go get the part. $200.00...with the core. O...uh...OK.)

$85.00 for the mechanic. .....ok.

Time to leave town...3:15. Day's shot. Into Almost Winnebago Land. Found a campground. Pretty tired. Did laundry. Slept in. Got papers...looked up cars, we'll call 'em after the estimate's done. Won't take too long. How long can it take to look over the damage and fill out the estimate? Right? Half hour...45 minutes. Tops.


We pull into the Kingdom of Winnebago. The Gatekeeper meets us at the entryway (actually he is paged by a fellow Gatekeeper not assigned to us, and arrives about 15 minutes later...this does not bode well). We fill out papers, I sign in several places...and now the papers go the The Master Winnebagan, who will prepare the estimate. "Just wait right there, and he'll be with you soon." (I've come to really dislike the word "soon". Its definition has evolved to mean "not soon", but people still say it as though it means "soon" in the original sense.)

We sit at the gates of the Kingdom, awaiting the Winnebagan. We sit, and sit, and sit. And finally the dog MUST go for "a walk" (universal euphemism, known by all pet owners). No sooner do we get to the square foot of available grass, than we see the Gatekeeper heading in our direction, out of breath, with a worried look on his face. The Master Winnebagan must speak with us. Now. We approach the rig only to see the M.W. half way back to his Keep. Alas, we've kept him waiting too long. How inconsiderate.

The Gatekeeper calls in supplication, and reluctantly the M.W. returns to our rig. The finish is all wrong. It's an old rig. He can't possibly match the color if he applies the Clearcoat. He doesn't HAVE to apply the clearcoat, but he apparently wants to apply the clearcoat, but then, we have to understand that the color won't match.

But you can match it without the clearcoat?

Yes but you see the UV protection won't be there.

What caused the color to fade?


And if you apply the Clearcoat the UV won't affect the new part?


But the old part will look really bad next to it?


But you can match the color perfectly if you don't apply the clearcoat?


So don't apply the clearcoat.

But I want to apply the clearcoat.

But then it won't match.


So why do you want to apply the clearcoat?

Because I take pride in my work.

But we want the colors to match. Don't apply the clearcoat.

Well...OK, but there won't be any UV protection.

Is there any on the rest of the rig?

No. That's why I can't match the color with clearcoat.

Right. No clearcoat. Match the colors.



You have everything else you need?

No, I just wanted to make sure you understood that before I went any further. I have to go back and get my measuring tape now.

And the Master Winnebagan returns to his lair in search of a measuring tape. We head for the rig. We look at the clock. We despair of both car purchase and visit to local attractions, and concentrate on where to get supper en rout back home.

Time passes.

I return to the Gatekeeper, to enquire about our estimate. As if by some Mystical Clairvoyance, the Master Winnebagan delivers the fruits of his labor to the Gatekeeper, only moments after my arrival in the office. It is nearly closing time.

I am handed the Sacred Papers, then accompanied to the Keeper of the Funds, where I pay another $98.00 to appease the Master Winnebagan for his efforts. I return to the rig with a piece of pink paper informing me the work will cost twice what the Insurance guy estimated, and that I will need to work out the difference before arranging for a Major Audience later this year. At that time, the Master Winnebagan and his Minions will execute the necessary repairs, provided all arrangements are in order. It will take several days. Perhaps I'll have a tow car by then. Let's hope.

Home again, Home again, Jigity-Jig. (I'm not sure where that came from originally, but I remember it from Blade Runner, and it seemed appropriate somehow). We stopped for ribs and beans. The dog ate well, we ate well, and there was some left over for lunch the next day. Pulled in around 11:00 pm. Had to work early next morning. But the rig didn't need any levelling.

So there was a silver lining after all.

Blog ya later.



Sunday, March 4, 2007

Our elected representatives: Salt of the earth; Backbone of our country.

Blogmaster's (not recognized by spell check) note: The cybergods (not recognized by spell check) have deemed that I cannot have access to the internet (not recognized by spell check) for some indeterminate span of time. The reasons are unclear, but the lack of access is undeniable. Therefore, I am storing my new post (which follows this blurb directly) in an OpenOffice (gramatically incorrect, but recognized by spell check) document pending publication.(sorry Bill, but the preloaded Microsoft Office Suite they bragged about in the Presario (not recognized by spell check) ad turned out to be one of your phony-baloney 60-day trial versions and I'm not about to pay good money for the privilege of using something I thought I was buying with the computer. You're being uninstalled (not recognized by spell check) along with several other pieces of preloaded adware (not recognized by spell check).

I am blissfully unaware, and intend to remain so, of the minutiae surrounding and embedded in the world of American politics: national, state, local, whatever. That was one of the things I promised myself when I walked out the door of the Motherlode's News Station and of Radio in general one noontime a long time ago. I have never broken that promise. ( I have broken other promises: I still buy far too many DVDs and would buy more if I could get away with it; I spend an inordinate amount of time in the electronics department of any and every store I enter; and I have been known to stand at the HDTV display at Wall Mart for multiples of “a couple of minutes” while being paged in vain by my wife...well you get the idea.)
The foregoing notwithstanding, I have heard of, and intend to react to, the latest version of spine-challenged Congressional behavior to pop up along the 'ole beltway. I am referring to the time-honored “Non-Binding Resolution” on the Iraq war (pardon me, conflict).
It's election time, folks, and there isn't a double-speak, mealy-mouthed abomination that's off-limits from now until we get to the polls, so get used to it. We'll hear the PC clones in their most sincere tones of voice talking about how “concerned” and “appalled” they are. We'll hear a miriad of strong statements, all of which mean one thing: “I want to get re-elected” (or “I want to get elected” in Hillary's case).
Unless I am totally mistaken, a resolution is pretty much non-binding to begin with, especially if it's worded in accordance with the accepted language of, say, the U.N. But just to be clear, stalwart makers of the Law, let's call it a NON-BINDING resolution so nobody gets the wrong idea. After all we just want to “send a message”.
Certain questions keep coming to me as I listen to the statements and discussions of this “important” activity...questions like: “To whom is this "message" being sent?” (show of hands, those who know the answer), or “Why are these morons being paid exorbitant salaries with MY TAX MONEY to prance around spouting this crap instead of doing actual work?” or “Is this clown really going to retire with a pension that would make an Enron executive gag?” ('scuse me, former Enron executive, now sheltered from consequences because you can do any damn thing you want in this country if you're clever and ruthless enough...but better not be late filing your income taxes if you're a working slob with a family to feed) Is that a sentence? Do I digress?
Anyway, when I want to send a message I use email, a post card, a letter...any of which take a lot less time, and cost a lot less money than a non-binding resolution. I guess the disadvantage is that whoever gets that message knows specifically that it comes from me. (Am I being unfair? Let me know if I'm being unfair.) Does public office come with automatic deniability? And finally, Why doesn't my spell checker recognize the word “deniability”? Could it be a made-up word to justify certain...naw! They wouldn't do that (must be a Microsoft thing). But what do I know...I'm not a professional Citizen Legislator. I've never spent any time at the public teat. (Is this unfair? Am I being a Cretin?...Cretin-American?)
Once upon a time, there was a guy who worked at a grocery store. He came in each morning carrying his lunch in a brown bag. He sat down at the employees break table, took out his lunch, ate it, then sat for the next 7 and a half hours complaining about the job. He told all his fellow employees about how poor a job the owners were doing running the store. He had a complaint about every aspect of the operation, from cash register procedures to the way inventory was taken. By the time he finished complaining, moaning, groaning and rolling his eyes in meaningful ways, his shift was over. He got up, punched the clock and went home. He did this every day for several months, collecting a paycheck every month. After a while, many of his fellow employees agreed with him. They'd sit around in the lunch room nodding their heads and smiling, and telling him how right he was, and how terribly the store was being managed.
One day, the boss came into the lunch room and said to the guy: “You're fired. Get your stuff and get out.” The guy was stunned. Now he was out of work. How could this happen? How could he pay his XM radio bill? Woe was him.
Far fetched, I know...but hey! It's just a story. We all know that in the real world that kind of behavior is rewarded, because, after all we're the fellow-employees. We nod our heads and smile and vote for the guy, 'cause he just makes such a great speech. Doesn't he? Golly. Geewhiz. Sure. It's the American way.
Reminds me of the words to an old song:
“Our leaders are the finest men,
and so we elect them again and again,
And that's what I learned in school today,
that's what I learned in school.”
Oh, yeah. The truth is in the music, ain't it?
(PS- Please pardon the un-pc use of the word "men" in the above quotation. The song was written in the pre-enlightenment period of American folk Music. -Gg)