Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Saturation

June 22, 2022

Splish, splash, etc.

They said it would rain, and they did not lie.

We’ve gotten 0.38 inch since o-dark-thirty this morning, and while the Big Spigot seems to have been turned off for the moment, it’s due to open right back up this afternoon. Meanwhile, the wind is working overtime, trying to dry everything up again.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, wisdom remains elusive. I thought I was on the ball yesterday, slipping out for a short trail run in the late morning before the weather turned. But the afternoon proved dry and delightfully cool, ideal for cycling. And today is as you see, perfect for … for … well, for staying indoors, is what.

A smart fella would’ve ridden yesterday and run today. But as we all know, I will never be smart.

For instance, I fail to appreciate the brilliance of a gas-tax “holiday,” though Prez Joe clearly thinks it’s a swell idea.

Blast from the past.

First, there’s no guarantee that Big Oil won’t snatch up any newfound savings for itself as demand increases but supply does not. Second, it would mean less money in the Highway Trust Fund for Infrastructure Week, whenever that comes around. And third — it’s chump change.

As business economist Garrett Golding at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told The New York Times: “It sounds like something is being done to lower gas prices, but there’s not a whole lot of there there.”

Mind you, I drive almost not at all, filling up the old rice rocket more or less quarterly. I don’t have a job to go to, or kids to ferry around and about. Your mileage may vary.

But as anyone who rides a bicycle knows, no matter how much the go-juice costs, there is an awful lot of automobile traffic on the roads at all hours of the day and night. These trips can’t all be mandatory; there’s plenty of elective driving going on there too.

Maybe instead of rifling the federal couch cushions for loose change and pretending it’s buried treasure, we should be reducing demand, which is the only real way to cut prices. Is your trip necessary?

‘Anyone can get an auto loan’

March 16, 2022

For when the M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle just isn’t big enough.

OK, so, with the Russian war in Ukraine, random gun violence here at home, and inflation everywhere, we all have plenty to worry about.

But wait! There’s more!

Cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else hoping for safe streets in a livable environment will hop the first dick-missile to Mars after scanning this New York Times story on what the quarter-point hike in the Fed’s key interest rate means for any of us chickens who’d like to cross the road without winding up fried and breaded in one of the Colonel’s buckets.

A couple key pull-quotes:

“There is far more variation in auto lending than in, say, the mortgage market because there are more credit types. Anyone can get an auto loan.” — Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, an industry consulting firm.

“Car-loan rates will move up as the Fed hikes interest rates, but it will be a nonissue for car buyers because it has such a limited impact on monthly payments. Nobody will need to downsize from the S.U.V. to the compact because of rising rates.” — Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Damn straight. Fuck a bunch of Prius. Whadda I look like, some hippie? I got an image to maintain. What are the Russian oligarchs driving this season?

Snow? No

March 11, 2022

It ain’t easy getting green.

We was robbed.

Just as well. The ladies have plans, and though they are Marylanders and used to snow, only Herself has enjoyed winter motoring in The Duck! City, whose drivers can’t keep the shiny side up on a sunny day.

Yesterday it was a Tesla and a pick-’em-up truck that ate shit at Comanche and Tramway, where the debris from old crashes piles up like the fast-food wrappers, liquor bottles, and dirty diapers drivers toss from their vehicles between texts as they breeze through the red five seconds late and 20 over the limit.

You want to keep your head on a swivel when your light turns green. Left, right, left again — count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, etc. — then proceed as though you believe in an afterlife.

Never mind the asshole leaning on his horn behind you. Hell ain’t half full, as s/he will learn after finally honking at the wrong person, who then climbs out of the vehicle with something more authoritative than a middle digit extending from one white-knuckled fist.

The honkers are usually tailgaters too. Some of these yahoos will crowd you so closely you can smell the beer on their breath.

Doc Sarvis, the brains and bucks behind “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” had a solution to that sort of harassment. The Ukrainians are giving these ancient anticavalry weapons a go, and why not? I bet they work against horses and horses’ asses.

Pumped

March 8, 2022

I found a bargain at my neighborhood station.

The gas is mostly $4.19 in these parts, up from $3.59 a week or so ago.

Still not nearly enough. But it’s a start.

Based on what I could glean from a brief, unscientific survey this morning, the rising prices haven’t stopped Burqueños from speeding, running red lights, or idling away a few minutes (and gallons) in various fast-food drive-through lines.

This last is why I restrict my motor trips to grocery-shopping. Once you bring home the bacon, you don’t gotta go nowhere else, watching your fuel and patience needles march toward “E” as you endure some faux redneck’s loudly farting diesel. You cook it up and eat it.

And once the weather settles down, who knows? I may leave ol’ Sue Baroo in the garage even more than I already do, invest a portion of my beans and rice in getting more beans and rice. There seems to be a lot of bicycles around here for some reason.

The (get) off button

January 26, 2022

Shut ’er down.

I suffered my first flat of 2022 the other day. My first in nearly a year, actually.

When you rock stout tires and sealant-laced inner tubes the flats are few and far between, even here in The Duck! City, where spiky objects abound. Broken glass, goatheads, and cacti, oh my.

But as in real life, something will get you eventually. In this case, it was a cactus thorn that looked like the business end of a veterinary hypodermic. I picked it up while careening around the Elena Gallegos Open Space on a Steelman Eurocross, and the tire didn’t go completely unrideable until I was an easy jog from the ranger shack, where I swapped tubes from the comfort of a chair on their patio out back.

This is entirely different from flatting in the arse-end of nowhere with the sleet coming in sideways and a couple teeth-chattering companions hopping around, hands stuffed in their armpits, waiting on you. A certain urgency is implied. Speed, not diligence, is at a premium. It’s a variation on the old whorehouse refrain: Get it out, get it in, get it up, and get going.

Since it was just me, I took my time: shifted into big and little; released the straddle cable; pulled the wheel; ran a tire iron around one bead; and pulled out the flat tube. Then I felt carefully along the inside of the tire, looking for the culprit. Ever just stuffed a fresh tube in there, aired it up, and rolled away only to find the tire flat once more about 50 meters down the trail? Yeah, me too. I learned the hard way to round up the usual suspects first.

In this case the thorn had slipped between two centerline chevrons like a shiv between ribs, driving a good quarter inch deep into the tube, whose sealant had lost its grip.  I couldn’t get hold of the fat end of the thorn with my fingers, so I used the tire iron to scrape off the pointy end. Insert new tube, pump it up good and fat, and off we go.

What a luxury to be able to perform this simple chore while sitting down, in a chair, instead of flailing away with the minipump in a crouch like a compulsive masturbator. This startles passing motorists, assuming their eyes aren’t glued to their smartphones, which is a bet you don’t want to place in this high-desert casino.

You’re not even safe off road, based on the auto-body fragments Herself and I found littering a neighborhood trail during a run last week. An errant Honda Civic street racer will give you a puncture you can’t fix on the fly.

Game over

December 8, 2021

“The better news is, it was an electric vehicle that killed you.”

On the way home from the grocery yesterday I managed to avoid three crashes with Burqueños who were either DWI, DUI, or HUA (Head Up Ass).

Stopping for a red light at Comanche and Tramway, a popular spot for the high-speed not stopping for red lights, I took note of the detritus from a recent collision scattered across the intersection.

And later, at home, hearing the wail of sirens and the whock-whock-whock of helicopters, I wondered idly who else had just made an unscheduled stop for a shit sammich.

Turns out a two-car crash at the next intersection up Tramway — the worst one, for my money — sent six people to the hospital, where four were listed in critical condition.

So color me unamused that Tesla is giving drivers the chance to play video games in their cars. While moving.

The New York Times notes that Elon Musk and his elves at Tesla “did not respond to several emails asking about the new video games and whether they could jeopardize safety.”

Imagine my surprise. No wonder Elon is in such a rush to get to Mars. He thinks it ain’t safe here on Earth, and he’s right.

We should pry Captain Video out of his Starship and drop him into a 1971 Ford Pinto, make him cruise around Albuquerque until he learns how to answer his emails. At a dead stop, of course.

• In other news, from our You’ve Got to be Fucking Shitting Me Department, we have the “Smart-Cockpit,” a bicycle handlebar with a touchscreen featuring Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. Is it April 1? Did I sleep through winter?

Taconook

October 26, 2021

Well, now I know what I want for Christmas.

Start passing the sombrero*, y’all. I think you’re gonna need a big one.

* A tip of the hat to Adventure Journal, which agrees with me that “if Toyota was fun and not merely practical, they’d put this sucker into a production run.”

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

‘You went to bed with a functioning vehicle. …’

May 22, 2021

Base camp at the overflow area in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2004.

Ken Layne kicks off this week’s installment of Desert Oracle Radio with a nod to a critter I know all too well — the “truck roach,” a.k.a. the wood rat.

Back when we were camped on that windscoured rockpile near Weirdcliffe in Crusty County, Colo., the deer, bears, ring-tailed cats, buzzworms, mountain lions, coyotes, and wood rats paid us regular visits. Once or twice the rats found their way into our laundry closet via the exhaust ductwork from the washer-dryer combo, which I then would have to disconnect and drag onto the deck so the furry little burglar could make his getaway.

On one memorable occasion, after we had relocated to Bibleburg, we drove back up to the Weirdcliffe place for a relaxing weekend in the boondocks. Herself dashed inside for a wee, and in short order I heard a screech worthy of a slasher film. An invading wood rat had managed to escape the laundry closet only to drown in the downstairs toilet.

But the pièce de résistance of our rodent experience centered on our 1998 Toyota Tacoma pickup, pictured above.

This outrageously expensive machine was practically brand new when one day it developed a hitch in its gitalong, an inexplicable stutter in its step. “This won’t do, not at all,” I thought, and lurched down Hardscrabble Canyon and over to the Toyota dealer in Pueblo that had sold me the thing.

The shop dudes said they’d have a quick look-see and suggested I go grab a bite of lunch. When I returned they were having themselves a huge hee, along with a haw or two or three.

Seems that when the young wrench assigned to my problem popped the hood, a giant wood rat leapt out of the engine compartment, then took a high-speed lap or two around the service bay before rocketing back into the truck somewhere.

The sonofabitch had been gnawing on the wiring harness, which explained the spastic nature of the vehicle’s operation. I got a new one of those along with some advice about various potions for discouraging peckish ratoncitos.

We never did figure out what happened to that particular wood rat, who must have been the most widely traveled member of his clan. I often thought of him holding forth to his grandchildren about the time he surfed a Toyota all the way to Pueblo and back.

Purple haze

April 12, 2021

The lilacs exploded more or less overnight.

Our yard has suddenly decided that this is not a drill — it’s spring, for reals.

The daffodils and tulips are popping up. The lilacs and holly are flowering. The ornamental pear has already flowered.

Our backyard maple greets the morning.

The maple and wisteria are leafing out.

I even had to mow the damn lawn yesterday.

Perhaps best of all, it’s not too hot. Yet. This morning, when I rode home from downtown after dropping the Subaru at Reincarnation for its annual checkup, I needed arm warmers and knickers for comfort’s sake.

The ride was so pleasant I added a bit of extra credit/scenic detour mileage up Bear Canyon from Juan Tabo to the Embudito trailhead. What the hell, I was riding a cyclocross bike, and there were no pressing matters awaiting my attention.

The guys at Reincarnation weren’t taking five for any bike rides or flower-sniffing, though. That op’ was hoppin’. After a year of living cautiously it seems some Burqueños are ready for a drive that lets them get out of third gear.