Oh The Joys of Gotchas

Sometimes I wonder about people.

Are they largely just incredibly stupid, or largely evil, or both?

Other times I figure it’s just the interaction of some amount of evil with some amount of stupid that amplifies both.

Then there are the days when, despite knowing better, I supply the “stupid”.

Today was such a day.

Having gotten tired of the flaky internet in the hotels, and thinking that living at StarBucks was not a long term solution, I decided to get a “WiFi Hotspot”. Did some general research that showed the Telco’s wanted a very long term contract, lots of $$$/unit of use, and one good file download could blow through the monthly allotment, I was not fond of them. The “also ran” folks had better deals, with more data and often no contracts. So I’d decided on “one of them”.

I’d not quite done all my “due diligence”.

On the way back from getting new tires (another story, below…) I stopped at a Metro PCS store. I’ve used their phones before, and while coverage is lousy out in the woods, it’s usually fine in metropolitan areas. I’d figured their data product would likely suit my needs. Usually unlimited services on the phones for a fixed rate / month. Turns out you must have one of their phones to have a “hot spot” as they use the phone AS the hot spot. OK, Next…

Verizon wanted $50/month for a couple of GB. More money to flow as soon as you wanted to do more…

So I saw this sign. “Unlimited 4G”. $50/month for fast, $35/month for “fast enough” (6 Gb/sec and 1.5 Gb/sec IIRC). Sounded good. The sales girl was cute and having a bit of difficulty with English for the complicated bits. I swapped to Spanish. I asked “Does this work all the way from Kissimmee to Disney?” and was assured it did. (As I’m haunting hotels from one end of Highway 192 to the other, and up toward Sea World, that would define my area of concern. Assured it did, I decided NOT to do my usual “Dig Here” on things like coverage area and “terms” and actually read the contract. About $115 later I’m out the door with the “hot spot” gizmo and the first month $50 service.

Back at the hotel, I find it has no coverage.

Now, back at Starbucks, I’m looking at a “coverage map” that runs out 1/2 along hwy 192. I did a ‘war drive’ with the gizmo connected. It fades out at Mile Marker 10 or so, just BEFORE the hotels I like most. Sigh.

Shoulda woulda coulda… I’d not done “my usual” of “verify it ALL before buying”. Used a debit card, not credit card, so no recourse to “disputed payment”, and AS I walked out the door, saw a very small B&W sign informing that “all sales of {this device and service} were non-refundable”…

So “what to do”. Suck it up and let the $100 lesson reinforce my “usual behaviour”? Take it back for a refund anyway and at least give them a bad day out of it? (What good is that, as they were “nice but dumb” folks… can giving them grief make them less dumb?) Sigh.

They did say “store credit only”, so I might try a ‘swap for Metro PCS” just to test it out.

Or not.

OK, so I pull over next to a hotel I don’t like (Grand Palms Orlando – who not only do bait and switch on prices but want a $5 added fee for either credit card OR debit card…) where I’m about at the limit of coverage and decide to at least test the device. Click “google.com” and up comes the “redirect to the provider site to accept terms and conditions” (not available in the store…) Turns out one of the terms and conditions is a waiver of your “no call list” rights so if you put your phone on the ‘do not solicit’ list they are exempted. Another is an explicit statement that they can SPAM call your phone (even cell phones, and explicitly at your cost) even with explicitly listed Robo-Callers, and try to sell / shove stuff down your thoat. As I’m not “into that”, I’m glad I gave them the “valid but never answered” number (land line).

So I’m definitely not signing up for their stuff, and I’m likely going to try returning it. OTOH, I’d rather be getting other things done on the weekend… So “tomorrow”, I’ll be headed back to the store in the Hispanic part of Kissimmee and seeing what happens. Maybe.

Who are these folks? The seller is a ‘no-name’ phone shop in a mall. Don’t remember the name. Maybe on a receipt somewhere. If I see it I’ll add it. The “service” is “Clear” at:


Where I looked up a coverage map at:


It looks like this right now:

Clear not covering near Celebration and Disney

Clear not covering near Celebration and Disney

Notice that all the tower symbols are to the right in the green, not near I-4 that runs near all the major employers nor along 192 near all the hotel row? Basically useless for anyone wanting to be near either of those two major corridors or in the parks. (As the spouse is coming out to visit and loves Disney, I’d hoped to have a way to connect while waiting for her to finish spending all my money ;-)

Oh Well.

So if anyone else is thinking of buying this stuff, for that use, at least “now you know”…


The “flip side” of that experience was with “Discount Tire” in Orlando and Kissimmee. Stellar service, good prices, and remarkable speed. My only one complaint is minor (trivial, really, and won’t apply to 99%+ of folks. Wanted 5, they stock in 4).

I ‘swapped rims’ before heading to Florida and put on some nice H Rated (130 MPH) Sumitomo tires that I love. Sadly, these tires were about 7 years old and nearing ‘end of service’. I figured they would get me here, but not back. They did. The fronts were starting to be a bit smooth on the outside edge. (The SLC does that as it lets you turn very fast, but at the cost of some outer edge wear to make it happen. As I like turning fast, I’m “good with that” ;-) The rear tires measured out at 2/32 (yes, inches. I’m comfortable with that and been using it for my whole life. It works FINE.) At 2/32 things are a bit marginal in the wet (though the Sumitomo tires have a silica tread compound that is hydrophylic and stays stuck to the road when wet rather nicely… but no longer made in my size…)

So I went looking for tires.

Now the old Mercedes (and some others like old BMW and old Ferrari IIRC) have 14 inch rims. Not used by anything “modern”, tire makers have started to discontinue high speed tires in 14 inch. They still make cheap tires in S rated (112 mph) but no H. As the SLC can blow through 100 MPH pretty easy when passing someone (in Texas some speed limits are 80 mph, and doing 90 mph usually doesn’t get a ticket, so we’re starting to look at ’20 mph more than cruise’ and that’s easy to do do… Now add in “110 (F) in the shade and there ain’t no shade” and the heat load can start to be an issue. Having melted tires before, I’m not fond of the experience.

The only H rates I could find were some Nankang from Sears for $90 (and likely ‘special order’) and some very expensive ones from Coker who specialize in antique fitments…

A nice Vredestein classic pattern at “only” $275 / tire with “limited stock”… I’ve had Vredestein tires before. First hydrophylic tire I ever had. On my old Honda, I swear they held the winding mountain roads better when wet than when dry. Just loved them. But not at over a $Kilobuck for a set of tires. The alternative Michelin XWX is running at $440 a tire. Gulp.

Yes, both of those tires are “V” speed rated, so 240 km/hr or 149 mph. Sigh. Love to have a set, but not when it takes a whole paycheck, for them from Coker. (The Vredesteins were about a $90 from the OEM last they had them.)

So I compromise. I’ve had the Nankangs. An OK tire. A bit heavy and stiff, but workable. Decent tread life, but not a stellar ride nor does it ‘age well’. When the son was heading to Chicago, I did a ‘tread check’ but not a ‘years check’ (as they put the date code on the INSIDE where it’s hard to read). He had 2 X old Nankangs on the rear. About 1/2 way from Salt Lake City to Denver one of them started throwing chunks of tread. IIRC, they were about 10 years old. I drove out here on a 10 year old Goodyear on one corner (with a ‘worn shoulder Sumitomo in the spare’) just to use it up some before tossing it, but it was still supple. I’ve also driven around on 12 year old Michelins (could not get the damn things to wear out ;-) and the “standard” is that a tire that’s over 10 years date code is not to be sold, which implies it ought to work a while after sale… (some places set that to 5 years for sale, figuring you can wear out cheap tires in 5 years…)

The point? IF these tires are on this car for the next 10 years (easily possible as I swap between cars) I’d rather have something softer that ‘ages well’. I’d also rather have silica tread compound and / or better wet traction. I’d managed to slide the Nankangs once or twice with hard braking in rain.

So I compromised and went with “only” T rated tires. 118 mph. Yeah, only 6 mph more than S, but that matters. Pushing 120 is unlikely to happen without noticing it. Now, one tiny little problem… THIS year of cars had the Idiots In Washington mandating no speedometer read over 85 MPH. After that, you get to guess. OK, some folks sued, and won, when they flipped cars or got broken / killed having no idea what speed they were going, and that was overturned by the courts as A Very Bad Idea. But this car is original. So over 85 MPH, “I’m guessing here”. (I prorate the tach… but it’s an automatic transmission so some slip might be involved…) My “best guess” is that it starts being slow to increase speed about 110, and tops out about 125 or so. Or maybe 130 with the wind at your back. Thus the H rated. So I’ve only “gone there” once or twice to see what to expect and calibrate my senses to the car. I’m pretty sure I know when it’s ‘near 120’. Slow rate of increase, a tiny bit ‘floaty’ in the front starting to happen (or maybe just more sensitive to the wind gusts that were happening then…). Basically, something I’m likely to notice. Even passing someone in Texas in the middle of nowhere and starting from 90 MPH. A 28 MPH “gain” is not going to sneak up on me. I think it is ‘close enough’.

Turns out some stores here will not install a T rated if the car is placarded H rated (in the EU I think that’s a mandate). But some will ‘down rate’ one step. BJ’s (a big box discounter) will not sell me tires, and only had S and T rated. Discount Tire would sell me T rated. Checking with the son, the Kumho’s listed were good in wet traction (Solus KR21). He had a set on the BMW and liked them. Nuff said, I bought a set of 4.

I showed up unannounced, bought a set of 4, and they put two guys to work installing them. About 1/2 hour, all told, I was back on the street on new tires. Smooth ride, great traction, stick in the wet. I’m loving these tires. AND, they were on sale for $48 each. All up, it was about $282? or so out the door. My only complaint is that the shop only had 4. So then I drove to another store and got the spare done too! ;-) As I have a full sized spare, any ‘road hazard’ doesn’t break the set, I just put the flat in the boot and keep on going. So I didn’t buy road hazard coverage.

I’m extremely happy with these tires, with all of 2 days driving on them (and maybe 100 miles?). Freeway, city streets, dry, wet. They don’t make much noise, and don’t squeak hardly at all in hard turns / breaking. Have only barely got them to slip a bit in the wet on hard acceleration on a paint stripe. Nice sticky tires.

So basically for the price of ONE Vredestein or about 2/3 of a Michelin from Coker, I’ve got a whole set of tires. And the guys doing the work were incredibly fast, professional, and friendly. Very impressive. ( I used the two stores along John Young Parkway – near Osceola parkway for one and near Sand Lake for the other. BOTH shops impressed.)

Yeah, I can’t floor it on the interstate and sit at full throttle for an hour. Can’t do that anyway as the police frown on it. ;-) Also ought not to go through Death Valley when it’s 130 F at 120 MPH. But they frown on that, too. (Doing it at 75 to 80 mph in a fully loaded Honda station wagon about 18 years ago managed to raise ‘goose egg’ separations in a set of Pirelli tires that had 44,000 miles on them… high speed in Death Valley heat is hard on tires ;-) That’s when I bought a new set of Toyo tires (about 1000 miles later when we figured out why the ride was getting increasingly crappy… in Oregon) that I also loved.

OK, so my “complaint” here is just the “gotcha” of tire companies deciding to stop making sizes and speeds that are still in use and laws / companies thinking you ought to throw away a fine old car because the tires are worn out. I’ve made this complaint before, but it is worth repeating.

Well, at this point, I’m likely set for the next decade or so. IF I’m still driving around at 70+ years old, and in the SLC, I’ll order a set of 15 inch rims and tires then. ( Tire Rack had them at about $200 / tire-wheel set or $800 for the 4, or $1000 for the whole car of 5. Somehow $350 total sounded better than $1000 total…) At that point, the SLC will either be shot, or a fully restored classic where spending a KiloBuck for tires or tires and wheels is “reasonable”… (We usually put about 4,000 to 5,000 miles a year on the SLC in a heavy use year when the other cars are available, so whenever ‘the fleet’ is here, the usage will drop. It’s about 8 to 10 years to use up a set of tires on it, given my usage.)

So all in all, I’m very happy with the tires, with Discount Tire, and with the results (though wish they would stock more than a set of 4 for old cars that take 5…) and not fond at all of the tire companies that think old cars can’t need fast tires, or the sellers who think I ought to throw away a Mercedes if I can’t get tires rated for 130 MPH when that’s 50 mph over the fastest speed limit I’ve seen anywhere in the country. A complicated “gotcha” as it is the interaction of three parties: tire makers, sellers, and the legal process.

End Notes

I also have a ‘lead’ on a nice studio apartment for less than the cheap hotel. So, with any luck, I’ll have more stable housing in the next week or two. Then I just need to get a ‘hot spot’ that works… or drink a LOT of coffee ;-)

One brick at a time, building up a more stabilized and comfortable (and wifi functional) life pattern.

Subscribe to feed

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Oh The Joys of Gotchas

  1. philjourdan says:

    So contracts with the major carriers is a sucker bet. But I am a sucker. I picked up a hot spot from Verizon (cost me $275 with no contract) for $20/month. I still feel it is a good deal (it is the back up internet for my wife’s office. Back up for an upfront fee of less than $300 and a monthly fee of $20??? Can’t beat it).

    Good luck on the studio. It beats nomadic life. And I kind of like doing some cleaning.

  2. Gail Combs says:

    “… It’s about 8 to 10 years to use up a set of tires ….”

    Boy that must be nice.

    I figure a new set of tires just about every year and that is for the dually, the 3/4 ton pickup and all three trailers (set of 4 each) get tires about every other year. The farm pickups at least don’t go through tires quite that fast thank goodness. We haul loaded trailers about 15,000 – 30,000 miles each rig each year so you would think we would get at least two years per set.
    Michelin, load range D is my tire of choice but Hubby doesn’t always buy them since getting a heavy duty pick-up tire is a bit of a problem. Trailer tires are usually either hunt or special order. (14 inch rims so same problem you have)

  3. Chiefio,
    Please excuse me for being totally “Off Topic” but I just wanted to tell you that I was wandering around near Sea World this afternoon. I got soaked a couple of times by Mother Nature rather than those darned orcas!

    “Freedom Works” opposes “Common Core Standards” so they made a booking to run a training session this morning at the Marriott Grand Lakes from 0900-1100. Huge twenty-two floor building with 850 acres of lakes and golf courses. At very short notice we were “Unbooked” apparently because there was a Common Core Standards Conference at the same hotel, supported by Bill Gates, mayor Blooomberg, Jeffrey Immelt and Warren Buffett.

    After attending the training session at a nearby Sheraton hotel some of us showed up at the Marriott Grand Lakes but could not gain access so we set up a protest at one of the entrances. Our little protest with a good natured mob of roughly 120 was on the 5 p.m. news (Fox and CBS).

    Common Core is without question the worst education idea ever hatched by the ruling elite. In their conceit they imagine it is their duty to impose a “one size fits all” curriculum at every school under their control while their own children enjoy the benefits of private schools which are not subject to such mandates. They want to control what our children can learn but are we dumb enough to let that happen?

  4. Zeke says:

    I’m on the same page as GallopingCamel.

    Camel, do you have a copy of your article? It went behind a paywall some time ago.

  5. Zeke says:

    Bill Gates, I might have known.

  6. Ralph B says:

    2 yrs back before we bought our house we had used Virgin hotspot for wifi…worked great it was $50/mo unlimited (although they slowed it down after 5gb)…picked it up at walmart. I have 2 phones thru walmart at 25/mo no contracts. Wally uses T-mobile which can be spotty coverage but so far OK for me south of Sarasota. YMMV though…
    Hoping your apartment works out…that will make one less thing for you to worry about on a weekly basis. Frequent hotel hopping also puts you at a higher risk for bedbugs.

  7. Petrossa says:

    They have a nice system going in the EU now, where your provider uses all their clients wifi routers as hotspots. If you are client you have an almost everywhere wifi coverage with the larger providers. Since you have to log into the network with your credentials the hotspot owner is not liable for what you send over his wifi. Gives quite good results, provided you don’t forget your password all the time as i do.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    I would be a bit worried about security…

    Consider getting rims. Usually cheap at junk yards. Sometimes cheap new. Just match bolt pattern and offset.

    The SLC is the occasional car, so sometimes only 2000 mi a year. The Diesels get most of the miles. Sometimes those tires are 2 or 3 year tires.

    Visited wally world. Saw Virgin. Checking coverage areas…

    @Education topic:
    Is is one of the stated goals of socialism. State control of education. Just get out your Marx. It is all there.

  9. Power Grab says:

    One question and one suggestion:

    Question: I always heard that going over 60 mph on slick streets was a no-no. Is that not really applicable anymore?



    They won’t let us have our own routers in our building, so even though I have Ethernet in every room, there are times when my own hot spot is needed. I keep it plugged in at home, but we take it on the road when we travel.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    It’s not the speed that’s the issue, it is th rate of change of speed. So I’ve done 90 MPH on rain wet freeways before. I’ve also gone into a full on slide at about 20 MPH with too much brakes on wet city streets with a bit of oil mixed in and too much brakes with hard tires. The hydrophilic tread compounds do help a lot, though. But not all tires have them…

    I saw T-Mobil has a tower near just about where I need coverage. Virgin looks like it uses the Sprint network, that has great phone coverage here, but the 3g / 4g stuff is much more “mixed up” and some reports claimed that “coverage” depended on your device with the Nextel vs Sprint legacy still being in “towers on the ground” and who gets coverage where.

    But it all comes down to actual coverage, so I’m digging through the coverage maps and ‘horror stories’…

  11. j ferguson says:

    I know it seems to cost a bundle but we’ve been on Verizon since we moved onto the boat in 2003. First we used the cell phone as a modem to get internet service, then bought a usb modem and kept the phone , then the first 3G hot-spot, (they call it Mi-Fi) and now the 4G version. I believe it is almost universally thought among east coast cruisers that Verizon has the best coverage from the keys to Maine – some anomalies in upstate new york and close to the canadian border. The gaps in the the coverage have diminished over the years and now on the intracoastal waterway and north from New Jersey to Bar Harbor, we have either 3G or 4G about 90% of the way. Gaps in everything (no service at all) in parts of North Carolina, and a few other places with service less than 3G.

    We had been grandfathered into the limitless data service on 3G, but service deteriorated last winter in the Keys to the point where it was useless. We didn’t get honest support until we got past the first tier service – the one where they ask you if the thing is plugged in. We also discovered that our service was “optimized” (as they put it) after 2 gigs per month. I was running 14 gigs (no, not naughty movies) some months and usually 8 to 10, “Optimized” meant optimized for Verizon. We’d be slowed down from typical 1.5 megabits to 250 kilobits. Yippee.

    So we caved, and went to 4G. we got the new modem/router for free, and now have 8 gig data which with the cost for the telephone brings us up to $140/month. Performance generally is excellent. If it looks like we’re going to run over, additional gigs are 2 for $10 and it can be done by the month but you have to buy them first. if you run over they charge you $15/gig. It’s like the “buy the gas first or bring it back full” dodge at the car rental places.

    fwiw, we’ve decided to keep the boat.

  12. Petrossa says:

    I use an encrypted L2TP/IPSec tunnel and a firewall on my tablet. I am not that worried about security. Obviously i won’t access my bank on an open network :)

  13. Gail Combs says:

    1 July 2013 at 3:02 am
    …. Gaps in everything (no service at all) in parts of North Carolina….
    Yes, the cell phone coverage in NC is spotty. Go down a hill into a dip and you lose the connection. If I move around the farm I lose the connection and we are on the top of a ridge only 5 miles from a four lane limited access highway.

  14. punmaster says:

    “… It’s about 8 to 10 years to use up a set of tires ….”

    Boy that must be nice.

    I figure a new set of tires just about every year and that is for the dually, the 3/4 ton pickup and all three trailers (set of 4 each) get tires about every other year.

    Grabs chest, sweating , and I’m having trouble breathing. Yes, Gail, I do realize that is for working vehicles. I drive a 1998 Ford Contour. I think I have put new tires on it once in the seven years I have owned it. I replace tires when the manufacturing date says they are six, maybe even seven years old, usually T rated. The tread is never worn out; the are just too old. I do make racing car noises going through turns at a reasonable pace, though. Wife says she wishes I would stop; It makes it hard to hear the radio. No, I am not a really old driver not sure of where I am and where I am going. I simply leave early enough so I am not in a big hurry.

    I did see 100 mph in it once, just to see what that was like. :-)

  15. R. de Haan says:

    Still thinking a mobile home would be a perfect solution for you. Here’s a shoestring conversion of a NY schoolbus bought on the internet for 2000 USD and converted into a cosy mobile home with all comforts. Love the lighting solutions and the the general approach of the project. http://www.vonslatt.com/

  16. NickF says:

    Optimal pressure for particular tires on a car lies between the minimum pressure specified in the owner’s manual / door pillar and the maximum shown on the tire’s sidewall. Influenced by your preference in ride / handling trade off; sidewall stiffness and likely other variables like suspension geometry.

    For my dear departed SAAB 9-5 wagon with Michelin premium all-season tires, optimal was 6-8 psi above door sticker. Delivered satisfying handling, better MPG and extraordinary tread life, with nearly even wear from center to edges.

    Our Honda Civic Hybrid was delivered with Dunlop high mileage tires. Unbending sidewalls, low-friction (grip) tread. The replacement Michelins ran very hot at 35 psi, the sticker pressure. Finally settled on 42 psi front, 40 psi rear. Again, improved handling and even tread wear.

    Would be interesting to see how your Mercedes would do with an additional 4 psi in the tires.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m posting this from a “Go” mobile hot spot. In the Motel 6 furthest from anywhere with the worst coverage probability of any of the lot along Hwy 192. Seems to work OK.

    The “Clear” folks did refund my money after all (despite the signs to the contrary). The “device” was refunded on the spot by the retailer. The “service” is more problematic. They claim to be sending me a “Prepaid Visa” in “up to 60 days”… so “we’ll see”…

    The “Go” device uses the Sprint network, so this implies that the Sprint service would work here as well. “Go” offers a prepaid plan with GB of traffic that never expire, so not a “$40 / month every month” but a “$45 for 3 GB use anytime in the year”. And as long as you use some each year, it doesn’t expire… Given that at any given time I may be in a hotel with “Free WiFi” or not, it is nice not to care about “timing”.

    Looked at a Studio apartment… 3rd floor walk-up after a half dozen more speed bumps. Not exactly my preferred solution… $790 / month, furnished. Also found a hotel with monthly rates ( $680 or so / month ) and nice rooms… with the guy at the counter in a tank top with tattoos… so maybe or maybe not ;-)

    At any rate, I’ve now solved the “dropout of internet” problem, wherever I am, with the “hot spot”. That also means if I end up in an apartment, I’ll have continued coverage too.

    A bit pricy for watching a lot of movies, but cheap for email and posting. (Text stuff).

    The contract (for a ‘no contract required’ company… it still has ‘terms and conditions’ that amount to a contract…) has a couple of PITA terms, but nothing too horrid. No “peer-to-peer” allowed and such. (Since I’m paying “by the byte”, why they would want to tell me I can’t do things that use a lot of bytes is an interesting question). Basically, they list a bunch of high usage things that they forbid. Well, OK. At $15 to $20 / GB, I’m not going to be slamming a lot of 2 GB Linux Releases around on Bittorrent anyway…

    Oddly, they have several businesses shown on their website as they tout the advantages of using their product, while their “terms” state it isn’t for business purposes… Guess legal isn’t talking to marketing…

    We’ll see how it does “over time” as a solution. The device cost me $80 at Walmart, so not out a whole lot if it is less usable than I expect. Since GB are usable “anytime”, if I can’t get a lot of value out of it right away, I’ll still use up the amount over time somewhere.

    On Housing:

    It’s next on the “todo” list. The hotel option is OK for now, especially with the sporadic internet issue fixed. It will likely be a month before I get a longer term arrangement. I’m not feeling particularly “driven” to a fast solution. Doing “2 weeks at a time” in any one hotel is reasonably comfortable, and the cost isn’t too much more than an apartment.

    So “no worries”.

    @R. de Haan:

    It’s still an option. At one time I’d thought the “Liveaboard bus” had charm… now I’m more inclined toward the commercial versions. Maybe I’m developing a sense of esthetics ;-)

    Overall, the cost (including space rental) isn’t that much different from a Motel with long term rates. It “has potential”, but the idea of a “month to month” hotel with maid service has a certain charm to it… If I can find one without a guy with tattoos at the front desk ;-)

  18. j ferguson says:

    your observations on tire pressures is very interesting and a variable i had never considered. I assume that you’ve operated sets of tires “over” pressure for the lives of the tires and can attest that they wore as long or longer than they might have if they’d been run at the recommended pressure.

    Is this an idea of yours or was it the subject of a Car and Driver article, or known among the enthusiasts? we just bought our first new car since 1984, a ford focus se 5 door. I, too, lament my ’79 SAAB 5-door turbo (wow 135hp!!) whose rims fit one tire, made and sold at an exhorbitant price by Miichelin, and subsequently replaced by a set of mags with very wide tires which were together less expensive than the tires for the official rims alone. This car drove like it was glued to the road, and at very high speeds.

    There was also a 1968 bmw 2002 which I still think was the best handling car I ever owned. But then this Focus also seems pretty good.

    but do tell us more about the tire pressure scheme.

  19. Gail Combs says:

    Speaking of The Joys of Gotchas.

    Its raining….
    It has been raining for over a week.

    This weekend comming home from a gig the roads were flooded and we couldn’t find a route home for 4 hours….

    It is STILL raining, I sank my pickup truck two days ago at the crown of the hill where I backing to get feed every day…. It is still there.

    It is STILL raining and we were without electric for 6 hours and the phone/DSL has been spotty all week and finally failed yesterday.

    Fiinally today we figured out what happen to the phone and DSL…

    The GOATS ATE THE WIRE running into the house. Hubby did a quick and dirty splice while we had a break in the rain.

    And now…..
    It is STILL raining and supposed to continue all next week.

    Did I mention it is really soggy out and it is STILL Raining?

    Any bets the News is screaming the flooding in North Carolina is caused by global warming?

  20. j ferguson says:

    Hi Gail,
    we spent four days in early May at the foot of Alligator River waiting for the Albermarle to settle down enough to be passable going up to Liz City. The Alligator River swing bridge was closed due to winds over 30 mph, so a lot of our brothers were stacked up between Belle Haven and the bridge. In 20 years doing this run, it was a first.

    Did you get the truck unstuck?


  21. Gail Combs says:

    j ferguson says:…
    Did you get the truck unstuck?
    No it is still sitting there. It is a 3/4 ton with a Cummins diesel and my dually (Cummins too) is in the shop. So we are making do with the Ford S10 and staying on the gravelled drives instead of the hard packed paths.

    I am going to wait for the rain to stop and the ground to harden a bit so I do not muck-up my path any more than it already is. We are going to be hauling in a bit of gravel to ‘patch’ a few places that washed out and in this heat I don’t want to add to the work load. The hard-packed clay/grass paths get patched with stone dust instead of crusher run.

  22. j ferguson says:

    Hi Gail,
    Many years ago when I bought my M38, I thought that 4 wheel drive, low-range transfer case, and deflated non-directional mud and snow tires meant i wouldn’t ever get stuck.. Was I wrong, now it meant that when i was stuck, i was REALLY stuck, which meant long chains, two big come-alongs and hoping that I hadn’t done it where there were no nearby STOUT trees. I was so successful one time that i got to walk 25 miles to town in Southern Missouri to seek a larger vehicle to come and also be stuck where I was.

    Self sufficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, no matter what our hero, here, might think.


  23. Gail Combs says:

    j ferguson says:
    …Self sufficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be….
    No it is not. It is a lot of very hard work and frustration. Most of the city types supporting the Progressives and decarbonizing would whine and whinge and then run screaming if they ever had to clear a 1/2 ac of small trees and brush, and then dig out stumps and rocks and turn the soil, all with a shovel, buck saw, lopping shears and other hand tools.

    Every single one of the politicians supporting this crap should be rented out to the Amish, Menninite community for use clearing land before being allowed to vote on a darn thing.

  24. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Gail Combs: BTW Were there GOATS in George Orwell´s 1984 ?. It seems a secret weapon against wire-tapping :-)

  25. NickF says:

    There was a Car & Driver article many years ago. It included drawing a chalk line on front tire, then a bit of enthusiastic driving. Stop to check whether / how far up the sidewall the line was smudged. That would show how much tire rolled onto sidewall due to inadequate air pressure. I use the seat of my pants.

    Also use classic tread wear pattern diagnosis. Asymmetric side-to-side wear shows misalignment. More wear at the center of the tread shows over-inflation. More wear at both edges shows under-inflation.

    I usually get a tire’s rated miles or slightly better, despite spirited driving and sustained cruising at 75 mph or higher. When I check tire temperature – back of the hand on each tire’s sidewall as soon as I stop at highway rest area – they are barely warm, which is good. Front wheels may be warm if there was hard braking to stop.

  26. j ferguson says:

    Thanks much Nick F. This is very useful information. I’ve always kept an eye on tread and did the back of the hand on the tires after a trip – mostly to see if one was different, then try to determine why – almost always low pressure.

    best regards

  27. Gail Combs,
    Y’all have to love goats. The “Final Solution” to the Kudzu problem.

  28. Chiefio,
    I will be delivering a course in Orlando starting on July 15. I like the UCF video even though the instructor looks old, fat and ugly.

    Any chance of meeting you for dinner at one of the fine establishments that you have written about?

  29. Gail Combs says:

    adolfogiurfa, Just picture several large herds of goats turned lose in the District of Criminals. link

    Unfortunately they would end up in an immigrant’s cooking pot.

  30. Gail Combs says:

    john, Did you get the truck unstuck?
    Yes finally, it stopped raining for a couple days and we got it out. Almost 10 inches of rain last month and 2.25 inches already this month with flash flood warnings on the radio… again … and thunderstorms expected for the rest of the week. Normally this time of year I am praying a passing thunderstorm will hit the farm after a two week drought. The white clover has just about taking over the farm instead of dying back as it usually does.

    So far this year we have only had 2 days with a high of 90F and one at 95F. We normally see that by the first of May not July. However I rather have the rain then the ninety degree weather.

  31. Zeke says:

    Actually, there is a problem in the NW with thieves digging up copper wire for drug money.

  32. philjourdan says:

    @Gail – prepare for more. I am north of you, and we have had a fair amount (5 inches over normal for the year so far). And they were predicting a rainy weekend for us coming up. That changed yesterday. The front is going to stall over you!

  33. Gail Combs says:

    philjourdan says:
    9 July 2013 at 12:51 pm

    @Gail – prepare for more….The front is going to stall over you!
    Tell me about it. Guess what…. It’s Raining, (actually pouring) my fungi is growing fungus and now we have Tropical Storm Chantal to look forward to.

    I hope CheifIO is in hurricane proofed living quarters.

  34. Jason Calley says:

    @ gallopingcamel “Y’all have to love goats. The “Final Solution” to the Kudzu problem.”

    Kudzu is not just for goats. It makes good people food. The roots (which can grow enormous (100 pounds?) make a really fine starch. If you ever have a recipe that calls for arrowroot starch (which has gotten hard to find) try kudzu starch instead. My wife and I buy it at the local Asian grocery store.
    I have read that the leaves are edible, but have not tried them; I suspect they are edible but not wonderful.

  35. E.M.Smith says:



    Planning to find some and try a recipe or two on it… maybe on the weekend…


    I’m in a regular hotel construction building, but in a room facing away from the usual approach wind direction (i.e. lee of the probable winds). If it is projected to be over about 45 MPH winds, I intend to relocate my car, me, and any valuables to somewhere out of the track…


    I eat dinner every night ;-)

    Fond of all kinds of food, from Indian to Mexican to Fish ‘n Chips to BBQ Ribs to…

    I think you still have my number. I’ll be here for at least a few weeks to months, as there are no signs of things letting up at work.

  36. philjourdan says:

    @Jason Calley – we had this discussion earlier (eating Kudzu). Basically some northerners say they would try it. Southerners say over their dead body! Why? We hate the stuff out of principal.

  37. gallopingcamel says:

    Somehow I managed to lose your contact information even though I use “Cloud Backup”. Could you contact me at:

  38. Gail Combs says:

    Jason Calley says:
    Kudzu is not just for goats…..
    As usual the Search Engines are your friend.

    The Kudzu Cookbook: [IF] You Don’t Eat It – It Eats You!

    Kudzu: ‘Vine that ate the South’ is also good eating

  39. @ Zeke (30 June 2013 at 3:23 am),

    I just noticed your question which puzzled me a little. Nothing I have written lurks behind a paywall. The problem with government K-12 education is the relentless centralization of control as your Cato Institute video explains. Even though the federal government provides less than 10% of the funding for K-12 education they expect to control the thing that matters most, namely the curriculum.

    When control is centralized, a handful of activists can impose their bad ideas on all schools regardless of the wishes of their customers. This is guaranteed to frustrate teachers, parents and students. The result is a “One Size Fits All” mediocrity. I have spent 20 years emancipating eight K-12 schools. These schools are now under the control of the communities they serve rather than the federal or state governments. The board members are all parents of students who attend the school and the results are impressive even though the “Main Stream Media” will never acknowledge it.

    Every year, the Woods school ranks in the top five in SAT achievement our of 350 high schools in North Carolina. The board of directors consists of unpaid amateurs and yet it outperforms the Chapel Hill-Carrboro high schools that used to dominate the rankings in North Carolina. The most serious competitor for the Woods CS is now the Raleigh Charter High School, another charter school:

Comments are closed.