Thur. Feb. 13, 2020 – Friday the 13th comes on a Thursday this month…

Cooler and wet. [45F and 96%RH]

I spent yesterday scrambling most of the day. Meatspace. Takes a lot of time.

Did get some more food, and put up another “bread kit” bucket. And a bucket of pasta. And some more cans.

Ended up more frustrated with the ISD management the more I ask them questions and the more I learn. They are all politicians. Their first instinct is to pat themselves on the back and lie. Or simply obfuscate. Very frustrating.

NB, financial info takes a while to ponder, understand, and question. When someone just hammers you with charts, figures, and graphs, while skipping around, conflating, and making false equivalences, then you can be pretty sure they’re lying about something. Or if not outright lying, then omitting and mis-directing to shape the narrative.

NB the second, having kids in class does not “generate revenue”. That is my money, taken from me under threat of punishment, skimmed and filtered, and then returned to my community to provide me a service. At no point does that school “generate” anything. The fact that they think so and use those concepts tells me a lot about the system.

Gah.

Today I’m headed to Austin. Quick pickup, short stop at the Goodwill outlet, and back home in time to get daughter to piano. I’ll try to post a comment if I have any free time while there. Everyone here should have my email by now…. I’ll try to remember to check it.

Now, time to start this day.

nick

Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

37 thoughts on “Thur. Feb. 13, 2020 – Friday the 13th comes on a Thursday this month…”

  1. Good visit with Mr. Lynn yesterday. He has himself a nice cowboy Cadillac. Nice office space in addition. Stayed in Pearland last night with niece and her husband. Good visit. Off today to San Antonio with a stop at Bucee’s on I-10 in Katy. Always find something to buy. Will be in SA for three days dealing with MIL issues.

  2. Today I’m headed to Austin. Quick pickup, short stop at the Goodwill outlet, and back home in time to get daughter to piano. I’ll try to post a comment if I have any free time while there. Everyone here should have my email by now…. I’ll try to remember to check it.

    Watch out for the changes to the US183 rebuild trainwreck running north from 71 to I35.

  3. Rats got into the engine compartment of my Camry again and chewed the same set of injector wires.

    I have a call into Toyota to see if they’re going to do anything for me on this. Replacing the injector harness looks like an ugly job, but I don’t want to shell out $540 to the dealer every two weeks to replace a $70 part. Digging around online, I discovered that Toyota has a growing problem with rodents and these wires.

    After this is fixed again, I’m taking the car to CarMax to get a wholesale estimate on the value of the car and how it compares to the loan balance. At this point, I hate the car and want it gone.

    Long term, I don’t see the point of screwing around with glue traps, PineSol, and other deterrents when the manufacturer has a chronic issue from the soy-based wiring.

  4. Soy based wiring (insulation,) wow, that’s just nuts. Sorry to hear about your problem, Greg, but you are far from being alone.

    A quick search found lots of complaints, and one dismissed class action suit against Toyota, filed in California, of course. Two articles I read were a bit surprising in their lack of knowledge, but shouldn’t have been. One was Consumer Reports, which is widely known for their bias, and the other was Car and Driver, which is widely known for their ignorance.

    Although I never had anything to do directly with military vehicles, we knew they were designed to be unfriendly to rodents. So were power and telephone lines. I say were, because I am way out of date. At one time, telephone lines had lead foil incorporated as a deterrent. Apparently, rodents don’t like lead. Of course, lead is now verboten. So may be other materials known to be good for this purpose.

    So far, all I found were references to Japanese cars. But it won’t be long before all brands are affected, because the greenies never sleep. I would like to see all of them either sleep or go somewhere else. Suggestions? Yeah.

  5. Good visit with Mr. Lynn yesterday. He has himself a nice cowboy Cadillac. Nice office space in addition. Stayed in Pearland last night with niece and her husband. Good visit. Off today to San Antonio with a stop at Bucee’s on I-10 in Katy. Always find something to buy. Will be in SA for three days dealing with MIL issues.

    As usual for us guys, @Ray married up. It was also nice visiting with his wife and hearing her plans to go visit her beloved step-mother near here.

  6. Rats got into the engine compartment of my Camry again and chewed the same set of injector wires.

    I have a call into Toyota to see if they’re going to do anything for me on this. Replacing the injector harness looks like an ugly job, but I don’t want to shell out $540 to the dealer every two weeks to replace a $70 part. Digging around online, I discovered that Toyota has a growing problem with rodents and these wires.

    After this is fixed again, I’m taking the car to CarMax to get a wholesale estimate on the value of the car and how it compares to the loan balance. At this point, I hate the car and want it gone.

    Long term, I don’t see the point of screwing around with glue traps, PineSol, and other deterrents when the manufacturer has a chronic issue from the soy-based wiring.

    Dude, that sucks ! I hope that my son’s new 2020 Camry does not have the same problem as the Houston metropolitan area is rat infested to the max. I turned on the outside lights Tuesday night at the office and opened the front door just in time to see one scurrying around. Where there is one rat, there are a thousand.

    At some point, Toyota will be ordered to recall these vehicles and replace the wiring with something rat-proof themselves. Be sure to file a complaint at the NHTSA, they take this stuff seriously. Much more seriously than the FAA does.
    https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

  7. At some point, Toyota will be ordered to recall these vehicles and replace the wiring with something rat-proof themselves. Be sure to file a complaint at the NHTSA, they take this stuff seriously. Much more seriously than the FAA does.

    The 2018 and later models will have to be recalled for acceleration eventually, but my guess is that Toyota will drag their feet because the car is dead center on CAFE with the current software for the 2.5 L TNGA engine and transmission.

    As for the wiring, I’m also filing a claim with GEICO even though most of the price tag will be below the deductible. The insurers also tend to put the boot to the manufacturers for stupidity like this once their out-of-pocket costs start to add up. Not everyone opts for a $500 deductible on their comprehensive.


  8. The 2018 and later models will have to be recalled for acceleration eventually…

    I remember you writing about this a while back, but didn’t understand. Is the throttle by wire intentionally limited to improve gas mileage?

  9. Comprehensive… I am in process, a bit drawn out, of changing two cars to Hagerty Insurance for special interest cars. This would not be practical for most here because of the strict limits on annual mileage and types of uses, but their comprehensive and collision deductibles are zero by default. Not sure if higher amounts are available, but the premiums are cheap enough compared to mainstream insurance companies that I didn’t ask. The big feature for me is “Agreed Value” which means that if they accept a reasonable stated value, they will pay it (minus salvage, of course) without argument in the case of a total loss. They are also supposedly easy to deal with on choice of repair companies, important for older cars. Some of my friends say the word among enthusiasts is that Hagerty is a good company. We’ll see. Other specialty insurance companies have much stricter requirements that I can’t meet.

  10. I remember you writing about this a while back, but didn’t understand. Is the throttle by wire intentionally limited to improve gas mileage?

    Yes. The 2018 gets a lot of complaints about this “feature”. It is particularly bad in the SE and LE which do not have alternatives to the ECO mode. I assume later models have hardware/software tweaks which Toyota will not admit to doing out of fear of a NHSTA recall for the 2018s.

    The car has nearly killed me a couple of times, and the dealers service people (I’ve been to three shops) just shrug their shoulders.


  11. Rats got into the engine compartment of my Camry again and chewed the same set of injector wires.

    If the PineSol and etc isn’t working, how about a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce? With cayenne pepper dusted on top?

  12. As mentioned before, a monthly spray of “Critter Ridder” ought to do it. That’s what I use on the 2009 Camry in the driveway here opposite Mutiny Bay, WA.

    We just have squirrels, no rats around here, though. But ought to work.

  13. As mentioned before, a monthly spray of “Critter Ridder” ought to do it. That’s what I use on the 2009 Camry in the driveway here opposite Mutiny Bay, WA.

    We just have squirrels, no rats around here, though. But ought to work.

    I have the Critter Ridder waiting in an online order locker at Home Depot. I was going to stop tonight. I had been keeping the vehicle in the garage, but I got lazy last night.

    Really, though, the preventatives shouldn’t be necessary … and I hate the car.

    My wife’s 2016 Exploder doesn’t have the problem. Neither does my 2001 Solara. Park in the exact same exact spot in the driveway, and they will be fine.

  14. And Texas has its first official wuflu patient. Lovely.

    Lackland and the city have a way-too-cozy relationship. I’m guessing someone blabbed.

  15. I’m still beating up on my phone.

    The Location / wi-fi scanning / is now off. That seems to be 80% of my draining battery problem. Sort of cute how the setting is buried in Lock Screen and Security.

    I’ve also gone through and turned off back ground data for just about everything.

    And killed permissions. Like Bank of America needs my phone? (It was not happy. Still works.)

    Background data for Messaging? Sure. E-mail? No, no need. Slack? Yes, for now. Photos and Maps, yes but not sure.

    Location? Off for everything but Photos and Maps and Sky Map.

    The Bank Of America app complained it didn’t have access to my phone. Too bad. The Frost Bank app is cool.

    I killed all permissions that seem not needed. A card game should not need Internet access. Etc.

    I have three Verizon apps. Not sure which does what. But I like the desktop icon (ok, whatever on a phone) that shows how much data I have left on my plan.

    The Google stuff…. sheesh. I turned background data off for Store. Left it on for Services.

    Everything seems to work.
    I figure if there is a problem the program will tell me when I try to use it.

    I just want Google to back up my contacts and photos, and photos are an optional nicety.

  16. @Greg

    A quick solution is to scatter some ground pepper in the engine compartment. Maybe in a solution of water with a drop of dish soap. Use lots of pepper in the solution.

    Until you get the Critter Ridder.

  17. As for the wiring, I’m also filing a claim with GEICO even though most of the price tag will be below the deductible. The insurers also tend to put the boot to the manufacturers for stupidity like this once their out-of-pocket costs start to add up. Not everyone opts for a $500 deductible on their comprehensive.

    You should get a rental car also for the time period from GEICO. Plus towing.

    And go back and file the previous incident.

  18. @Greg

    A quick solution is to scatter some ground pepper in the engine compartment. Maybe in a solution of water with a drop of dish soap. Use lots of pepper in the solution.

    Until you get the Critter Ridder.

    The service person at the dealership will thank you very much for the pepper !

  19. Got my permission to enter Lackland and use the base exchange. Had to go to visitor’s services to get the VA Health card entered into the system. Every ID has a bar code and that is scanned by the gate guard when entering.

    So I went to visitor services. Lot of people trying to get passes to their little cretins graduating from basic training. Also about 50 veterans looking to also get their card entered into the system. Took 90 minutes to finally get all that done. Three chairs in the waiting room, everyone else having to stand. Some lady who thought she was privileged pushed me aside so she could plug her phone charger into the wall. From the looks of the sunglasses, ear rings, and hair braids (is that racist) she considered her skin color gave her special access. And she made it known to the people taking the applications.

    The downside of all this is it only applies to the joint services installations in the San Antonio area. If I want to enter a base in another town I have to apply again. That sucks.

    I did go to the base exchange. Lot of cheap crap that graduating trainees would be purchasing for their slut girlfriend. That 3 quart bottle of perfume for $3.95 really shows the love. But seriously, a lot of it reminded me of the duty free shop at the airports. No real bargains except for not having to pay sales tax.

    I think I wasted 2 hours of my time, 90 minutes standing, 30 minutes browsing.

    Installed a digital antenna for the MIL. Gets 50 stations. She only really watches PBS and that comes in fine if the antenna is oriented properly. Installed a solar powered light that is motion activated in the car port. She does not go out at night but the light may discourage the thieves in the area. Who knows, the thieves may steal the light.

    Get to stay in one hotel for three nights. Nice place. Stayed here last time and thus chose it again.

  20. Home safe, traffic wasn’t too bad but I was battling sleep most of the way.

    @greg, that transition from 71 to 71 where it splits from 183 is NUTS. Narrow, zigzaggy, and slam on the brakes time. Both ways. The new bridge looks nice. I do like highway work in Texas because they FINISH.

    I noticed the tolling has different cams or sensors….

    n

  21. You should get a rental car also for the time period from GEICO. Plus towing.

    I still have my Solara. The struts are shot and the power steering needs the occasional LeakStop, but the car doesn’t try to kill me.


  22. I do like highway work in Texas because they FINISH.

    I like the bridge work in TX. The bridges look nice, good designs and added detail. That massive malfunction junction at US-281, I-410 and the airport in San Antonio really has some nice looking structures. TX goes beyond just plain concrete. As for finishing, not so sure TX is any better than other states. I come back to some areas after a year and to my eye it looks the same as if little progress has been made. Specifically the mess at I-410 and US-151 near Sea World. Appears the same as did two years ago.

  23. @greg, that transition from 71 to 71 where it splits from 183 is NUTS. Narrow, zigzaggy, and slam on the brakes time. Both ways. The new bridge looks nice. I do like highway work in Texas because they FINISH.

    I noticed the tolling has different cams or sensors….

    I drive that every day.

    We’re installing the toll equipment. I haven’t kept up with what is out there. since it isn’t my project.

    TXDOT is usually basics from us — proven cameras and Sirit (former 3M) tag readers with loops in the road. Houston is the competition’s market … for now. Things look different there for a reason.

    That reminds me — the engineers at Sirit didn’t take too kindly to being shoved out the door into a separate company, probably losing pensions and the other perqs which came with being a 3M employee. There was a mass defection to a new company called Titan, based in Dallas.

    If you want to see the future, ride the new toll lanes on 395 between DC and the VA suburbs. Real ORT, in-camera OCR, and downstream law enforcement alerts within 100 mS of your tag being read.

  24. That reminds me — the engineers at Sirit didn’t take too kindly to being shoved out the door into a separate company, probably losing pensions and the other perqs which came with being a 3M employee. There was a mass defection to a new company called Titan, based in Dallas.

    These days of here today, gone tomorrow, I would rather have a 401K or a Simple IRA than a pension. Our business has a Simple IRA with a dollar for dollar match to the first 3% of salary. 100% vesting at joining, separate accounts in the employees names at Fidelity. Works like a champ and is incredibly simple to administer.

    That said, I do get a pension in a little over five years, should I live that long. Right before my 1980s employer went belly up six years ago, they moved the entire fully funded $4 billion pension plan to Fidelity. I will get $249/month for the rest of my life. I think it was of the largest bankruptcies in the USA, probably in the top ten.
    https://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/article3855518.html

  25. You should get a rental car also for the time period from GEICO. Plus towing.

    I still have my Solara. The struts are shot and the power steering needs the occasional LeakStop, but the car doesn’t try to kill me.

    I was hoping that GEICO would pay for your rental car.

  26. In retirement my issue is keeping my income low enough not to trigger SSI penalties. As I own the company I can manipulate my salary as required. The business pays most of my expenses. Being debt free, I have a low overhead. My concern today is how best to invest the cash I got from selling my old house and other assets. I am wary of getting into the market right now with the threat of a WuFlu recession hanging over us.

  27. “Logistical and Technical Exploration into the Origins of the Wuhan Strain of Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)”
    https://harvardtothebighouse.com/2020/01/31/logistical-and-technical-analysis-of-the-origins-of-the-wuhan-coronavirus-2019-ncov/

    “This report is the product of a collaboration between a retired professional scientist with 30 years of experience in genomic sequencing and analysis who helped design several ubiquitous bioinformatic software tools, and a former NSA counterterrorism analyst. It considers whether the Wuhan Strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the result of naturally emergent mutations against the possibility that it may be a bio-engineered strain meant for defensive immunotherapy protocols that was released into the public, most likely by accident since China’s rate of occupational accidents is about ten-times higher than America’s, and some twenty-times more than Europe’s – the only other regions with high-level virology labs.”

    “This mistake may have been precipitated by the need to quickly finish research that was being rushed for John Hopkin’s Event 201 which was held this past October and meant to gameplan the containment of a global pandemic. Research may also have been hurried due to deadlines before the impending Chinese New Year – the timing of these events point to increased human error, not a globalist conspiracy. Beijing has had four known accidental leaks of the SARS virus in recent years, so there is absolutely no reason to assume that this strain of coronavirus from Wuhan didn’t accidentally leak out as well. This is unlikely to be a plot twist in one of the novels Tom Clancy wrote after he started mailing it in.”

    “Simply and horribly, this is likely to become another Chernobyl or Fukushima – a catastrophic illustration of mankind’s hubris and intransigence clashing with Nature, as fate again reaps a once unimaginably tragic toll.”

    Oops.

  28. @lynn

    The service person at the dealership will thank you very much for the pepper !

    Actually, that concentration would probably not bother a person. The Crittter Ridder product uses caspacian, and it’s not strong enough to bother me. I even spray it on the fresh-air intake, and I don’t notice it while in the car.

    But there is enough ‘pepper’ in the spray to bother the rodents (chipmunks) here, and deer. (Neighbor uses it on his front-porch plants; the deer don’t bother the plants anymore.)

  29. I was hoping that GEICO would pay for your rental car.

    The Lizard only offered a discount on the rental.

    Even though I’m a Berkshire stock holder, I’m going to have to look at the alternatives in the near future. The Lizard keeps getting stingier while the rates go up.


  30. The service person at the dealership will thank you very much for the pepper !

    The Ropel I have used would give that person fits. Even after years, items sprayed still have it. Touching them and then touching that finger to the tongue produces a really bitter sensation. The only thing that seems to remove it is running water, and that is in short supply here. Also, don’t get downwind during the first few minutes of starting an engine just sprayed. The fumes are terrible. Otherwise, it is odorless, unlike most of the other products. I wish I could still buy it. My neighbor used it, and said it was the best of anything he had tried, but not perfect. As I wrote before, he installed ultrasonic devices in the engine compartment. So far, so good.

  31. These days of here today, gone tomorrow, I would rather have a 401K or a Simple IRA than a pension. Our business has a Simple IRA with a dollar for dollar match to the first 3% of salary. 100% vesting at joining, separate accounts in the employees names at Fidelity. Works like a champ and is incredibly simple to administer.

    Based on what I saw during the GTE-to-Verizon merger, my guess is that the anger comes from the Sirit employees’ pension money being used in part to fund the spinoff. With a big company like 3M, some balances were most likely mid-six figures or more with a Medicare supplement at a minimum attached to the payout.

    My friends at GTE were cashed out of their pensions 30 cents on the dollar into 401(k)s to fund Syniverse’s spinoff. Meanwhile, since I left GTE right before the merger closed but after vesting, I still have a Verizon pension with an expected payout in 15 years of $300/mo.

    Not that I actually expect to see that money, but I still think I got the better end of the deal as far as risk/reward goes. On top of the cashout, my friends’ 401(k) balances also suffered the dot Com bubble bursting soon afterwards, and most are still not above water.

    I didn’t even expect to see the Verizon pension since my manager’s style was channeling Al Pachino (Say hello to my little friend) in “Scarface”. He was supposed to cover the retirement benefits with me on my last day, but that didn’t happen. By fluke, I found the account a few years ago clearing paper for taxes.

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