Friday, April 30, 2010

Take care with your advertising.

There's a discount grocery store chain that has branches in this area. There's one very near me, in fact. They advertise heavily on the annoying radio station the LA and I use to get ourselves out of bed in the morning, and so I hear their advert on a regular basis.

It's convinced me regarding my custom there; I'm never going to set foot in that benighted place.

You see their one advert is presented as an "interview" with their "whistleblower", otherwise known as a mystery shopper, who price-checks other places. They proudly proclaim that "he" works sixty hours a week making sure their prices are the lowest. Let me reiterate: sixty hours a week.

No company that considers 60 hours an acceptable work week deserves my money. Whether it's six ten-hour shifts or five twelve-hour shifts, that's too much work. I have this crazy idea that everyone deserves to have a life outside of work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Linguistic diffusion

Those of you who've spoken with me will know of my affinity for wordplay, silly turns of phrase, and general tomfoolery with language. I enjoy producing intelligible sentences which express my meaning in unexpected ways.

One turn of phrase I particularly like is noting that "his budgie's fallen off" when seeing a particularly pronounced spoiler on a car. It expresses the disdain I feel for someone who actually thinks such a thing does anything but cause drag on a road car.

Tonight, the LA made me rather happy, as we were circulating looking for a parking space at the knitting group; she commented upon "the car with the missing budgie". It took me a moment to realise she was using the wordplay I'd picked up from my father; she was commenting upon the Subaru with the huge spoiler which was badly parked right where I'd have liked to park.

I do believe I'm rubbing off on her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An interesting diversion

Last Monday, my younger sister arrived on a plane. She'd decided to come and play tourist, since last time she was over here (almost two years ago; I really have been married for that long!) she was only here for three days, and didn't get to do much. She certainly fixed that this time!

We started off with a jaunt to Muir Woods, via the Golden Gate. That was a full day, and very enjoyable; quite apart from the attractions, I got to drive some very nice roads! We also went up Mount Diablo, and then she started going into the City, without me or the LA with her. She's a big girl, and can handle it; and besides, I was coming down with lurgi.

Of course, as you no doubt know, while she was over here, Iceland got a zit. It's a young landmass, one must expect these things; but it closed British airspace. We're accounting her very lucky to have been minimally disrupted; she's at the airport now, and her flight is scheduled to leave today as planned.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reading the instructions

I'm rather atypical for a male. Reading the instructions is something I do as a first resort, not the last resort. I'll cheerfully leap into a job and work out how to do it as I go, but if there are instructions, I'll read them, and despite my ancestry, I'll generally make the effort to use the correct tools.

In the case of Silas vs. the Alloy Wheels, that meant a torque wrench for setting the wheel nuts correctly. The spider I keep with the spare is excellent for taking off the nuts, since it's got rather more leverage than the included two-part wrench, but since today I was performing a long-term swap from the steel wheels the previous owners had on the car to alloys, I wanted a better metric for how to set the torque than simply noting how much I had to grunt to break the nuts free.

This is rendered important by the spec for this car. Most cars specify wheel nut torque in the region of 85-100 foot pounds, while applying that much torque to the nuts on this car would be Bad. It's specced at 85Nm, which translates to roughly 65 foot pounds. This little detail is stamped into the front hubs, visible while torquing the nuts, and so one would hope that even places which don't know this already would notice. Sadly, when I removed the front wheels, I found that they'd been set to typical torque specs - the 85-100 foot pounds that flirts with stripping the studs on this car.

Still, I now have Volvo alloy wheels fitted, and they do look nice. Quite an improvement in looks over the steel wheels it did have, especially considering it was using the original, much-abused hubcaps. The alloys are also lighter, which will translate to improved ride and handling due to the lower unsprung weight. This may also improve fuel economy, although this will probably not be significant. And finally, I'm feeling a nice sense of satisfaction in having achieved the swap without help (and, usefully, without a peanut gallery) and not broken a single thing, or found anything bojangled. The latter part is somewhat rare; it can be unwelcome to begin a repair, as one will almost always uncover another problem in the course of reaching the first...