Thursday, December 14, 2017

Smog, Smoke, Wind & Fire (Part 2)

You can find part 1 here, we pick up right where we left off....

As we got back into the car, Woody suggested I stay the night at his house so we could get as early a start as possible the next day.  I initially said no, and pointed out that I didn't have all the medications I needed.  Woody suggested we could swing by my house and get them.  Did I mention that the location of all these car shops is not that far from my neighborhood?  I guess I should point out that I live in a culturally diverse part of town.  There are all types of ethnic groups in my neighborhood....whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, you name it.  The only group you won't find is Jews.  I am the only Jew within a 30-mile radius of my home.

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it made sense for me to stay over Woody's that night.  These car shops we were at were all just jammed with cars, barely room for the car being worked on, let alone a second car.  And there was minimal street parking around any of them.  So meeting Woody there in the morning, having two cars, then taking two cars back and forth between the shops, didn't seem like such a good idea.  I was planning on having dinner with Woody & LM anyway, they have a lovely guest room, it started making sense.

So Woody swung by my place, not very far out of the way.  I grabbed my meds (though I later realized I forgot one, fortunately it was the one I could most easily skip for a day) and grabbed a change of clothes.  Also picked up a few items for my breakfast.  One thing I considered taking was my laptop.  But I decided for just the night it was no big deal to be without it (even though I had a blog post written that I had to proofread that I wanted to publish the next evening).  I did grab my tablet.

And we headed back to Woody's.  The three of us had a very nice dinner, relating our tale of frustration to LM, who naturally enough, thought we were both nuts.  And so the next day, we got up bright and early and headed back to the shop that installed the catalytic converters.

Now I mentioned that it had been windy the day before (Monday) and this day was also very windy.  You've probably heard of all the fires in Southern California last week. Well on the Monday I've just described, there was one that wasn't all that far from Woody & LM's place.  Now as we were driving towards the neighborhood where all the car shops were, I got a Google alert telling me about a fire very, very close to my residence.  I was trying to find out more about it when I received a phone call from the city of L.A. emergency system about mandatory evacuations.  I didn't take the call because I assumed it was a junk call but they left a voice message and I played it back.  It mentioned the areas where emergency evacuations were and I couldn't understand exactly what they were saying.  I finally used my smart phone to find the evacuation map.  It turned out that the border of the evacuation area was less than a five-minute walk from my front door.  In other words, if I tried to walk in that direction for six minutes, they'd have stopped me!  Oh and also, the freeway right by my house (the on and off ramps to which were in the mandatory evacuation area) was closed in both directions.  I pretty much take that freeway to go virtually anywhere I have to go!

Well by this time, we could see we were driving towards thick, heavy, black smoke.  If my house was near the fires (and it was), the repair shop we were headed to was even closer!  I had obviously picked the worst day possible to do this.

We got to the shop.  The guy Woody had spoken to the night before wasn't there of course.  Instead a worker, one of the mechanics was there—the very same mechanic who had installed the catalytic converter.  Like everyone we encountered at one of these shops Woody has done business with, he greeted Woody like his long lost friend, greeting him in a combination of Spanish and English. Woody had to explain the problem and he put the car on the lift.  Unfortunately, even on the lift, the mechanic (who we are going to call "Rudy") couldn't see the numbers.  Woody looked too and couldn't see them.  Maybe at this point it was determined that the CC's had been installed upside down.

Rudy took off the CC's and then saw the numbers.  Woody wrote down the numbers.  He even took pictures of them with the numbers visible.  He wanted Rudy to call Jesus and tell him (in Spanish) that the numbers were good, that everything was legit.  He tried a few times and couldn't get thru.

This past hour or so was one of the most uncomfortable of my life.  It was windy and cold.  OK, if you live in Minnesota maybe you wouldn't have been freezing.  But it was freezing for L.A., especially with that really bad wind blowing on us.  Also, that wind was blowing smoke and ash from the nearby fire right in our faces.  Woody and I kept getting dust and ash and smoke and  who knows what else in our eyes. If it wasn't hell, it will do until the actual hell comes along.  And for good measure, there was no place to sit down.  Either there was no office or it was locked.  We were just standing in a garage with wide open doors freezing, breathing smoke and getting ash in our eyes.

The experience wasn't a total loss, however.  Early on, while Rudy was taking down the CC's, he told Woody that he and a buddy were going to Tijuana soon.  And he was pretty clear about why they were going.  "We're going to get panocha."  (I'll let you folks Google it, this is a family blog).  Then he invited Woody to join him.  Then he pointed to me and said the four of us should all go.  We politely declined. 

Woody had developed a theory as to why Jesus suspected him of being an undercover inspector.  He decided that as a white guy, being in this part of town, he stuck out like a sore thumb—what else could a white guy be doing in his shop?  He was convinced that he had been "racially profiled."  Personally, I think that's a stretch.  These shops get plenty of business from people who don't speak Spanish.

While this was going on, a middle-aged black guy showed up.  I guess he was there to have his car worked on.  He too had no place to sit so he was just standing there.  Woody struck up a conversation with him.  He eventually told the guy the story of why we were there and about the smog check gone wrong, including his theory as to why he had been incorrectly identified as an inspector.  He said to him, "I was racially profiled." I was a little nervous about that but the guy just laughed, he was totally cool with it.

At one point, when Woody was out of earshot, Rudy said to me "Have you known him (meaning Woody) a long time?"  I said yes.  "He's crazy, isn't he?"  I laughed.  And then I said, "Oh yes.....loco."  Rudy laughed back.  "Yes, loco."

Well, Rudy put the CC's back on the car and went in the back to make one more try to get a hold of Jesus.  When he came back, he said he had reached him and explained the problem.  With hope in our hearts, we drove over to the smog shop.  We were about to have our "Come to Jesus" moment.

When we arrived at the shop, Jesus was not there.  He would be back "soon" we were told.  We waited in the office.  Meanwhile Woody left to make a call.  When he came back, he gave me some much needed good news.  He had called the guy we left my Camry with the day before.  At first he greeted Woody with a long list of issues with the car (outside of the catalytic converter, which he had told him about upfront).  Woody feared he was going to say he could only get me "X" for it, with "X" being a lot less than Woody had insisted on the day before.  But at the end of his list of issues with the car, the guy told Woody, "Well ok, I've got the money here.  You can come by with the pink slip and pick up the cash."  No shit?  Wow, that went a lot faster and smoother than I had any right to expect, especially considering all the problems we were having with the smog check. 

Fortunately, I had the pink slip with me, and the shop where the Camry was wasn't very far from where we were at that moment.  Maybe this was all coming together and we could get out of there with the smog certificate and be done with this ordeal?

No such luck.  Jesus returned.  He said he hadn't spoken to Rudy about the car.  What?  A guy who installs CC's upside down and was planning to go to Tijuana to score with some hookers would lie?  Who could have seen that coming?

Jesus was not interested in seeing Woody's pictures of the CC's with the numbers clearly visible. Nor did he want to see the receipt for the converters that Woody had located and could show him (which clearly stated that they were California approved).  And he still refused to put the car on the lift to look for the numbers.  "That's not part of the test, I shouldn't have to do that," he said.  Nor was he interested in talking to Rudy.  Woody even asked if he would come to the shop where the work had been down and talk to him face-to-face and let Rudy show him the numbers. He said no.  Woody told him the shop was like three minutes away. Nope.  He wasn't having any of it.  In fact, he was still at least half-convinced that Woody was undercover for the Bureau of Automotive Repair and trying to bust him.

So right there, from the office, Woody called the number for the BAR that was on the pamphlet and started explaining the issue to them.  I suppose he was hoping that they would be able to tell Jesus right on the phone to give us the damn smog certificate.  Alternatively, I think he wanted to make it clear to them that this Jesus guy was not at all a helpful fellow.

Well, apparently the only remedy was that we had to take the car to a "referee"  that works for BAR and have him test the car and determine if it was acceptable.  Miracle of miracles,  he was able to get an appointment that same day—but in the afternoon, at 1:50pm (it was still the middle of the morning).  Also, the location of the referee was at a college that was about midway between where we currently were and Woody's home.  So it wasn't some ridiculous drive.

But we before we left, there was still a matter of the money.  Woody had paid the guy $51 or so for the test, even though they wouldn't give him the certificate.  Woody told Jesus that the person on the phone said that Jesus needed to "cancel the test" out of the system—and also that he should give Woody the money back for the test.  The guy balked but then finally said he'd speak to his manager.  The manager didn't put up much of a fight.  But they said they didn't know how to credit Woody's credit card back!  They said they would give him a money order.  Strange, but we waited around for the lady in the office to get a money order from somewhere (she left the premises to get it).

Finally on our way, we headed to get the money for the Camry.  This actually went smoothly.  We both signed a few things and then the guy took the cash out of his shirt pocket and counted it out for me—the exact sum Woody had insisted on.  Now, it turned out that the first four bills he gave me were $50 bills.  I commented that gamblers consider $50 bills bad luck.  But I forced myself to take them anyway.  The rest were $100's.

I said goodbye to the Camry, my reliable transportation for 16 years, and we took off.  By this time Woody had decided he wanted to take it back to Rudy and insist he uninstall the CC's and then re-install them right side up.  That should definitely resolve things.  We were trying to avoid this because this would take at least an hour and was not that simple, apparently they would have to redo the welds or something.  But it could be done.

We got back to that shop and saw Rudy and he put the car back on the lift.  By this time the owner had shown up (he was the guy we had seen the day before just as he was closing).  Woody told him the whole story and then told him we wanted the converters installed right side up, as they should have been all along.  The guy said sure—but he would have to charge us $200!  This seemed outrageous seeing as how Woody had paid him for doing the job properly in the first place.  The shop owner showed Woody that the numbers were easily visible the way it was, you just had to look for them.  Note that Rudy could not see the numbers when he looked for them earlier that morning until he took them off.

Woody could not get the guy to agree to do the job for free.  So we left, rather pissed.  It was actually way too early to get to the referee, so we headed back to Woody's, grabbed some lunch while Woody started telling LM some of our tales of woe.  As soon as we entered the house, LM told us that we both stunk.  She could smell the smoke on our clothes!  Yeah, it was that bad.  We had basically spent a couple of hours inside of an ashtray.

Meanwhile, I had been trying to keep up with fire news.  My house wasn't in the mandatory evacuation area yet, but a couple of new fires had started all around us. I'm pretty sure that at this point, every single route I could use to get to, say, Vegas, was closed to me!  One of the fires actually had the potential to hit both Woody's and my neighborhood.  Of course, we saw smoke the entire time we were in the area where the car shops were.

We headed to the location of the referee, seeing plenty of smoke off in the distance as we drove.  We got there early and the referee was able to take us right awasy and listen to our story.  He turned out to be a very nice guy.  Woody really told him the whole story in great detail (hey folks, if Woody would have written this blog post, it would have been twice as long), including the part about the shop owner wanting to charge us $200 to redo his work.  Woody had assumed the guy would have a lift there but he did not.  Nevertheless, he put the car through its paces.  It took awhile. But when he came back to us he had good news, but he gave us a choice.

He was prepared to pass the car and give us the certificate.  He was able to see the numbers on the CC (and without using a lift!).  But since the CC's were installed upside down, if we preferred he could fail the car and thus give us ammunition to go back to the shop and insist on them redoing the installation.  It took us about three seconds to reject that idea.  Even if if we had a ticket from the BAR that said the CC's were installed improperly, there was no guarantee we could convince this guy to redo the job at no cost.

We gladly accepted the certificate right then and there.  One good thing about having the referee do the test—there was no charge for it!  Only the $8.25 for the actually certificate (which I believe goes right to the state and is fixed).  So we actually came out ahead on the deal.  Also, the referee told Woody that he made some notes in the file on the car and we could come back in two years to him (or whoever the referee was by then) and have him do the test.  Not only would that make getting it passed smooth but it would be free to test it.  How sweet is that?

We headed back to Woody's neighborhood. While we had been waiting (at least it was inside), whenever we looked outside we could see smoke coming from one of the fires clearly visible in the sky.  And I had been trying to get updates on my phone and had seen that even more freeways were closed.  So when we got back up to the freeway we needed to get to Woody's, we noticed that the traffic in the opposite direction was at an absolute standstill.  A complete parking lot.  Fortunately we were headed in the other direction and traffic that way was moving fine.  But that stalled traffic was the heading in the direction of my house.  In other words, if I would have been trying to get home just then, I wouldn't have been able to.

I dropped Woody off at his house, and headed back to the DMV.  Again, the wait wasn't too bad.  Amazingly, I got the same lady who had help us the day before. She even remembered me.  Soon, I was on my way back to Woody's, temporary registration in hand.  The car was finally, legally, mine.

Well, I checked with Google Maps and there was no good route back to my house.  It said it would take 55 minutes to get there (double the normal time), but as it was turning into rush hour I knew that it would likely get worse by the minute. Also, the power at my place was likely out.  Or at least the internet was down. I knew this because I couldn't get my Echo Dot to respond to anything. Everyone agreed it made more sense for me to stay there yet another night and hope things cleared up some by the next day.  I did start referring to myself as "The Man Who Came to Dinner."  So we ended up going out to dinner again and once again I took advantage of Woody & LM's generous hospitality.  But man, I really, really wished I had my laptop with me!  Somehow, with just a smart phone and a tablet, I managed.  But it was touch and go for awhile.

When I woke up the next morning, I checked Google and it showed that I could get home in the usual time.  And it showed that freeway by my house had reopened, except for the exit I normally take.  I'd have to exit one stop earlier.  No big deal.  Woody and LM were still asleep, but I wanted to make it home while the getting was good, and before morning rush hour traffic kicked in.  So I left without even saying goodbye.

Traffic was light and it never got bad.  I didn't see any smoke as I approached my neighborhood.  And suddenly Google was telling me I could exit at my usual street and not one stop before!  Although there were still a few traffic cones that were sort of in the way (they had probably blown back into traffic).  But I navigated through that was very happy to be home.  And yes, I confirmed that the there had been a power outage at my house since I'd been there, but it was working when I got home.

Well that's my story.  I'd just like to publically thank Woody and LM for everything, including putting me up (and putting up with me) for two nights, all the help with the car and of course the incredible deal they gave me on such a great car.  Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Smog, Smoke, Wind & Fire (Part 1)

This two-part post is off-topic, no poker or Vegas talk.  Although I can connect it a little bit to Vegas because it concerns my transportation to Vegas, if that's not too much of a stretch.  Or just consider this one of my posts about something crazy that happened to me and I thought it was interesting enough to share with my readers.

It all started when I asked my friend Woody for advice on getting a new car.  My Camry was 16 years old and had over 262K miles on it.  It had served me well, but it had several things needing repair that would cost me some serious coin.  When I realized that spending anything above the price of an oil change on the car would be more than it was worth, I decided that I had to look to getting a new car.

To my astonishment, Woody offered me a once-in-a-lifetime deal on one of his cars.  It seems he had an extra car that he or members of his family had had for a long, long time. He had spent a lot of time, effort and yes, money, fixing it up.  Now I don't want to reveal the make and model of the car, but let's just say that it was a top-of-the-line luxury car that originally cost probably three or four times what I had paid for my Camry.  And yes, it was actually older than my Camry.  Again, I don't want to say exactly how old it is but the production date started with a "19" and not a "20."

But Woody loves to fix/maintain his cars and he had basically spent the last year or so rebuilding this car.  As he explained to me, virtually everything about the car was new (transmission, steering, catalytic converters, drive shaft, stereo etc, etc, etc). This is actually one of his hobbies.  I had ridden in this car many times over the years, including very recently.  It was a state-of-the-art car when he originally bought it new, and it had been brought back to virtually its original glory meticulously by Woody. And there wasn't a mark on it.

And he didn't know what to do with it because Woody and his wife, LM, are only two people and they had four cars, counting this one.  Essentially, they didn't have a place to keep this car and so Woody offered me a too-good-to-be true deal on it.  Now if it was anyone else making me this offer, I'd also be looking to see if the Brooklyn Bridge was part of the deal, but Woody has been a close friend for some twenty years or so (and his wife and I have been friends for even longer) and I knew I could trust him.  And I knew if he said that everything had been replaced in the car, it was a fact.  All the issues I had with my Camry had already been repaired on this car, and it was a much better car to begin with.

But one of the pearls of wisdom my late father imparted on me was, "Never buy a used car."  And all this time, I never had. Of course I was a bit skeptical.  So Woody offered me another deal—try the car for awhile and see for myself how I like it.  How could I refuse?

So I left my Camry in front of his house (since I had never mastered the art of driving two cars at once), picked up his car and tried it for myself.  Well, it is a helluva car. The thought that I could have a car of this quality without having to come up with a huge down payment and then have to make large monthly payments was stunning.  So, a week later I was on the phone to Woody saying, "Let's do this!"  Now it was less than two weeks before my next planned trip to Vegas so I wanted to get this transaction completed before then so I could take my "new" car to Vegas.  Besides, I wanted to finalize this sweet deal before Woody came to his senses. 

There was also the matter of the Camry. Since I'd always bought new cars before, I always traded my old car into the dealer when I bought a new car.  I had never dealt with trying to sell a car before and I dreaded it.  Especially since one of the issues with the Camry was that it needed a new catalytic converter and it wouldn't pass a smog check.  And you can't complete the title transfer of a car without a smog check (keep that thought it mind). 

Well, Woody came to the rescue there too.  When I say that he restores cars as a hobby, I don't mean that he does all the physical labor himself.  He mostly figures out what the car needs, finds the parts (usually online) and then when he gets the parts, he goes to a repair shop that is ok with just doing the labor and not selling him the parts.  As such, he knows the owners of half the repair shops in the L.A. area.  He thought of a couple of shop owners who would be willing to take the Camry off my hands and do the repairs for cheap (since that's what they do anyway).  The very first guy he called sounded interested.  Woody named a price that was the minimum I'd accept.  Again, I'm not saying what it was but it was at least 2-3 times what I thought I could get for the car and about 4-5 times more than I could possibly get if I traded it in for a new car.  The guy said he'd look at it and see.  If that didn't work out, Woody had another guy he would try.

So last Monday I drove the car that was soon-to-be mine over to Woody and LM's house to complete the transaction.  The agenda was for me to empty out my Camry, head over to the DMV, file all that paperwork on Woody's—I mean, my—car, then drive the Camry over and drop it off at the shop Woody's pal owns.  He'd check it for a day or two and see if he was interested in buying it himself or perhaps finding a buyer.

As it turned out, I picked a bad day to do this.  We had been having some great weather but this day suddenly a cold wind hit us and when I got to Woody's, it was quite a pain to unload all the crap in my car.  Now although I am a total slob by nature, for years I always kept my cars very neat.  But once I started travelling to Vegas on almost a bi-monthly basis, I just kept keeping more and more stuff in my car all the time.  So there was just a ton of stuff to clean out of there.  And it was 16 years worth of stuff that had been accumulating.

Fortunately both Woody and LM helped and the biggest problem was preventing things from blowing away during the transfer and also keep the garbage bag open in the face of the severe wind.

But we finally cleaned it all out, stopped off for a quick lunch, and then headed to the local DMV, without an appointment.  Fortunately this DMV, located in their neighborhood, is one of the best-run, least busy DMV's you can find.  And so it wasn't a ridiculously long wait for us to be called.

We should have been on our way soon after we were called to the window except for one thing—the car I was buying required a smog check.  Ugh.  I had thought about that but I noticed the car's registration was just renewed in the past month or so.  Since the smog check is required every other year, I assumed that if Woody hadn't mentioned it, the car had been smogged within the 90 day window (so that a check wouldn't be necessary).  Actually when the lady at the DMV mentioned the smog check, Woody assumed that too—but she checked and it turned out it hadn't been done in over a year.  There was no way getting around it.  We would have to get the car smog checked in order to complete this transaction.

I suppose we could have gone anywhere to get the smog check, they have these places all over California, probably plenty within a few minutes from this particular DMV.  But Woody has relationships with many car repair places and wanted to use the one he normally goes to.  Unfortunately, this place was clear across town.  Not to worry, Woody assured us, it was only 2pm and we had until 5pm to get back to the DMV to close this transaction. Plenty of time.

OK, fine.  And then LM realized the place Woody wanted to go was near the place where I was going to drop off my Camry for possible sale.  She suggested we take two cars and kill two birds with one stone—I mean trip.  So we dropped LM off at her house, picked up the Camry and were on our way.  I didn't know where we were going so I just followed Woody, and when we got to a car place, I honestly wasn't sure if it was the place for the smog check or the place we were dropping off the Camry.  Turned out it was the place for the Camry.

Now there's no way to tell the rest of this story without mentioning something that all the car places we were about to interact with had something in common.  And that is, English is not the most frequently spoken language at any of them.  Spanish was much more common at these places, and that is pretty much true of the neighborhood they are all located in.

So as Woody was looking for the owner of this establishment, most of the workers seemed to recognize Woody and said hello to him. Woody returned their greetings in Spanish.  Woody knows some Spanish (mostly slang words) and for that matter, he knows more Yiddish than I do (he is not Jewish).  So he is multi-lingual.  But they all knew him.

Finally he found the proprietor and showed him my car. The proprietor greeted Woody like his good friend. He looked it over for five seconds and said that he would check it out and see what he could do.  And with that, I handed him the keys to my Camry and we took off.  It was a little weird to say the least.  I left my car in his shop, handed him the keys, and didn't get a single piece of paper, no receipt, no nothing.  I am not used to doing business that way but I had complete faith in Woody.

Next we piled into the car and headed over to Woody's car smog buddy.   Who, just like the last guy, greeted Woody like his long lost friend (and in a combination of Spanish and English).  After the pleasantries were over, Woody explained what we needed and the guy said he couldn't help us this day—we should have called.  It seems he has three bays to do smog checks, but only one of them can do the extra tests required for a car as old as this one.  And that bay was not working this day.  Damn.

Woody asked if there was another place in the vicinity, surely there were lots of them.  The guy pointed up the street to a gas station.  "Ask for Jorge.  He's my son."  Cool.

So we went over there.  And asked for Jorge.  "He just left.  Should be back in around 40-minutes."  Well time was a wasting and we didn't want to wait for 40-minutes.  Besides, when someone says sometimes will be back in 40-minutes, it could be closer to 60-minutes.....or not at all, right?

Any other places we could get the check done immediately?  Yeah, tons of them, he said.  He mentioned the name of the street in the neighborhood where they were a dime a dozen.  So without a specific place in mine, we went to that street and just started looking for the smog check sign.  We found one and noticed the bay was chained off, but Woody went to talk to the guy there.  I didn't hear the conversation but Woody got in the car and explained to me that the guy said he had been closed down by the state inspectors.  Apparently they had recently been out in full force and were closing the places down aggressively because (they claimed), their instruments were off and needed to be adjusted.

Hmm....this was getting to be more difficult than we ever imagined.  We were 0 for 3.  We were thinking of heading back to Woody's neck of the woods to find a place when we passed by another shop.  We inquired there.  Nope, they too were closed down by the state.  Yeesh, 0 for 4.  But as we passed by the guy, he did say to us, "nice car."  Except he called it by the exact model of the car.

At this point I started Googling smog check places to see if I could call one and ask if they could do it.  The trouble was, I wasn't sure if these places I was finding were ones we'd already been to!  Then we drove past another one.....It was too late to turn in, so we pulled into a strip mall, parked kind of illegally and Woody went over on foot to see if they could do the smog check.  Well guess what....they could!  On the fifth try we finally found a place who could do the smog check on this older car.

We had to wait and were told to wait in the office, we couldn't see what the guy was doing or even if he was testing the car.  The time was getting near 4pm.  I was wondering if there was a chance in hell of us getting back to the DMV by 5.  I was also wondering if we got there at 4:55pm would we be ok, or if, at 5pm sharp, they would just close down and send everyone waiting to be helped home.  This was the DMV after all—everyone's least favorite bureaucracy.

Well we were waiting in the office and we kept waiting. And waiting.  And waiting.  It seemed to be taking way too long.  And I saw that the time was approaching 4:30 and realized there was no way we were going to make it back to the DMV by 5 even if that would.  There was just no way this was going to be completely finished today.  If we got the smog certificate now, I'd have to make another trip to the DMV on my own tomorrow to clear the title.  And recall that the DMV was close to Woody, not me.

Finally the guy came into the office.  And the first thing he said to Woody was, "Are you undercover?"  Ugh, I figured out what that must have meant.  Eventually, the guy made it clear he thought that we were undercover inspectors trying to trap him into giving us a certificate that wasn't warranted.  WTF?

Woody of course denied this because it wasn't true. It turned out that the issue was the catalytic converters.  The guy (who for this story we are going to call "Jesus") said that he couldn't read the numbers on them, which is part of the test, and therefore he couldn't pass the car.  But he was implying more, that there was something wrong with them, that they were somehow "illegal" catalytic converters and Woody had done something not kosher (pretty sure that Jesus didn't use the word "kosher.")  And then he thought—I guess because he knew the inspectors had closed down some other shops in the neighborhood—that we were with the State and just trying to trap him and bust him!

This was all bullshit.  Woody explained to the guy that those were legitimate CC's that he had bought online, they were certified for CA use, and that he had paid a local shop to install them.  He said he could even produce the receipt for them.  He asked the guy if he had put the car up on the lift to look for the numbers (Woody was sure they were there).  The guy said no, that's not part of the test.  Shops aren't required to have a lift to do smog checks but this shop had one but he refused to use it.  He asked if he would put the car on the lift so that he (Woody) could look for the numbers.  But the guy refused.  All he did was give Woody a pamphlet from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (the agency in charge of smog checks).  And he sent us on the way.

Well the place Woody had the CC's installed was not far from where we were so we headed over there.  Of course, the shop was in the process of closing for the night.  But he told the owner the problem and I think this was the point where it was first considered that the shop may have installed the CC's upside down.  But that shouldn't matter and all that meant was that it was just a little harder to see the numbers.  BTW, the car passed the test in every other way, meaning it wasn't polluting the air, which is the whole reason for having the damn smog checks in the first place. 

There was nothing more that could be done, this now officially became a two-day project (at least).  Woody figured we would get back to this shop first thing in the morning, have the mechanic put the car on the lift, show Woody the numbers on the CC's and then—well, not sure what the next step was.  Perhaps have this shop call the smog place and tell the guy where to look for the numbers?  Or take pics of the CC's so we could show them to Jesus?

That's it for part 1. You can now find part 2 here.  Oh and have you heard about the Southern California wildfires?  They play a big part in part 2.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

God's Plan for Aging

(Received this in an email the other day and I thought it was good enough to share here).

Most seniors never get enough exercise. In his wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking.

 And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things requiring them to bend, reach & stretch. 

And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise.  

God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember, it’s God’s will. It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.  

Nine Important Facts To Remember As We Grow Older:

#9  Death is the #1 killer in the world.

 #8  Life is sexually transmitted.

 #7  Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

#6   Men have 2 motivations: hunger and hanky panky, and they can't tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.

#5  Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.

#4  Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

#3  All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

#2  In the 60's, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.

#1  Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may be a burning issue tomorrow. 

Please share this wisdom with others while I go to the bathroom.