Friday, February 28, 2014

A little speeding is ok, right?

So David Staples is complaining that he got a photo radar ticket, for ONLY going 10 kilometers per hour over the limit. And he's using his job as an ... what is it.. opinion columnist, sports writer.. whatever... to gather support for being "bullied" by the law, by telling his little tale, complete with pictures of him and the ticket (side note.. could that pic be enlarged to reveal his personal info? Not that I have done that, nor would I waste the time doing it either) combined with doing an online poll, in an attempt to garner support for his cause.

He states something about a cop telling him back in the 90's that "up to 15 over is ok" (paraphrased), and the general appearances of his two stories posted to date, give the impression that this "going 10 over" is something he does all the time. After all, he admits that he has had a few tickets in the mail.

Let's face facts here. Photo radar is nothing more than a cash cow. You can't bring your accuser into court and question them. You can't offer an instant, and possibly reasonable, explanation as to why you were speeding, or why you ran that red light. And there are valid reasons for doing so.

Everyone speeds a little here and there. You almost have to at times, especially in keeping within the "flow of traffic", otherwise you face the wrath of enraged drivers, and (sadly) even the real possibility of some nut case tailgating you or cutting you off to prove a point on how much more superior they are than you. Of course, these things tend to apply on places like freeways and highways than normal city streets.

We must acknowledge that the law is the law. Yet we also understand that the law is supposed to be tempered with justice. It's clearly impossible for anyone to maintain "exactly" the speed limit. Foot fatigue, a little body shift to get comfortable in the seat, that tiny bit of pressure on the gas that lets you creep up and down in speed... especially on hills and valleys... I mean, those are normal and in fact natural. There is also the legal aspect in knowing that vehicle speedometers can and do go out of calibration, especially if you don't have the right sized tires on. Or the electronic sensors in the newer cars go out of "spec".

So generally, the law will usually avoid giving out tickets when the speed is minor. By that, I mean within a 5 kph range. And the courts tend to get a little pissed with cases within that range so for the most part they will generally look the other way when you are up to 7 kph over.

BUT... (and there is always a 'but') it will always depend on conditions and location. If the weather is bad, you can get a ticket for doing the speed limit, because you are not driving to conditions. This does NOT mean when conditions are perfect, you can go over the limit. And what about school zones, on a perfect day? If you think 10 over is ok, you are an asshat. Hell, 5 over in a school zone with kids around, you deserve a ticket and an ass kicking to boot. (no pun intended)

One major part in driving anyway, is to be aware of your surroundings, and paying attention to the roads. Clearly Mr. Staples doesn't do this, otherwise he would have seen the photo radar vehicle parked on the side of the road, where normally no car is parked.

Nuff said.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fishy Tower Deal

Just when you thought matters could not get any worse, this new deal with Katz and the new office tower adds some major stink factors.

When the last council lead by Mayor Mandel was (cough) negotiating the arena deal, one of the items Mr. Katzlington had on the bargaining table was "and you will move all the city employees into my new office building" (paraphrased).

Naturally, the public went into an uproar and council members quickly "came to the rescue" (coughs) and publically told Katz to take a hike. "Sure showed him" was the concept presented as many on city council proudly thumped their chests.

And now guess who "won" the (coughs) public competition to build a new tower for most of the city employees. Yup, out of about 14 bidders, Katz was chosen.

The City jumps up and down swearing the process was fair, and some independent folks were watching over to make sure of it. And with that, I'd suggest this was all just a marketing ploy. And you have fallen for it.

One can easily speculate that design and "wants and needs" were conveyed to Katz during many of the secret and/or private meetings or phone calls that Mandel had with him. Perhaps the ploy all along was to have this catered to, and the demand as part of the arena deal was to just create a puff of smoke.

I recall various newspaper articles that appeared immediately after the fact the City had in camera (private) meetings about this. Other developers seemed to indicate they never really had a chance anyway.

So if the City is saying that Katz came up with "nine out of 10 points" (for value, I guess) while the next closest was a six out of ten....

There was certainly ample time to carefully craft this "slight of hand", as many call it.

If it smells like a fish...

I'm betting it would have cost taxpayers less, to have the City build our own building...

(Note: References to Katz imply assorted associations with Katz, the Katz Group, WAM, and potential others.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

So you want service, huh

I've been on quite the "vehicle" journey this past winter. Fixed incomes, tight budgets, etc. My little 85 Toyota needed some winter prep done, and I wasn't happy with the condition of the radiator so I put a new one in. Common sense also dictated that it would be wise to change the thermostat as well, so I did all of that.

I seldom go out, but when I did (after the above was done) there were heating issues. (sigh)

The Toyota has a 5MGE engine in it, which is a "straight up" 6 cylinder. Unlike a general engine where you have say, 3 pistons on each side, this engine has all 6, straight up in a straight design. And at times, this design has been known to cause air pockets within the cooling system. Several attempts were made to "move" those potential air pockets out of the engine, the new radiator was checked for flow, the thermostat removed and checked for operations... but the problem only got worse.

To make a long story short, the new OEM thermostat was a bad design, and the spring got caught in the mounting bracket, forcing the thermostat to stay closed. This caused the engine to over heat, which caused the main head gasket to blow.

It was a total "tooth and nail" fight with the local head of Parts Source to prove the thermostat was faulty, however eventually they came up with a replacement head gasket and new antifreeze to replace all that was lost. The only problem is... our garage was "full", so those repairs on the Toyota have to wait for summer weather.

A little "saving grace" was available, as my brother has a 95 Cirrus which I can use, but it also required some repairs. To make that long story short, most of those repairs had been done over the years, and last summer he finally got around to finishing the paint job. The car was then taken in for a full frame alignment (that in itself is another story for another blog post) and then I set about working on that dreaded "check engine light" stuff.

We have several scanners for the new car computer things they have come out with over the years, and while they plugged into the OBD2 scanner port, none of them worked. After a lot of head scratching and internet searching, questioning all sorts of scanner manufacturers and third party computer diagnostic programs, we found that while the connector is an OBD2 type, this specific year, make, model and engine size, was an OBD1 computer. Nothing exists anywhere for diagnosing it, other than the dealer.

Since my brother had dealt with Derrick Dodge in the past, I contacted them through social media, and went into great detail on the issues, what had been found, diagnostic codes, sensor testing, etc. This was passed on to the service manager, who made the arrangements to have the car checked out.

The Cirrus was taken into their drive through bay area. Very impressive I must say. Within a few moments, this younger looking guy came out, scanner tester in hand, and jumped in to plug it in and ran some diagnostics. I brought along our Haynes repair manual, discussed all of the things done, and he spent some time trying to inspect a few things. We then went over the schematics of the system using the Haynes book, and he didn't think some things were right, so he took more time and photo copied some sensor pages from the dealer manual to help us out.

The basics of the tests indicated that the sensors were not getting the 5 volt line it needed from the PCM (power train control module), so we left Derrick Dodge with some really awesome information, and a great experience.

I found out afterwards, this "young looking kid" was really their shop foreman! So a huge kudos goes out to Gary Winters... he obviously knows his stuff. His expertise in explaining both the electronics and the mechanics was a breath of fresh air. Mind you, it also helped a lot that I knew what he was talking about too. I've been working on cars (and many other things) since high school. And I'm not a spring chicken anymore so...

A definite "tip of the hat" has to go to Derrick Dodge Family Center on 62 ave and 104 street.