The Cage…Verdict is in…CVT means “Zoom Zoom”!

Regular readers might recall a few months ago that the wife’s ride was beginning to misbehave and needed some repair. Fourteen years, two major “smacks”, 180-something thousand enthusiastic miles, and many adventures (and misadventures) across the nation had begun to take their toll.

So I repaired it…I do believe it underestimated the depths of my resolve on this matter.

Well, we’ve now had the time and miles (including two emergency trips to the east coast) to put the new ride through its paces…and the verdict is in.

Short of it is…the car rocks. Powerful. Comfortable. Extremely competent handling (active stability controls)…and it gets 35-40 mpg depending on the mix of driving for that tank of fuel.

What I want to mention though…is the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that attaches the ride’s 182 horsepower to the ground.
da_altima
What CVT means is “no gears”. Many folks are leery of this concept. They shouldn’t be.

If you want to jam some gears…buy a Peterbuilt. If you want maximum performance, CVT is the future.

Here’s why:
You jam the pedal to the metal and the transmission lets the engine hit its EXACT rpm for peak torque and horsepower and then smoothly varies its ratio to keep that rpm where it is as the car accelerates…no pauses for shifts…no over-revving…from the second you hit the petal to when you let off it you get the full 182 horsepower on the ground.

The effect is awe inspiring…and will frankly and firmly spank anything in this weight class and horsepower range. There is no better way to get the power to the ground.

Once you’re through screaming, “MORE POWER SCOTTY” and let off the gas…the tranny then smoothly varies the ratio to the ideal economy range for the engine at the power output needed to hold the speed you want. That gets you an average 35-38mpg on this mid-sized sedan. Downright impressive and fun to boot.

There’s also a thumb button on the shifter for “sport” mode…which essentially just tells the transmission to maintain the correct ratio for peak horsepower/torque no matter what you are doing. You can use this when you “know” you are going to be aggressive for that more “firm” response when you first tromp on it…or to decelerate on long slowdowns or hills or such.

Paired with active stability controls it is an amazing machine…

…all in a mid-sized sedan.

The wife grins evilly and says, “Ooooo…mama likessssss…”

I may have unleashed a monster.

We’ll see you on the road!

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I’m shoveling…something alright…

Bleary eyed and idly sipping my coffee…I stood there eyeballing the news. It was grim. Folks all over the country were shoveling their way out of extreme weather.

I sighed. Gonna be one of those days is it?

Following the example of those on the news I finished my coffee early so I could clear the driveway in time to leave for work.

Our extreme, shirt-sleeve riding weather was literally covering up…well…everything. I couldn’t avoid it.

Clearing the driveway of the sunshine and 55 degrees (at 9am)…I think it’s working.

I think it's working!

I think it’s working!

Seriously…why do I even have this thing?

Seriously...why do I even have this thing?

Seriously…why do I even have this thing?

And lest you think I’m being completely silly (instead of just evil), this sort of weather DOES stand a very real chance of making me late for work…or even causing me not to make it there at all!

Zoom. Zoom.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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There’s a reason…

The focus…the drive…the intensity…the passioSQUIRREL!

Ur…what? Oh, yeah.

Arriving home from her trip she crawled into bed with me. I wasn’t feeling well, but when a warm, willing woman crawls into bed with me I ur…NOTICE…or I’m already stone-cold-dead.

I rolled over and embraced her and promptly dropped off again. I’m sure that was her first clue. VERY unlike me.
Shortly she says, “You’re shaking.”
“Sorry.” I mumbled.
“Seriously! Are you okay?”
“I’m okay. Just not feeling well. It’s been a tough few days.”
Work. Fasting for Doc’s appointments. A procedure there that made me intensely nauseous. A friend in crisis. More pain. A quick road-trip. Personal projects. Lack of sleep. Massive commutes. Passion. More demands for my attention. Anti-biotics upsetting my stomach…and appetite. Frustration.
“What did you have for dinner?”
I tried to remember but the thoughts wouldn’t organize. “……I don’t know.”
“WHEN did you eat?”
“Uh…” I really had to think…”What day is it?”

Before I knew what was happening she’d booted me out of bed, made me soup, and served it with saltines. It was a good choice, as I doubt I could have kept anything more substantial down for very long.

Normally quite capable of “fending for myself”…my focus had been intensely elsewhere…for days. Combined with the pain and nausea from the drugs and doctors visit…it just never got pointed back in the right direction.

There’s a reason us males…the “pointers” (as opposed to the “setters”) live longer when we are paired up with one of the fairer sex.

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I’m condemned to what now?

I stood there dripping…

“I have no words…” said the truck-stop duty manager as we watched his (not very effective) security guy chase the woman around the parking lot. I was watching the spectacle and reflecting that less donuts would be advisable if the security dude wants to continue in his chosen career.

Moments before the woman had doused me in ‘holy water’ and screamed, “I CONDEMN YOU TO HELL SPAWN OF SATAN! BE GONE!” and then sprinted across the parking lot, security guy in not-so-hot pursuit.

It must have been an off brand…the ‘holy water’…or beyond it’s expiration date. It was quite cold…but hardly burned at all. I didn’t seem to be melting. The bottle had said, “Ozarka”. I resisted the urge to scream, “I’m melting!” and fall to the ground like the wicked witch out of “The Wizard of Oz” and settled for a grimace instead.

Now she was removing and tossing articles of clothing and screaming bible verses as she ran. Proverbs…I think…accompanied the sight of her panties flying through the air.

“Hell and destruction are never full! The eyes of man are never satisfied!”

She got that last part right I suppose.

There were perhaps 50 people milling around the store and gas pumps. She had their full attention. She’d have been cute…with a bit less crazy.

It was time for me to ride. She only had socks left and she was screaming what sounded like Dante now.

Lots of folks mix that up…somehow assigning religious significance to the writings of a mad 14th-century poet.

I’m not a big fan of mad 14th-century poets.

A somewhat confused middle-aged woman had picked up the spectacle’s bra and was holding it out in front of her as she sort of followed the chase at a walking pace. I could imagine her saying something like, “Here dear. You need this if you’re going to run like that. You might put your eye out.”

I shook my head and stuck my hand out to the manager. “I’ve gotta ride. No hard feelings.” He looked at it like it might burst into flames at any second. It was still dripping. After an awkward pause he finally shook it.

“Can I get you a towel?”

“Heh…no. I’ll dry soon enough.”

“But…your jacket?”

I glanced downward at the massive seasoned leather jacket and laughed. I’ve been wearing that thing for more than 30 years. If it wasn’t covered in blood or on fire I was having a good day.

“It’s seen MUCH worse.”

A last glance at the entertainment in the parking lot and I mounted the big cruiser and thumbed the start button.

The powerful motor rumbled to life and the sound and feel washed all the distractions from my mind. Yep. It was time to ride.

I twisted the throttle and hit 80 before I cleared the lights.

I’ll see you on the road. Or in Hell. Some days it’s hard to tell the difference…at least…if mad 14th century poets are to be believed.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Blog, Road Stories | 1 Comment

Imagine…

I watched a man suffer yesterday…a working man, fallen ill. A strong man that needs to work, reduced to a shivering, coughing, weak-kneed mass.

…and I felt his pain.

Imagine you are lying in bed…and I’m kneeling hard on your chest…and stuffing a pillow over your face with all my strength.

Imagine the struggle to simply get a breath…imagine the longing…imagine the fear.

THAT…is pretty close to what an asthma attack feels like.

I’ve fought it all my life…I was born with it…and know something about it.

It’s life threatening and debilitating. It has nothing to do with weight…or lifestyle…or any of the other things people like to blame you for when you get sick.

It’s a disease. It requires treatment. Without it you’ll lose strength, and begin to cough…often so hard and long you end up throwing up…and you still can’t breathe.

If you’re lucky it passes…if you’re not, it will kill you. Without medicines the odds are not in your favor.

Here’s an important fact: As a percentage of sufferers, asthma has a higher mortality rate than breast cancer!

“What does not kill me makes me stronger”, yes? No. Not this time. Even if you survive…or have mild attacks…the symptoms of an attack are caused by inflammation of the lungs…which is causing long-term, cumulative damage. Untreated asthma will result in debilitating COPD later in life and will most likely be the cause of death.

This shouldn’t be an issue today. We have very safe and effective drugs to combat this…and if kept treated an asthma sufferer may never have another attack.

“So what’s the problem?” you say.

Rescue

Albuterol Inhaler. Used to be cheap. Not so anymore.

Albuterol Inhaler. Used to be cheap. Not so anymore.

Let’s start with treating the immediate symptoms. Albuterol is the go-to rescue inhaler. Safe, remarkably effective, NOT abusable, and portable…the problem? It used to be cheap. The feds fixed that.

See, it’s been around so long it was generic…and an inhaler (enough for a typical sufferer to last a month) cost about $4. Yep. Four dollars. There’s no reason any sufferer shouldn’t have one in his pocket, car, desk, and basically, scattered around the place.

Except the EPA made them change the propellant. Not for medical reasons…rather…because it was a CFC gas. So…a drug company reformulated it…and presto! New propellant! Marketed as “ProAire HFA” by Teva Respiratory. Also, and this is the important part…they now have exclusive right to produce and sell it for the next bunch of years (a generic may be available after 2023).

So…of course…the $4 inhaler now costs over $55. The working man I’m talking about here…can’t afford it…at least…not very often. When his inhaler is empty…he just tries to cope…and survive.

It’s also just for rescue…treatment of sudden onset of symptoms. Treating an attack still leaves behind the accumulating long-term damage.

There is a cheap version of albuterol…CAN be had for under 10 dollars…but it is NOT portable…it requires an expensive machine (nebulizer) to dispense and can’t really be done “on the fly” somewhere. (I find myself wondering if it would work in a “Vape” electronic cigarette)

Preventatives

Symbicort Inhaler

Symbicort Inhaler

And then there’s the preventative treatments. In recent years some VERY safe and effective daily treatments have come out that can all but eliminate attacks. Symbicort and Advair are two of the most effective. They are reasonably new, and thus, again proprietary, and expensive.

Used daily, an asthma sufferer need rarely have any symptoms at all!

So what’s the problem? Expense again…many working folks simply can’t afford it.

“BUT BUT…” sputters the mis-informed. “Insurance! Obamacare! On Dancer! On Prancer! On Comet! On Vixen!”

Let’s talk about that. MY insurance…which I’ve been paying for 30 years and rarely even met a deductible, quit covering Advair (my preventative), informing me that I should just use the Albuterol. See…if I DO that, it’s cheaper for them…and by the time I’m in the throes of COPD I’m older and retired, and NOT their problem (on medicare). Fortunately, they still will cover Symbicort…but NOT well…between deductibles and “co-insurance” I’m not even sure what else…I have to spend $4500 before they pay for much of anything.

As a user of preventatives, I’ve not had a serious asthma symptom in two years. I could probably have NO asthma symptoms…but since even with insurance I have trouble affording it…I use HALF the recommended dose just so I can.

Now…on to the working man.

He can’t afford insurance. He couldn’t before ACA (Obamacare), and still can’t. What ACA did was raise MY insurance to where I can’t afford to use it (24% in just two years and $4500 deductibles), and fines HIM (via tax return/IRS) for not buying insurance that he couldn’t afford to use either.

So…no medicine for him…except when he manages to break out a few extra dollars. He can’t afford the “save my life now” rescue inhaler…what do you think the chances are he can afford to spring for the preventative?

So…he fights through…and tries to survive…just tries to make it through so he can make another day’s work…and possibly make things better for himself and his wife. He often loses a day’s pay though…when he has to be off sick for this.

This time I happened to be there…these attacks are dramatic…sudden, unannounced, and they will take you from robust and active to lying in bed struggling to breath (and NOT throw up) in minutes…I was there. I handed him my inhaler. I ‘forgot’ to get it back. Hopefully I won’t need it as I can’t refill my ‘scrip till next month.

It’s probably good for 20 days or so. (disclaimer: Unless the reader here happens to be an insurance slug or law enforcement type…then of course…I would never do anything like violating federal law by giving a dying man a lifesaving drug…I am making this entire thing up in a drunken stupor…or perhaps a dream…or a sleep-deprived hallucination…).

Of course, this doesn’t address preventatives…and reducing the cost of his future care…and what they’re gonna do NEXT month…but, well, I’m sure fining them even more next year and raising my rates some more will take care of it, yes?

I’ll see you on the road.

Posted in Lunacy | 1 Comment

Almost better than coffee!

A somewhat disconcerting way to spice up the commute…

Accelerating hard, trying to maneuver around, through, and between Dallas traffic on this high-speed death-trap we call “Central Expressway” and *snap*, “WEEEEEEEE!” There goes the backrest.

DOES get your attention. I managed not to crash (at least too much) and even snagged the backrest before it bounced and slid its way to oblivion down the highway.

The pivot bolt for the backrest on The Dragon

The pivot bolt for the backrest on The Dragon

Exit the highway, find the nearest hapless pedestrian:
“QUICK! Where’s the nearest hardware store!!?”
Stunned bystander look. “UhWaaaa?”
“GRADE 8 BOLTS! I NEED GRADE 8 BOLTS NOW!”
*bystander points down the street*
*ZOOOOOOMMMMMMM!*

A quick stop at a hardware store and TADAAA! Fixed.

New grade 8 bolt and locking nut. Maybe it'll last another 200,000 miles...

New grade 8 bolt and locking nut. Maybe it’ll last another 200,000 miles…

A *great ride!

*good ride = “nobody died”
*great ride= “AND I can use the bike again”

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Those that serve…

For those that have honorably served…thanks. You did it right.

veteransday

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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A little project (me)

I’ve been busy of late…work pressures, misbehaving vehicles, home and business repairs…

And a little project…

Mainly…ME. I’m the project.

I’ve been battling weight all my life. I’ve more recently figured out that the main reason is I pay very little attention to my own needs in that regard…intently focusing on other, more important tasks at hand. Work, family, STUFF…all comes first…particularly the work.

I finally figured out I’ve been selling my health to my job for the last 30 years…and not only was it not really buying me anything…they weren’t keeping their end of the bargain.

I’ve shifted a lot of that focus onto a new job. Me. Oh, I still do my job…and I’m good at it…but they are getting what they pay for and not a lot more.

So…been working on losing weight. No surgery. No packaged meals. No fad diet. Simple, focused, dedication to the task at hand. It takes effort. It takes looking at the simple answers nobody really wants to hear and embracing them…instead of justifying some, more palatable conclusion.

It takes ignoring the multi-billion industry that’s trying to sell us products because we don’t like the rather simple answers to “how to lose weight”.

It takes ignoring the OTHER multi-billion dollar industry that trying to sell us highly processed stuff that they’re calling food because it’s extremely profitable. This one has a head start…they’ve been pimping this crap in a hard sell to us since we were born.

It takes fighting against extremely powerful instincts, cravings, and drives every second of every day. Your body does not WANT to lose weight…and fights it at every turn.

Carbs and calories are the key. Less of both. The KINDS of carbs matter too…but we all know that when we stop to think about it.

A lifetime of habits and being taught to eat exactly the wrong things is a hard thing to undo.

Damn near impossible in fact. Anybody that thinks it’s easy has no clue what they’re talking about and has never battled a real weight problem. The success rate for folks trying to lose more than 10% of their body-weight and keep it off is absolutely dismal. Habit, genetics, marketing, and social pressures are all stacked against them.

Oh look. Work’s bringing free donuts in for us again.

But I’m focused. And it’s working. I’ve lost more than 30% of my body-weight.

Here’s me a few years back…
around2002

Here’s me today.
daniel_loss

The numbers are shameful. I find it hard to understand how I let it get this bad.

I’ve lost 150 pounds from my peak…the vast majority of that in the last 18 months.

I haven’t been this size since ohhh…1990 or so.

I’ve gone from a 60-inch (!!) jean to a 42-inch regular cut jean.

I cleaned out my closet this week…disposing of the too-big stuff, and pulling stuff out of the top of my closet I couldn’t wear for years. I disposed of a lot of that also as it was too big.

There’s nothing left in it that I can’t wear…and I really need to buy some “regular” clothes! Feels weird…

I’ve still got more to lose…but I have my teeth in it now.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Weight Management | 1 Comment

You have NO idea…

wifes_new_rideWhile I was cleaning out the wife’s old car and putting the junk in the new one…I reached under the driver’s seat and…pulled out a coil of rope with a block and tackle and pulleys…small, elaborate thing…1/4″ line…and hooks…I’d never seen it before…

Held it up with a quizzical look on my face…

Sales geek says, “Wife’s car huh?”

Me, “Yep.”

Sales geek, “Women are scary.”

Me, “You have NO idea…..”

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Yep…it’s fixed.

So…a while back the wife mentions in passing that her car (Crunchbird) died pulling out of a parking lot. It started again, but she said also that that took a moment of trying. The thing with the modern cars…fuel injection, computer controlled ignitions/etc…is they just *don’t* do that…unless something is wrong.

I took it out…no code on the computer…ran it hard…with AC, without. Fast, slow. Idled it a while…poked at stuff under the hood looking for anything obvious…ran it hard some more…and I couldn’t get it to miss a beat…other than the idle seemed a bit rough to me.

But…I believed *her*…

Now…she’s her own woman…and goes where and when she pleases…and so has and will again encounter some of the evil in this world…but if she does it WON’T be because the car I gave her left her stranded.

Believe me when I say I’d take the thing apart into its component pieces or replace it completely before I accept her driving something I *know* is ready to fail…so I persisted.

Eventually got it to pop a code and determined it was a crankshaft position sensor. Replaced that and took it through its paces. It seemed okay…

Until it did it again.

I replaced another sensor, gave the wife Little Rivet to drive and resolved to put Crunchbird through its paces.

I had a doc’s appointment and then had to head to work so I took her car. It started misbehaving before I reached my appointment.

Enough. I finished my appointment and took the car to Nissan. They have more sophisticated diagnostic tools and should be able to tell what’s up.

Fourteen years…180-something thousand miles…eventually SOME service will be needed, yes?

Nissan determined it had a couple more bad sensors (no big deal) but also had a bad pre-catalyst manifold and low fuel pressure. Looking at the readings and symptoms, I believed them. Both fixable…but a bit pricey. Parts alone were over $1400.

“Heh…” I pondered looking toward the new car showroom, “Maybe I’ll just replace it.”

So yeah…the wife’s car is now fixed…I do believe it underestimated the depths of my resolve and determination on this matter. Note the subtle differences in the before/after pics…
newRide

Short of it was…they cut me a VERY good deal…price, interest, trade.

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