Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday 9/24 AM Update

You are going to laugh at my personal hell!

I called Scott last night at work because he was trying to replace the CV joints, wheel bearings, and breaks on his 1981 VW Scirocco and I knew he would be there late. It was probably around 11:30PM when I called him prior to going to bed just to check-in, and he was having problems because the parts store gave him the wrong parts for the CV joints and bearings, but he was completing what he could.

I guess one of the nicest perks of his job is that he can use their facility to work on his vehicle during after hours or down time. Their facility that houses the blimp is obviously large, and it is amazingly immaculate. You could eat off the floor. And it's not like his Scirocco takes up much space. And it's win-win for Goodyear, because most of the time he's not working on the Blimp (his main job), he is either overhauling their convoy of vehicles (tour buses, vans, 18 wheelers), the hangar, and anything else they need to have fixed.

So, I'm seeing how he's doing and I'm also trying to order some special printer paper over the internet that consists of three parts for my Canon CP330 portable, compact, photo dye-sublimation printer. The parts are slightly hard to find, but I've already researched the part numbers and I've had the printouts in-hand since probably around 1:00PM, but I've been too busy to place the order. I figure on one last simple task - oh, and I was researching networked hard drives as well.

While talking to Scott, I go to one of my trusted photography sources, and proceed to enter in the first of the three part numbers. The item is in stock and I add it to my shopping cart. Two more items to go. Scott and I are still talking on the phone. I'm fading quick, starting to zone out, and I realize that ordering the last two parts and reading about networked hard drives isn't going to happen. I'm very tired and I hope it will foreshadow a nice night of solid sleep. I shutoff the computer and doze off.

La La Land

I wake up, feeling refreshed and I go to the bathroom. I didn't realize how much liquid I must have been drinking, but one of the antibiotics I am taking has a requirement of taking a lot of water with it and Laura does an excellent job of enforcing that initial glass of water. So I do my business and fully expect to climb back into bed, or maybe it is late enough in the morning to wake up.

What time could it be when I look at the clock? It's 1:44AM. Exactly when I woke up last night.

It's my own personal Ground Hog Day Hell!

My first thoughts are of the scene from the movie when Bill Murray keeps encountering a dorky looking guy day after day and he gets so fed up that one day he just punches him in the face. My next thoughts are that I want that guy to knock on my door so I can not only punch him in the face, but knock him backwards down our flight of stairs all the way to the ground.

So I just had to post this one immediately. I took the above picture of Karl at 1:45AM. Look at him all snuggled in a ball with his curled-up little paws. Since then, he got up for a little bit, but he's back beside me in the same catatonic state now. Also notice the remains of my projects, the printout of the parts for the printer and the network gear that Laura so selflessly retrieved after the Penn State game, which did not put any of us in a good mood (well, maybe me because I was obsessed with decorating my bandage, but in the long run, I didn't pay much attention to the game with all of the other communications I had going on). I felt a little better that she didn't have to make the trek to Best Buy and instead found it at a local Office Depot that is much more convenient to get to. And thanks to George for coming through again on product specifications. My old wireless router is ancient and I've had some dropouts, so I need to address it before surgery on Tuesday. I also got a wireless print server so I can have my laser printer by my bed. Laura will be so overjoyed...

As a side story, our house is basically three stories tall. The first floor is nothingness because we are on stilts. The second floor is the main living area including the master bedroom and the third floor has an office and a spare bedroom. As I've mentioned before, I luckily had the foresight to purchase a laptop so I could have a computer available bedside during recovery. Yes, I could have moved my old desktop, but I AM SO GLAD I got the laptop. For one thing, I may very well be able to use it from the hospital. If not, I may be able to use my cell phone from the hospital and I can post pictures an text to the blog from it. That feature NEVER ceases to amaze me!

Actually, I had some thought of going into a fatigue diatribe here because it's appropriate when talking about the layout of our house, but I'll have to address the state of my fatigue and stamina on a future post. Long story short, it is definitely getting harder for me to handle the stairs and hence the wireless print server to bring the printer to me.

Back to my rude awakening...

So I just had to call Scott back at 1:59AM, because I figured he was probably still working on his car. I called, and of course, he was. And he was having a worse time than me, so I just stayed on the phone with him, talking about his car.

Scott is an incredible mechanic. He and my father used to restore cars, mostly old VW bugs, and then sell them. They made some money, but not if you accounted for their time and workmanship. I would pay a lot of money for one of their restorations and I can kind of remember one of Scott's best selling for around $6500 for an early 70s beetle. I'd easily pay $10000 for it now if we could track it down.

He knows beetles like the back of his hand, but he also worked at a body shop in Pittsurgh for a while (5 years?) and I was always surprised by how much he knew about every OTHER car out there. It's amazing. A couple of quick stories may start to make the point.

He drove VW bugs for his daily commute for a while. He drives very fast and on the edge, too much so for my comfort. He has relaxed a bit since his early twenties. He's had his share of accidents, but other than potentially harming himself, he was fairly unscathed and although destroying vehicles isn't a wise hobby, there weren't many things he couldn't fix. And he CAN drive. Against my better judgement, I just kind of cringe if he takes off.

One of the repairs I remember is him blowing up the engine in a beetle, pulling into my dad's garage, dropping the engine, finding another beetle in my dad's boneyard, dropping it's engine (or maybe it was already disembodied, but that's not going to put you that much ahead), and then putting the "new" engine into his car and having everything up and running in what I'm sure was less than a day. Maybe even a few hours. He can comment.

Then there was a time where I think he hit a deer with an 80s VW Rabbit and completely smashed the front of his car in. He had a pension for having "wild animals" attack him like that, but deer impacts can't be mistaken for anything else. So the front of the Rabbit is completely smashed and pushed-in and I think it happened on a Friday night and he needed a vehicle for Monday.

What to do? Check said boneyard. Slice damaged front-end from bad rabbit with torch. Slice donor front-end from another wreck. Apply liberal amounts of welds and repair/reconnect all necessary systems so the vehicle is back on the road by Monday.

Oh, and another deer impact story. Hey, we lived in rural Western PA... Anyhow, this may be a little disturbing, so skip this paragraph if you don't want the details. He hit a deer on a straight away across from my dad's house and it basically tore an entire side off his car. Super beetle fenders are separate pieces bolted to the main body and although I can't visualize the exact damage, I do remember how he described it.

"I was comint down the straight-away and this deer comes running out and hits into the front right fender of my car, ripping the fender off. The he proceeds to smash his head through my passenger door window, making all kinds of snorting noises, and having his head shaking around as I'm trying to stay on the road, then his head is out of my car and he proceeds to rip the right rear fender of my car. Wiped out the while side of my car... Then he probably said, "Stupid Deer."

A note about comments here. I appreciate everyone's comments and they are great memories, but please exercise some decorum when leaving comments. So far everything has been fine, but I just wanted to reiterate that this site is now filled with a lot of great memories and is being read by family, friends and my coworkers, so just keep that in mind. I can delete posts that are of poor taste, but I won't unless I feel they hit a particular nerve. This is the only time I'll state what has heretofore been handled very well by everyone and I do appreciate the feedback.

So, back to last night. I ended up talking to Scott at length about his 1981 Scirroco, which happens to be the most ambitious restoration I have known him to do. I know he tore it down to nothing and spent at least four years rebuilding it, returning everything to better-than new condition. You wouldn't know from looking at it, because it's outward appearance is stock. But it is a mean little car and it has no signs of slowing down, although he still hasn't resolve the current noise that annoyed him so much that he just decided to replace everything that might contribute to it because it has to be right.

Oh yeah, I appreciate my car and I try to maintain and care for it, but it's mostly cosmetic. I'm ashamed that most real work has to be handed-off to someone else, but it's not my ball of wax. I wouldn't mind having a project car and Laura is sick of my neglected project boats, but they haven't hit the right priority level yet.

So here are some things I know about Scott's 1981 Scirocco. It certainly started with a COMPLETE tear down. Every part in boxes. Meticulous cleaning of every part. Add new components where it made sense, improve others where it didn't.

One of the components that amazes me is the "polished and ported" intake manifold. This was something he did by hand, so I'm not sure of it's effectivenes, but to see the manifold before and after polishing, it is beautiful. The stock manifold has a rough surface, probably from a sand casting process. I think it is magnesium Scott just kept grinding an sanding it until it turned into a sleek, shiny organic form, inside and out. To see before and after is incredible. That's elbow grease bordering on insanity.

It has a real sport exhaust system, not one of these oversized, hideous enlarged tail pipes that somehow found popularity in today's youth. Hey, we're not in our twenties anymore... And is has a mega-stiff fully adjustable sport suspension. It's basically a little go cart because it is small, tight and well-powered.

The seats and many of the interior components are original. Another one of Scott's outstanding touches is a hand-stitched red and black leather dash cover that present no indication of having not been done by a professional upholsterer. Were he came up with it, and how he managed to baseball stitch it all together and have it form fit the entire dash without a flaw, I will never know. I guess they don't have to be related, but his handwriting is atrocious...

It's definitely a hell of a little car and I really appreciate that it's outward appearance gives no indication of what's thriving within. Oh, it's odometer doesn't work, which would drive me absolutely insane! When I inquired how he could tolerate that, he said he's taken the dash apart down to the odometer several times and glued some gear, but it keeps breaking. I'll let him have that one. I guarantee that's no easy task. I feel like buying him some type of GPS, I just need to know.

He says the Scirroco gets about 35MPG on the highway and estimates it has about 110hp. I think the stock platform for that car might have been about 85hp. He also says the engine is in very good condition, burning no oil. He thinks his rebuild has about 250,000 miles on it because the odometer last stopped at 80,000 miles when he first started at Goodyear and moved to Florida in 1999.

He told me a story of having himself and our friends Big Ed, Billy, Denny, and Brian Shuba in his car and them challenging Scott to race a Honda down Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach. Scott said he gave a good show, but I have no idea how those four guys were in his car without Scott being in the hatchback. His car is nothing if not small. Bill is the shortest guy at 6'2" tall. Ed is around 6'5", Brian was right up there, and Denny is 6'3" or 6'4". Somehow I ended-up hanging out with all of these tall people and I'm numb to their tallness.

A quick lesson in physics. None of these guys are svelte. I can probably come up with a pretty good estimate of their total weight, and I bet it was 1140lbs, not including Scott's 140 or so (yes 4 of them equal 8 Scotts). He was at a pretty distinct power-to-weight ratio disadvantage...

The picture below is from Bill's bachelor party in April 2005 when Scott pulled some strings and got us up on the blimp. The actors (l to r) are Big Ed, Steve, Billy, Denny and Trent. Even the blimp was straining...

So I spoke with Scott until 2:19AM, which is when he actually arrived home for the night. He hadn't eaten dinner yet (translation - too preoccupied with fixing his car) and was thinking about making a turkey and salami sandwich. I hope it was good.

I guess that took a while to type as it is now 5:49AM. I really don't care, I'm just killing time until Laura wakes up. Then I will eat a banana, my PB&J bagel, a glass of milk, and then try to get some sleep.

I'll come back an edit this post later (this was a straight stream).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Familiar with the movie "Phenomena"? Although I'm certain of a more favorable outcome Mark, I'm seeing some OCDish similarities;)

".....amIrightoramIright.......or am I right?" Groundhog folks'll get that.

9/24/2006 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the printout of the parts for the printer and the network gear that Laura so selflessly retrieved after the Penn State game."


9/24/2006 7:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

hey its fred schmidt. remember me? miss you man. you can get me at

hope to here from ya.

10/06/2007 12:30 PM  

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