Bought our LeSharo and drove it home…almost

On Saturday, we bought a LeSharo motorhome from a really nice guy in Sylmar, CA.

What is a LeSharo you ask?  Well, according to my wife, it’s the ugliest motorhome ever made.  I think that is perhaps a little harsh, but it certainly isn’t “beautiful” buy any stretch of the imagination.  Here’s a picture of one (not mine – this one looks much nicer):

Inside, it’s a marvel of space-saving ingenuity (click on images to zoom in):

One of the things that was important to me in this purchase was price, size, and mileage.  It had to be affordable, it had to be small and preferably fit into the parking structure at work (8’2″ clearance), and of course who wants to send more on gas than is absolutely necessary. This unit is 21 feet long, so it fits into a standard parking space, just like an oversized van.

So, we get on the road, stop at a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop for some much needed nourishment, then head on down to Orange County.  I have noticed that some people post a lot about things that go wrong with their LeSharo, but ours was doing well.  Engine temp looked OK, and though the speedo doesn’t work, my GPS tells me my speed, so I have that covered.  All went well until driving up and down the hills on the 73 toll road.  Suddenly… bang, followed by this nasty machine-gun sounding rasping noise.  I pull over and shut it down (which too some doing, because frequently, you turn it off and remove the key, and the engine is still running!!)  After poking around in the really hot engine compartment, I found that the alternator was missing 1 of 2 bolts, and had rotated on the existing bolt so that the flanges near the belt beat against the side of the engine.  Voilla! My machine gun.  After waiting for things to cool down, and awaiting the arrival of some tools (well of course I didn’t bring tools WITH me, how silly!), I went to work.  I levered the alternator back into position, then Karen tried to tighten the bolt.  To no avail – it seemed stripped.  I knew there was a garage just down the highway, if I could only get it to limp there.

I rammed a screwdriver down the side from the top to prevent the alternator from swinging back and making contact with the engine.  It was really tough to get in there, so I figured it would hold.  Maybe.  I gingerly started the engine (no horrible noises), and drove slowly down the road again.  A really nice couple in a Rialta passed us, and pulled over to see if they could help.  The Rialta looks just like the LeSharo from the outside, but it’s the ‘next generation’ with a Volkswagen engine (instead of the Renault), and a few other upgrades.  It was very surreal to have another similar RV pull over, as you just don’t ever see these things on the road.

We made it to the garage, who couldn’t help us.  2 more garages later (with my trusty screwdriver still holding the engine together), we found one who was not only open, but willing to fix it.  The missing bolt, of course is no problem.  The existing stripped bolt might be difficult.  After poking around for a bit the mechanic determined that the bolt went through the bracket and screwed into a bushing (a fancy nut) on the back side.  Said bushing was in absentia.  So, we’ll have to wait until Monday for him to fabricate something.  While he’s at it, he said he will adjust the idle speed as it was so low that the idiot lights on the dash would all flash on and off.  Entertaining, but unnerving.

Oh yea, I stumbled on to the secret to removing the key without the engine continuing to run.  I found that if I increased the RPMs a bit, then turned it off, it would shut down normally.  For some reason, that doesn’t work when it’s doing it’s ultra-low idle thing.  Go figure.

So, it seems that we’re in good company with many out there who were unable to even get the vehicle home without some issue.  What on earth have we done?  Oh dear!

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Too Intense for me!

Have you seen this one: “For all intensive purposes”?  Oh, the pain!  It should be “For all intents and purposes”.

I can’t believe people do this stuff.  Doesn’t anyone ever say these things out loud and then think to themselves “well, that makes no sense, maybe I got it wrong”?  Apparently not.

How about “No holes barred”?  That one started as an amusing twist on “No holds barred”.  The original phrase was from wrestling and meant that any “hold” was fair game – none were prohibited, or “barred”.  The mangled phrase was coined by the porn industry.  So the moral of the story is: If you are using a catch phrase, know what it means and use it correctly!

Leet – not so kewel, more like inane.

When children are young, an important part of learning language is word-play.  My sister and I used to comically mis-spell words all the time (much to my Mother’s dismay when at the store reading the shopping list).  It’s something  you outgrow usually.  For some reason, it seems to take a very long time for people to be outgrowing hugely amusing and clever mis-spellings or spelling using numbers and punctuation as well as letters.  It’s just SO clever, that it must be hard to stop.  Ok, I’m being sarcastic here.  Seeing posts with idiocy like “kewl” (cool) and other 1337 (leet) flotsam in them is incredibly tiresome.

Professional foreigners

Let me start by telling you that while I live in America, and am a citizen, I was born in England.  As a foreigner myself, I tend to notice the behavior of other foreigners, and frequently I’m embarrassed to be in this group.

Some people are what I call “professional foreigners”.  They are so inordinately proud of their roots, that they feel they have to constantly pay tribute to the country of their birth.   This includes bumper stickers, waving flags, and refusing to learn the local language.  So I always wonder, if their mother country is really so wonderful, why are they not living there?  I never thought of myself of that much of a Patriot, but I find it rude when people come to America, then start extolling the virtues of some place else.  I don’t go around waving the Union Jack, and wearing my nationality on my sleeve.  Why do they?

This behavior extends to some religious types as well.  Do I really need to have their heritage or beliefs thrust into my face?  I don’t do that to others.  The same courtesy in return would be much appreciated.

I NEED a solar airplane (not want… NEED)

SOLAR IMPULSE – AROUND THE WORLD IN A SOLAR AIRPLANE

How cool is that?  As a pilot, I’d love to own an airplane like this.  One of the biggest barriers though is operation costs.  With fuel prices these days, it’s extremely expensive to just buy fuel, let alone any of the other mandatory maintenance.  Most light aircraft that I can fly get 8-12 gallons per hour.  They fly around 100 kts (115 mph), so at 10 gph that’s only  11.5 miles per gallon.  A trip from LA to Vegas is 270 miles, so that burns over 23 gallons of fuel.  Add that to the $100/hr rental fee for the airplane … Cha-Ching!

Immune System Research

Here’s a very interesting (and short) article I ran across:

GatorAIDS: Why Isn’t It in You? | Discoblog | Discover Magazine

This isn’t the first I have heard of this, but it’s a nice short summary.  In essence, Alligators have the most amazing immune systems.  They are tolerant to all kinds of filthy bacteria-filled water, and they rarely get infections due to cuts, scrapes, or even limbs ripped off in a fight.  This is pretty powerful stuff, and we should be researching this in earnest.  Apparently, the problem is how to “dilute” these anti-bacterial agents so that they won’t kill a less sturdy host (like us).  If we can figure out how to do that, we’d have a whole new range of antibiotics.  Or, as some have said, even better would be to figure out how to amp up our protection systems to that level.  This would probably be very helpful for AIDS and other immune-deficient human problems.  Why do we not hear more about this?  Are drug companies scared of eroding their profits?

Low riding pants – time for something else?

Fashions come and go.  In the ’70s, the bell bottom pants and polyester saturday-night-fever suits were king.  Fortunately, that fad has passed.  I’m wondering when the ultra-baggy low-riding pants with underwear sticking out all around the top will go away.  Isn’t it time?  Isn’t it just plain laughable anyway?  I mean, this is popular with young adults who think the whole gangsta thing is wonderful (don’t get me started).  But really, if that is your chosen path, wouldn’t you want to streamline your wardrobe so that you can easily run from the cops, or fight rival gangs without tripping or having to use only one hand while the other holds up your pants?  Wouldn’t it be preferable to strike terror into your victims and opponents, or is the goal to have them disabled by laughing fits?

Skinheads wearing properly fitting jeans and t-shirts are much more intimidating.  Bikers with their custom-tailored leathers are functional, recognizable, and intimidating also.  Dorks with their underwear sticking out just aren’t, no matter how many contorted gang signs they do with their fingers, or how well-rehearsed their scowl is.

I think we could assist this absurd fashion trend into obscurity by laughing and pointing whenever a Dork is present.  If everybody did this, the peer pressure would be phenomenal.  But no, of course we couldn’t do that.  We’re all trying way to hard to be Politically Correct … sigh

Microsoft: complete inability to predict time

It never ceases to amaze me.  In windows XP, it was a common joke that Microsoft couldn’t predict how long something might take.  You’d get “4 minutes, 17 minutes, no wait, 2 minutes, no… 2 days 14 hours, no 30 seconds…”  Their estimates were so wildly off that there was absolutely no point in paying attention to them, unless you wanted a chuckle.

In windows 7, I thought they had addressed this issue, but apparently not.  Today, I got this on my screen.  I’m copying two folders simultaneously to a USB external hard disk.  Look closely at the times:

Microsoft's complete inability to predict task duration

So from this, I am to believe that it’ll take an hour to copy 2GB of data, and 6 hours 30 minutes to copy 193G.  That doesn’t seem very consistent.  A few minutes prior, the top one was indicating 23 hours to do the copy, and the bottom one was about the same.  The top one actually took 11 minutes to complete.

Come ON, guys!  This isn’t rocket science.  It’s a very VERY simple thing to sample how long it’s taking  you to do a task, and knowing how much more you have to do, it’s TRIVIAL to calculate how much time that will take.  Sure, you can make it more clever by doing moving averages and so forth to allow for fluctuations in resource availability or WAN vagarities.  Still, it’s NOT difficult to be somewhat close even if you don’t try to refine estimates in this manner.  Other software manufacturers are able to surmount this seemingly impossible task, as their progress indicators actually seem to be reasonably accurate.

I think that at this point, given years of demonstrated inability to accomplish this absolutely overwhelming programming task, Microsoft should simply remove the time estimates from their products.  They are not useful to the customer, and they are embarrassing for Microsoft.  Isn’t anybody over there even slightly embarrassed?  If it were my company, this would get fixed, or heads would roll.  I know there are a lot of smart people at Microsoft – give the problem to one of them instead of the morons who have been working on it to date.