Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, June 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 37 Comments

The reason why posting’s been a bit light is that my last two days have been truck days.  My plates were due to literally run out, well, today and there was a whole lot wrong with my 2001 Ford Ranger.

And since I subscribe to the “put off until tomorrow what you can do today” philosophy(and since I’ve been taking the week off), I put off until tomorrow what I could have done today. 

I needed two front tires and the “Check Engine” light’s been on for a while so yesterday, I took it to a place that’s not too far from where I live, told them what I needed, walked home and waited.  And waited.

And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited. And waited.

I finally called them about 4:30 or so to see what was what.  I’m not a mechanic or anything, far from it, but from what little I understood, the reason that it took so long was that their analysis doohickey was telling them one thing and everything they checked was telling them something entirely different.

So the guy tells me that he’ll reset the thing but I should bring it back if it comes on again.  About 6:00, I walked back over to pick the Ranger up.  $400 or so, all told.  Ah well, I thought, being out of debt was nice while it lasted.

State inspections were this morning so I took the Ranger over to a dealership I always take it to.  Got there about 10:45, somewhere in there.  I figured I’d sit there for an hour or two, ace both inspections and be well on my way in plenty of time.

Silly Chris.

The guy calls me over and gives me the news.  Not only is there a whole bunch else wrong with it, another $430 worth, but it’s going to take a good chunk of the afternoon to bring everything up to speed.

Good Stoic that I am, I figured that there was no point in bitching about it.  Anyway, I had a book with me, Volume 1 of Allan Nevins’ Ordeal of the Union(the 4-volume set is out of print but highly recommended if you can find it used).  And for a couple of hours, there was this mom whose 10-month-old kept giggling at me. 

It really didn’t seem all that long but about 3:45, they called me over and I put another $430 on the VISA.  I leave by the front of the dealership, look around and try to figure out where they’d parked the thing. 

There it is, I noticed.  Unfortunately, whilst noticing it, I thought the front step was wider than it turned out to be, took a short step into thin air and…well…”Down goes Johnson!!  Down goes Johnson!!  Down goes Johnson!!” 

A salesperson saw my face plant, ran outside and asked if I was okay.  I told her I was fine.  Aside from a small cut on my left pinky and a boo-boo on my right knee, I was way more embarrassed than hurt.

Long story short, I get into the truck, head down Manchester Road toward Big Bend Boulevard and made it to the DMV with about an hour to spare.  Fifteen, twenty minutes in line and I’m legal for the next two years.

So how did your days go?


richard mcenroe
June 30, 2011

Aside from the put off til tomorrow problem, how do you like your Ranger?

sybil marshall
June 30, 2011

Been (are) there; done (doing) that– our Suburban is at
Early Old Age too. I recommend lots of chocolate! Hang in there.

Christopher Johnson
June 30, 2011

Love it, for the most part, but stretches like this one don’t endear me or anything. I’ve had it since 2003 and we’ve been through a lot together. Not long after I bought it, I took on one of my Southwestern US roadies. Really dumb idea since a flatlander shouldn’t drive anything through the Rockies that he wasn’t entirely used to driving yet. My heart was pounding more a few times the other side of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.


June 30, 2011

Bad day for Ford trucks. My daughter’s f-150 cost her over $300 today.

June 30, 2011

Time to move to a state where inspections are not required. SD, TN, where else?

June 30, 2011

Since you asked.

You handled all that well. It made me feel a little better about my day. I usually feel better after reading your posts. I showed up here because the novel I was in the middle of was describing life with an eccentric person and the deterioration of a house. It was too much like life around here.

The good thing is in spite of it all (my complaints and mishandling) Jesus loves me. Amazing.

Dr Alice
June 30, 2011

Wow, Chris. The most important thing is, you survived the face plant. Glad you’re back on the road and legal again (or still).

The Pilgrim
June 30, 2011

No inspection in Kentucky, and we like it like that, but every once in a while you’ll see a real scary-ass lookin’ piece of machinery coming at you at 70 miles per! No muffler, headlights missing, bald tires, doors held closed with baling wire, rear window shot out, stars and cracks in the windshield…

Bill (not IB)
June 30, 2011


I hear you.

Two days ago, I noticed that the icemaker on our refrigerator was no longer making ice. I proceeded to pull the refrigerator out, and discovered that one of the snap-fit connections on the water filter we’ve got hooked up between the water supply and refrigerator had broken (I have a vague memory of leaning on the refrigerator door to get at a shelf a month or two ago, and hearing a “snap”).

So, yesterday I went to Home Depot to buy another filter, along with the fittings. And, of course – I can’t find it. There was an employee nearby, and he was actually knowledgable. He said that GE (the maker) had discontinued the product, and there was none left in stock. However, there was a new version of the filter – one which didn’t require fittings, but which you just push the loose ends of the plastic flex-line into. So, I bought it.

I took it out of the box today, opened the instructions – and the instructions were for the OLD version, the one with the fittings. It gave absolutely no information for what to do with the NEW filter – how the ends of the line should be cut, how far to push them in, what the “snap-rings” on the end of the connectors was for…………


But – the day wasn’t done.

I’ve bought a new computer, and am finally giving in to running with Windows 7. Getting all of the drivers, software, etc. onto it is an ongoing problem. One of the big questions was to continue with my 10-year-old version of MS-Office, or to upgrade. This afternoon, I chose to get the upgrade.

Running Windows 7, I used Internet Explorer 8 to go to, go to the “Office” page, go to the “Buy” page, and select Home & Business 2010. And I clicked the “buy now” button.

I got a screen that says “To put something in your basket, you must first browse or search for an item. Then, when an item interests you, click the Add To Cart button. Use our search engines to find a particular item, or browse our categories to find exactly what you are looking for.”

Several additional tries get the same result. I click the “Contact” button on the screen, and send a nastygram to the on-line retailer that handles the ordering for MS to tell them of the problem.

An hour later, I get a reply:

The error you received indicates a missing or corrupt online store cookie.

A cookie is a small file written to your hard drive by some web sites. We require that a cookie be set on your computer so you may access our secure server for processing your credit card transaction, downloading
your software, and checking your shippable order status information.

For information on setting your browser to accept cookies, please visit:

Get that – to figure out how to set IE, go to GOOGLE!

I reset IE to allow all cookies, with prompt, and tried to place an order again. Each time I got a prompt, I accepted the cookie. And – you guessed it – when I clicked “Buy Now”, I got the same results.

I proceeded to reply with a VERY nastygram. Then, I went to and downloaded Firefox. I installed it, went back to, and placed my order for Office 2010 with nary a hitch.

People sometimes ask me why, when I hear the name “Bill Gates”, I tense up, get a crazed look in my eyes, and start shaking………….. it’s because I can think of no other company whose products manage to have so many problems, in spite of the billions and billions available for R&D. The hours I’ve wasted because of MS – well, let’s just say I think they owe me at least one birthday……….

Anyways, CJ – it’s not just you. (And for those of you who are thinking what I think you’re thinking, just because I’m paranoid does NOT mean the world isn’t out to get me!)

June 30, 2011

Ah, Bill (not IB), I was going to suggest Firefox, but I see you got there by yourself. MUCH better browser. Leave IE forever.

Chris, a few weeks ago I missed a step and went down hard on both knees, in front of a large group of people. The one I didn’t have surgery on was worse than the one that was cut, and both were a misery for about three weeks. Join the club. Sad that you had to spend a vacation day like this!

June 30, 2011

Bill (not IB),

Open Office is your friend.

Ed the Roman
June 30, 2011

LibreOffice is also your friend, and there’s no risk of Oracle doing anything flaky to the license.

ann r
June 30, 2011

Your day reminds me of the one I had last month, when the water heater went out. Plumber showed up and checked the upper element. It was wet. He moved to remove it and produced a spectacular short that nearly set the house on fire. So he ran out to the breaker box to see why the breaker hadn’t flipped, and came back with the news that I have an old breaker box that has a 25% failure rate and allows people to collect on their fire insurance. Swell! So he replaced the water heater and recommended I contact an electrician. Talked to an electrician who said, “no problem. Those breakers are loose and just need to be tightened” which he did. So, I don’t know whether I’m playing with fire by not getting a whole new breaker system (big bucks!) or am perfectly safe with what I have. Water heater set me back enough for now.
Too bad about the fall, and glad you are not injured.

Russell T. Barr
June 30, 2011

I lived in St. Louis from 1982-1985. I remember well the yearly ordeal of renewing my license plates. My landlord’s day job was operating a car repair business, and he always made sure my vehicles passed. Then I had to find the proof of liability insurance papers from State Farm. Next I had to go downtown to pay my personal property tax. As a poor medical resident I owned very little property and had to pay a token amount, but this alone consumed half a day of my limited free time. With these various receipts I could then approach the DMV and beg for my car tags.

I now live back home in Alabama. There is no automobile inspection here. There is no personal property tax here, and the yearly property tax I pay on my home is about one month’s property tax in Missouri.

FW Ken
June 30, 2011

I loved my 2000 Ranger, red 5 speed. I panicked when the clutch went out on me in Wyoming and speed shifted home, where I traded for an ’05 white Ranger. How I wished I put the $400 into the red Ranger and pushed it out to 150,000 miles (it was at 117,000). …sigh…heavy sigh…

Now I drive a Kia… it’s ok, but it’s not a Ranger.

June 30, 2011

Bill(not IB) I realized it was a GE story before you finished your first paragraph. They can’t make refrigerators for **** but they are A-1 at collecting government subsidies and tax breaks.

J. Stuart Little
June 30, 2011

Ohio has no yearly inspection, but can be inspected if a cop thinks there is a problem.

Insurance is mandatory but never checked when you renew either in person or by mail. They randomly send out a request for insurance proof. Unless you screwed up real band the state cops rarely ask for the proof, don’t know about the local guys only been here 15 years.

No personal property tax.

Word Perfect/ Quatro Pro user. I think it Is easier to use and they don’t change stuff so last years files are incompatible with this years software.

Last time I missed a step ended up with severe neck strain and a month and a half of PT. (I have a prior neck injury from an auto accident that forced disability retirement).

Visited auto repair shop today (Pontiac Grad Am GT) history says driver side bearing is bad, but there is no noise, is not loose, can’t replicate the problem – no charge.

June 30, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’m paranoid sometimes. And I know the world is out to get me.

Buck up, Chris. It can’t be so bad every day. It just can’t.

June 30, 2011

I have to go for my 30K service tomorrow. They’ll work on everything but the timing belt so I’ll get to sit for 3-4 hours and pay $250-300 on this car I’m still making payments on. It’s okay, I have a copy of November 1916 that I was just given, nothing better to do…

The Lakeland Two
July 1, 2011

Florida doesn’t have inspections, state income tax or personal income tax (unless you’re making big bucks on investments). We do, however, have tourists, hot weather and hurricanes. And not many jobs in our area.

July 1, 2011

I guarantee that reading a book about WWI will make everything in your current day seem brighter.

As it happens, I spent the last couple days trying to deal with moldy, mildewy, plaster-molting bathroom ceiling. So I feel for you and your rain down upon the asphalt.

J.M. Heinrichs
July 1, 2011

Windows, snort!


July 1, 2011

I thought pick-up trucks were for Southern bubbas. What do you yankee pick-up drivers do with all that snow? Do you scoop it up and squirt flavorings on it and sell it to the neighbor kids? Doesn’t all that extra weight mess with your gas mileage?

Dale Matson
July 1, 2011

I finally gave up on Pick Up trucks. My last one, a 2006 Chev 4X4 2500 HD crew cab with the shorter box barely fit in my garage. I couldn’t do U turns and backing up was just plain dangerous. Even with my Tahoe, I still pull through parking lines to face out so I can drive out without having to back up.

I did a face plant yesterday using our string trimmer on a steep hill at our cabin. Fortunately, I fell up hill and was unhurt.

July 1, 2011

The step was too narrow because the eeevvviiilll conservatives want average, everyday Americans to hurt themselves. It’s George Bush’s fault!

July 1, 2011

This year is Bishop Fireball Watts.

I feel fer ya Chris.

Me and Doodlebug wuz havin’ a few of the upper hunky of the diocese ovah fer a cookout one Sarday, and Doodlebug sez to me: “Fireball we’s outta vodka!”

My neighbor’s wife wuz hepping Doodlebug make potater salad so I sez to her husband:

“Come on Buddy-Roe, les’ me and you fetch on ovah to tha liquor store.”

Cause I wuz in a hurry, I took Doodlebug’s VW Beetle which wuz parked in our driveway. Hit’s a tight fit, that Beetle, cause I’m kinda a big feller, not fat you unnerstan’, jest big-boned.

I parked right in front of tha big glass winder of tha liquor store.

I wuz tryin’ to extract myself from that Bug when I got tripped up and fell flat on my face raght there in front big winder. Hit wuz a genuine belly flop.

I prised myself up offen tha pavement and got back in tha car. Buddy-Roe sez to me:

“Fireball, ain’t you fergettin’ the vodka?”

I replied:

“Buddy-Roe, them clerks in tha store already think I’m drunk. They ain’t gonna sell me a thang!”

Thass a true story!

July 1, 2011

Florida doesn’t have inspections, state income tax or personal income tax (unless you’re making big bucks on investments). We do, however, have tourists, hot weather and hurricanes.

You forgot bugs and invasive reptiles.

And this story is precisely why I haven’t taken the ’03 Explorer in to have the Check Engine Light checked. Well, along with the $5,800 new A/C system we had to put in last week.

July 1, 2011

I think I have you all beat. 97 Volvo. check engine light has been on for months. dealer said ignore it, nothing is really wrong. But…can’t pass inspection with that light on. $3,800 for catalytic converter and G-d knows what else. Then you have to drive the thing many miles at varying speeds to “reset” all the sensors so it can pass inspection. Then the inspection station lost my insurance card whilst telling me I still needed to drive it more because it still wouldn’t pass.
“At least it’s paid for.” I keep saying that, trying to feel better while coveting a crossover SUV.

July 1, 2011

For CJ: sorry you had so much hassle. Car stuff is horrendous. We had to buy a new (actually, used) vehicle earlier this year when my husband’s ’93 Lumina finally gave up the ghost. He’s now driving my ’93 Geo Metro to work because it gets better mileage than the slightly newer car we bought to replace the Chevy…3 cylinder engine in the Geo vs. 4 cylinder one in the Tracer.

For all those who commented about Microsoft: the systems manager in my old academic department at Ohio State came up with the best maxim…If it’s Microsoft, it’s broken. Almost anything is better than a Bill Gates product.

Kathleen Lundquist
July 1, 2011

These stories remind me of a saying of my mother’s:

“If you eat a frog for breakfast, nothing worse can happen to you all day.”

Can only get better from here, pals. 🙂

Daniel Muller
July 1, 2011

“If you eat a frog for breakfast, nothing worse can happen to you all day.”

That brightened the day of a co-worker who is getting laid off. Thanks.

Gregg the Obscure
July 1, 2011

No car problems for the past six weeks, as my car got totalled in early May when I – stopped at a stoplight – was rear-ended by a school bus (thanks be to the Most High that no children were on said bus) that was going 33 mph. No serious physical injuries apparent and aches and pains seem to have resolved. Seeing a counselor about the panic attacks. Like my 2010 Mercury Milan, but for the payments. Old car was nearly 8 years old had 118k miles behind her and, but for the crash, many more to go. Would have been nice if that screwball Harold Camping had been only a day or two off about this dusty planet’s expiration date.

Gregg the Obscure
July 1, 2011

Dangit! I’m getting so forgetful I’d forget my head if it weren’t bolted on so tightly. Chris, your times are much worse than mine (and more worse than most folks) and I pray that the Most High treat you more like the returned prodigal than like St. Teresa of Avila. At least you’ve got St. Paul on your side with “whom He loveth, He chastenteth”.

July 1, 2011

What is it with stoplights, Gregg? About six weeks ago I also was hit from behind while I was at a complete stop at a red light. Fortunately, it was only my car’s rear bumper which paid the price (and the guy who hit me, who had to pay for the bumper). The bus was doing 33 when it hit you? I hope this is an ex-bus driver, lest children be involved the next time.

The Little Myrmidon
July 1, 2011

Bill (not IB), Yeah, I just got my new computer and it’s running Windows 7. I may go with Open Office to open my old Word and Excel files. I’ve already installed a newer version of The Print Shop© which I don’t like as much as my old 6.0 version. The worst shocker was when I found out the 7 doesn’t support Outlook Express. I’m getting used to Windows Live, but I really liked OE.

Oh, no – wait the big shocker was when I couldn’t log into Citrix yesterday morning and had to call the office to get the IT phone #. Fortunately that worked out well, as we have a really great IT crew. Took about 20 minutes total to install Verisign and then make sure I could get into Citrix.

Sheryl D
July 2, 2011

Oregon doesn’t have vehicle inspections OR sales tax.

July 2, 2011

Boy oh boy, am I glad NOT to be going anywhere beyond Windows XP – unless it be something like Macintosh or Linux; especially if he could be confident HIS programmes like Corel-WordPerfect and Finale (music-writing programme) would run (one presumably needs a Windows-emulator, is there something like that readily available and for not that much a price?

Also, yours truly is beginning to appreciate his Opera Web-browser more and more over Internet Explorer!! [This is all the more so since you MUST have Windows 7 in order to use Internet-Explorer 9 (IE 8 is MONSTROUS on memory and speed!).]

Now (since yours truly has been saving a huge portion of his Internet-correspondence), if I could find a programme to successfully display those earlier E-mails other than Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail, I would actually feel slightly better!!

Here’s hoping, Bill (not IB), that you’ve gotten both your computer and your refrigerator troubles behind you completely by now! [And please keep on praying that those people stopping me from getting my hands on that “Lieblingsorgel” will leave in toto, don’t forget – prayer MUST be persistent sometimes… Thanks in advance!]

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