Monday, November 26, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
Many of you that read or follow know that I have a dog, Forrest.
Forrest had very few health problems in his life. He had a hip replacement, Glaucoma in 2007, which took his vision, and he adjusted very well to it. Then Vestibular Disease (like vertigo) in July of this year. In Late September, things started to decline. Forrest started wandering the house in the middle of the night, confused, and slipping on the kitchen floor, unable to get up. The vet diagnosed it as a combination of arthritis pains and doggie dementia. We got medication to help for both, and Forrest got upgraded to share my king sized bed with me. This arrangement actually worked really well, no alarm clock needed. 5 am dog panting in your face
Things seemed to return to normal (or the new normal), he even was able to walk fairly normally again. Last Monday, in the middle of the night, Forrest fell out of bed. I picked him up and put him back in with me, not thinking anything was wrong, but when I woke up, I realized that he had suffered another vestibular episode like this summer. This time, it didn't seem as severe, as he was drinking and eating, so I figured he would bounce back and be fine. Christmas morning, I picked him up and put him in the back yard, and he started crying for me to bring him in. So I did, and put him on his dog bed on the floor, and within a few minutes, he was whining again. Finally I put him in bed with me, and he seemed happy. We spent our last Christmas day together snuggled up in bed, watching old Christmas movie re-runs and eating junk food. At one point, he rolled over and laid his head on my chest and "gazed" at me with his blind eyes, and I knew, he was telling me that it was ok, and he was ready to go. In true Forrest fashion, to reinforce that he was ready, he let me know again that night by leaving a "present" in the bed for me.
So yesterday morning, I took him to VERGI, the local vet ER, and had him put down. It was a very peaceful and calm event, but it doesn't make it any easier. They laid him on a comforter on the floor and let us have all the time that we wanted before the process was done. Forrest went very peacefully and quietly. Thanks to my friends that showed up at the ER with me. The only comfort I have is knowing that he's no longer suffering. It was the right thing to do, and the ultimate responsibility of a pet owner.
For those of you that knew Forrest, you already know what a smart, kind and funny dog he was. He was well trained and had me well trained too. He knew how to open the screen door, and bark to come back in. He knew how to wake me up by breathing hard, then sneezing in my face, and ultimately bumping the bed with his butt, so I could let him out. When I was outside in the yard or the garage, he wanted to be out there supervising. He knew many tricks, and loved to perform for treats. Forrest lived the life of a college student throughout my Journey at A&M. He had many kind roommates that loved on him as much as I did, and he loved them equally. Forrest also got to stay with my sister and her roommates and my mom for some time too, being doted on by girls, and spoiled by my mom.
Forrest like me, loved cars, and loved riding in them, head stuck out the window and smelling all the scents that the world had to offer, many times to our trips to the dog park. He kept guard of my truck when we went to home depot, hopping in the driver seat like he was driving, taking in the cool A/C in his face and listening to the radio. He loved chewing ice. When he was younger and had his vision, he loved catching ice and chewing it up. He spent many summers terrorizing the squirrels in my mothers neighborhood, and actually plucked one off the tree that had frozen in fear, killed it, and left it on the side door of the house.
Forrest was a loyal and loving dog, and lived almost 15 years. Born 15 March 1997, Passed 26 December 2011. I'll never forget you my friend.
If you are interested, here's a brief poem that was written for those who have lost pets.
Thanks to everyone for your kind support and prayers.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Is your dog unable to stand/walk?
When he moves, is it like hes drunk or dizzy?
Do you notice rapid eye movement?
Keep reading my tale of my dog.
So when I got home from work last Thursday, it looked like my 14 year old chow, Forrest had a stroke. He had vomited and lost his bladder and could not stand up, when he did, it looked like he was drunk. What I did NOT notice, is the rapid eye movement that he had, which is a classic sign of Vestibular Syndrome. I called a friend and she advised me to get him to the ER ASAP.
Trying to make as many calls and texts before I left, while trying not to burst into tears, we rushed to the Veterinary ER and I was sure that this was going to be my goodbye with my best friend. Fortunately, the Doctor diagnosed it as vestibular disease, which he can fully recover from. Commonly mistaken as a stroke. Its like vertigo in humans. He is off balance and cannot walk or stand. The good news is, this is fully recoverable and seldom happens again.
We were given medicine and bed rest for a week or so.
I took him home and gave him some water and let him rest in the back yard a little and he slept on his dog bed pretty comfortably. The next morning I carried him into the back yard, he drank some water, went potty, and I fed him some canned dog food. I carried him into his favorite spot, my bedroom closet, on a blanket. This week, I have been checking on him at lunchtime.
Last weekend, I canceled all appointments in order to stay home and be with Forrest. I took him outside this morning, and he drank water and was able to go potty. I let him sit outside for about 30 minutes. He was still unable to stand or sit up, and when I put him down, he laid on his right side.
I brought him in and set him up in the living room on a bed sheet and a towel under his back area in case he had an accident, and he laid there most of the day. I made him some chicken, but he has not been interested in eating, mostly due to the nausea. Mom stopped by for a visit and he wagged his tail a few times.
At lunch time, I took him in the back yard again, and he drank water and went potty again, this time actually laying on the grass but his head up and looked like he was enjoying the sun. I waited outside with him for about 30 minutes, and brought him inside again. He laid down again, on the right side. His head was still cocked to one side, and he doesn't like to move.
When we got back from church, I took him out again and he drank lots of water, and I was able to feed him two bites of wet dog food. This whole time, I have been giving him water from a bottle, but I tried with a small bowl tonight, which he eagerly drank from.
When I carried him in and set him he was able to balance a little, but in the end, he wanted to be laid down, he was able to hold his head up while laying there, still cocked, but this is the first time he has not laid his head down to the side. Saturday evening I put him on his dog bed, and he laid there on his chin, so I felt like we were making baby steps towards recovery.
Earlier this week, Forrest showed me that he can drink from a water bowl (was bottle feeding him) and can hold his head up (but still tilted).
By Monday of this week, Forrest was accustomed to our "routine" now. I take him outside, and he's starting to want to stand on his own, and if he stands between my legs, he can stand up and stay standing, however, without me there, he will fall. When I ask if he wants to go out, he tries to get up on his own, but his balance is still off. I still carry him. He is, however, moving around more on the grass, while laying he will use his back and front legs to move himself into different positions. Sunday around noon, I put 2 pieces of canned dog food into his cheek so he would chew it, then after the first bite, he realized that he was hungry. So he ate half the can of dog food. Still no interest in crunchy things like dry dog food, biscuits or ice.
Tuesday, I went home at lunch time and he finished the last 1/3 of the can of dog food. His eyes are no longer twitching (part of the Vestibular Disease), and his playful personality is starting to peek out a little bit. Tuesday night, he ate a piece of chicken that I grilled.
During the week, he will wake up around 5 AM, so I take him outside and put him in the grass until right before I get ready for work, around 6:30. I will go home at lunch for a while to make sure he's ok.
Wednesday, I got home from work and he was standing in the entry way, waiting for me. Forrest is now able to get up on his own (if he's on Carpet or Grass), he can walk, but he's pretty unsteady. I can help him walk from inside and out into the back yard, and he will move around on the grass for a little while and have himself a seat. Progress has been good, and as a big surprise, in the middle of the night last night, he walked out of the bedroom and went and got himself a drink from his bowl in the kitchen.
His appetite has returned, but he still is refusing dry food, dog biscuits etc, things that are crunchy. I suspect this is due to the vestibular disease, and his ears being sensitive to the crunching noises when he eats, but we'll see.
Forrest still has some head tilt, but the doctor explained that some dogs never recover from this, however, it does not affect them other than kind of looking silly. Its not as extreme as it was a week ago, and I'm hoping we keep progressing at this rate.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Lots of Lotus, Caterhams, and all kinds of other exotic stuff showed up for this event.
Heres some pics of our Fun Saturday. Lots of nice cars out there.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Well, she arrived right before Valentines Day 2010. I loved her from the Get-go, she was pretty, she was fast, and stealthy. I special ordered because nobody had what I wanted. I wanted the Performance Pack, which had special brakes, a different axle ratio, and stiffer springs and struts. It was worth the wait.
So around June of this year, I notice that when I'm leaving the neighborhood, the engine stutters/falters a little when I'm waiting for the light to turn green. This happened every day, and to the point where I started trying with the A/C on, A/C off, etc. Still did it.
It concerned me, and I made a note to take it in to the dealer to have it looked at. Around September, the brakes exhibited a groaning noise at low speeds, and I also noticed, while moving the car down the driveway, I noticed a clicking noise when going from Park to Reverse, and then Reverse to drive. This was enough to warrant taking the car in to be looked at.
I took the car into Tommie Vaughn Ford in Houston, where I bought the car from. They had the car in for three days. Their solution was to reflash the PCM, perform the brake TSB, which addressed the groan, and clearly stated, for Performance Package Taurus SHOs, NOT TO REPLACE THE BRAKE PADS. Guess what? They replaced the pads. When I picked the car up, I read the paperwork and pointed out to the advisor that the TSB was performed incorrectly. The advisor also told me that the clicking noise was gone. He offered to change the pads back to the original ones, however, I had no time, so I just got them back and left.
When I got the car back, I noticed that the clicking noise was still present, as well as the rough idle, to the point where the car died, however, immediately restarted. I called the Dealer and talked to my advisor, and explained that I was really disappointed. I buy from Tommie Vaughn for the good reputation. I took it for service there because thats where the car was purchased. I know Ford doesn't offer loaner cars unless you buy extended warranty, so I didnt expect them to provide me with alternate wheels, but I asked what his suggestion would be to resolve this problem. He told me to bring the car in and they would give me something to drive. I took the car in again. This time, they kept the car for 9 Days. I drove to the credit union to make a car payment in a rental car.
I picked the car up, they replaced the spark plugs, and the brake pads (to the correct ones) and the Brake Calipers. Supposedly the cause of the clicking noise. When I picked the car up and left, I noticed that the brakes didnt feel quite right. I brushed it off as to having driven a different car for a week and I'd get used to it. Well, when I left the office that evening, first stoplight, the brake pedal goes to the floor. To add insult to injury, while waiting for the light to turn green, the car exhibits the rough idle again. I immediately called the dealer. He advised me to bring it in.
Over the weekend and part of the next week, I drove my other vehicle, because I did not feel safe driving the car in the way that it was with the soft brakes. I did take the car in, around November 16th and I met with the Service writer, as well as the Service manager. I explained my frustration that this was the THIRD time the car was going in. He assured me that this would be taken care of and put me in another rental car. I suggested getting a Field Service Engineer involved or Ford direct. Later that week, my advisor called and said that they found #1 Cylinder was 'dropping out' and coming back. Ford techline advised them to move the spark plug and coil somewhere else to see if the 'drop out' followed. It did not. Ford techline suggests that the dealer replace the fuel injector, so they "emergency ordered" an injector. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I got a call stating that the injector was in, and the technician would be installing the injector to see if the problem was fixed. Friday, I called the dealer and talked to the service advisor, and he told me that the tech that was working on my car was on vacation, and that I would need to check back on Monday. Monday, my advisor calls me and says that the Shop Foreman actually drove my car and the problem was still present. So the FSE told them that they wanted to swap the computer, and could I bring my other key to the dealership, since they would need to reprogram both keys. I took my spare key to the dealer and my service writer was not there.
I spoke to the service manager after he got back from lunch. I asked him for an update, which he was not aware of any further updates. I told him to keep "throwing parts" at the car until they had it fixed. He said "Well, we're not throwing parts at it, we're diagnosing." Lets see. You have reflashed the PCM, Replaced Spark Plugs, Moved Coils, replaced the Fuel Injector, and now, you want to change the PCM. If thats not throwing parts at the problem I'm not sure what is.
Later that week, my advisor called and told me that the SHO they had on their lot that they were planning on swapping PCMs with did not match my car, however, when they pulled the spark plug on #1, the technician saw "Something Shiny" down the plug hole. So the Ford Engineer asked them to pull the head. The advisor thought that the engine would have to be removed for this operation and I tended to agree with him. This was around December 3. Over the weekend, I went to the dealer and took photos of my car sitting on the rack, which the exhaust unbolted, in various stages of disassembly. Looked like they were well on their way.
Tuesday, December 7th, I called the dealer for an update. The advisor had left, so I talked to the Service manager. He advised that they were told to pull heads by the Ford Engineer. Which I already knew. He claimed that the engine did NOT have to be removed.
Wednesday, December 8th, My advisor called around noon to tell me that the heads were off and the valves were "Carboned up" Like you would not believe. Then he starts asking me about what kind of Gasoline I used. I told him, Premium, only Chevron or Shell. Then he told me that the service manager said that only 87 should be used. I told him that I thought this was incorrect, they may want to check the owners manual in the car, as well as on the gas tank door. 87 Octane is acceptable, however, 91 or better is recommended for optimum performance in the SHO motor.
So here we have it folks. As of December 10th, 2010, I have a car that has been in the shop for a total of thirty six days. I have made two payments to the bank in a rental car.
Feel like I'm not being taken seriously by Ford or the Dealer? Yes.
Maybe its a lemon I have, but I feel like I'm not being given priority or consideration in this matter. The dealer blames it on their lack of Knowledge on the Ecoboost engine. I don't care what it is at this point. I'm tired of being jerked around and tired of being told one story to the next. I've always been a Ford product advocate and right now, I feel like its a huge slap in the face. I have a damn near 40,000 dollar paperweight that I don't see or get to use. Instead, I'm driving a Budget rent a car Hyundai. Thanks a lot Ford.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Ford has been making bold moves in the past few years.
More frequent refreshes and new exciting product lines, and killing dead weight (note: Ranger, E-Series and Panthers are NOT dead weight. Refresh THEM PLEASE!)
On Saturday I went and drove the F-Series to try their new engine lineup.
My impressions is that the new Ecoboost F150 is a fast truck, the way the power ramps up is very deceptive, but if you look at the speedometer, you're going at a good clip.
They set up 1/8 mile tracks and let people race each other in all the powertrains, 3.7L V6, 3.5L Ecoboost, 5.0 V8, and a 6.2L Harley truck. Also a Hemi powered Ram Quad Cab and a 5.3L Z71 Silverado ext cab were there to drive/compare.
My best time was run in a Ecoboost 4x4 Supercrew launching in 4Hi (hehe). Ford has hit a home run with this setup. The Ecoboost trucks have lots of insulation along the hood edges and sides to attenuate sound to not give you the feeling that you're driving with a 'smaller' engine. The exhaust note at WOT sounds a little raspy, but you can tell Ford spent some money researching how to get the exhaust to sound decent. NVH is almost nil, and you really dont know its a V6 unless you have a trained ear.
The 5.0L V8 is a smooth engine, with its Modular roots but so much better, it is most definitely refined. I was impressed with the changes Ford made to set the engine up for Truck Duty. Feels different than when in the Mustang App. Still sounds like a mod motor starting up though. Slick 6 Speed Auto is across this whole range of trucks.
The 6.2L Harley truck was by far the best sounding and driving truck there. The 6.2L exhaust on the Harley truck sounds like a NASCAR exhaust at WOT. Ford has done an excellent job with this motor. The truck felt the fastest out of the group, but the Ecoboost was faster on paper (at least to my time slips)
Next they had the Tow area, which had a Loaded Mega Cab Hemi Ram and a Silverado hooked to trailers filled with 6000 lbs in the back, and a group of F150 Supercrew 4x2 and 4x4, all with Ecoboost engines.
Does anyone notice that Ford did not offer a 5.7L or 4.6L Tundra for us to try?
I drove the Ram first, found it to be decent on power but having to work it hard to get it to move at a good pace with the trailer.
Next I hopped into a Supercrew FX4 with the Ecoboost and a 3.73 rear end. This truck moves good with a load. Again, its deceptive because you look down at the speedometer and you're moving faster than you thought. With a load, the power delivery is still very smooth, and the braking and trailer sway control all work awesome. You do have to work that Ecoboost to get the truck to get on the freeways, but thats what it was designed to do, with the turbos, provide that V8 thrust, and it does that.
Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the new lineup of engines that Ford has come out with.
I just wish they hired more knowledgeable people to work these events. They hire 'pretty people'. I got tired of hearing the wrong information over and over again. Finally I just stopped asking. At the tow section, I made are remark about how disappointed I would be driving the Ram, he stated "I'm an independant contractor, and I will tell you, I like the Ram better than the Ford" I raise an eyebrow at that remark. More technical questions asked to "Product specialists" were replied with a total lie, misinformation and then later "Sir, we're not engineers." If you don't know, just say so. These guys lost their cool when you ask questions they don't know. Then they get offended when you try to correct them. I.e. the guy we did the drive challenge said that "the Ecoboost in the F-series had Honeywell GT12 turbochargers". I said "They're borg warner, and the Honeywell GT15 is what is in the SHO, Flex and MKS with Ecoboost. He just looked at me. Later someone else told me , all F150s have rear axle ratios of 3.73 and 4.10. Ugh. Come on Ford. Seriously? /Rant over.
I did run into two Product specialists that actually did work for Ford and not the event company. They even let me check out and start up the new 6.7L Powerstroke that happened to be there. That motor is crammed under the hood of that truck, however, its supposed to be much easier to service than the 6.0 and 6.4s of yore. Those 7.3L days are over, quit dreaming. HA!.
Ford, you've done a good job here. Lets hope you will keep the products fresh and not let things die on the vine.
Overall I'd say Ford has a good new lineup on their hands. Time will tell to see if people are apt to adopt the Ecoboost in the F Series.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Brake fluid is categorized by the DOT rating. Most new cars will be equipped with DOT 3 brake fluid. Your germans and supercars may use DOT 4, and very few will ever use DOT 5 will come in motorcycles and is a silicone based product.
Chemically speaking, the off the shelf brake fluids, like DOT 3 are based on glycol and glycol esters. DOT 4 is similar in composition except it contains borate esters. New to the brake fluid world is the DOT 5.1 that is made of of borate esters.
Do you know what real job of this fluid is? Brake fluid transmits pressure from the brake pedal to the ends of the brake system, where the calipers or drums are. This force from the fluid is applied to the pads (or shoes) against the rotation of the brake disc/drum.
Its the fluids rating or strength not to compress that allows it to do its job well.
Back to the Mr Wizard lesson. Did you know that H2O is not listed as an ingredient of brake fluid?
Water boils at 212 around degrees F. When braking, the rotors can and get HOT...over 1000 degrees of heat and transfer 400 of those guys or more to the caliper. Agua is not a good fluid to choose.
Unfortunately, Brake Fluid is hygroscoptic. DOT3 and DOT 4 brake fluids attract water. Right out of the air. Just like the coolant you use is probably glycol based just because it mixes well with water.
So, what do the numbers mean?
The DOT Numbers are the boiling point ranges that they achieve both dry (no water absorbed) and wet (about 3-4% water content). DOT 3 the dry boiling point is at least 401 and the wet 284 degrees. DOT 4 steps its game up to 446 and 311 respectively. Remember, that these are DOT minimums, and there are high performance brake fluids that exceed those ratings.
Some of the high performance fluids are rated well over 500 (to almost 600) degrees boiling point dry. Wet boiling points will also vary, but be well over 400 degrees.
The higher boiling points are critical to those of you that like to get your roll on at a race track or autocrossing. Once you boil your brake fluid, its done. You'll need more fluid. Sorry atari.
Most non racing folks will that their brake performance is just fine by sticking with the fluid that the manufacturer sold the care with, unless they use they hoon the vehicle to the extreme, such as a Autocross, Track, or if you live in the mountains and stuff. How do I know when this happens? You'll know because the brake pedal will start to feel like mashed potatoes as the fluid boils and the pedal may even fall to the floor.
Most joe blows never flush and replace their brake fluid. In fact, if you go to a shop and have a “brake job” done it is highly unlikely that they will do much more than bleed the brake lines. This means that the old – wet – clapped out – brake fluid will still be there. The water can react to oxidize brake components from the inside out. I recommend once a year, at least have a look at it. If its nasty, flush and replace with fresh brake fluid.
If you want to DIY, buy a Motive Bleeder or call a friend over, this can be done at home. If you cant change your own engine oil, go pay someone else to do this.
Unless your factory manual specifies something different you start with the right (passenger side) rear, then move to the left (drivers side) rear, then the right front, and finally the left front.
If you dont have a bleeder, you will have to work in concert with your assistant at the brake pedal. The goal is not to get any air introduced into the system while you bleed it. To prevent air from entering you need to keep the reservoir from going empty. So check it often and add new fluid as needed. If you do have a bleeder, keep the pressure up.
You should also remove as much of the old fluid from the reservoir before you add new fluid to the reservior. A turkey baster or similar device will allow you to do that. Just have spray “brake clean” ready in case any fluid get on painted surfaces. If left on paint it will remove it. PROTECT YOUR EYES.You will need to continue this until you get nice, clean, new fluid out to the particular brake you are working on and then repeat for the other three. Be sure to keep enough fluid in the reservoir to prevent air from entering the system from that end.
Brake fluids gain contamination as they age and should be replace periodically. If you race you should change your brake fluid as often as you change your oil.