My father called home in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, attempting to reach me. I wasn't there, though; I was off at the barber's getting my hair cut after the shortest line I've seen there in years. The only wait was for my barber to get back with some flags to warn the guys about to spray his lawn where the shower heads were and taking the long way around to avoid a guy trying to sell him insurance. It was a fine haircut, and spent a lot of time on the question of whether Joe Torre would return as manager of the Yankees, which would seem to not be directly relevant to any of our lives, which is probably why it was discussed so eagerly. When the news broke (well after my haircut) that George Steinbrenner had more or less fired Torre I heard a comment that Steinbrenner's action was ``tasteless'', which is a silly thing to observe. He's George Steinbrenner. I still don't know how he failed to hire Donald Trump to design New Yankee Stadium.
Anyway, the thing he was calling about was that his car was broken. This is not a surprise: his car's been in for repairs a half-dozen times just this year, and it's had a chronic history of mostly electrical problems that he never get serviced to his satisfaction. We don't think this is because of an incident once where he failed to have the cup properly placed in the coffee maker before making his selection, but it is possible. He was driving along when the light warning of Transmission Problems came on, and the engine stopped running, and he drifted as close to an exit as he could possibly get, which didn't get him off the highway yet.
My mother's verdict: ``Sell it'', which is reasonable given the trouble and the probable cost of a transmission repair on a BMW out of warranty. However, the Rescue Aid Society, Highway Division, which eventually came around, had a happier verdict. After a glance at the car the guy told my father, ``I know the problem: it's out of gas.'' My father thought this was crazy since the ``low fuel'' light wasn't on -- there was a quarter-tank left on the gauge -- while the ``transmission problem'' light was. But a gallon of gas inserted and the car started right up with no distressing lights on. It turns out his model of car has a defect that the rescue guy sees almost daily wherein the ``low fuel'' light doesn't go on but the ``transmission problem'' does. Figures.
Trivia: The Hawaiin ukulele is an adaptation of the Portugese machada. Source: Know-It-All, A J Jacobs.
Currently Reading: The Sixth Great Power: A History of One of the Greatest of all Banking Families, the House of Barings, 1762 - 1929, Philip Ziegler. Normally I tend to think of banks as being pretty eager to leap on potentially advantageous new technologies, but there will be the occasional odd reluctance. For example, after a period in which many documents were being lost on desks, the office was offered the innovation of ``In'' and ``Out'' boxes, which was looked at very suspiciously. You want to be careful about radical innovations like that. (Barings was ultimately happy with how they worked out.)