Saturday, September 02, 2017

Greeting Card Campaign: 9-2 National Blueberry Popsicle Day

Click here to download card
Today is one of those days we have to go with food holidays. Nobody seems to be celebrating anything else much except a few obscure saints and some tiny countries' independence days and such. So today is National Blueberry Popsicle Day - probably the least likely sort of food to get its own national holiday. The odds of actually finding an actual blueberry popsicle are pretty slim admittedly. Here's a link to a recipe for blueberry popsicles so you can make your own. Make your sweetie a sweetie and print up a card to tell her she tickles your fancy.

Just click on the caption below the picture of the popsicle.  The link will take you to a pdf file in Google Docs. Remember, instead of printing from Google Docs, click on "File" in the upper left corner, then select "Download" and copy the file to your own computer.  Open it with Adobe PDF Reader or whatever PDF reader you use and print the card from there. For some reason Google Docs doesn't handle fonts well, even though they are supposed to be embedded in the PDF document itself.

This is a side fold card, so when it prints, be sure to tell your printer it's in "landscape" format so you get the whole file. Flip it on the short side to print double-sided. This will save you a lot of time for thinking about her pulchritudinousness!

© by Tom King

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to Read All Those Numbers on Your Car Tires

And make sense of them.....

It all began back in 2009, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, set new standards for how tire manufactures mark tires for light trucks and passenger cars. There's a whole lot of information contained in those engraved letters and numbers now. This information includes:

Outer Ring
  1. The type of tire - Start at the tire model name on the outer ring of the tire. Move clockwise around the outside ring of the sidewall. You should run into the letter "P". P stands for "Passenger Tire" "LT" stands for Light Truck.
  2. The aspect ratio - The next three numbers following "P" gives you the width of the tire in millimeters. Next there will be a slash mark and a second number after the slash. This number is the height of the tire. Put the first number over the second number and you'll have the ratio of width to height. This fraction is the aspect ratio. In the photo above the aspect ratio is 185/60.
  3. Radial mark - The next letter, if it's an "R" tells you the tire is a radial. If there's no "R", it's not a radial.
  4. Rim diameter - The next pair of numbers is the diameter of the rim in inches. The tire in the illustration fits a 14 inch rim.
  5. The load index -  The next number and letter pair lists the load index and speed. The load index indicates the tires carrying capacity. For instance, 89 = 1,279 pounds, 88 = 1,235 pounds, 87 = 1,201 pounds, 86 = 1,168 pounds, and 85 = 1,135 pounds. Load indexes for light trucks and cars range from 70 to 126
  6. The Speed Rating - The speed rating is the maximum speed for the tire. Here are the letters and what they mean:
    L     75mph     120 km/h     Off-road & light truck tires
    M    81mph     130 km/h     Temporary spare tires
    N    87 mph     140 km/h    
    P     93 mph     150 km/h
    Q    99 mph     160 km/h     Studless and studdable winter tires
    R    106 mph    170 km/h    HD Light Truck Tires
    S    112 mph    180 km/h    Family sedans and vans
    T    118 mph    190 km/h    Family Sedans and vans
    U    123 mph    200 km/h  
    H    130 mph    210 km/h    Sport sedans and coupes
    W   168 mph    270 km/h    Exotic sports cars
    Y    186 mph    300 km/h    Exotic sports cars
  7. Treadwear - This next 3 digit number is a comparison between a standard test tire and this particular tire. They run the tires side by side around a 400 mile loop in West Texas. If the subject tire wears the same as the test tire it gets a 100 rating. If it does twice as well it gets a 200; three times and it gets a 300 rating. So the 220 rating above means the tire did 220% better than the test tire.
  8. Traction - The next data on the outer ring is the traction rating. There are four ratings.
    AA - the highest rating is followed by A, B, and C. These grades are measurements are G-force ratings on asphalt and concrete under dry and wet conditions. 
  9. Temperature - This is a temperature resistance grade. The grade is established by measuring a loaded tire's ability to operate at high speeds without failure by running an inflated test tire against a large diameter high-speed laboratory test wheel. The rating is an A to C rating. A rates the tire over 115 mph. B rates the tire 100 to 115 mph. C rates the tire 85 mph to 100. All US built tires must be at least rated C for temperature resisteance.
Inner Ring:
  1. Maximum inflation pressure - Follow the small letters around the edge of the rims. Starting below the tire name you will find the maximum permissible inflation pressure followed by the US DOT tire identification number the Tire ply, composition and materials used in manufacture. 
  2. Radial or not - Moving counterclockwise, tire markings repeat if it's a radial, but this time spells it all the way out.
  3. Tube or tubeless - Most tires are tubeless, but on the outside chance it's not here's where it tells you.  
  4. Made in ???? - Some tires which are made outside the US list their country of origin here  somewhere before the DOT code.
  5.  DOT Code - The Department of Transportation (DOT) code uses this format: XXXX XXXX XXXX.  The first two letters designate where the tire was manufactured. The next two letters and numbers are a code for the tire size.  There may be 4 letters and numbers next if the tire is sold in Europe. Look for an "E". If not sold in Europe, these number codes may be omitted. If you do not see 11 or 12 characters following DOT, you may have to look on the other side of the tire. The final group of four in this long number which may be continued on the other side of the tire tells you the week and year in which the tire was manufactured.  "2417" would indicate a tire made in the 24th week of 2017.
  6. Tire Ply and Composition - Tire makers are required to list the materials and number of layers of each material used to reinforce the rubber. Here is a sample of how it may be printed on the sidewall: TREAD PLIES: 2 POLYESTER + 2 STEEL+1 POLYAMIDE SIDEWALL PLIES: 2 POLYESTER 
  7. Maximum Cold Inflation and Load Limit - This final marking refers how much weight you can safely put on the tires. If you have four of the tire shown above with a load limit of 1300 lbs. per tire, that means the vehicle, passengers and load shouldn't exceed  5200 lbs. or a bit more than 2 1/2 tons. That's why some trucks use dual wheels over the payload bed. It's not for looks although a dually really looks cool. The extra two tires increase the load the tires can safely carry. That way you can haul a granite boulder or two without flattening your tires.
That's a rough idea of what tire markings are all about. Some of these markings might be particularly useful if, like me, you've ever had to buy used tires because you just put your kids back in school and had to buy $400 worth of notebook paper, pens and Ninja Turtle and Strawberry Shortcake backpacks. You can at least tell read the tire markings and tell when the tire was made. That way you don't wind up running around on 25 year-old rubber. 


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Water Safety: How to Avoid Capsizing

Well here's another fine mess I've got myself into!

Keep Your Boat From Capsizing

Most boating accidents and injuries in the United States happen because someone's boat capsizes. In fact, capsizing is the number one cause of boating injuries in the summer. It's June and people all over the nation are hitting the water in small boats. People simply over-speed, over-control, overload and over-estimate their skills.  

For some reason when people get around water, especially in the summer, their brains take a kind of holiday from thinking. Perhaps it's because no one is wearing much in the way of clothing. I don't know, but this chronic lack of thinking can lead to tragedy.  Capsizing is the most common sort of tragedy. You see guys out in little fishing boats standing up with a load of fishing gear, maybe wearing waders and a jacket in cooler weather. You see them lumbering around in their boats and then later, when you pass the spot again there are game wardens, cops and county divers searching the water. When they finally do drag them up off the bottom, they always look surprised!

There are some simple common sense rules that will help you prevent your boat from capsizing. If your boat is in danger of capsizing, you need to be prepared in advance to do some quick thinking and even quicker acting. You need a cool head and a thorough understanding of the physics of watercraft. You need to understand buoyancy and balance and the elements of how a boat floats.

Preventing your boat from capsizing happens before you even take your boat out on the water. I know most of us slept through physics class in high school, but boats, whether we like it or not, obey the laws of physics. We may disobey the fish and game laws, but boats obey those physical laws to the letter. It's critical that you understand the basic principles of the physics of small boats and even more crucial that you practice what to do in an emergency in advance.

There are four basic threats that cause boats to capsize. You need to react to them quickly to prevent turning your boat over:
Excessive speed, too little experience.
  1. Overloading - There are two ways to overload your boat. One is by exceeding the weight limit of the boat. Usually, for commercially purchased boats, there's a metal plate on it somewhere that tells you how much weight the boat can carry. They're serious about that.  But total weight is only part of the threat. If you set the weight in the boat too high, you can also overbalance your boat.  Get any weight you are carrying down and centered in the boat. It doesn't matter if you’re in a yacht, a canoe, sailboat, or motorboat, weight that is being carried too high in the boat is most likely to be the cause of your boat capsizing. Especially in rough seas and high winds, get any loose weight in the boat as low as you can, especially if you are in a small boat or canoe. If things get lively have your passengers sit on the floor with their knees low and the weight centered. You don't want all the weight shifting, so tie down any loose heavy object as close to the bottom and center as you can. Fishermen should get down off those tall fishing chairs in a high wind, especially if you're moving the boat. If the boat rocks excessively, sit flat on the bottom of the boat. If you can lower your boat's center of gravity, it makes it much more difficult to capsize.
  2. Excessive speed - Going too fast will kill you quick. If you've ever done a belly flop off the high dive, you know how hard the water feels if you hit it at speed. It can knock the wind out of you and even knock you unconscious. When you are turning or maneuvering or trying to move in a sudden wind, slow Down! Taking off a little speed reduces your chances of capsizing significantly. If you get caught in a sudden squall and heavy waves, don't push it. Maintain enough speed to keep your bows pointed into the waves, but resist the urge to try and jump out of the water. The wind can flip you while you're airborne, given the aerodynamic shape of the hull of a powerboat. In high waves, you want to head roughly into the wind to find shelter. If you move sideways to the wind, the waves can push your boat sideways and cause it to heel over. If you run a gunwale under the water, a sudden high wave can flip you over in a heartbeat. If you're in a sailboat, pay out the mainsheet and allow the sails to spill wind. Pull in the sails just enough to maintain headway, but not enough that the wind can flip you. In very high winds, you may need to drop the mainsail and proceed on your jib if you have one. If you're an accomplished sailor, you may be able to make your way downwind under bare poles if you're good with the tiller.  In any case, reduce sail enough to take the pressure off the sail. You can lower the sail halfway down and tie the loose sail to the mast with bungees and reduce your speed that way. In any case, you need to get to safety, so don’t stop moving. Watch your speed. Keep it down to where you can react fast enough to prevent the boat turning over, but are continually moving toward safe harbor.
  3. Striking an object - The secret to avoiding striking an object is first and foremost, watching where you are going. People get out on the water and thing that because there aren't any trees around, that they can watch the girls in the bikinis in the back of the boat and only have to look ahead once in a while.  Tain't necessarily so. Floating debris can pop up in the blink of an eye. Fallen trees can find their way into your path and they may barely show above water. Lakes often have whole sections where tree stumps left from submerged wooded areas still stick up below the surface.  Know where you are going and if you're not sure how safe an area is, slow down.  Save the speed for when you are in the old river channel or in open sea where there aren't any sandbars. Most such areas are marked on charts of lakes and seashores, but things can change, so don't bet your life. There's a sandbar shallows out in the South Pacific that isn't near an island and doesn't stick up. A ship captain paying attention might spot the rollers over the spot, but they do miss it. The place is a ship's graveyard going back 300 years. It looked like clear seas and then suddenly the ships ran aground.  That can happen in almost any body of water. It's better to be careful till you learn the water, than to get cocky and wind up with a hole in your boat and yourself sailing over the windshield landing headfirst into a stump.
  4. Wind and waves -  Weather has a nasty way of biting you on your nether regions when you least expect it. Check the weather before you go out on the water - always! You have no excuse these days. Smart phones can pull up weather forecasts, complete with radar so you can see storms rolling in before they even cross the horizon. Stay off the water when the wind is high. Your sailboat doesn't need that much wind. Your canoe will get blown away and your power boat can be flipped in the chop. If bad weather approaches, get off the lake. Getting cocky can get you drowned. Worse it can get the people in the boat with you drowned.
Even the dog needs a lifejacket!

You need some things in your boat before you go out.  First of all you need enough lifejackets for everyone. People who can't swim should wear them. If you're hot-rodding around at speed, everyone needs to wear one. If you're thrown out of the boat and knocked silly without one, you can drown in a very short time.  Your life jackets should have tags showing they are Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices. The game warden or Coast Guard will check. Everyone needs at least a Type II PFD.

You need something to bail with.  Don't go out unless you have something with which you can quickly bail out your boat. A couple of old gallon bleach bottles with the bottoms cut out make great bailers. They have handles and you can secure them in the boat under a seat. Be sure to tie them to something with a long enough rope that you can bail without having to untie them. It helps in a hurry. Tie them with a bowline knot so they won't jam when wet in case you do need to untie them quickly.

Secure any loose objects in the boat. A supply of bungee cords is useful for doing that. Having coolers and tackle boxes sliding around the boat can overbalance you suddenly if you're leaning over the side or reeling in a heavy fish and next thing you know you're over the side or lying across the gunwale with water pouring in.

Keep the boat bailed out.  Water sloshing around in the boat is very heavy and the shifting weight of all that H2O can swamp you in a big hurry.  If you start taking on water, Every free hand needs to join in and bail.  Make sure everyone is throwing water over the side. In a panic, I've seen people scoop up water from the front of the boat and pitch it over their shoulder into the back of the boat. While it might feel good to be moving that much water, it's probably not helping much if it's still in the boat.  When your crew is bailing water, make sure they stay low in the boat while they are doing it. People sometimes get excited when water is coming into the boat and try to stand up in the boat. If there's a lot of water sloshing around in the bottom of the boat, standing up can lead to disaster. Always bail water from a kneeling or sitting position if at all possible.

If you’ve struck something and knocked a hole in your boat, you want to close the hole as quickly as you can.  A rag or shirt stuffed into the hole can slow the leak enough so that combined with bailing by the crew, you can make it to safety.

Head for cover as quickly as you can while maintaining a safe speed. Try to spot a sheltered cove or bay, especially if you are facing high winds and heavy seas. In a sudden squall, you'll have to crab your way toward where you want to go, keeping the bow of the boat into the wind and waves while slipping sideways in the troughs to prevent the waves from capsizing you. Angle our way across the fronts of waves turning your bow into the wave as you crest the wave. As you come down the backside you'll angle in the direction you want to go, then turn again into the wave as you rise back up on the next wave. This requires some skill at steering, but you should have already practiced your steering before you ever go out, especially with passengers. Always familiarize yourself with the how your boat responds to the tiller. If you're in a canoe, know how to steer with efficient paddle strokes. Do your practicing in calm weather in a sheltered place before you venture out into waters that can suddenly become choppy or into strong currents.

DON'T PANIC as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy recommends in big friendly letters on the cover. If you know your boat and you've practiced with it and take the precautions we've suggested above, you should be okay. The two deadliest things, that will kill you out on the water, are arrogance and ignorance.  Be smart and be skilled and know your boat.

Have fun out there on the blue water!

© 2017 by Tom King


Andrew Kim Law Firm: Common Causes of Capsizing Boats

The Bass Report; Preventing Capsizing

The Florida Course – Boater Education: Boating Emergencies - What to Do