Sunday, June 30, 2013

Catching Up Again.

Dear Family and Friends:

Well, we're off on another Tuzi-Journey. You're on, Willie.

(About 2 years ago the Playlist link to this blog was broken.  Now, Google appears to have fixed it.)

Going to the NE again.  Combining business with pleasure.  I'm on two National Research Council committees and it happened that they scheduled two July meetings - one in DC, one in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, well-spaced to allow a leisurely transit between them.  Then I have a statistical convention (Susie loves these - it's the pocket protectors) in Montreal the first week in August.  So, why not make another big loop Tuzi-trip?  This will kind of be a mirror image of our round trip to Vancouver for a stat conference three years ago.  It will also loop around the NE trip we did last fall.  At any rate, this is the longest Tuzi-trip we've ever taken, distance-wise.

But, first, we've got a few things to report from the last two months.

After we got home from our April trip to Colorado for Malia and Macy's spring break, something very weird happened.

On April 17, Susie stopped at the entrance to our subdivision to get the mail.  Put the car in park, opened door, got out, got mail.  As she was looking at the mail, out of corner of her eye she saw the car backing up! - accelerating up a slight incline in front of the mail boxes where she had stopped.  She had left the front door open and she ran and grabbed that, envisioning an Indiana Jones-type move of swinging into the seat and stopping the car.  Didn't work, and she got knocked to the ground by the door, but, fortunately, didn't get hurt.  The car continued backing up until it backed into the fence next to the driveway.  She was shaken up, but got in the car (said she didn't want anybody to drive in to the subdivision and see her and the car in the condition they were in) and drove to our house.

About this time I drove in to the subdivision - we had been in town, separate cars, having lunch with our friends, the Eatons, and I had made a stop along the way home  I stopped to get the mail, not knowing whether she had or not (I'm still blaming myself because I thought as I was driving home, I'll call Susie and say I'll get the mail, but didn't.  Another oddity: Susie generally sets the emergency brake - too often, I tell her, like in the garage - but this time she didn't.)  As I got out of the pick-up, the phone rang: Susie, crying.  What's the matter?  I've been in an incident.  Where are you?  In our driveway.  I found her in the car, covered with dirt, and she told me what happened.

Here's the damage to the car (I didn't take a picture of Susie.  She did hurt her shoulder, so we had it x-rayed and there was no damage.).

We reported all this to Lexus Albq and State Farm.  Car was hauled in to a body shop designated by Lexus - it wasn't really drivable because the driver's door was sprung and wouldn't close; the right rear was bashed in from hitting the fence.  Lexus sent a technician over to run some diagnostics - nothing.  I wrote to Corporate Lexus and they sent out a rep a couple weeks later who read the "black box" and checked the gear shift mechanisms.  Again, nothing, apparently, though I'm supposed to get a written report in a few weeks.  Also, expecting them to offer to refund our purchase price (Ha, fat chance.)

There's just no logical explanation for the car's behavior.  Here's the scene, with our pick-up playing the role of Lexus.

If the car was in reverse rather than park, when Susie got out, the incline would have kept the car from moving.  If it was moving, Susie would not have gotten out.  But, why would it sit there, then accelerate?  The corporate rep said maybe if the A/C cycled on, that might send a message to the accelerator controller.  Toyota/Lexus has a history of unintended accelerations, blamed on the floor mat somehow interfering with the accelerator mechanism.  Doesn't seem plausible here, or in general, but who knows?  

We've gotten a lot of suggestions, like, "Mom, what are you doing tryin to stop a moving car!" and "Make 'em give you your money back!"   

A couple of weeks ago we were out with friends Dick Reinert and Mary Burnham.  Told them the story.  Dick said, That's strange.  Some time ago I got a message from Dodge about my 2005 pick-up.  They said, Do not exit the vehicle with the motor running and the gear in Park.  He had done some googling, so I did, too, and found several incidents very similar to ours.  We couldn't find any information about what caused this malfunction, or any recall because of it.  The remedy: Just don't do it!  That's our modus operandi now, too.  Googling for similar Lexus events has not turned up anything, though.  We just know this sort of malfunction is real, in today's computer-driven vehicles, not just in our imagination.

This happened in mid-week and we were planning to go to Oklahoma for the weekend.  Guthrie, OK was having their annual 89er celebration, commemorating the 1889 land rush in that part of the state, and my sister, Verla, organized a Sunday afternoon bluegrass concert in the park.  We were going to go help her set up, tear down, and act as roadies for the bands.  Susie encouraged me to go.  I decided to as long as she would spend the weekend with son Matt.  So, I flew over Saturday morning, got there in time for part of the parade, then helped haul and set up chairs, put up banners, get Subway sandwiches for the workers and talent, etc.  Had a good time.  Here are some scenes.

Guthrie has lots of classic, historical buildings.

Love those fire trucks with horns and sirens blasting!

At the concert, here's a family band and the bus they travel in. 

Dad didn't know how old it was, but said it was a dream to drive.

In recent years Verla has become a big fan of fiddler, Kyle Dillingham and his group, Horseshoe Road, so it was no surprise that they were part of the Sunday afternoon in the park concert. The band has done several international tours, making friends through music.  Check out this version of Orange Blossom Special., accompanied by the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.  

The third act was Guthrie's own Byron Berline Band.  Berline is a well-known bluegrass fiddle player - has played with all the greats like Bill Monroe.  He has a music store in Guthrie that features Saturday night concerts and we attended.  Berline puts on a bluegrass festival in October that we plan to return for.  (Sometime it's OK for a sentence to end on a preposition with.)  Here's a sample of his band.  (You'll have to put playlist on pause.)  Verla has really taken to Guthrie - getting to know the movers and shakers, becoming one of the boosters.  Various organizing committee members came to the concert and bragged on her - looks like a new tradition is born.

Right after I got home from OK I made a trip to DC for a committee meeting.  Walking around one evening I came upon this street band.  Must have been a dozen trombones in the band - very entertaining.

After the committee meeting, detoured on the way home to see Mike, Karen, and Jason in NC.  We went to a festival in one of the many Cary city parks.  

 There was baseball

and soccer.  The athlete in both pictures is grandson, Jason.

And ping-pong, not shown.  Jason is taking lessons.  Good thing I never let/had Mike or Jeff take lessons growing up - they might have beaten me sooner.

At the end of May, Heidi and Joey brought the twins, Julian and Landon, to Albuquerque to celebrate their first birthdays.  They're always in motion, bouncing around like balls in a pinball machine, so it's hard to get good pictures.  Some samples:

Cake time!

So, June 24 we departed: Montreal or Bus(t)!

We'll be in touch.

Susie and Rob