I double-checked with my Bro-In-Law (BiL) and he said “Sure, go ahead….”

So here’s the latest on his house-search and how life works if you’re the world’s unluckiest man.

As of our last mention, everything had been moving toward a close on the 28th. But because the people in the home want to move, the real estate people want commission and Bates & Bride want to get the move done, it was moved up to the 27th.

But alas…

I was working on the old farm truck paint rub-out when Bates moseyed through the carport.

“Everything OK?” I asked being as chipper as I could while sweating like a hound.

His shoulders slumped.

No…now it’s the computer system at Veteran’s United was down and they missed the filing for today and they are now aiming for tomorrow which means Wednesday….”

I was dumb-struck.

NO ONE has luck this bad.

This is the 8th or 9th home they’re tried to buy. Most of the others were failed on inspections. They’ve spent (in the past year) nearly $6,000 on travel, lodging, meals, and home inspections trying to find somewhere to live that would be really nice.

This is like the fifth false-start at closing, too.

They have looked in the Palestine, TX area, and down in the Killeen/Fort Hood area, as well.

They started off trying to pick a home in Killeen, because homes there are very, very inexpensive. They are typically $100-130K.

Not that they didn’t look elsewhere: They seriously considered El Paso, but the real estate taxes there are going the same way they have done down in The Woodlands – where Oilman 2 lives. In that area, $8,000 a year in property tax with many people paying $900 per month in taxes – is not far from ordinary.  El Paso was about $2,700 per year which is still way too high.

I don’t know how much that adventure cost, but it came down to ready to do a deal out there when the inspection failed.

Eventually, they looked again in Palestine – a little more money on the table – since Mrs. Bates has one son still in school here, up and coming football star – and yeah, family.

In all, it’s a marvelous thing. But as Bates himself told me: “Look, I am the embodiment of Zeno’s Paradox.

One of his three  is neatly summarized as Achilles and the Tortoise:

“In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. – as recounted by Aristotle, Physics.”

It’s like if you run almost twice as fast as me on a football field. You start from the far goal line running 10 miles per hour while I run 6 but start from the 50.

In the time you have run from the goal line to the 50 yard line, I will have labored down to the 20, a gain of only 30 to your 50.

By now, I’m getting tired so we run half as long for our second sprint.

You pick up 25 yards (down to the 25) but I was at the 20 and pick up 15, so now I am down to the 5.

I win on the next sprint.

There’s a marvelous “trick question” in flying that relates to this Paradox. It has to do with headwinds.

Pretend you are flying from Seattle to San Francisco (we’ll call it 800 miles) and you’re flying 200 miles an hour.

Going down it is a 4 hour flight, coming back is a 4 hour flight. Total flight time: 8 hours.

Now let’s add a 100 MPH tailwind going and 100 MPH headwind on the return.

Now your speed down is cut to 2.667 hours.  Cool!

But look at the return leg: 8 hours! Total flight time is 10.667 (plus a personal recycling stop in Roseburg, Oregon to recycle coffee). 

The concept in sail is VMG (velocity made good [to the windward mark].

The lesson is?


Headwinds never help.

And my brother-in-law is the guy who is always running smack into the headwinds.  Damnedest thing to watch and impressive how he takes it in stride.

Still, He has SDOME Good Luck

To say “The Bates Luck” is one thing, but it is mostly held in check around the ranch by something I call “Ure’s Magick.”

Here’s a recent example of how that works.

Bates’ wife’s car (2012 Versa) started to act up. Dash warning light came on. High idle speed, odd throttle response.

He took it in to the local Toyota outfit and they said “Yessir, throttle board…estimate is about $1,000 to fix it…”

Bateses then went by one of the auto supp0ly joints and figured they could get the assembly for $250, or so…

Again, crestfallen, shoulders sagging… I know the look pretty well by now.

Thousand bucks to fix it…”

No, that’s just not right. So I took Ure’s Magick to the Youtube video here, figured out it was likely rust or corrosion of the fixed metal shaft the transfer gear sits on, and announced the fix.

Bates is damn handy with tools. So good with small engines, I’ve called him Sling-Bates if you remember the Billy-Bob Thornton role.

I drilled out the first rivet and then nonchalantly handed him the Makita cordless.  He only hesitated briefly and then went for it with me telling him  “It doesn’t work now, so it’s we’re wrong, we haven’t lost anything…”

Oftentimes a fellow needs confidence in ripping into something.  That was the case here.   

He disassembled the zillion and one parts, cleaned up the stationary gear shaft with wet or dry sandpaper, lubed it with long-life silicone grease and you know what?

Fixed…or nearly so.

It would still idle a bit high…but after driving it a day, or so, it was settling down nicely. Smooth as glass, too.

Still skeptical of his good fortune now as turning a $1000 bill into a couple of hours of work, he dropped by a mechanic in town (NOT the dealer) for a second opinion.

Codes are all cleared from last time…no errors anywhere…sounds perfect if you don’t mind my saying so…”

And so it has been: The car is working perfectly again, I’m out six 4-40 screws and nuts (with a dab of Elaine’s red nail polish in lieu of lock washers) and the unit should be good for another 70-thousand miles. Cost me…what? 50-cents in parts that were gathering dust!


Oh, I don’t know as there is any particular one except that we are coming into a very hard time/economic depression. And as one of our readers (Kaiser) said, “Buy old, buy refurbished, fix it ourselves.”


I’ve been using red nail polish as a lock washer for years on electronics. A dollop on each of your SAE or Metric tools makes life easier, too.

Also works for marking Phillips or slotted screwdrivers. And for high power ham radio antennas, it’s cheaper than anti-corona dope.

What??? You don’t have a bottle or two of MG Chemicals 4226 Super Corona Dope in your shop? What the hell kind of start-up/gypo wannabe fixit-shop are you running?

Hell, you probably don’t even have a decent $8-dollar180-Piece Rubber Grommet Shop Assortment do you?

Don’t start me on the takes tools to save money but it’s true.

Sure, you can buy MacGyver – The Complete First Season but if TSHTF there won’t be a video player around and you’ll be SOL..

The only library that will be open is the one between the ears, right?


Write when you get rich,