Into 'thin air'? Hardly We love the madcap antics of ``Click and Clack,'' alias Tom and Ray Magliozzi, whose weekly ``Car Talk'' program on National Public Radio mixes some sane car repair advice with sometimes insane banter.
That said, a question the duo answered on their show and in their syndicated newspaper column fell a bit short of what Paul Harvey might say is ``the rest of the story.''
Someone asked: ``What happens to all the rubber that wears off our tires? You never see it, but it's got to be somewhere.'' Admitting they didn't know the answer, the brothers Magliozzi turned to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), then the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, both of which said they didn't know the answer, but offered several theories.
The consensus is that the ``rubbed-off rubber'' is entirely broken down by the sun and air into its molecular parts—carbon, nitrogen and some sulfur—then is blown into the air and exists as ``dust,'' the Magliozzis said. They downplayed hypotheses that the rubber doesn't break down, but instead builds up indefinitely by the sides of roads, and quoted Bill Whoerle, an SAE "tire expert," who stated if that were the case, ``we'd be plowing rubber instead of snow.''
Well...get out the plows.
A 1995 story in Tire Business noted that the prevalence and severity of asthma has steadily increased worldwide, especially among children living in urban areas. One big culprit, according to some experts, is the tire ``dust'' in the air we breathe. It can cause allergic reactions because, one estimate said, ``60 percent of these fragments are small enough to be inhaled and retained in the lungs.''
In one air sample study taken at the time in Denver near a busy freeway, researchers observed ``a minimum of 60 to 120 times more rubber fragments than pollen grains during the allergy season.''
That's hardly disappearing into thin air, guys.
This 'n that
Quotable quotes (attributed to ``unknown'')—``Never be afraid to try something new. Remember: Amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.'' (And supposedly the Yugo.)
``It's better to answer a stupid question than to fix a stupid mistake.'' (Just ask the NASA ``experts'' who recently lost that expensive Mars probe because one group was using metric and the other the English measurement system.)
You want anchovies with that?—Racer Eddie Bello recently set a record for the fastest quarter-mile run on production radial street tires, with a time of 9.178 seconds at 161.02 mph. He was running on DOT-approved Proxes RA-1 tires from Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp.
That mark to his credit, we think Mr. Bello has a great career ahead of him as a Domino's Pizza delivery guy.
No relation to weed—The consultant to Goodyear's automotive care group is Watts Wacker, identified by PR Newswire as ``noted futurist'' and FirstMatter CEO. (No disrespect intended, but it sounds like a gizmo you might buy to help lower your electric bills.)
Can half a million motorists be wrong?—The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 500,000 auto breakdowns each year in Northern California could be prevented with basic routine vehicle inspections, either by motorists or their automotive technicians.
If lined up bumper to bumper from the Golden Gate Bridge, AAA said those ``needlessly stalled cars and trucks'' would extend 1,300 miles eastward, across the Bay Bridge to beyond Sacramento, Nevada, Utah—all the way to Last Chance, Colo., 70 miles east of Denver.
Isn't that the size of a typical L.A. traffic jam?
Take a long drive off a short pier—You might think otherwise, but touristy Honolulu has the nation's lowest car rental rate vs. the highest in New York (Manhattan), Houston and Oklahoma City.
One big reason is the Hawaiian geography. ``You can't drive very far,'' said Rolfe Shellenberger, senior travel consultant at Runzheimer International. (But you could just keep driving in circles around the island.)
Chadd Lowe has a talent that would be great to use at your dealership's next big sale, or a grand opening.
The 34-year-old's a ``spinner''—spins things on the tips of his double-jointed fingers, such as microwaves, kitchen sinks, even a flaming tire (ouch). According to a recent Time magazine story, the hired help at a Salt Lake City store recently got a little nervous and called for security by the time the spinmeister had two VCRs in the air.
Mr. Lowe, who Time said changed his name from Dave Klemczak ``for marquee purposes,'' discovered his talent at 13 when he spun a basketball to impress chearleaders in his hometown of Butte Falls, Ore. The ploy helped him get a date to the prom. When he's not doing his thing, his day job is running a Salt Lake City hubcap shop. (Lots of stuff to spin there, too.)
He has even made appearances on ``Letterman'' and Jay Leno's ``Tonight Show,'' and spun his way around Europe and Japan (would you call that a twirlwind tour?).
``Jugglers are a dime a dozen,'' Mr. Lowe told Time, ``but I don't know anyone else in the world who can do what I do.''
And the best part? He's still single, ladies. We can only imagine the ``personal'' ad he might run: ``Fun-loving, double-jointed guy wants to take you for a spin.'' Uh, that's the wholesome version.
It's all downhill from here
What the heck do you do when your semi breaks down in the middle of nowhere and there's no roadside assistance in sight? Check out the above photo to see what this chap was forced to do.
Actually, that's Magnus ver Magnusson, a Finnish gent billed as der vorld's strongest man by the International Federation of Strength Athletes.
To demonstrate rolling resistance, Michelin North America Inc. enlisted his ``expertise,'' shall we say, during an Oct. 9 meeting in Hilton Head, S.C., for its Michelin Retread Technologies Inc. dealers. Magnus first pulled—yes, you read that right, pulled—a semi with trailer on Bandag retreads 14 feet, one inch. He then hauled the same rig, shod with Michelin retreads, 41 feet, five inches.
So what does this prove? That rolling resistance for the Michelins is a lot less? Maybe. Or it means Magnus should probably find some other gainful means of employment— before this job kills him. Just a suggestion, big fella. No harm intended.
Michelin, by the way, didn't say whether it would pay for any hernia operation Magnus might require.