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Wednesday, 30 September 2009


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Annoyingly, it's a given that the garage door will fail one day, however well you look after it. The springs have a specified lifetime and sooner or later it will break. Just have to hope that it doesn't do too much damage when it happens. Perhaps even more annoying is the fact that it's difficult to get the parts to fix it yourself, even if you think you can deal with the stored energy in a safe fashion.

"Wopplejawed" Hmm. Not sure that would pass the scrabble test. Definition pls?

Ben Marks

You should have kept the Chet Baker CD. It appears you needed it.

You have garage door repairmen in the States? OMG, whatever next?

Have you ever played any instrument?
Have you ever played a string instrument?

It is something that tempers your temper, and prevents you from boiling up to the rest of life´s problems.

And today I saw the Chet Baker documentary by Bruce Weber. Conclussions:

1-Chet Baker was definitely the inspiration for the Looney Toons classic "romanticjazzsinger" figure.
2-Ran to get EBTG [everything but the girl], Walking Wounded preferably, and listen to the rendition of "almost blue" by Tracey Thorn.

After almost blue comes, obviously, Missing.

I knew all about garage doors. It was "OT WTTW" I had to learn about. LOL, I think.

Chet Baker? Brilliant. I'm betting that your repairman's evening ended well.

Well, I haven't had a garage for the 18 years I've lived in my present digs. Which lets me out of these awful door opener experiences. I might point out that my previous house featured a garage, but we had to open and close the doors ourselves. It was quite a simple operation, took almost no time--really no trouble at all. The old cars that lived there were protected from the elements.

I can't find any downside to this lack of a garage, much less an automatic opener, except that my truck, twelve years old with just under 230,000 on the clock, has a rusty back bumper. I guess that rust wouldn't be there if she'd been kept in a garage.

"...it was his wedding anniversary(!)"
Understandable. At least he remembered before midnight:-)

Mike did keep the Chet Baker cd; he just gave the repairman a burned copy.

No, actually it was a sealed "20 Bit K2" copy of "It Could Happen to You."


I empathize, Mike. I really empathize. Last week my wife and I returned from an 8-day kayak camping trip in Voyageurs National Park. We had had a great time, but it was late as we neared home, and we were talking about parking the car in the garage, opening the windows (kayaking gear can get a little rank), and unpacking in the morning.

About 10:00 p.m. we pulled into the driveway, and I pressed the button of the remote. Nothing. My wife went through the service door to use the hard-wired button. Still nothing. I followed and soon spotted the broken spring. So we unpacked the car that night after all, and in the morning called a repairman. Fortunately, it was a fairly simple repair job that cost us less than $200, but still, it can be unsettling when something like that happens.


It's nice to see the human side of the TOP once in awhile. Entertaining, even.

You people keep CARS in your garages ?

Whatever next.

There was a case high lighted some time back of new houses in the U.K. being advertised as "with garages". Problem was the "garages " were too small to accommodate even a Reliant Robin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliant_Robin

Paul Mc Cann

The word may be "wopperjawed". But even if you made it up, or it's a regional variation, I think "wopplejawed" is an awesome word, as it seems to imply a more wobbly kind of askewness. Either way: nice!

I thought Garage doors that opened at the press of a button were the preserve of the rich and famous! I actually have to open my garage door manually - by hand, imagine that! And yes, it has so far lasted very well :-)

I don't have a car, but I'm stuck here in Bracciano today because a tractor bent two poles across the FR3 train line to Rome a couple of hours ago. Here's a picture:


The kind of things that make people remember it can be healthy, fun AND profitable to commute by cycle rather than car. ;~)

About five years ago, my daughter hit the door opener button inside the garage and then hopped into the car. She unfortunately then absent-mindedly hit the remote button in the car to 'open' the door, which of course promptly began to close again.

Don't you Americans (I'm assuming) do anything with your hands?!!

Most of our garage doors have handles. Twist, pull, lift and the door is open - and you know it's open and isn't going to close all by itself.

Paul McCann,
Maybe that's what accounts for David Brookes' incredulity over the existence of garage door repairmen...where I live at least, garage doors are formidably large (my garage is a "two and a half car" and the door is easily 20 feet wide), made of steel, open from overhead like a window shade, and have motorized openers operated by remote control. The people who repaired my door are called Precision, and they're mainly sellers and installers of such doors. I suppose I know a few people locally who are competent to repair these things by themselves, but I suspect most people avail themselves of competent professional help when something goes wrong, like I did. It's a pretty specialized thing. At least I can say that it's not a tiny door that wouldn't admit a miniature three-wheeled car.

As far as that goes, don't forget what kind of cars we Americans tend to drive these days. I have a "small" car, which would be mid-sized in Europe, but most of my compatriots drive mini-vans and SUVs, some of which are truly enormous. It's a trend I deplore, personally, but it's undeniably the reality, for the time being anyway.

Steve Smith,
The house I grew up in--built in 1966, and we were the first owners--had a wooden overhead door, and we opened it by hand, but most house features here become standardized because we're always selling our houses on--Americans typically move house many times in a lifetime. A house without an automatic garage door would be considered deficient in that respect by most home purchasers. In fact, I went by the house I grew up in a few years ago, and the present owner happened to be arriving home, and it now has an automatic garage door opener too. They're not super-luxury items--it's just a little electric motor with a long bicycle chain on it that cranks the door up. They cost a few hundred dollars. More wasteful of electricity than anything, I suppose.

Geoff Wittig,
I think your entire family should get into the habit of BACKING into the garage when you put the car away! You all wouldn't run into the door so often if it were in front of you rather than behind.


P.S. For some reason I find that picture on Wikipedia of the racing Reliant Robins hilarious.

Lucky me. Don't have a garage, which apparently saves me a lot of money :)

"Robins are raced, as shown in the photograph on the right. During races several cars usually overturn. The driver can return the car onto its wheels unaided from inside the car by rocking it and pushing down on the track through the window."

Now that sounds like fun, I guess that makes them safer than SUVs.


For the life of me, WTTW has me stumped. I'm sure this will be a "duh" moment.

P.S. Nothing but sympathy, empathy for the $790.80 bill; I seem to be having a year of reverse "Midas" myself, so I understand.

Live in a Victorian terraced house here in Norwich UK each house being about the width of a car. Street not wide enough to park on both sides so cars are half on the pavements too. Not only don't have a garage but often not room to park on my own street.Yeah pretty crowded in the uk. Prefer to cycle when not around the county visiting schools. Garage, sigh

"For the life of me, WTTW has me stumped."

Sorry! "Word to the wise."


No day that ends with some Chet Baker can ever be a write off.
Last night we had some couch time with Concierto by Jim Hall. As you probably know it has Hall, Chet Baker and Paul Desmond making magic and throws in a lovely Pete Turner picture on the album cover to sweenen the deal.
I'm so old I bought the record when it first came out and it still leaves me happy.

Garage door openers mean you don't have to stand in the rain (and get the inside of the door and maybe the seat rained on, depending on the wind). They also mean you don't have to leave your car sitting in the driveway running, worrying whether it'll drop into gear and run you down (apparently instances of this still happen). Finally, not having to ever get out of the car with the motor running means you can have a much simpler set of habit for key handling, making it less likely you'll find yourself with your keys locked into the car, sitting outside your garage, running.

Garages in general mean you don't have to stand in the rain, and you don't have to scrape frost off your car windows in the morning, and you don't have to brush snow off your car in the morning.

Attached garages, the most common in the USA, mean your grocery bags don't get rained on and fall apart on the sidewalk, and that you don't get nearly as cold between the house and the car (or vice versa) when it's -35C.

If you live in Southern California, or Italy, they're not nearly as important.

Mike Plews,
Just bought "Concierto" on your recommendation. Thanks!


DD-B makes an excellent point. I once lived in an apartment building in Chicago where I had to park in a row of cars out in the alley. I would allocate an extra 20-30 minutes every morning after a snow to dig the car out, as many other people were doing the same (with really nowhere for all the snow to go).

On one memorable morning, I worked assiduously to free the car, finally succeeded, and was preparing to get in and go--when the snowplow came through the alley, heaping a giant mound of snow directly in back of the car. Back inside to get the snow shovel. I was late to work.

Garages are VERY nice in snowy climates. We still shovel our driveway by hand, but it's short.


Paul, I knew a guy who worked for a company here in the UK that built houses with too small garages. They had made the garages to the minimum dimensions allowed, but as they knew, in the many years since that specification had been drawn up cars had got lower and wider. It was possible to drive in, but not get out of the car unless you had a sunroof.

Anyway, garages are for motorcycles, not cars.

Geoff W.

Perhaps you should settle for a carport.

I just posted several real-life anecdotes about people with "less than optimal powers of observation"... one of them:

We had to have the garage door repaired. The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a large enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, 'Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.' I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, 'NO, it's not. Four is larger than two.'

Mike-It's a good thing that you got your garage door repaired before the first snows of the Wisconsin winter. Otherwise, I'm sure you could expect this
to happen! =D

Yeah, well, I once bought a house where the driveway was too narrow to get a (new to me) car INTO the garage.

I guess the fact that the previous owners had built a fence across said driveway should have been a clue about the usability of said driveway.

The garage itself stayed empty the whole time we lived there.

(Don't have a garage now.)

They also mean you don't have to leave your car sitting in the driveway running, worrying whether it'll drop into gear and run you down.

Get a car with a manual gearbox!

Garages in general mean you don't have to stand in the rain, and you don't have to scrape frost off your car windows in the morning, and you don't have to brush snow off your car in the morning.

No one I know with a garage actually wastes that space by actually putting a car in it!

Hi Mike:

I am a little late to this post, but given where you live, you might relate to my experience with a garage door. I had just made an extravagant purchase: $350 carbon cross country ski poles. They were leaning upright near the garage door. I pressed the button to open the door and as the door rose it caught the strap of a pole. The pole remained upright long enough to poke into the ceiling of the garage. I then witnessed a contest between the opener motor and the pole. The motor strained, the pole bent and then burst into a cloud of carbon fiber dust. There have been other incidents, but I am unwilling to post them on a public forum.


OT sorta. I just netflixed a little indy called "The Band's Visit".
It is a lovely movie about some Egyptian policemen marooned in Israel. The movie has a running Chet Baker gag in it.
Go figure.
Four stars.

Have you ever seen "Too Beautiful for You"? There's a running Franz Schubert gag. Funny.


No but I will put it on my list at Netflix

You reminded me of the day I was opening my garage, and the door folded in half. Diagonally. That was about $790.80, too.

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