Gnoob Won’t Blog

We’ve been in something of a tizzy over on the String this last week as Gnoob has been regaling us with the tale of his trip to Phoenix . . . in a Sprinter Van . . . in a blizzard . . . with no headlights. I know what you are saying — sounds like a great story, what’s the issue?  Well you’re right, even though it didn’t involve Gnoob abducting a hooker, it is a riveting story.  The problem is that it is a looonnnnggg story and it took Gnoob the entire week to get the story out.  In other words, its a story made for the MWAG Blog. We tried to get him to move the sordid tale over here, but to no avail.  He said that the text string was his “medium” or some bullshit.  I really think he is just intimidated by having to prepare a proper blog post.  He is Gnoob for a reason:


Given that this is the second best String Sprinter Van story (the other one’s top secret, but Karen can verify) and since, much to our initial disappointment, it doesn’t involve Gnoob abducting a hooker or doing anything more than Gnoob being Gnoob, I have decided to share it with you since Gnoob is being a bitch and won’t do it himself.  So, without further ado, here’s the story of Gnoob’s recent trip to Phoenix.

It’s a boring Monday afternoon in January and the String is pretty quiet.  Not dead like Mongo likes to suggest when the rest of the String is not quick enough to respond to his witty repartee, but it’s Monday afternoon so it has the typical stuff — IJ is thirsty, Pipes is complaining about the rules of the Angry Dead Pool and Mongo is busting Angry’s balls about going to a second tier Jesuit college.  You know, pretty standard fare.  Then it gets interesting.  Gnoob pops in with a Hunter S. Thompson quote (all grammatical and spelling errors are Gnoob’s from the original).  [Gnoob’s comments are in bold, random string comments are in italics and the commentary from yours truly is in regular text.]

“What a long, strange trip it’s been……..”

And follows it up with even more of an attention grabber:

“I find myself at the Phoenix airport. Wasn’t supposed to be here. How I got here? That’s gonna take a while. I’ll try to keep it brief.”

“So…..we got some new customers in SoCal. They are interested in our Onsite services (that’s the one in which we drive our work van directly to the customer and repair their instrument on site). Our current truck is booked solid so I need to get another truck and another tech to SoCal.”

“A new truck takes 60-80 days to build and outfit completely but they don’t want to wait that long. We have an older truck that we use in emergencies – like when a local truck breaks down or when we need to fill extra days. This one hasn’t been used in a while but it’s still got low miles (for a truck) and it’s still in pretty good shape.”

I smell a road trip.

Grease the bearings

At this point, across the Chicago area and wherever Mongo currently finds himself, String members start paying attention to the String because obviously something special has happened/is about to happen.  And, more importantly, Gnoob has set himself for some grade-A String ball busting.

”The plan is to completely re-do the inside, have the mechanic go over it and make sure everything is in tip-top shape and send it, via flatbed, to LA.”

“So we get the inside all retooled and take it to the mechanic. I find out what needs to be done, ask how long, tack on a week for anything that could go wrong and book transport.”

Gnoob, you gotta cut this down. The blog is on the website.

Make a long story longer.

Say it in three sentences. And swear.

Or take it to the internet.

“This is my medium. Deal with it cuz I’m gonna keep goin”

“With a brief pause for boarding.”

Yeah, you read that right, Gnoob was trying to tell his story while literally boarding a flight from Phoenix back to Chicago.  WCGW?  Well, a 27 minute pause is what could go wrong.  But he did manage to find his seat and still had connectivity prior to take off.

“We have the mechanic literally do everything that is even remotely questionable. We give ourselves the cushion and book onsite days for this week. Obviously he misses the due date twice and can’t guarantee that they can get it there in time. Fine. I book a guy that will drive the truck itself to LA. Great. All set.”

“The mechanic misses that due day as well and the guy can’t do it any later. He finally finishes on Friday, which is when my adventure begins”

So you haven’t started your actual story yet?

Sweet mother of pearl

Technically, I’ve started it already

Seems more like a prologue.

I’m leaving – add me back when this is done. Gnoob, don’t pay the guy who fixed the truck

“I figure, fuck it. I can get it out there. The customer needs to be taken care of.”

Did you buy WiFi for the flight, Gnoob?

“So, as you know, there is a giant snowstorm across the entire US on Friday with no easy way around it. North route would still get a ton of snow and I’d have to deal with the Rockies. South route goes right through St. Louis”

“Got GoGo Grampy. Settle in”

“So I hope that they overhyped the storm and head toward St. Louis figuring, if I get stuck, I’ll still be 4.5 hours closer to my destination. So about 30 minutes from St. Louis the road essentially disappears. Cars start sliding off the road and I figure it’s time to find a hotel. Manage to get to lovely Holiday Inn Express. As luck would have it, there is a Cracker Barrel in the same parking lot as the hotel.”



“Looks way better than it tasted and I don’t think it looked that good”

Fookin meatloaf!!!

Quick question.  I recognize meatloaf, carrots and slaw on that plate, but what is in the other bowl?  That’s not mashed potatoes right?  Looks like some kind of dumpling or something.  I’m amazed that this isn’t a food poisoning story.

“They assured me it was excellent. It was their special. I’m a sucker for good meatloaf but this wasn’t it. There were green peppers in it”

Boarding. You get a reprieve. Mongo, go for it.

At this point, the String has gotten a little impatient with the pace of Gnoob’s story and Mongo has begun to give an alternative version, which, as you would expect from Mongo, is a little more colorful. 39 minutes later, however, Gnoob has connected to the onboard wifi.

So I settle in at the Holiday Inn and keep an eye on the weather. Turns out that if I were “lucky” enough to get get a bit farther, I would have been stuck in an 11 hour, 22 mile standstill on route 44 (nice the way these numbers worked out). So they finally clear the backup around 11:00. I need to get to OKC to keep my hopes of a Monday delivery alive. It snowed most of the way but the real issue was the wind. 10 hours of unbelievable, unrelenting crosswinds throwing my box truck all over the road. Most nerve wracking drive I’ve ever made.

Hold please. About to take off.

Sure Gnoob, we got nothin better to do.

Let me say here that I think that Missouri is underrated. I saw a town named Boubon, signs for the Vacuum Museum, the World’s Largest Gift Shop and THE Uranus Fudge Factory. And that’s just on Route 44.

Don’t you love the asides?  Gnoob, focus!

So I finally get into OK and I miss the 40/44 split. I don’t think I missed a sign saying it was coming up, but as I was passing some trucks the split was on the right. So I went to the next exit and got off. Only this exit didn’t have a way to get back on. So I Wazed directions to get back on and it sent me down this dark, winding 25mph back road in the middle of nowhere. So – thinking I needed change to get back on the toll road – I went to push the button to turn on the interior light to locate the change when, simultaneously, the button I pushed just kept going and my headlights went out. Middle of nowhere, pitch black and no headlights.

Up in the distance I see some lights [SeaDick here again, just pointing out that Gnoob could have made an epic Eagles reference here, tweaking Angry, our resident Eagles hater, but whiffed mightily.  Carry on.] so I keep driving in the dark. I pulled off under the light to assess the situation. There is a hole where the button used to be and I can’t reach up behind the dashboard. I found a flashlight and located a hex screw holding in the bottom of the dashboard but I have no hex sockets. I managed to get it out after about 5 minutes with a needle nose pliers and was able to pull the dash out just far enough to reach in. Hard to explain, but there is a square circuit board that fits into a square receptacle but the tabs were no longer holding it in place firmly enough. When I press them together the lights go on. When I let go they go off.

How do you go to Oklahoma without hex sockets. Might be illegal.

So while I’m effing with it two cops pull up and I explain the situation. One of the guys presses them together and the lights go on. He says “looks fine – you should be good to go”. So I tap on it (to simulate actually driving) and it goes out again. Eventually got it to stay on and the other one says there is a hotel a couple miles up the road – “good luck”. So on the way to the hotel I see a WalMart. I walked in and bought everything I might need to McIver it. [McIver?  Nevermind, he’s on a roll.] Drill, drill bits, electrical tape, different screws, zip ties and some other stuff. After a couple of minutes I came up with this: (I don’t know if I can send pictures from the plane)

Did the pic come through?

In true Gnoobian fashion, Gnoob has decided to try to send pictures from 35,000 feet.  How do you think that worked out?

My bad

So I finally got to OKC at about 11 and as I was checking in some guy was explaining to a woman “I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but it was like God (gob) completely wrapped his arms around me an enveloped my being in his”. I gave it a nice IJ “A-hem” and went to bed.

I know you guys are riveted but I’m gonna finish tomorrow cuz I want to include some pics


Gnoob, this is exactly what the Blog is for. Long form, pictures, no interminable waits.

I’ll get it all in one entry tomorrow

What the hex?

Gnoob, this was awful. You need to learn how to tell a story. Tony, blog about the basic elements of a good guy story please. I thought this would have been fundamental – like the difference between jail and prison.

I should blog about the difference between jail and prison. I may need to write that book.

I’m not crafting a story, just telling you about my last couple days

I thought Gnoob was leading up to this

That’s not part of my story either

You said its not a story?

All of life is a story. How you tell it matters.

Tweet that

An hour and 15 minutes later we finally get the picture that Gnoob tried to send while airborne.


Impressive, this story is pretty interesting, can’t wait to see how it ends . . . but no, Gnoob has gotten distracted by a woman in the row in front of him with her shoes off and has completely forgotten about his story.  As is often the case, the String then devolved into random discussions about other things like IJ’s fear (he will say hatred) of cats, the ADP and its rules or lack thereof, which rock and roll bands have the most distinctive sound, what a dangling participle is and whether a random golf travel bag looked like Gramps’ — you know, important stuff.

Time passed.

When do we get more of Gnoob’s opus?

How a story that involves flex ties, rope and electrical tape doesn’t involve a restrained hooker I’ll never know. It doesn’t add up.

More time passed.

Love the story…only Gnoob can tell it…hate the delivery method and timing.

When does season 2 of “Gnoob abducts a hooker” come out?

Season 1 was not critically acclaimed, but it had solid ratings.

Even more time passed.

As the Gnoob Turns was cancelled? Gnoob? You gots to finish your tale of two cities

Gnoob, POL.

Finally 3 days, 1 hour and 8 minutes later, Gnoob reemerges.

I am alive. I’ve been busy.

I will conclude my stor….er….series of unfortunate events on the road trip from hell shortly

This should hold you over til tomorrow. Somewhere in Missouri:


Lots to unpack in that pic

Of course we have to wait for him to unpack it.  Some 14 hours later, Gnoob continues with his story, but in more typical Gnoobian fashion he never unpacks the picture.

I’ll wrap this up. So, it’s Sunday morning and I want to get as much driving in as possible during daylight. So by 7:10 (civil twilight) I’m on the road.

Archivist: is the first use of “civil twilight” in String history?

Heading across Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle I encounter a couple of hours of additional high winds followed by a brief period of relative calm followed by a couple of hours of fog. As Texas gives way to New Mexico, fog gives way to snow. It snowed almost the entire way across NM with the exception of rain in Albuquerque. Descending into Albuquerque on slick, curvy roads was a treat.


The snow tapered off throughout the western half of NM and allowed for some spectacular views of bluffs and mesas at sunset.


I pushed on into Arizona and figured I should be able to make it the additional 4 hours to Phoenix – making for a 16-or-so hour drive that day. I stopped in Holbrook for gas and asked the guy at the station if I were a wise idea to take the Waze-recommended cut down through Payson on the 2-laner.

I pushed on into Arizona and figured I should be able to make it the additional 4 hours to Phoenix – making for a 16-or-so hour drive that day. I stopped in Holbrook for gas and asked the guy at the station if I were a wise idea to take the Waze-recommended cut down through Payson on the 2-laner.

So I’m looking for an exit so I can make sure that my MacGyvered headlights are not failing but, of course, that doesn’t come for about 20 miles in the form of a rest area with lights flickering/dimming the whole way. I came to a stop and checked my zip ties but everything seems good and tight. It was then that I noticed something that didn’t sound right – a kind of grinding noise. Between the noise and the flickering I knew exactly what was happening – a failing alternator. Great!

I figure I don’t really want to stay at a rest stop all night so I head down the road, searching for the next town and hoping the alternator doesn’t go out completely. About 15 miles down the road I see a neon “motel” light up ahead and pull off. The truck sounds horrible but I made it. I check in and make it to my room, instantly regretting leaving the rest area.

The carpet looks like someone had been stabbed to death and dragged out the night before and the bed looks like a bag stuffed with rags and set on top of a plywood frame but I figure, fuck it – I’m tired and going to bed.

It wasn’t til morning that I realized that the sheets had someone else’s blood on them, that there were toenail clippings on the “night stand” and long black hairs stuck to the walls of the shower.

Premiere blog material

Gnoobs never disappoints …patience is a virtue

Look at that last pic closely

“Someone else’s blood”

I showered and dressed and started calling the several auto repair places in town. “Town” is about three miles away from the motel and I make my way to the one that said they could look at it right away. Miraculously, they are able to replace the alternator in about an hour and a half – getting me out the door by around 9:00. Excellent! As he pulls the truck out of the bay he asks “was this ‘check engine’ light on before you got here?” It wasn’t, but he hooked up the diagnostic tool and said it read a “random misfire”. It was running fine and he assured me it would be fine – “maybe just have your plugs changed when you get to your destination.”

It was worse without the pictures.

So I pull out of the lot and the first transmission shift seems just a little bit off – maybe I’m imagining it. About 100 yards up the road is an entrance to the highway. I jump on and find it’s a pretty steep uphill climb out of town. The truck seems sluggish and won’t downshift. It takes forever at about 35mph to crest the hill but I pick up speed and look for the next exit to turn around and get back to the shop. The next exit comes 60 miles later and there is no way I’m turning around. So I pull into a gas station to fill up and figure my next move and the truck dies out. I start it again and it dies again. I Google the nearest auto repair place and find a Firestone about a quarter mile away. I get there and tell the guy my story. He hooks it up and say “I’ve seen this before. It’s the throttle/pedal sensor. All I have to do is erase the code and you should be good to go”.

He erased the code and it immediately began to idle better. He said it should now have more power and shift properly. He was right. Everything seemed fine. I jumped back on the highway and, instead of avoiding the Phoenix metro area, I’ll continue on 17 and take the 101 just to make sure I’m close to civilization in case anything happens. After about 30 minutes of uneventful driving I call my tech in LA to tell him it looks like everything’s been taken care of and I’ll be in LA in about 6 hours. AS I’M ONTHE PHONE WITH HIM the truck starts upshifting and downshifting randomly.

I pulled off found another Firestone, where they told me there was nothing they could do, and sent me to a Chevy dealer about 2 miles away. There they hooked it up and told me it wasn’t showing any errors and that if I wanted them to dive into it further I’d have to leave it til tomorrow.

So I called an Uber, headed to the airport and bought a ticket home.

This is like a commercial for Firestone

I forgot what was in the truck

Mobile repair truck for onsite work for this tech

They replaced the sensor the next day and a friend’s son drove it the rest of the way. We were able to work on Wednesday morning.

The end.

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