October 22, 2003
San Francisco Smog Check - The Smog Queen

The Smog Shop at 220 Fell Street used to be our household's provider of a cheap-and-fast Smog Check. No longer. I gave them a call yesterday and they wanted a shocking figure to perform the bi-annual auto ritual. I was floored! They wanted around ninety bucks and they were awfully rude on the phone. Bye-bye Smog Shop.

I called about a dozen places listed in the Yellow Pages, and found similar prices all around town. It clicked. The days of the $36 check are gone. San Francisco County now is part of the new inspection regime. New machines. Dynamometers. Large capital expense for test gear. And, of course, the cost is all passed on. (Why people are up in arms about the Vehicle Licence Fee, when the typical inspection now costs nearly as much is a mystery.)

I hit upon some cheaper places and was encouraged to keep dialing around. First $85, then $75, then $86, then $66. Bingo! The Smog Queen it is.

(Yeah, you can get roughly the same price at an Arco, but do you really want to hang out and wait in the Smog line at 14th and Mission?)

The Smog Queen is at 160 10th Street, between Harrison and Mission, roughly. It's on the right. 415 252 0733. The Queen is run by a very friendly couple. They take appointments. They're fast. It's cheap. And they only do Smog Checks so there is no incentive to blow your test and then charge you to "fix" the problem. They also do "Enhanced Bar 97 Testing" and "Gross Polluter Certification", neither of which sounds like a good thing.

Just one machine in a comically overcrowded garage.

I still don't get how the "Certificate" is still $8.25. It's 30 seconds worth of modem time to the DMV and a pair of laser printed pages.

The Jeep passed, once again. It even beat the average ratings for vehicles that passed the test. How an 10 year old Jeep with nearly 150k on it beats the average, I'll never know. I thought SUVs were supposed to be evil belching death machines.

The Smog Queen: Recommended

Posted by jk at 03:05 PM
October 18, 2003
Locksmithing Supplies

Need a complete re-pinning kit, today?
Need an obscure lock part, today?
You know, something like a Schlage 6-pin E keyway plug, for a Yale mortise-set screw-type conversion cylinder? Yeah, A-type plug with the lever cam flange that they've been making since 1923? Yeah. That's the one. No, I don't need the cam.

You get the picture.

Cripes. What you need to go through to keep a 1928 lockset running.

Anyway, give the folks at R&H Wholesale Supply a call. 415 970 5000, or drop by the Will-Call counter at 81 Dorman Ave, Unit A That's on the Bayshore Blvd end of Dorman. They have EVERYTHING. Even parts that Schlage says haven't been made for decades. And nice pre-struck OEM blanks, not Ilco knock-offs.


These guys service the trade, but they'll put up with you if you are nice. Just don't ask them to re-pin locks, cut keys, or anything vaguely retail. Prices seem to be roughly equivalent with Internet mail-order. Instant lock geek satisfaction.

R&H Wholesale Supply: Recommended.

Posted by jk at 08:00 PM
October 16, 2003
SFO Aircraft Radar App

Fly Quiet!

You can't quite be your own armchair air traffic controller for SFO, but still, it's a slick applet. This is very high on the wow factor if you've ever listened to channel 9 on a United flight. The map is very well done to boot.

The ten minute delay is well into the kill-joy column.

Posted by jk at 11:30 AM