Last updated: 14 April 2002

At some point we all have (or will) do something really dumb. Sometimes the consequences are minor and sometimes they are major. But we can learn from those mistakes and hopefully won't repeat them. This area is to share the dumb mistakes with others so that we can learn from the mistakes. If you have a horror story to share, write me at

Subject:	Can you stand this story???
Sent:	Sunday, April 14, 2002 4:46:53
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Okay - we've heard it all, right?
Got a call late last night from a guy driving in from Oklahoma City next
week....needs some help with his NEW 8" LX 200 GPS.

Just got it in and decided that the optics were NOT clean enough, being
new and all.

He was crying into the phone....voice trembling....the guy needed help.

He followed my instruction on the 'net completely.  First you blow off
all the particles of debris (he admitted there WERE NOT any, but did
this anyway....) from the corrector plate prior to cleaning.  He mixed
up the proper solution of isopropyl alcohol 1/4 to 3/4 distilled water
and added a small amount of Ivory liquid to the solution in the proper
amount.  All is good and the sun is shining bright!

Even went to the store make SURE he had distilled way and ONLY Ivory
liquid as prescribed by Doc Clay....

Smart man, really smart man. (but remember, this is in Oklahoma!)

But, he does not find "compressed air in a can."  Nor does the gentleman
pursue the fine arts so an artist's paint brush is not a common item
around the house.

So....he remembers that he has this nice rubber ear syringe in the
bathroom....never used on narry an ear in the house!  One good shove on
that rascal and it will blow the crap all the way to Arkansas!  Little
did he know!

So off comes the dust cap, exposing the virgin glass to the elements of
Oklahoma for the first time....lights from the hanging bulbs (poetic
license here....) reflect near perfect images unimpaired by the elements
of mankind upon this pristine surface....

....and he proceeds to BLOW!

Out comes the viscous glob of spewing yellow its purest
form, the saving grace of mankind's winter months, the chemical we know
and love as ETHYLENE GLYCOL, our automobile knows as "anti freeze."

Little droplets like a sneeze from Tuberculosis Tommy, spread in a
pattern across the coated corrector plate that only God could know and

And then he "remembered."  No, this had NOT been used on anyone's
ears...ever.  It had, however, been used several times last year when he
overfilled his car's radiator getting it winterized for the season.

Oh my God!  What should he do??  Well, Hell!  Wipe the damned stuff
OFF....of COURSE!  So he runs out to his shop to get - what else, when
you get anti-freeze all over something> - SHOP RAGS!  Of COURSE!

So he rubs it down really hard to get all the gooey yellow stuff off -
except that which has already seeped down inside the corrector retaining

His story continued, his sobs getting deeper although over the phone I
could tell this was an Okie with pride, his best attempts made to cover
his sobs....

Oh NO....he knew that wasn't the thing to do....there were huge gaps
starting to show up in the UHTC coatings that he had just paid $300 for!
 So he quickly rushed back to the shop for just what YOU and I would get
at this point!


Drop and roll, baby!

He quickly disconnected the OTA from the fork arms and jerked the scope
tube assembly off and rushed it to the bathroom where the tub had been
started, hot water rapidly filling the Baptism cavity at that point.

And down it went....once, twice, many times thereafter, the healing hot
waters scalding and penetrating, permeating the work of art that had
just been shipped out of the manufacturer....the first to go was the
Inspection Sticker, floating away in the tub as if to surrender early in
this fight.

But THEN, he did the right thing!  He rinsed with distilled water, just
as Doc Clay prescribes!  Got to do that final rinse!!

A careful one hour session with the hair dryer finished off the
story....and the telescope.

"It all seems to be okay, but I just know it's not perfect anymore," he
cried, periodically removing the mouthpiece of the phone away so that
ears could not detect his weaker side.

In front of him, he admitted, was only a part of a telescope....the
coatings here in some places, gone in others....the finder was full of
water, dripping out the eyepiece end.  Droplets still oozed from the
small seal behind the focus knob.....

"I just can't bring myself to using this - you know, NEW and all, -
until I bring it by for you to look at and tell me it's O.K.!" he

OKAY??!!?  What?  First you squirt anti-freeze on the poor devil, then
rub it down real good with a shop towel, then dunk it in a tub of
boiling water and try to kill it off with a blow dryer??

And YOU want ME to fix it??

And the moral of the's on its way to Doc Clay Monday.

[true story!]

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Stay tuned for part 2...

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