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Archive for July, 2009

Fixing a Refrigerator with a Mass-air-flow Sensor and a Serpentine Belt

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 18, 2009

There was a lavender festival in my neighborhood last weekend. I didn’t go, but there was fresh lavender, and other products for sale across the street from me near the coffee shop.  I decided my house needed a little boost of sight and smell, so I bought a bunch of the fresh lavender.  Oddly, wildflower plants like that, when placed in water, need to have the water changed every day, as they foul it quickly.  I didn’t  know that.  It’s true.  That bunch of lavender sucked up every drop of water at first, then the second day the water was rank.  It does need to be changed every day.  lavender2 So, who cares, right?  It’s just one of those things I might have mentioned to my ex-wife, and she would have ridiculed me for saying it.  “That’s really interesting,” she’d sneer at me.  She was a hard woman to talk to.  She loved to spread gossip, talk about other’ people’s lives, her sister and bother-in-law, her mother and her mother’s depression, or her other sisters, or her friends.  That was all she cared to talk about.   This worked well for her on the phone, because she could call one person, pump them for information under the guise of curiosity and friendliness, hang up the phone and talk about the conversation she’d just had with the next person who answered the phone.  She hated it when no one she called was home, especially if she had something she wanted to tell everyone.  I was always amazed at her ability to have the same conversation over and over.  She didn’t particularly like to talk with me, because I had little interest in the personal lives of other people, so  I had little to say. I tried, for a long time, to listen attentively, but not only had I usually heard much of the stories while she talked on the phone, but she had the habit of repeating the same stories over and over, not remembering who she had talked to.  This had the effect of making me zone out.  She wasn’t saying anything new, or interesting, so my mind would drift off, particularly since she always had the TV blaring.  It was very distracting.

I have no idea why I’m rambling on about this.  Just chain of thought.  So many things to think about lately. kenmore I finally got around to fixing the refrigerator today. I had put a call in to the Sears repair people, because I had no idea what was wrong, or how serious it was.  The old thing cools really well, and keeps the freezer compartment frozen, so I had no complaints there.  However, the freezing cold water dripping onto the top shelf and turning to ice bothered me. I had a large plastic container under the drip, as it dripped at really odd times, sometimes all  at once.  Long story short, it’s $70 just to get a Sears repairman out, and then parts and labor.  It seemed cheaper than a new one.  I gave them my credit card info over the phone, but later on, a repair guy called, asked me about the problem, and told me how to fix it.  Since it involved turning the refrigerator off and “defrosting” the frost-free thing, I had put it off. I needed some ice coolers and ice for my food, and I couldn’t carry all that on the motorcycle.  I have a car, reflection1 but it needed work.  First, the  “mass airflow sensor” died.  Having no idea what or where it was, I asked the dealer about it – would cost a lot for the sensor, then labor, and I would need some other engine work done.  For $800 plus bucks, I didn’t trust ’em.  I took it to a local mechanic who quickly diagnosed the same problem, but said he could probably clean the sensor and I wouldn’t need to buy a new one.  Cool.  $257.70 I could save. however, he said the engine had not been running correctly with the air flow off balance, so I’d need a tune-up.  It was about time for one, so I told him to go ahead.  Still, even though he did a great  job, even replacing the crappy battery terminals, the fouled spark plugs, wires, and valve cover gaskets, I still ended up spending $827.70.  So, I felt it was money well spent, if I could then depend on the car, in case I needed it.  Of course, when next I did need it, the serpentine belt broke, completely shredding all over the engine. serpentine belt It was beginning to look like I’d never get those ice chests and ice so I could empty out the freezer.

Naturally, on my way to get a new belt, I laid the bike down when the front wheel spun sideways on some loose gravel in a turn bay.  Scraped the fuck out of my hands, my shoulder, 070709 (8) and cut my face too. 070809 (1) I totally freaked out the employees and customers at the dealership; walked in with blood running down my face, and all over my hands.  Got the belt however!   It was hard to work on with my hands bandaged. It took me a while to figure out how to replace it, even with a diagram of the path it had to travel, but I got it on last weekend, and everything worked.  So, finally I got the ice chests and ice today, so I could empty out the refrigerator.  Took three hours from the time I left for the ice and ice chests, took out all the food, and effected the fix I’d been instructed in by the repairman.  It all centered around a drain hole for the defrosted ice water that would ice over and prevent draining.  Since it couldn’t drain normally, the icy water would overflow into the refrigerator compartment.   Twisting a copper wire around the heating element and sticking it into the drain hole was the cure.  So far, it’s working.  I’m not certain I did it correctly, because the “obvious” place to wrap the wire around wasn’t so obvious to me, but I did get the entire refrigerator and freezer cleaned up.  Oddly enough, while it ran a long time to get back down to the cold temperatures, it then stopped cooling, long before it usually does.  It used to be near freezing in the back of the refrigerator compartment, but now I’ve had to raise the temperature setting I’ve been using all along. It’s more efficient now.  I’m hoping this fixes the thing for good – it often seemed to me to run far too long at a stretch, often long into the night.  Of course, it would have been way cheaper, easier, and less painful to buy a new refrigerator. 😦

So, tired, but satisfied, I popped in a movie: Waltz With Bashir, waltz w bashir an animated film by an Israeli filmmaker who fought in the war in Lebanon in the early 1980s.  He had forgotten most of what he did, and travels around in the movie visiting old comrades from the war to see what they remembered.   What little they did remember centered around atrocities, young men shooting blindly in every direction out of fear, massacres, and other horrors.  This is an army oddly similar to the US army, in terms of weapons, training and sheer chutzpah.  I was tempted to think that Israel has no idea what modern warfare is about, and has no misgivings about killing innocent people for no real purpose.  Of course, I found that they weren’t really all that different from the US.  Our military has done, and is doing, some really horrific things in the name of freedom, democracy, and protection of the “homeland”.  I think the US and Israel are evidence of the new way war is fought, without clear strategy or objectives, just fighting and killing with huge tanks, powerful weapons, and clueless soldiers,  in hopes it will all come out right if we spend enough money, shoot enough bullets, and drop enough bombs.   Looks like something is being done, but all that happens is war continues, with the certainty that even if a conflict ends, another will start.  We’ve entered the period of endless, mindless war that was adroitly predicted in the novel 1984.  Always war somewhere; we’re always winning, but the enemy fights on, and we need to support war or we’re unpatriotic.  It just goes on and on.  There is no longer an end.  Even if the combat  troops leave Iraq, we’re leaving behind bases filled with troops, a clear provocation.  In Afghanistan, we don’t even have a winnable objective, no way of defeating the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, or other terrorists.  Bombs, tanks, and bullets just aren’t accomplishing anything except more deaths of our soldiers and local non-combatants, and a terrorist every now and again, and we’ve no plans to try anything else.  The more we fight, the stronger the Taliban and al-Qa’ida get.  It is mindless destruction, with unprecedented levels of non-combatant deaths, but all we ever care about are “our troops’ – support our troops, support our troops, support our troops, and don’t question any of this, because then you won’t be supporting our troops.  I’m sure there were good Germans under Hitler, good Japanese under the emperor, good Iraqis under Saddam Hussein who “supported our troops” too.   People never seem to notice that, and it no longer seems to matter.  No one really cares.  As long as innocent people are dying somewhere else, it’s not really our problem, because God is on our side.  Of course, God is also on the terrorist’s side, on the dictator’s side, on everyone’s side in every war, but still people die; still people lose.

Rambling again tonight.  No real purpose here.  Just a lack of purpose.  All seems pointless now.  War is pointless.  Patriotism is misdirected.  God is equated with war, guns and victory over all.  I honestly don’t know what to believe in anymore, or what to care about, and that is reflected in my personal life.  No desire for companionship, love, or sex.  Just day-to-day mechanical living.  Why?

I started another blog alongside this one back in 2007 that was about ennui and war and all that.  This blog was personal at first, but now it all seems to run together in my head; can’t keep any of it separate, and nothing seems more or less important than anything else.

Posted in depression, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, war | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Do I Ever Leave My House?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 7, 2009

What is it with me and pain?  How is it I seem to mess myself up so often?  I went hiking Saturday the 4th of July. It was fun. 070409 (52) We took off-the-map trails, found four geocaches. 070409 (13) Along the way the trail was about a 60 degree angle, down and up again. Going down I managed to slip on some loose rock and spun all the way around before I caught myself.  Ripped my middle finger open a little, bled on my backpack and shirt. No big deal. The hike was worse going back up; had to stop often to catch my breath, as we gained a bit of elevation as well as the distance climbing.  Made it.  Then, on the way back, it hailed!  In July!  Pea-sized bits on our faces and arms. Stopped under some trees by the last geocache and put on our rain gear, as it was pouring too.  Stayed where we were for a while, as lighting and thunder were arriving simultaneously.  We didn’t want to get into an open area where we were the tallest things around.  Finally headed on up to the top of the mountain where there was a porch around a gift shop that people drive to.  We had coffee and brownies, courtesy of one older hiker.  Not a bad day all in all.  I was sore in my upper legs later, and then sore on Sunday still, and then sore on Monday.  It didn’t hurt to walk upstairs, but downstairs was difficult.  I was not used to scrambling down such steep trails with loose footing.  Different muscles used, and they complained until today.  Today, the pain and stiffness was gone.  The cut on my finger was healing nicely.

I had to stop by the auto dealer on my way home. Friday had been a holiday from work, so I had driven my car for once, looking for a new desk chair, and a few other things that don’t fit on the motorcycle.  The ’96 Mercury Cougar is a good car, but I’d recently had to spend over $800 getting the mass air flow sensor fixed, and having the engine tuned up with new plugs and valve covers, filters, new battery terminals, etc.  It was running smooth and quiet.  All of a sudden, on my way home, it had made a funny noise, and the steering crapped out.  It’s power steering, but I could still move the wheel just enough to turn.  Found out the belt had disintegrated.  It was broken and shredded all over the engine.  A lot of coolant had boiled out too.  serpentine The belt is a serpentine one, snaking around various pulleys that operate the power steering, the air conditioning, the generator, as well the water pump.  Well, that was where I was going after work today, to the dealer for a good, reliable serpentine belt.

They had moved far up the interstate, and I had to fight traffic going north.  I got off near where they said the new place was, but didn’t see it.  It was supposed to be on the frontage road, and I hadn’t passed it yet, so I went down the side road a bit to turn around.  Pulled into a turn bay, but hit gravel.  The bike went down fast.  Picked it right up, although someone had stopped to help.  He even offered to put my bike in the back of his pickup, and take me to a hospital, but I thanked him and told him I was OK.  He had seen the bike spin out from under me.  The bike is OK, a little scratched up, especially my brand new windshield.  Crap.  Anyway, I got back on the frontage road and went through the intersection this time, and found the dealer about two blocks away around a curve.  Parts guy took my order for the belt, but he didn’t have a cash register in his work area, so he sent me out to the garage.  I told him about the accident.  He said he’d get me some gauze too and meet me up there.  The lady at the register gave me some wipes to clean myself up a bit, baby wipes of all things.  I didn’t know how my face looked, but I had seen and felt blood running down near my left eye, and my sunglasses were full of blood too.  I paid for the Ford Motorcraft belt, $52.81 and they gave me some bandages.  I went into their men’s room to clean up. 070709 (1) Nice gashes near my eye, and the eye was already swollen and dark.  Probably have a black eye tomorrow.  Scrapes on my left knuckles, my right thumb is torn up, both palms are scraped and full of gravel bits.  My left knee hurt, as well as my left shoulder, where my new heavy-duty cotton shirt was torn open.  I bandaged what I needed to in order to grip the handlebars and clutch and brakes, and headed home.  When I got there, I found a 1 3/4 inch diameter scrape on my shoulder, almost round, looks like the skin had been taken off with a belt sander, and still weeping. Oddly, it is not bleeding much except around the edge, and it doesn’t hurt. 070709 (7) Smaller scrapes below it, right into the tattoo.  Both knees are scraped, but the left one is bleeding a lot.  Bandaged everything else up that I’d missed at the auto dealer, after cleaning with a little peroxide.

Damn, only one Advil left too. I had wanted two.  Added four aspirin.  I don’t even know why I’m complaining.  I didn’t break anything, and the bike still runs. People go through worse every day.  Still, I wonder why I’m so damn careless and accident prone?  I ride every day, so I suppose the odds were against me.  Just can’t believe I was so stupid.  Should have slowed down more before getting in the turn bay.  Should have been looking for hazards.   Should have taken the car in for scheduled maintenance – perhaps they’d have caught the bad belt?  and then I wouldn’t have had to go there, but I rarely even drive the car. I didn’t think it needed more maintenance so soon. Of course, it’s 13 years old.

Oh, man, my neck and shoulder area hurts now. I sure hope I didn’t do any damage to my collar-bone or neck.   More and more, I feel like I just want to be home and stay here, never going out again.  Work is a real pain with the budget problems and the move to a new lab space.  I really don’t want to deal with any of it anymore.   I’m tired.  And, so what?

Posted in Life, madness, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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