Saturday, July 12, 2008

BMW repair update--air hammer

I have had an air compressor for some time, but hadn't purchased any tools for it. I figured that auto shops must have some way of pounding-out pressed-in bolts and they use lots of air tools--a quick search turned up air hammers. They are kind of like hand held jack hammers.

For less than $100 and having at least two other uses I can already think of, it seemed like a safe bet.

I haven't used it under the car yet, but I did fire it up to see how it works and managed to pulverize a brick in about 5 seconds.

Update: I pounded one stud for 30 minutes and it didn't budge. About the only thing I haven't tried is putting a torch on it while running the air hammer.

I ended up using the stainless steel tie straps and they have been holding so far. The car is quiet--for now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Three levels of understanding, maybe more.

I'm sure we all know someone who regularly forwards you the latest urban legend, Internet hoax etc. I have thought of three ways of understanding this, in ascending levels of complexity. As an added note, the senders all are college-educated professionals.

Level 1: They send these messages along because they honestly believe in the truth of what they are sending. This is possible because people seem to constantly over-estimate how much they know in areas in which they are not experts. For example, I have frequently worked with PhD life scientists who espoused economic ideas which would be laughed at as primitive in business school--in much the same way creationism would be treated by those scientists.

Level 2: They are well aware that what they are sending is unsound, but they are testing you. What they really want to know is whether you are smart enough to see through it too. So, in this scenario; when you send the snopes link debunking what they sent, you passed their "intelligence test".

Level 3: They know that what they are sending is a hoax AND they know that you will easily see that it is a hoax too. So, why send it? Maybe it will amuse you. Maybe they wonder how you will respond--will you think they believe in it and then act blunt or will you be diplomatic about it?

What is going on in her cute little head?

This morning, like I have been doing a couple of times per week, I took Meenah for a four mile jog. I sometimes look over at her as she trots along and wonder what she is thinking.

At home she has a pretty good sized back yard to run-around in and she does dash about, but she never just runs without stopping for any extended length of time. I never have to cajole her to come with me or to keep going non-stop for the whole 30 minute run. She seems to enjoy running with me. Sometimes I let her get ahead of me and other times behind me, but most of the time she runs along side of me.

Does she ever wonder why we are doing this? I don't think she does, a human would wonder and probably decide to be uncooperative. Meenah just goes with the flow, takes things as she finds them and enjoys life.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tips for the aspiring DIY automechanics...

When removing an a part of your car which is essential to its function--it is risky to take a part out if you have reason to believe you will not be able to get it back in.

Case in point: I was removing 4 bolts which connect the exhaust manifold with the exhaust pipe. The first bolt sheared-off, but no problem, I could just hammer the other end of it out the hole. Except, I couldn't get it to hammer out. I figured it was rusted on and I would have better access for hammering when the rest were off. At this point it would have been a good idea to stop and take it to a shop.

It turns out that the bolt are pressed in, like the bolts which hold your wheels on. I have had these shear-off before and was able to sledge hammer them out. It is just very difficult to get a good swing going from under the car. Maybe I can figure out some way of jury-rigging it with stainless steel tie-straps.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

At the movies...

I mentioned before that we all went to see WALL-E. Lileks has a great review here, but I have a few observations of my own.

Anybody of a certain age, who also has a memory, must have noticed that people (especially kids) are much fatter than they used to be. Even now, there are places which have a higher concentration of fat than others--for instance, movies have a lot of fat people.

So when the movie showed all the Humans as practically crippled by their fat and sloth, it was a little uncomfortable. Kind of like watching a "racy" movie with your parents. What made it even worse is that even the fit enjoy snacking at the movies, and WALL-E showed the people constantly snacking.

Salty snacks and gourmet food

While watching a Food Channel show last night on how salty snacks are made, I was struck with a thought: (no not the novelty of having a thought)It is easier for a person at home to make chicken courdon-blu than a Cheeto--or even a Cheerio. And we call them junk food, I say call them miracle food.

From a practical standpoint, what could I do if Cheetos were discontinued? That will never happen, right? Well what about Buc-Wheats cereal?

It was my favorite, have you seen it in the store lately? And don't get me started on Hydrox cookies...Although I hear they are coming back!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We got to meet baby Rowan this weekend

I have been an uncle for around 18 years and so when we got married my wife became an aunt. Just a few months ago, her one sibling and his wife had a baby boy and we got to see him for the first time yesterday.

He is very very cute. We neglected to take any good pictures, so if you go here--you can verify my cuteness claims.

Our kids haven't been infants in half a decade, so we have kind of forgotten how cute the little munchkins can be. At one point, Rowan burst into tears and was quivering his chin at the same time. Oh-My-God! What a flood of memories that brought back! They have the full range of cries; from simple noise only to red-faced, fists clenching, quivering chin and fountains of tears.

There is a kind of Zen aspect to taking care of babies. One can easily be caught-up in the moment and desperate to quell whatever turmoil is causing your child to cry. That is not by itself enough. I learned to savor the process of the work and the feelings which went with it. Even as the work became enjoyable I also got better results. This is not really surprizing since calm focused efforts are usually more effective than frantic struggles. Anyway, there were really only three things you can do with a crying baby: Feed it, change it or hold it. You go through the process and most of the time it works--the baby settles down. There is a big payoff when you have a baby fall asleep in your arms or make eye contact while you administer a bottle, but the real sublime feeling is to enjoy just as much the sure-handed and gentle care you give even as they still struggle and cry.

What Teacher Did Your Kids Get?

Jemma got Mrs. Hicks for first grade at the Byam School.

Dahlia got Ms. Marsh for third grade.

The order of things

I have two car repairs to do today: 1) Change an exhaust manifold gasket on the BMW and 2) Change the oil on the Yukon.

If I do the gasket first, I will probably run into problems: Rusty bolts, inaccessible nuts & etc. If it turns into a nightmare, the truck probably won't get done. If I do the truck first I will probably feel like I already accomplished something today and either blow-off the BMW work or quit at the first sign of trouble.

I will do the truck first.

Update: After Sunday brunch, we decided to take the kids to WALL-E (which was great!) and by the time we got home it was after 3:00 PM. I did the oil for the truck, which is pretty easy because it sits so high I don't have to jack it up. The BMW will have to wait.