Maintenance Required  

Even though I have been working really hard to get everything completed as far as my papers go, life continues to go on without any regard for how much work I have left. I can't very well ask for the world to stop spinning for a couple of weeks so I can get it all done. So this morning, I had to take care of something that could not wait, my car needed some maintenance. The battery was starting to complain with the universally recognizable "urrr, urrr, urr" sound that meant it would soon die, or commit suicide, in place not of my choosing. Also, the brake light had been on for about a week, which to my mind was getting to be too long, as I was having nightmare vision of shooting off the edge of the coastal cliffs frantically pumping the brakes to no avail. Here's me: "Ahhhh!" And then, the brakes go: "Do what? What did you want me to do? Oh, and quit stomping on my head."

Maintenance Needed

Therefore, last night, I checked the fluid in the battery, which appeared to be fine. (Of course, the secret here is that I wouldn't know if it wasn't fine. All I could check on was whether or not it was full or not. It was full, thank goodness.) Then I poured a dilute solution of baking soda on the battery terminals to see if that would somehow help. I must have used too much baking soda because there was plenty of green toxic fizz bubbling all over the top of the thing to scare away a nearby cat. It reminded me of when I worked at a local factory. ("Dude, drop a little of that hydrochloric acid in that caustic soda barrel, will ya? It'll be cool!" Meanwhile, BOOM!) I then filled up the brake fluid reservoir, which took me forever to find. Apparently, it is super important not to get dirt or dust in the reservoir, and so I didn't. But that was a bit of a challenge--half of the car is made from dirt, and the other half is held together by it. Then, I drove around on the freeway for about a half hour to see if that would charge up the battery. I'm not the most mechanical guy in the world, but I impressed myself by being able to do this much.

Unfortunately, while the brake fluid fixed the one problem, the battery was still having trouble. So after driving my girlfriend to work, I drove the car to Les Schwab and bought a new battery. Apparently, this was the last trip I was going to get out of the car because it died immediately after I parked it. The battery is dead, long live the battery! The mechanic said that the battery was at the end of its life cycle anyway, since the battery was only supposed to last five years, which was as long as I had owned it.

Of course, the really fun part of this story is this: even though the battery will get the car going and keep it going, the alternator is bad (according the mechanic and his battery-o-meter). Therefore, the alternator will have to be replaced. And in his words, it will be a real "difficult" to get out. His wording made me think that he assumed I was going to do it myself. I guess I look like a so-called "good 'ol boy" to most mechanics; therefore, they often assume I should know how to rebuild things like carburetors and diesel engines, since that is what I should be doing with my time on the weekends. They happily took my 60 bucks and wished me, and my nearly-dead alternator, well. Sometimes, even though I like driving, I really hate cars.

26 August 2004
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