Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alternator Facts

Update: I did not maim and/or kill myself fixing my dishwasher and now I wander around the house telling my wife about the other things in the house that I could probably fix. Of course, I have no intention of actually doing any of those things, and my success with stunningly simple dishwasher was followed almost immediately by almost setting the house on fire with the toaster.

No, this self-congratulatory preening is simply the price my family must pay in the rare occasions that I fix something correctly, and will soon fade as I fail spectacularly at trying to clear a drain clog or something similarly humiliating.

Also, karma reared its ugly head soon after my dishwasher success and the alternator in my car died. Conveniently, this occurred when both my wife and daughter were in the car and we were a good 60 miles from home. And indeed, the car completely died when were about halfway home in backed-up traffic on Highway 1, that scenic highway favored by car ads, where one might drive along breathtaking ocean vistas when one is not aware that their car might die at any second.

As it happened, the systems in the car started to fail as I approached a huge backup of cars and, knowing the feeling from years of driving shitty cars, I pulled onto the shoulder and willed the car to make it to that turn-off about 500 yards ahead. Somehow it did make it, just as all the power failed, and I pulled the non-powered, quickly locking steering to a remarkably safe spot on the side of a side road.

The rest of the story involves tow trucks, battery-packs, and 800 dollars.*

*And of course, when I told my coworker my tale of alternator woe, he was kind enough to listen politely until the end of the story before pointing out that I could have merely opened up the alternator and replaced the "brushes" for about 50 dollars.

So now my coworker is dead.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Expert Plans

I just want to warn you, I may be attempting to fix my dishwasher this weekend. It is easy. I have watched one video on YouTube and if a guy who had his thumb over the camera a good 60% of the video's runtime can do it, I can do it, by god!

What's wrong with the dishwasher is that a whole lot of water comes out of the airgap. I only know it is called an airgap because my sister told me about a dishwasher repair guy who wants to make money selling seasonal airgap covers, like for instance a Santa airgap cover. That, frankly, sounds a little disturbing because if your airgap is leaking like mine is, you're going to see a tiny Santa basically urinating all over your countertop.

Our airgap has been leaking for approximately 7 years. The bottom of our under-sink cabinet and the floor under that cabinet are water-damaged and buckling. It is a good thing I have sprung into action so quickly. The damage is at that level where I am somewhere between "we should probably have a look at how bad that is" and "I really don't want to know how bad that is because it is probably really expensive to fix and will make me have to face some harsh truths about myself." I was washing dishes the other day and idly wondered if I would just fall through the floor into our garage (which would not have been terrible because I was eyeing a Le Creuset thing with baked on meat stuff on it and I really did not want to clean it.)

So I watched a video which, as I mentioned, was very professionally shot, and in which a friendly person shows how to take your dishwasher apart and clean the filters. (Also, guy making video, why did you wait to do your dishwasher repair video until both racks were full of dirty dishes?)

My thought process as I watch a video like this is "ok... ok... I can do that... I uh.... maybe I can do that?" and kind of mentally picturing how I will screw it up. Losing all the screws, that's one thing. Bending and/or breaking sensitive parts, that's another. Electrocution? Doesn't seem likely, but would not be surprising given my past home repair efforts. Fingers/hair/entire head/genitals caught in food grinder thing? Again, unlikely, but still possible.

But I am going to do this. And if I do not return, know that I loved you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Sometimes I question my career choice.

Then, of course, I remember I didn't really choose it at all. It just kind of happened. When you have a degree in something spectacularly useful, like my Modern Literature degree, you can pretty much pick your path to financial success--it's true. But somehow I just found myself as a technical writer some twenty-five years ago, despite the fact that I didn't know much about computers really at all. But I knew some engineer types, I could fog a mirror, and I could use Microsoft Word to edit some hardware specifications, so I was in. I think they also asked me if I was proficient in AutoCAD 10, a query to which I nodded and smiled knowingly, despite a sneaking suspicion that AutoCAD was one of those robot taxis from Total Recall.

And then I was off and running. Filing things. Folding D-size papers origami-like into something that would fit in a letter-size drawer. Distributing Engineering Change Orders in bulging manila folders that the responsible parties would ignore. I was happy there in my first office job, taking innumerable cigarette breaks and playing minesweeper while no-one was watching. Hanging out with my Bulgarian co-workers who also seemed never to do any work. And then one day the place went under. Possibly due to some shady goings-on with the CEO. Or possibly because no-one did any work. Never was quite sure.

And somehow, all these years later, my skills are a rainbow of XML, structured authoring, training video creation, Git source management. The Cloud. I find myself reading discussion boards about serif vs sans serif fonts in user manuals. Two spaces or one after a full stop. I have opinions about those things, which no-one should really care about.

Did I have a point here? Not sure. Maybe a cautionary tale.

I do miss the Minesweeper though.


Blog Archive