October 3rd, 2007

krazy koati

It's the only way to live

I've mentioned this in private but I may as well grumble in public: my car decided it hadn't had nearly enough attention recently and started acting up again. You can understand why; after all, since I got it in March I've only had it tuned-up, got the distributor cap bolted on so that it doesn't rattle around loosely, got the brakes replaced, got the brakes replaced again because the brake lines had frozen up and reduced the pads to a whimsical memory, got the brake lines replaced, got the tires replaced, and there was something else I've forgotten but will remember two days from now when it's irrelevant. Clearly, I've been neglecting it. In this case, the engine began running very hot -- I don't have exact temperatures, but up around the top 'N' on ``Normal'', threatening to reach into the red region -- and it began making a whining humming noise, like the sound airplane wings make when they're getting ready to take off and the pilots fool around with the wing flap thingies.

So, taking a day off ``work'', I went to the nearest mechanic my father trusts because he has never found anyone within this time zone to go to and I did not want to argue the point with him any longer because it is incredibly dull. They were able to take me, fortunately, and the problem turned out to be a relatively simple one. Not quite as simple as the thermostat going, but close: the hoses from the radiator had, in the years the car spent sitting in the old owner's driveway being eaten by squirrels, turned into clogged lumps, and now that it was no longer the middle of summer with the sun beating down on it the cooling problem was catching up with it. This was a relatively cheap fix (under a hundred dollars), but they recommended the car get another tune-up, giving me the chance to put several hundred more dollars into a car that I'd already spent over a thousand dollars fixing and which has a blue-book value of two thousand dollars. It's been behaving since then, as well it might, since at the next sign of trouble I'm going to shove it down a ravine, and it better well know that it deserves it.

On quirky little odd news: employees from local restaurants in southwest China's Chongqing municipality last week competed in a ``skill show'', in which they demonstrated their skills at setting tables, straightening tablecloths, even filling up cups. And crowds of people watched. That feels somehow like such a Singaporean pastime.

Trivia: Construction of the space shuttle Atlantis was done with a 49.5 percent reduction in man-hours compared to the construction of Columbia. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, Henry Petroski. I have the nagging feeling I've read this before, but I'm not sure if I have or if it's just there's only so many different things to say about the Hartford Civic Center collapse and the Hyatt Regency walkway disaster and he's used up all the variants.