Monday, March 17, 2008

Back to Writing!

Who dreamed up Spring Break anyway? That's what I'd like to know.

A hundred years ago, when farmers needed their kids home to help with spring planting, sure, OK, that I can understand. But today? Seriously, come on.

For the last week I've had my son under foot. Look I love the kid, really I do, but I cannot write when he's home. I need piece and quiet. Quiet especially. Iyes of the Dead has become so complex that I must be able to immerse myself in it, and I cannot do that when I'm being interrupted every two seconds by my son and a raft of his friends stomping in and out, in and out, in and out. Worse, if they're being quiet, well, then I've got to go check and see what they're into - because quiet means they're doing something they're not supposed to be doing, like, oh, carving sticks in the living room (Yes. Yes, they were). Or they need a snack. Or the DVD player doesn't work. Or the play station is hosed up. Or the bicycle seat needs to be adjusted. Or they've dug out spray paint in order to make light sabers out of sticks. Or some damn thing.

Here's what I need: School. I need school to stay in session for a while, no holidays, no breaks, no Parent Teacher conferences, no 'In service days,' no more nothing. School, fives days a week. Period. Everybody got that? Good. Because otherwise I might just lose what's left of my damn mind.

And speaking of losing my mind: Attention automotive engineers and car designers, will you for crying out loud use some common sense? Please? Look, I'm asking nicely here, but I will get violent if that's what it takes. Really, after I take over the universe, I'm going to send all of you lot to Pluto if you don't stop trying to prove how clever you are by making shit ten times more complicated than it has to be.

The jeep has been leaking oil. As I mentioned elsewhere, I don't like leaks. The jeep is a high millage vehicle and we've had it for a long, long time. But it's always been a great machine, and I work very hard to keep it in top condition. The leak wasn't major, but any leak irritates me. Oil leaks usually indicate something major, a main seal or a head gasket, but in this case is was simple - the O-ring in the oil filter adapter had gotten old and tired. It should have been a simple half hour job, remove the filter, remove one bolt and the adapter, pull out the old O-ring, clean, replace the O-ring and remount. Done. Yeah, sure. First you can't remove the filter without dripping a half quart of oil down the side of the engine, which just chaps my ass. How long have we been making internal combustion engines anyway, at least a hundred years now? And still the stinking engineers can't find a better way to mount the damned oil filter? Look, fellas, I don't care if it was good enough for your ol' grandpa, how about a design that doesn't pour oil all over my garage floor every single time I change the oil filter? So, after sopping up the oil and wiping down the greasy adapter I go to remove the bolt. Now, up till this point, I'm just annoyed, the bolt is the part where I started to curse all engineers and their progeny. See, the damned filter adapter sticks out of the right side of the engine, underneath the heater hose mixer and above the suspension arm. Which means, for those of you not familiar with automotive hell, that you can't get to it easily from the top, nor can you get to it from the bottom. Here's the thing, you're supposed to change the filter on a regular basis, so why the fuck is it not mounted somewhere that you can get to the goddamned thing? Seriously, I swear automotive designers have got to be the bottom of the engineering class - right after NASA Mars probe designers. There was simply no way to get a socket wrench in there, and the light, and be able to see the damned thing. And there was absolutely NO way to get both hands in there. None. I ended up on my back underneath the jeep, with both feet wedged against the exhaust system, one arm twisted up around the suspension in order to get enough leverage to break the bolt loose. Now this position, of course, places your face directly under the adapter, which means that you're going to get a face full of filthy oil. There is no way to avoid it. Did I mention that automotive designers are also sadistic bastards? Oh, you figured that out for yourself, did you? Needless to say, there was only enough room so that even a 5/8" stubby box wrench would only swing 1 inch, and even once it loosened up I still couldn't get a grip on the oily thing in order to turn it by hand. Which meant that it took nearly thirty minutes of fiddling with the wrench in order to remove the bolt. Then another five minutes of cursing and contortions to get the adapter around the suspension and out.

I suppose I don't have to mention that the O-ring is a special size? And that my local NAPA didn't have one? Or that I had to drive all the way to Wasilla to get one? No?

What should have taken 30 minutes start to finish took nearly four hours and left me covered from head to toe in oil. Bastards. I swear, I'm going to exile every last one of them as soon as I take over. I'm not kidding.

Anyway, back to writing. I need to make significant progress this week. I'm pushing hard to get this book done. I'll put up another extract this week, maybe tomorrow. And yes, I'll be putting up a number of major Fiery Angles posts. Hang in there.


  1. What? No pictures of you covered head to toe in oil?

  2. I was once changing an oil filter on a 5-ton truck and screwed up the gasket somehow. It was in 5 degree weather and then scalding oil poured out onto my chest.

    Funny, it didn't balance out at all. Just burned the shit out of me.

  3. Nathan,

    Why were you changing the oil on a hot engine? That seems.... uncomfortable at best.

  4. It was a truck that had to travel that night and we'd spent all day loading it and then it kept stalling.

    It was one of those "lose your mind to get the job done" kind of moments.

  5. It was one of those "lose your mind to get the job done" kind of moments.

    I've said it before, we could have used you in the Navy, Nathan, every damn day was like that.

  6. My daughter's 5, and will start kindergarten next year. This year, she will be attending "spring camp" at her preschool, which is basically the same as her extended day program, just not as long. This is the first year she has seemed suspicious about her staying in camp while lots of her friends won't be there. She basically got a "la-la-la" response from me. This is the last year I can do it...

  7. You know that Far Side cartoon where the deer has a target on its chest and the other deer says "Dude, Bummer of a birthmark".

    That would have been me in the military.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.