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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Decision Made

Let me cut right to the chase and tell you that I won't be finishing the Auto Tech program. This was a really hard decision for me and I wavered back and forth many times before I finally decided to move on. In fact, I'm quite disappointed in the decision, but feel like it's the only way to go because:

1. Going from seeing Rain seven days a week down to just three is a little more than I can handle. I think I miss her more than she misses me, but I'm okay with that.

2. Let's face it. Fixin' cars just isn't exciting enough to me... Like I've said before, I enjoy the theory behind it, but I can do without the actual fixin' of stuff. And it's not the getting-dirty that dissuades me. It's just that I don't find it all that interesting.

Mr. Shado actually asked me to stay after class one night and I took that as my cue to tell him about my decision. Having children (and grandchildren) himself, he understands the family aspect of it. He also knows that I have a really good job that I can fall back on--that I don't need this education or the job that comes with it. He said that he's enjoyed having me as a student (sniff, sniff) and he might not make me take the final (score!!).

What this whole experience has taught me:

1. I'm a little closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life, if only minutely.

2. I'm no longer scared of what goes on in a car. It's not magic. I can figure it out.

3. I went into this whole experience knowing one definition of the word "tranny." Did you know it can mean "transmission" too?

4. It can be done. It's not very comfortable to do in extended periods of time, but this 16-week semester hasn't killed me. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself as I still have three weeks left of classes.) Granted, I'm exhausted by the end of the week, but somehow I came up with an extra 15 hours a week for classes. What else can I do with that time?

Well, I've been thinking a lot on that too.

-I enjoy writing the blog so I might take a class on novel-writing before I write The Great American (paranormal romance) Novel. Stop laughing. It's not that funny. I've always wanted to write a novel.

-My father-in-law gave me a very nice guitar a few years ago that I've been avoiding. I might take a class to help me learn how to play it. Too bad I'm tone deaf. But I can work around that--no one ever said I have to be good at playing it. I can sit out on my porch at night and make the dogs howl. I wonder how long it'll be before ThatGuy takes my guitar away from me.

-I seriously can't wait to get back to my SJK group on Friday nights. I've been missing my knitters so much. I didn't realize how much I counted on the hilarity of Friday nights to start my weekend off on the right foot.

-Of course, we're still in the midst of home improvements so I assume I'll be spending a lot of time working on painting, pulling up carpet and installing hardwood floors. We have 2,000 square feet to do, after all. Plus, I'd like to do this mural on our stair landing. As you can tell, it's a really rough first draft:

Those boxes represent pictures we can hang on the wall and the quote is from The Merchant of Venice: "The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils."

-The technical college has a few online classes on horticulture that have buzzed my ear. Online courses would be much easier to schedule around than campus courses.

-I'd also like to get back to sharing some quality time with my camera. I haven't taken a snapshot for no reason in ages.

-Finally, lord knows I need to get caught up on facebook, words with friends, goodreads and ravelry. And all those books on my TBR list aren't going to read themselves.

But I still have 2.5 weeks of classes left and I’ll be sharing those experiences with you guys, starting with a very embarrassing moment for me during last night's class in my next post.

P.S. Jiffy’s back!

Let's Catch Up.

Well, it's been ages. Let's catch up.

First: Class. We've been going over the various wiring systems in the car: windshield wipers, blowers, horns, stereos, lighting, etc. Not all that interesting to me. I find that the theory behind it all is more interesting than the actual placement of those systems in the cars. Learning how an alternator works is infinitely better than learning how to replace one in a car. And as has been discussed in class, we're learning a lot of things that won't need to be recalled in the shop. Mechanics replace parts; they don't try to fix diodes or stator windings. It's just not economically reasonable to do so. Yes, your alternator might just need one new $2.00 diode, but the labor hours it would take to disassemble your alternator, figure out and fix the problem, and then replace it in the vehicle would be more expensive than simply replacing the entire alternator. Now, if your own alternator breaks, you can take all the time you want to fix it yourself. But again, not many people do that.

Second: Sleepy and Silent Bob. Last night in class, we discussed decibel levels and how you should wear earplugs when working around loud equipment in the shop and even loud music can be harmful to your ears. Now, we all know this to be true. There have been studies that showed that listening to loud sounds is not good for your ears.

Mr. Shado: "Has anyone ever heard of Peter Townsend?"

Me: "Pete Townsend, the musician?"

Mr. Shado: "Yes. Does anyone know what band he was in?"

Silent Bob: "The Who." (At this point, the entire class erupted into laughter and even applause at hearing Silent Bob's voice. He, who normally only shrugs and does a vague hand gesture when asked a direct question, voluntarily opened his mouth and spoke two whole words: The Who.)

Mr. Shado: "That's right. The Who. And he's practically deaf now after listening to music at high decibels for all those years."

Sleepy: "I don't believe that to be true. I mean, I listen to my music at full volume and haven't noticed any difference in my hearing."

Me: "Well, that's because you're twelve." Which made the entire class light up again. And even later in private, Mr. Shado admitted that, while he would not be able to say it in class, it was completely true that he acts 12 most of the time.

Sleepy (in his haughtiest voice and not at all amused at having to speak over the laughter): "I'm actually twenty-two." Imagine the kid who wears these "jeans" to class looking down his nose at me. It goes beyond "stylishly broken in" to "dude, you should totally just throw those away."

Third: I got a new car! I've always loved mini coopers. Well, at least since they Americanized them. We happened to discuss mini coopers a few weeks ago in class.

The Bandit: "For such a small car, they're really great. You've got to get the turbo or you might as well not do it at all."

Me: "Really? I've got an 8-year-old in the backseat and I'm practically a soccer mom. Do I really need all that power?"

Every single guy in the class simultaneously: "Yes!"

The Amateur: "Seriously. When you need to pull ahead in traffic or merge quickly, the extra power really helps out."

So at the recommendation of my car boys, that's what I got. Please meet my Mini Cooper S:

Pretty, ain't she? I've become a serious fan of the turbo.

On a side note, it looks like Jiffy has dropped out of class all together. The last text I received from him said that he was having some family drama and he hasn't shown up since. Here's hoping all is okay in the land of Jif.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Feisty Mechanics

Of all the things that I thought would get my car boys all in a tizzy, I never would have guessed that feisty drama would come in the form of a discussion on dash lights. Yes, dashboard indicator lights. Those lights that tell you when you need to perform maintenance on your car, or when something is wrong, or when you have the ABS system turned on. You see, things never stay on the same topic with these boys. They go from one extreme to the other, following a flow of consciousness that defies my logic.

But first, at the beginning of class while we're patiently and quietly waiting for Mr. Shado to begin speaking, Kicks (so named because he came into class one evening with a sweet pair of green Converse on--I haven't written of him before) got a new text message. We know this because through the silence came his loud text message notification: "You got another fucking text message." I can't help but wonder if his momma knows about his cell phone's proclivity for profanity.

Ah, dash lights. Dash lights led to a discussion on how often you need to change your oil. Mr. Shado offered every 5-6,000 miles, to which The Bandit doubtfully groaned, “I don’t know about that, man. I’d do it more than that.” Which led to a discussion on owner’s manuals (and how I happen to still have mine in my bag from a previous exercise—they all thought I carried it around with me all the time) and how even if your owner’s manual says to change it every 5,000 miles, many of the boys agreed that you should still do it every 3,000. In the end, no resolution was agreed upon and the discussion meandered to how long people have gone without oil changes and all the guys who work in shops compared stories for a while. The longest time between oil changes was 22,000 miles. Seriously. Twenty-Two Thousand Miles. Even I know it should be changed more often than that.

Dash lights then led to a discussion on the high-end vehicle components, like the Heads Up Display that will show your MPH on the windshield as you drive, or the new night vision technology that will project a night vision display onto the windshield on top of the view from the headlights.

All-American: “Yeah, cop cars are being equipped with that these days.”
The Amateur: “I don’t know, man. Every time I’ve been arrested, there wasn’t a night vision camera on the cop car. I mean, they have the front end camera and the GPS and the lap top and the handcuffs. But no night vision camera.”

Later, Boom Box (as he is wont to do) asked Mr. Shado a random question about engines as we were coming back from break:

Boom Box: "Hey Mr. Shado. Do you think they'll ever make a 2 stroke/V8 engine?" (Now, please note that I have no idea what a stroke is in relation to the cylinders in an engine, but there wasn't an opportunity for me to ask as the room erupted into heated discussion. I may get some of the conversation wrong here--there were so many stroke/cylinder combinations coming by in a flurry that I couldn't get it all straight in my head.)
Mr. Shado: "No, I don't think so."
All-American: “Aren’t some aircraft engines made like that?”
Boom Box: "If someone wanted to make one, could he?"
The Bandit: "Well, they have 2 stroke/4 cylinder engines in lawn mowers and stuff."
The Amateur: "I have a 4 stroke/4 cylinder blower that's the most powerful blower on the market." (Many groans of disbelief.) "Seriously, I have a lawn maintenance business and I'm tell you--"
All-American: "So do I and I don't think---"
The Bandit: "My weed whacker has a cord that plugs into the wall, dude."
The Amateur: "You need to get more power, dude. Seriously. I'm telling you. You can't get a more powerful blower than the one I have."
The Bandit: "Oh yes you can. Her name's Alyssa and she's at home."