Thursday, January 5, 2017

I find your lack of pressure disturbing

What does it say about about me (or about Audi) that my gut reaction to red low oil pressure warnings animating themselves in  glaring red on the instrument panel is to blame and replace the sensor?

Surely the sensor is bad.  It's old.  It's like a fuse.  If the engine hasn't given up the ghost after twenty years and 257,000 miles, why would something go wrong now?  A replacement sensor was five bucks.  I'll tell you if it was the culprit a little later on.

Failing that test, the next is to get an oil pressure gauge and check it out.  Thirty-five bucks on Amazon, or Autozone can loan me one.

Should it fail that test, I may achieve my Uncle Jim's dream of killing a modern car engine through benign neglect.

Edited to add:

One hour later, I'd removed the airbox to get at the old sensor, tucked away as it was under the exhaust manifold.  I practiced a little patience with a crescent wrench (who has a 24mm open end wrench?) and it came smoothly off.  It replacement went smoothly on.  I buttoned her back up, double-checked everything and went for a drive. 

Rev the engine, no error light.  Up the drive way, no error light.  Up the road, no light.  Romped on her up to 60 a few times, no light.  Drove her in to town and got some gas, no light.

Fifteen miles later, no light.

I love it when it's the sensor!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mental anguish

Have you taught yourself to ride a bicycle lately?  Tie your shoes?  Worked to improve your penmanship?

Nor have I. 

But I did receive an electronic drum set for Christmas, and it's much the same experience.  My brain (and I suspect yours as well), on trying to learn a new coordination, simply hurts.  There's a wall, a humming, a pressure, a blocking obstacle, an insidiously spawned anxiety attack there that is just this side of physical when I try to enforce a new coordination upon it.  I can only battle it for a few minutes before I have to get up and walk away.

I encounter this when I make a change to my golf swing, when I try to learn a new song on the guitar, or when I sit down to develop the logic and flow of a customer presentation.   There is an order to be investigated, there is a sequence to be memorized, and a tempo to be met.  It takes repeated practice for it to stick.

This is mental work.  Thinking is hard. But this goes beyond problem-solving and reasoning; here we're doing something physical, ingraining a coordination so we can ride without the training wheels, read and write without spelling each letter of each word, and in the case of drumming, run through a pattern of 1-y-and-a, 2-y-and-a without counting it out. 

I draw different insights than, say, Destin and his backward bike, but I bet the mental anguish was the same.  Watch his struggles here:

The breakthroughs, though, are worth the sacrifice.  After much effort, the passive coordination kicks in and you're able to simply do things, and it's on to the next challenge. 

Over the next week I'll be spending a lot of time in a hotel room in Las Vegas on business.  I'm not one for gambling, so after a long day of work and thinking and smiling and trying to remember people's names, I'm looking forward to getting back to my room with a pair of sticks and a practice pad to blow off steam with some coordination integration focused execution and speed on a two stroke roll, a para-diddle, and a five stroke roll:

By the way: the exceedingly slow, mechanical strikes he begins with are very important; they tell the muscles what to do.  Your brain automatically absorbs the slow and key coordinations through the full path of the drumstick.  I played along with this one and was almost able to keep up to the height of his speed.  I couldn't believe it.  And no, Yoda, I did not fail.

Getting a little fancier, here's a drummer who'd been at it for ten years before he really broke down the para diddle rudiment and then knocked it out of the park.  It only took him a few months of steady practice. 

Wish me luck.

It's a Raymond Chandler Evening

Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep starts with:
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.  I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be.  I was calling on four million dollars.
And gets better...
The lean black-eyed credit jeweler was standing in his entrance in the same position as the afternoon before. He gave me the same knowing look as I turned in. The store looked just the same. The same lamp glowed on the small desk in the corner and the same ash blonde in the same black suede-like dress got up from behind it and came towards me with the same tentative smile on her face.
It was raining again the next morning, a slanting gray rain like a swung curtain of crystal beads.  I got up feeling sluggish and tired and stood looking out of the windows, with a dark harsh taste of Sternwoods still in my mouth.  I was as empty of life as a scarecrow's pockets.  I went out to the kitchenette and drank two cups of black coffee.  You can have a hangover from other things than alcohol.  I had one from women.  Women made me sick.
 The blonde spat at me and threw herself on my leg and tried to bite that.  I cracked her on the head with the gun, not very hard, and tried to stand up. She rolled down my legs and wrapped her arms around them. I fell back on the davenport.  The blonde was strong with the madness of love or fear, or a mixture of both, or maybe she was just strong.
 A small man with glasses and a tired face and a black bag came down the steps from the pier.  He picked out a fairly clean spot on the deck and put the bag down.  Then he took his hat off and rubbed the back of his neck and stared out to sea, as if he didn't know where he was or what he had come for.
The dialogue's vernacular is comprised of dames and soldiers, dusting-offs and skipping town, colts and blackjacks, club-ears and worn suits; they're crafted into phrases like "Shake your business up and pour it.  I haven't got all day," and "You've been following me around for a couple of days, like a fellow trying to pick up a girl and lacking the last inch of nerve.  Maybe you're selling insurance.  Maybe you knew a fellow called Joe Brody. That's a lot of maybes, but I have a lot on hand in my business."

Lose yourself in West Hollywood hacks and private dicks, spoiled rich women and crooked cops, dirty smut and desperate dames.  It's better than watching the tele.