Saturday, June 23, 2012

Light a cigarette, attract a bus

Most folks have heard of the old "Murphy's Law": that which could go wrong, will. I counter that with the Paulie Axiom: the moment at which you give up on something happening is the exact moment when it takes place. I've seen this play out often enough that it is more than coincidence. There's something in the ethos that triggers when you give up, or mourn the loss.

Early Morning U-Turn
Years ago, when I first moved to the Portland area, I got a 3rd floor walkup on NorthWest 22nd near the Good Samaritan Hospital. Neat old building. I got my first Portland job parking cars between SW Oak and Stark on 2nd. In the morning, I would walk the block or so to 21st and pick up the #17 bus downtown. On mornings when the bus was late, I would invariably give up on it and start walking. I wouldn't get more than a block down 21st before the headlights of the old #17 rounded the corner from further uptown and I'd turn around and quick-foot back to the stop. This happened frequently, but it took a few years of reflection to really note the pattern. On the days the bus didn't arrive, I just walked the 30 blocks to work.

Lost, Found by the Disinterested
Years earlier, when I still lived in upstate New York, I had spent the day in the park with my friends, playing footbag and listening to music on a boom-box. It was getting late, and the afternoon was turning to evening, so we started to get ready to leave. It was then that one of my friends discovered that he had lost his keys. We had been all over the park, so the probability of finding them, especially in the increasing dark, was very low. I said as much and (bad friend) didn't invest in the search. While the others crawled around on the ground, I just kinda wandered around, waiting for them to give up so we could go home. That was when I found his keys. By accepting that they would not be found, they presented themselves to me. The one who lost the keys was split between anger that I didn't actually look and relief that they'd been found. He resolved to relief, but I don't think he ever forgave me for not "really helping".

Light a Cigarette, Attract a Bus
Years after living in NW Portland, I was again dependent on Tri-Met. I was living on SE 22nd, working graveyard shifts in a produce warehouse while going to Portland State full time during the day. Crazy. I got a full sleep every other day, and took a 2 hour nap the other day. Anyway, unlike when I lived in NW Portland, I couldn't just walk to school. Since the buses running down the Mt. Tabor incline to the bridges over the Willamette run so often, any waiting is caused purely from them being full to capacity by the time they get below 26th. I found, though, that when you just gave up on a bus stopping anytime soon, and lit a smoke, a bus would appear. Too often, this happened just after lighting, so you had a spoiled cig without any of the satisfaction of having laid a drag onto it.

Over the years, this axiom has presented again and again. When I describe this phenomenon to folks, I am usually greeted with a story that demonstrates it. From giving up on finding a purse along an abandoned highway only to spot it in your headlights moments later to finally getting hold of someone on the phone to let you into a locked building just as someone else brushes past you to unlock the door, there is a strange phenomenon happening. It's the Paulie Axiom - the moment at which you give up on something happening is the exact moment when it takes place.
As I complete this atypical posting, my good friend Justin is celebrating his successful completion of his degree program. It took me 10 years from high school to university graduation, and Justin followed a more greatly challenged path. I'm sorry I can't be there in person to toast you, Justin. It may just be a piece of paper to some, but yours is a true measure of determination and courage. Sincerely, congratulations.

Thanks for following along. I'll return to my more typical rankings next time...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Can You See Me Now?

EDIT: the new Blogger removed this post for some reason.  Hopefully, it doesn't happen again.
Daily driving has surfaced a couple items.  I'll hit those today.  The coolant levels appear to have been resolved, though I expect it to return.  The bus continues to weep oil, but I can't tell from where.  I may just wash it off at one of those places where you can wash your car yourself (not a machine), and see if I can find the leak when it's clean.  If this doesn't get too long, I'll finish off the snow season.

Light It Up
original on left
new on right
I was having troubles with my rear lights, so I finally ordered new rear tail light housings a few weeks ago.  The original ones were really getting tired.  The connections were falling apart, the housings themselves were fractured, and he grounding back-plane was all rusted.  When I removed them, the passenger-side dual-filament bulb (brake & running light) was full of fog.  The reverse bulbs were either missing (p-side) or the wrong size.  They were held on with packing tape.  Yes, it was so ghetto, and most importantly, they didn't light reliably (not surprising, considering the condition).

The new ones cost around $50 each from  They don't come with backing nuts or washers, though, so if you buy a pair, you need 5mm washers and nuts from the hardware store.  That's inner diameter; an 8mm socket fits it.  Apparently, the rear left corner was damaged by a previous owner, so the new housing didn't fit exactly, but it fit close enough.  Thinking I had it all solved, I started testing things.  I had blinker problems on the left side and either the brake light or the running light on that side wouldn't work.  I found a bad ground as the cause for the blinker, but I couldn't find a cause for the funky lighting.  After a couple hours of head-scratching, I finally tested the bulb.  One of the filaments was bad.  Ha!  Just goes to show that even though you may be driving a 40 year old relic, you need to start your issue diagnosis the same way as a new car: check the fuse, then the bulb.  The left dual-filament tail light is still a little spotty from the bulb not locking in tightly.  The reverse lights still don't work (low voltage problem), so I'll be back in there eventually.  I'll think of something.
change wires one at a time

Floor It
I mentioned getting the accelerator bracket fixed a few weeks ago.  Its been great driving around with that much response.  The clutch, though, was getting less responsive.  The cable was new when I put it in, and I think it has finally set its broken-in length.  So, I slid under the bus and tightened the cable by 2.5 turns (5 180* turns).  Now, I don't need to mash my left foot all the way into the carpet or goose the throttle to get the gear to set.

Enter Summer

Boo and I hit Mt Hood for one last time on Mother's Day weekend.  A friend of ours has a cabin near Welches, and we stayed there Saturday night.  We hit Timberline after stopping for coffee's and headed to the top of Palmer.  The snow was surprisingly good down through the middle of the Magic Mile section where it turned really soft.  It was a day of highs and lows that way, though.  With the boys playing lacrosse, we feared it would be our last time up, and it turned out to be so.  We both took pretty major falls in the transition from firm to soft snow, and no one wants to leave hurt.  On the emotional high-side, the view and weather were incredible.  We could see 2 snow-capped peaks to the south: Jefferson and Bachelor from the top of the Palmer run.  The biggest emotional curve-ball, though, will wait for another day.  We'd love to get back on the snow again, and though Timberline continues to get snow, our season passes expired.  With a day-lift cost of $60 each, its not too likely we'll go.  But... one-run only lifts are $15 each for adults and $9 for kids and seniors with a Family 4-pack of $42 (2 adults, 2 kids).  Hmm...

The boys' school year ends this next week.  It seems crazy that Summer is already here.  Weren't we just sliding in the snow?  Where'd Spring go?  Well, here in the Pacific NorthWest, June is usually solid rain, so I'll get that reality set-in before the heat of Summer sets in.  Thanks for following along all these months (years, even), and I'll be back again soon..