04 September 2006

It has been a pretty busy week. I spent most of today cleaning up the living room, as we had sort of let things go recently (like for the last three months) and it was pretty cluttered. It doesn't help that the dogs have dug holes outside and drag in tons of dust every day. It's like living in Iraq again, with a coat of dirt on every surface in the house. We're slowly battling the dust, but we need a more permanent solution for the bare dirt outside. We're researching a way to get grass growing out there again, so the roots will hold the dirt out there where it's supposed to be. Anything we do to clean the dirt out of the house is just treating the symptoms, because the dogs will track in more than we can ever keep out.
I had a terrible time getting my emissions checked this week. I've always lived in rural areas, so I'd never done an emissions test before, but I knew the basic way it was supposed to go. I pulled up to the emissions booth at some local repair shop and an old man came out to do the test. He hooked up his equipment and whatnot to get the test ready. It took a while, but I figured that he was lucky to be moving around at all at his age.
Once everything was hooked up, he told me to take my car to 2500 RPMS and hold it there, so I did. He kept sticking his thumb out for me to rev it higher, so I bumped it up a couple hundred, as tachometers aren't always 100% accurate. He continued to hold his thumb out and then began thrusting it violently upward. As a test I took the car almost to redline, and he still was signaling for me to go higher.
I took my foot off the gas and he ran out and got in my face saying, "I can't administer the test if you won't get it up to 2500 RPMs." I explained to him that I had it all the way up to 5000 and if I went any higher I was going to blow my engine. He refused to believe that I had been up that high and then told me that I was idling too fast for him to administer the other part of the test. I told him that maybe we should try it again. He went back into the booth and again he wanted me to go way north of 2500 RPMs. When he came back out to ask me why I had stopped, I told him I wasn't going to blow out my engine for his stupid test and that I'd like him to unhook his equipment immediately and I would go down the street to get tested.
He refused and said, "You should have decided to go somewhere else before you came here. Now that you've started it I'll have to fail you and report you. The Air Quality Board will come down on you and take your car. I'm just like a police officer." I let him know that I didn't believe any of his baloney and that I had until the end of the month to get a passing test, so if he wanted to fail me he could do it and I would go to the van down the street and get tested there.
This argument continued for quite some time, with him telling me about how I was going to get arrested if I couldn't hold my engine at 2500 RPMs and that any mechanic could get my idle low enough for him but it was too late now because I'd started the test and now I was in deep trouble with the law and me letting him know that his computer was obviously messed up and I didn't give a flying mallard if he called George Bush himself to order me to stay there at his stupid booth I was leaving as soon as he unhooked his sensors. At some point I exited the car and was having violent thoughts while continuing to argue with him. He retreated into his booth and argued with me through the window.
Just as he was letting me know for the 900th time that the test was irreversible once started, his computer booted him out and aborted the test. So he turned it back on and started filling out the information again. On the screen where you enter engine size, he put it in as a 4-cylinder, and my wife happened to notice his mistake and tell him that the car was a V-6. He looked around suspiciously and yelled, "Are you sure it's a six-cylinder?" We assured him that it was, so he made the change and told me to rev it up to 2500 RPMs. I moved the car a little to where I could see his screen, and sure enough, when my tachometer said 2500, his screen said the same thing. For the idle test, my car was running about 25 RPMs over his limit, so I had to put it in gear and let the clutch out a hair, but that passed too. He seemed quite embarrassed about the whole thing and didn't say much as I paid and got the paperwork. I'm just glad everyone was able to get through it without bodily harm being done because things got pretty heated.
In other car-related news, I got to do my first real mechanical job yesterday. My wife's car has been having trouble starting lately and with the noises it was making I thought it might be the starter. So we got a manual and the part and took it out to my parent's house to switch it out. My dad looked at it and helped me work out how to get the bolts out and everything, but most of the stuff I was able to do on my own. I had to take out the battery and battery bracket as well as the cruise control mechanism before I could get to the starter, but it wasn't too hard of a job. Unfortunately, the problem doesn't seem to be solved. We're going to take the battery in again to be tested and probably just buy a new one. If that doesn't work it may be a problem with the wiring or the alternator, so I may get to do some more work on her car soon. My car's power steering just went out. I think it's just a fluid leak, but I still need to get in there and dig around. We also have to think about getting the transmission fixed or replaced relatively soon. And I think my windshield washer pump is out. I'll have to look at the wiring on that as well. So there is plenty of stuff for me to work on and build my skills, because chicks dig guys with skills.
I'd really like to paint some miniatures, but I haven't made time for it lately. I did get all of my miniatures put into storage boxes so the dust would stop collecting on them. Now only the five that I'm supposed to be working on are out. I saw a little chest of drawers at Fred Meyer the other day that would be awesome for miniatures. It has maybe ten or twelve drawers that are a couple of inches tall, and each drawer is divided into maybe 24 compartments. I'm thinking about getting one just so I can avoid having boxes stacked everywhere.

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