Saturday 4 May 2013

Days One to Ten - Project 8 (Read the Bible) - Project Over

Wednesday, April 10th to Friday, April 19th

  This is late for a number of reasons.

  Most importantly, I didn't want to talk about reading the bible.

  I realized once I started it that I would have to actually write about it, and I thought I would have to say a whole bunch of things about this Bronze age religious tome that some people would agree with and some people would get mad at, and then I thought about the fact that a couple of my students have already found the blog, and that I've worked pretty hard to keep my spiritual leanings or lack thereof out of the teaching arena.  Seriously, try teaching the same group kids for two weeks straight - you will eventually have a variation of the following conversation:

  "Mr. Swinemer (your name may vary), what are you?"

  "Carbon-based.  Do you have question 3 done yet?"

  "No, I mean, do you go to church?"

  "How does answering that help with question three?  is it a word problem?"

  "I'm just interested."  "Yeah, me too."  "I also wish to know personal information about you, and am in no way simply helping my compatriots waste valuable mathematics time."

  "If I, or any other authority figure paid by the government started asking you this type of question, you would have grounds for some sort of legal action.  DOES ANYONE NEED HELP FROM AN ENGLISH TEACHER WITH THEIR MATH QUESTIONS?"

  "Mr. Swinemer, it's just we respect you sooooo much..."

  "Nice sucking up, by the way.  Believable."

  "Thanks, we have parents and practice.  Where were we....oh,  SOOOOOO MUCH...and if we knew what you thought, it might help us think about things in a new way."

  "Wow.  Genius.  I never realized the depth of a junior high student's desire to see a substitute teacher fired before.  Let's think for a second about what your parents-slash-guardians would say in response to your dinner banter - 'Mr. Swinemer actually worships Ra the Sun God and now we want to get mummified when we die.'  Please, do question 3 or leave the expletive-deleted classroom." 

  Clarification 1:  I do not worship Ra the Sun God.

  Clarification 2:  I do actually say the words expletive deleted.

    What finally got me off my tuchus to write about how staggeringly poorly I did on this project was the realization that my own spiritual/non-spiritual beliefs were not the project.  I have been developing in this area since I was a small child.  Long before I contemplated the One Thousand Days, I had fully come to understand myself and my place in the world.  That project is complete.  The friends and family who know me best know what I believe, and I suppose if I manage to write enough on this bjournal over the next 2.5 years, one who wasn't certain might be able to infer.  But I won't be sharing that part of me.  This is about growth in the material world - physical health, skills, and data.

  The Bible.

Go big, or go get the idea.
  I chose the woefully inconvenient, giant-metal-clasped, 20 pound bible published in 1888 c.e. for English speaking Roman Catholics to use on the pulpit.  Although I'm pretty sure they still disagreed with Martin Luther on everything else.  I know, because there are AWESOME passive aggressive snipes at him throughout the footnotes - one describes his actions in translating the bible as "Impudent".  I don't like religious intolerance, but passive aggressiveness when one has obviously come around on that main argument is fantastic - NIL DESPERANDUM.

  The downside of using this LITERALLY WEIGHTY TOME, was portability.  I was reading it at home or not at all.  The upside was, grandfather, (who was Anglican at the time, and I confess I've forgotten why they had it down at the cottage) gave it to me.  And he was truly awesome.  I was around him and I felt...awe.

  So I read Genesis, and half of Exodus.

  I guess this is another literal situation - an EPIC failure.  I had headaches throughout the week (perhaps someone will see this as impious or prideful, and decree the headaches divine retribution, or that my own personal Babylonian-Assyrian demon, Ashakku, the Demon who Attacks the Head - a headache demon, I know right? RAD - was after me again), and the fact is.....

  I found a lot of stuff kind of sad.  I have never liked the story of Abraham and Isaac.  I have disliked it since I was a little boy.

  I wished that more was made of the eventual reconciliation of Jacob and Esau.  I thought that was really nice.

  I wished that Cecil B Demille's idea (that Moses took his adopted mother with him and protected her during the night that the angel of death came to Egypt, because LOVE IS LOVE) was in the original story.

  I wished that I hadn't allowed the 6 page description of the specifications for the Ark of the Covenant to completely defeat me in the end.  Although I owe an apology to Doctors Henry "Indiana Jones, Junior and Marcus Brody for thinking that all their talk about the Ark was made up nonsense - any props creator for a movie is going to be able to do a really bang-up job just by reading Exodus as the guide.

  I attempted it.  I failed.  It's okay.

  The scarf I'm knitting is over two feet long at this point, so I'm still a little bit better than once I was, in my own estimation.


p.s.  Joseph Richardson died in 2005, at the age of 87.  Grampy Joe was my hero, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss talking to him, learning from him, or sharing what I learned with him.  I don't think he would have gotten the point of this - in my mind, he could already do everything.  But I think he did feel that an old dog could learn new tricks.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Day Ten - Project 7 (Complete)

  This one felt a little more like a bit of personal growth, all things considered.  I know I won't ever hoist my car's engine out and repair it all by my lonesome, but the number of things I can do has increased.  I know a lot more about my car, and the fact that this project was weakly defined as Learn all the Parts of my Car, I'm gonna go ahead and claim the wi...stalemate.  I don't know all of it, but I do know where the fluids that I couldn't identify before go, I recognize different types of fuses, and I am never going to pay for oil changes or filters again.

  I'm ready for another reading project.  As I am obviously behind and wanting to catch up to where I am writing daily updates within a day or so of the project dates, the following project will be a ten day in one recap.  This will also allow people to gloss over it without getting offended.

  'Cause I'm gonna try to read the Bible.


Day Eight and Nine - Project 7

Monday, April 8

  I went to get my oil changed.  At the local chain place.  I mention this because this feels like a partial defeat.  I also had them change the engine air filter.  I ended paying about 70 bucks for these two things that I am certain with some time and a little capital and luck I should have been able to do myself.  When the guy at the  oil change place offered to change my cabin air filter and that the price all in for the day would jump to 160-something, I snapped.  Not at him.  More of something in my brain.  I thanked them, promised myself that by the next oil change required, I would have everything ready to do it myself, and drove to a store and bought a cabin air filter for my car for about 25 bucks all in, and put the damn thing in myself.  ARRRRGH.  should have done it for the engine one too.  Man.  Jeez.

  All in all though, more than a decade ago, I would go to the dealer to get new windshield wipers "installed", so these baby steps are all minor victories in the war against my own defiant incompetence.


Monday 15 April 2013

Day Seven - Project 7

Saturday, April 6

  Spent the day at my parents.  Magda played with her cousin, and I spent a lot of it with my dad.

  First of all, my dad is a lot smarter than I am.  More importantly, he's a lot harder working than I am.  There's a line from Yes, Minister or Yes, Prime Minister (can't remember which) where Sir Humphrey is talking to this idiot old-boy establishment buffoon banker, and the banking idiot explains that some "decent chaps" broke the first rule of "The City":

  If you're stupid, you have to be honest, and if you're crooked, you have to be clever.

  I quoted that in a toast for my dad's 60th, and explained that he proved you could be honest and clever.

  I like my dad, is what I'm saying.

  That said, I disagreed with him today.  I told him all about the project, that I was trying to learn more about my car, so that I could do the little things like change my oil, the filters, things like that, and did he know anyone with little ramps to jack up the wheels so I could do things like this?  My dad said he didn't think so, and that I was welcome to do my oil changes at their place (because despite my folk's country mouse leanings, my house in town has the uneven gravel drive, whereas their "Cottage" has a nice, flat, giant, paved driveway), but that he felt that it didn't really make sense in this day and age to try to learn basic auto repair.  When I asked why, he told me it was because of all the computer diagnostic systems required with almost every modern car.  I don't think I mentioned the OBD-II thing that I totally want.  I was surprised at his reaction.  My dad's a successful businessman that probably could have quit jet-setting at any time and become a successful carpenter in an instant.  I'm saying he's good at a lot of stuff.  He taught me chess when I was five, and I didn't beat him till I was twenty-five....

  And it was in this sort of self-involved reverie when it hit me.  The real reason he was a little discouraging.

  I am a long term screw-up.  He was trying to protect me from doing something like taking my car apart and not knowing how to put it back together.  He's had to watch out for me for a long time.  He knows me.

  I went out to my car after getting home, with a few websites' worth of advice and a little flashlight, and found that OBD-II data link connector under my steering column.

  I think I'll get better at this for my dad.  Not to spite him.

  But maybe I can get him to worry about me less if I can do stuff like this.


Thursday 11 April 2013

Day Six - Project 7

Friday, April 5th

  School week is done.  Kids are getting psyched for the inter school chess tournament, and I'm even more excited about our prospects than they are (and the little egomaniacs ARE EXCITED).

  So, as per my notes to myself making promises, Magda and I went to the library.  After school.  And after the bottle return depot drop off (Three dollars!  Oh the action figures I could have bought with that on trips over the border to Maine in 1981!  One, I suppose).  And after the grocery store on a Friday afternoon.  Upon entering the library, the librarians responded with flicking the lights on and off to signal that we had about 10 minutes left.  Magda, being three and a half and worried that rules set down by not parents have fearful consequences, began making my speed-needing mission noticeably less efficient by freaking out that the doors would lock and we would be "TRAPPED IN THE LIBRARY!"  I actually think she just hates any trip to the library with Daddy because she is forced to come with me while I find books for not her.  If she thought about being trapped in the library without DADDY, she'd probably say, "Do I have to sign up in advance for that, and is there some sort of fee?"

  Short story long, I got a couple of books on car maintenance.  And one on knitting techniques.

  I got one called Teach Yourself Visually:  Car Care & Maintenance,  and the other The Women's Fix-It Car Care Book:  Secrets Women Should Know About Their Cars.  My branch didn't have many books, so I happily grabbed what they had.  Yes, I got the Women's car book.  I assumed that the people who wrote it (even though the mechanic co-author was a woman) would be subtly patronizing and talk down to their reader a little bit.  And while I don't think that kind of thing is right for a female audience, I DO think that talking to ME like I am ignorant is the right way to go.  The Visually one has been more helpful to me so far.  I liked that they told me what a CAR is.  My need for origin story, absolute basics, was satisfied.  And it was in this book that I learned about personal OBD-II devices, and that for your car, DLC doesn't mean add-ons to my XBOX 360 games, but "Data Link Connector".

  It's so cool that you can hook a computer diagnostic system up to your car by yourself.  I want one.  I want to sell my action figures to get one (Well, some of them).  The book said my car's manual would say where the DLC is in my car.

  90 Minute Update:

  It's not in my Manual.

  I'm going to bed.


Day Five - Project 7

Thursday, April 4th

  This day was what my students, in their fits of hyperbolic expression, would classify as an "Epic Fail".  That is to say, not really epic in the sense of glorious battle and adventure in poetic verse, but a simple inability to achieve a basic goal.  I did not really work on my project today.  Sometimes, at the end of a day, when work is done, and I've gotten as much time in with my kid as the workday will allow, and I've done my exercise bike work, and I look at the clock and realize that it's about 9 pm, I question the need to pore over the websites or library books or yarn of my current project and say, "Sleep is for the weak and I am weak so give me sleep please cuz it's for me."

  I promise to go to the library tomorrow and get books about cars and how one fixes them.


Day Four - Project 7

Wednesday, April 3rd

  Weather has not been lovely of late, prompting my lazy self-comfort-preservation.  In response to encouraging comments, yes, I do absolutely want to start changing my own oil.  It seems like one of those things everyone should be able to do, which makes me think I'll somehow blow my car up.  Ugh.  Ended the sentence with a preposition.  Hate that.

  Watched a video about home oil change.  People appear to have nice, flat, paved driveways, or really awesome, tool-stuffed garages in the world of people who got the acts together at the right age.  Also, apparently, I will need to have some kind of collection equipment with which to collect the oil drained from my car.  Oooh, my popcorn bowl is suddenly not good enough for vehicular by-products.  And I admit, pouring the used motor oil down the toilet is probably not the earth-friendly option.

  I don't know if I'll have the time to do an oil change myself in the course of this project, but I've kinda got a fire lit under me about it now.  The fire of I-want-to-save-myself-a-few-bucks.  Gotta look into how much it would cost to get some of those mini-one-wheel-size ramps.  I know I really don't need them, and can't really afford them anyway, but I also know that if I can't take a few hours staring at the parts of the car involved, I'm gonna make a mistake.  And I've kind of freaked myself out with a minor comment in one of the things I read that said that used motor oil is a carcinogen.  I'm picturing working away, and a little drop falls on my finger, and boom, 3 days later, I die of finger cancer.

  Maybe laziness isn't really the issue.  Maybe it's Pre-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.  You know, cowardice.


Friday 5 April 2013

Day Three - Project 7

Tuesday, April 2

Hey, have you ever looked at the layout or plan of doing something, and said, "This is a terrible plan. If I had a lick of sense, I would replan."

Changed my tire today. On my uneven, angled, gravel driveway.

Oh, there's this great scene in 28 Days Later (they're all great) where Frank decides to drive his cab through a tunnel in Infected (read - fast zombie) - filled London, and our hero Jim cautions, "No, no. No, see this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it's really obviously a shit idea."

Moments later, they're CHANGING A TIRE while the infected are running into the tunnel.

Hunh. Synchronicity.

Car lurched over twice and overcame its jack. I sat and watched, and started doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Third time was the charm. And I live to tell the tale of my stupidity.

Definitely learning. *


* And uninfected.

Day Two - Project 7

  Monday, April 1st

  Wouldn't it make more sense to prank people the OTHER 364 DAYS and be totally truthful on this day? People would totally not get it.

  I did the same thing with this project that Twain, running, and most of the others have allowed me to demonstrate about my character.  Attempt to go from zero to MASTAH in like a day or so.  I'm not going to fully comprehend internal combustion.  I'm a mechanical inept.  Also language, music, relationship.  Anytime I start to read about what something is, I start to get all three year old about its workings - "BUT WHY?"  And I continue in an infinite regression looking for root causes.  If I start reading about radar, I'll usually end up investigating Damascene steel weapons and then get sleepy and give up.

  I stopped trying to comprehend the theory of my engine for the meantime (dummy steps), and just went to get the handbook in my glove compartment for my car.  I spent a good half an hour trying to memorize the fluid reservoirs, dipstick locations, and fuse boxes of the vehicle without going out into the cold and dark.  Why explore the world?  My mommy and daddy get me a National Geographic subscription for Christmas every year.

  I found that there's a neat little info panel in the doorframe of my car with the required tire size and air pressure.  That's cool.  And since something poked a great big hole in my tire last Wednesday and I had to wait for the end of the Easter holiday to pick up my patched tire, I'll be learning how good the jack for my Kia Forte is tomorrow.  I should have put it on today, but it's COLD.  I'm including whatever time it takes as  time served on the project tomorrow.  Mary said I could, so it's cool, and I'm just itching to escape responsibility.


Day one - Project 7 (Learn All the Parts of My Car)

Sunday, March 31

  I don't know anything about cars.  I know how to drive them, and that's it.  It's like the internet.  I know how to navigate it, search engines and all that.  But programming languages, the insides of computers.... You know what the last bit of computing I did that wasn't clicking on things with a mouse?

  20 GOTO 10
  30 END





  You know what didn't suck?  My Commodore 64. *

  Anyway, that's me and cars.  I got a new car last year.  And by new I mean like new.  I like it.  It has a place where I can put my flash drive and hear things on the STEREO!  Everyone is tired of me explaining how very RAD this is.  But my last car was a mostly analogue 2003 Hyundai Accent where the radio conked out in the first year, and with no CBC and just a cd player to sustain me, I became a big fan of audiobooks not long after.

  I did learn to do a couple things with my old car.  I learned that I should have been ashamed of myself when I took the car to the dealer to get replacement windshield wiper blades installed.  So I figured out how to do that myself (this is not nothing - have you not read earlier posts, formed a pretty accurate portrait by now?).  Later, I realized that if I craned my head around, I could see where the headlight bulbs went.  Unfortunately, the housing for my Accent's battery had been rusted solid by ancient screws, so I had to take the whole front quarter of the grill off to have enough room to reach in and unplug/replace the bulb.  It was cold that day, and gloves were not aiding the process, so I felt pretty tough and manly by the end.  Hey, the headlight worked, and I saved a few bucks.

  So I've been reading about internal combustion engines.  I think it has something to do with that James Watt fellow and this whole Industrial Revolution the kids today are so hung up on.  I'm having a Love's Labour's Lost sort of time with comprehending the basics.  Truth to tell, combustion kind of breaks my brain.  I don't think I fully comprehend fire.  I mean I can use it sure, search engines and all that, but...

  I'll get back to you.


* Okay, it sucked a little.  But suck-sight is 20/20.  oh, and the Vic 20 totally did suck.