Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Tire

This is my car.  She is a 1997 Camry.  She has 229,000 miles on her and she has served me well over these past few years.   Her name is the Dreymobile, because she is named after my older sister Audrey. 
Last week, while taking her home with me for a two hour drive on the interstate, we (the car and I) almost died.  You see, my tire exploded.  That's right, it literally exploded.  It was epic!  I was really tired, so at first I didn't even realize what was happening.  I thought that I had swerved onto the reflectors dividing the lanes.  It took me a little while to realize that it was my tire.  When I finally put two and two together, I put my emergency lights on and slowly pulled over to a nearby exit ramp.  I parked on the shoulder and tried to assess the damage.   At this point, it was 9:30 at night, my phone was dying, and I was alone.  My Aunt lives about thirty minutes from where I was, so I tried to call her.  She didn't answer, so I left a voicemail.  After that, I called my mom, who lives an hour away (at the home I was trying to get to), no answer, I left a voicemail.  Then I did what I should probably have done first, I called 911.  They forwarded me to the city police for the city I was nearest.  I told them where I was and they said that they would send help.

Here's the tire: 

Here's another shot:
 So, determined not to be the typical damsel in distress, I decided to change the tire myself.   Now before I go further, I would like to explain something.   Until the day that my tire exploded, I had never changed a tire.  That said, it occurred to me last January, that it is probably very important that I learn how.  Unfortunately, every time I asked someone to teach me I got a mocking, patronizing speech to this effect, "What's to know?  All you do is jack up the car, take off the bad tire, put on the spare, take the car down and you're done."  Being thus put off, my education in tire-changing was delayed.

Back to the story:  I opened my trunk, moved it's contents (all of my WH dishes and business supplies) up to the back seat of the car.  Then I dug out my spare tire, my lug wrench, and my jack.  First off, I jacked up the car (before you comment, keep reading.  I will explain all).  Then I painstakingly loosened one lug at a time.  It took forever, because the tire kept turning.  (I eventually discovered that you're supposed to loosen the lugs before you jack up the car.)  After some effort I managed to get four of five lugs off.  Then I made a terrible discovery; the last lug wasn't shaped like the rest and the lug wrench didn't fit it!

Here's the lug:

 At this point, about twenty minutes had passed and no help had come.  Sure a couple of cops, about eleven eighteen-wheelers, and a few other cars had passed by, but no one had stopped to help.  (I found out later that if you put your hood up, cops are legally required to stop.)  Now my phone had begun blinking rapidly to warn me that the battery was on it's last leg.  Finally, my phone rang.  It was my mom.  I told her where I was and that no help had come, then my phone died.

Now, to be quite honest, I was feeling more than a little bit scared at the point.  My phone was completely dead,  I was alone, I wasn't even sure if I had told my mom the right exit, and I was really tired.  I searched my trunk again, trying to find some other lug wrench or something to get that last lug off.  No success.  After that, it occurred to me to read the owners manual on changing tires.  (This is where I learned that you need to loosen the lugs before you jack up the car.)  But there wasn't a word about one of the lugs being different than the others or requiring a special piece.

Resigned to waiting, I tried to find ways to pass the time.  I also came up with a plan of action for if help never came.  I had my phone charger, but it wasn't a car charger.  So, if help didn't come, my plan was to tear an unimportant page from my owner's manual, write a note to whoever might come explaining where I was going, and walk down the exit ramp to the Motel 6 to charge my phone and see what could be done.  A third cop passed me, but he was pulling someone over for something, so they parked at the far end of the ramp.  As I waited, it began to really worry me that I had told Mom the wrong exit, so I started to walk back up the road to the sign before the exit.

I didn't get far when help finally came, so I ran back to my car to meet the cop who was pulling up.  (It was actually two cops in the car.)  They got out and examined my predicament.  They informed me that the troublesome lug is called a locking lug and the piece for it is kept in the glove compartment.  Stupid owner's manual.  But that was only half of my problem.

As it turns out, one must put the jack on pavement lest it max out and still not be high enough to put the spare on.  So the cops had to figure out another way to get the car up high enough to finish the job.  While they were trying to work it out, another police car arrived.  So now, me and three cops stood on the side of the exit ramp trying to figure out my problem.  Then the police officer who had pulled someone over, backed his car up to us and got out to join the party.   Between the four, very kind state police officers, they were finally able to get the spare on and send me on my way.

My school and my apartment are only about ten minutes away from where my tire blew out so I pulled over there to charge my phone and call home to let my mom know that everything was okay.   She told me that when she had called the state police, they had heard nothing of my trouble.  If she hadn't called, I could have been waiting all night.  It was 11:45 when I finally got to school and just about 1:00AM when I got home.  In the end it was quite an adventure and now I know how to change a tire.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Kiss today goodbye...

Another semester has come and gone.  Soon I will be done with college and on to new and different things.  A number of my good friends have already graduated or are about to graduate and I find myself a tiny bit overwhelmed by the prospect of these huge changes that are rolling my way.  Yet change does and must come and she and I are becoming well acquainted with one another.  Soon we will be old friends.

I'm glad to that I'm about to discover a little bit more of what God has in store for me and I'm glad to be done (almost) with undergrad.  I'm looking forward to seeing new places and meeting new people.   But I'm going to miss many things.  I'll miss taking long walks with my friends, having heart to heart until 3 and 4 in the morning, being able to walk to daily Mass, walking to get around in general, being able to play hooky, having most of my closest friends living within walking distance, and having summer's off.

Still, for those of y'all who helped make all of those great things that I'll miss possible to begin with, thank you!  I appreciate having you in my life and I hope that you will always know how much you mean to me. 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Case of the Missing Time

Here's the thing, folks, finals week is here and I'm already behind on my work.  Why, you might ask, am I writing this blog post?  Procrastination seems, at the moment, to be the most plausible answer. 

As I look at my exam schedule for the week, I become a bit anxious about how I am possibly going to get everything done!  There is so much work to be done.  I don't understand why this finals week is so bad for me.  I've survived semesters wherein I had six finals, so this semester, with its measly four finals, should be a piece of cake, right?  Well, I thought so, but apparently that is not the case.

So, why are my finals so challenging?  History.  No, I don't have a bad history with finals.  I'm taking three history classes.  I don't know about you, but I am notoriously bad at remember dates.  I mean, I'm lucky if I manage to get the right century.   I'm just atrocious at that particular form of memorization.  The only reason I can keep American and British periods separate is because - I kid you not - of the changes in fashion.

So what's a girl to do?  If I have three days per test(as I've had for most of the semesters), then I might have a prayer of getting all of these dates straight.  But I don't have three days.  For some tests, I only have half a day.

As if that weren't enough, I have to keep Chinese and Indian names straight.  I have to remember what Sun Yat-sen, Liang Shikai, Li Hongzhang, Li Hongji, Hong Xiuquan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Iqbal, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Chanakya, Artashastra, and are and what there significance is.... *sigh*  For some of you, this may not seem such a daunting task, but again, I would need more time to memorize all of this info.

Okay, well, I'm officially done complaining about my finals week.  This is my second to last semester as an undergrad student, maybe my second last semester ever!  So, I shall take heart and plunge into my work before any more time is lost! 

P.S. If you have any tips for studying names and dates quickly, shoot them my way. Thanks!  =)