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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick...

(Saint Patrick's Cathedral, on 5th Avenue in N.Y.C.)

It has been said that everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.
(Personally, I'm ¼ Irish all year 'round)

Just about everyone has heard of St. Patrick, but how many know all that much about him? Obviously, he's the patron saint of Ireland, and one doesn't have to be Irish to be aware of that. Interestingly enough he has actually never been officially canonized, however, various Christian churches declare that he is indeed a Saint.

Many stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick are false, passed along during hundreds of years of storytelling.

Some things we do know to be true about him though, based upon a couple of letters that he wrote.

St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents in the 4th century. When he was around 16 years old, he was captured in Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. According to his own writing, a voice (one which he believed to be that of God) spoke to him in a dream and told him that it was time to leave Ireland. After returning to Britain, he said that he'd experienced a second dream, in which an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Consequently, Patrick began religious training soon afterward. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland to minister to Christians already living there...and to begin to convert the Irish.

He is believed to have died on March 17, 460...hence the reason for that being date on which we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, although there is also evidence that he may in fact have died in 493.

By the 8th century he was revered as Ireland's patron saint...

Monday, March 01, 2010

My 2½ hour commute...

This happened a few Winters ago. The duration had less to do with ambient conditions than with freaky circumstances.

I left the building in which I work at 6 AM, right on schedule, but found that the left front tire of the "Camobile" (my conversion van) had gone completely flat. So, I attached my li'l handy-dandy compressor to the valve stem, plugged it into the cigarette lighter socket and waited.

After awhile (it's smallish and a bit slowish) it became evident that the tire wasn't being inflated, at which point I got out my namesake (the "jack") and raised it up to seat the bead on the rim.

Did I say it was completely flat? Well, it really, truly was.

Anyway, having gotten the bead seated, the tire began to inflate...but wouldn't go beyond 30 PSI. I listened closely near the tire, and as expected, heard the telltale hissing of a leak.

Damn and double damn!

At least with the (momentary) 30 PSI in the tire, I could pull forward to access the spare stored underneath in the back, which had been quite blocked due to my reversing into the parking space (as is my customary practice) to facilitate a rapid departure. I had to crank the spare down to the ground with the provided tooling, which took another little while, then swap it for the flat. Having been up underneath, it had an inch or so of rime ice frozen onto it in a few spots, so I smacked that off of the tread before installing it. Then I inflated it to the maximum recommended pressure. About an hour later (SLOW compressor!!!), I finally pulled out of the parking lot and headed for "La Casa de Camo". (My rambling estate)

A few miles up the road, the spare started making weird sounds, so thinking it was losing air I pulled over but could see nothing wrong. I chalked it up to its being of a different type (bias ply) from the other 3 (radial) tires, and continued on. A few more miles, and it was getting worse, so I got out and looked at it again with the same result.

2 more miles, while turning a corner, we...had...separation. The wheel went off on its own, whereas I came to a jarring halt with the disc brake rotor resting on the asphalt.
(Like the one in the picture above)

Near as I can figure, there was also some rime ice on the surface where the wheel mates up to the hub when I put it on, and I did snug it down tight...I've changed a tire or three in my day, and I do "know the drill".

My best guess is that after a while the ice melted, inducing a wobble that got progressively worse, but since I wasn't looking for looseness when I stopped (just proper inflation) the fact that it was no longer screwed down tight completely escaped my notice. Consequently, the wobble of the wheel chewed up the lugs, and the lug nuts (all 5) worked their way off. In fact, I found 3 of them right at the scene of the accident, where they had all let go at the same time. Conveniently, as it happened, because I used them to put the wheel back on after I retrieved it from somebody's (snow and ice-covered) lawn. The ice hypothesis I came up with later, but it fits the facts of the situation.

Pretty wild, huh? The damage to the rotor and supporting suspension components, plus an alignment (and new custom wheels) came to just under $1800 with associated labor.

Good times...

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