Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘flat tire

Far Away

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img_ip1886eThis feels so far away from home. Breakfast on the lanai by the pool in shorts and a t-shirt is so mind-bogglingly different from my normal routine that I feel like this is a dream. Well, it is a dream, actually. We are living the dream.

Besides power-lounging the day away, the most work I did involved figuring out how to connect Fred and Marie’s smart TV to the internet so they could watch shows on Amazon Prime, and then helping Fred put air in his bike tires.

He hadn’t ridden the bike for about 2 years, but Marie told him other visitors have been using the bikes every year. He wanted to take a little ride, so we just added some air and off he went.

When we next saw him again an hour or so later, he reported he had gone for a short bike ride followed by a long walk. His front tire had blown out. First, he reported noticing a ticking sound as the wheel turned round and round. Then it POPPED!img_ip1889e

Forensic analysis revealed a failure in the sidewall of the tire. The inner tube had ballooned out and was rubbing the brake with each revolution, until the rubber tube burst.

Turned out to be a pretty impressive level of activity for the guy turning 80 this weekend.

Otherwise, the afternoon became a blur of card games, napping, and floating in the pool. Cyndie served Barry and Carlos drinks by the pool.

Around dinner time, the surprises for Fred continued as Cyndie’s brother, Steve arrived. Then, after dessert had been served, her last brother, Ben appeared with his wife, Sara. The last secret had been revealed and the kids were all present.

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We sat around the table sharing life stories and lost our breath in laughter multiple times. Fred shared a memory of his 60th birthday when the kids all showed up for a surprise gathering on a ski vacation in the mountains out west. That year, they left spouses at home.

Cyndie and I have been married for 35 years and had dated off and on for 7 years before that, so I recognized plenty of the tales that were being recollected. Reliving the many stories reveals a weird combination of my being part of the family, but not being one of the family. I’m here, but I’m not as here here as they are, if that makes any sense.

One thing that is clear, we are noticeably far away from our home in Wisconsin right now.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Sinking Feeling

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I was all fired up to pick up where I left off on Saturday with the plowing of trails, but my plan changed quickly when I discovered a flat tire on the Grizzly. Actually, the fact that it was flat was no surprise. I’ve been nursing that tire for quite a while because it has had a slow leak.

The difference now is that it is not as slow a leak anymore. When I added air there was a very audible hissing. I had never been able to actually hear the leaking air before yesterday. Time for some Slime.

Actually, the time for Slime was way back when I first realized it needed air every time I wanted to use the ATV. Maybe I was thinking this would be one of those problems that would go away if I ignored it long enough.

It wasn’t one of those problems.

I rearranged my goals for the day and turned my attention to moving hay bales from the shed into the barn. When I slid the barn door open I discovered the iron rail that is supposed to be a catch for the two doors had dropped out of reach.

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Or maybe the ground has heaved up around it. It’s confusing.

I don’t know what the difference is from last year, when the ground and the rail both heaved up to the point we were rarely able to use the big doors.

All I know for sure is, the ground sure moves a lot around here.

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

Sneaking Treats

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I’m feeling a bit of a sugar overdose this morning after a day of too many treats. I told Cyndie that I kept sneaking cookies and caramels as if I was trying to hide them from myself. I don’t think I successfully fooled me.

We had a bit of a weather event move through the region yesterday. It wasn’t as bad as the tornadoes that proved lethal in the south, but it added a little drama to my double-commute. After navigating the snow to get home from work, we drove back into the cities through the heaviest snow for dinner and a visit with friends and family.

Yesterday’s precipitation started as rain. Cyndie had smartly moved the horses into the barn overnight, while they were calm and dry Tuesday evening. She described the horses as wanting to go outside Wednesday morning, even though the obvious reverberation of raindrops on the metal roof meant they would get a soaking once out.

By the time I got home in the afternoon, it was falling as all snow. It was a sloppy, sticky mess. Rolling slowly along the driveway, I inspected the herd. The two young chestnuts were in the back pasture, grazing normally. Dezirea was near Legacy, close to the paddock, but out in the hay-field area. She had her butt to the wind and her head down, in the classic pose of enduring the wetness.

It was Legacy who drew my attention. I felt a moment of alarm, wondering if he may have a serious problem, so I stopped to observe him for about three minutes. I couldn’t quite figure out his issue, because his uncharacteristic behavior included as many normal gestures as odd ones.

I decided he just looked uncomfortable and reported it to Cyndie immediately. She headed out to check and let them back in the barn for the night. Turned out to be accumulations of sticky snow balled up under his hooves that were irritating him.

After picking up my car that had been in for service— oh, that’s another story… The recent flat tire revealed that all my tires were pretty worn out. I authorized a full set of new tires and asked them to change the oil while they had it. I wasn’t surprised when the shop called to report the rotors of the front brakes were in bad shape. It was time. Nor was I surprised when they called again and said the calipers not working is probably what wore out the rotors. New calipers, too.

The repair of my one flat tire had escalated into a 3-day project that was in danger of costing a quarter of the car’s worth. When I called to see if it was ready for us to pick up, the tech answered and reported that, yes, the battery had come, and it was ready now.

Battery?

Oh, yeah. That, too. That one flat tire led to a very expensive visit to the shop. Merry Christmas, John. You just spent your holiday bonus and then some. I will say, I am very satisfied to have this much car, with its known history, for that amount of money.

I’m off work until next Monday and we now enter full Christmas eventing for the next 4 days. If I find time, I’ll write about it.

It’s going to involve a lot of driving in my “new” car, and I’m hoping a somewhat controlled amount of sugary treats.

Merry Christmas to you!

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2015 at 10:13 am

Frozen Proof

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In addition to being warmer than normal this year during the months leading up to the winter solstice, it’s been significantly wetter. Luckily, yesterday there was no precipitation, allowing me to stay dry while changing my ‘Monday morning’ flat tire in the dark, on the side of the road.

Why does it have to happen on Monday morning?

One nice thing about the type of weather we have been receiving lately is that it has provided very visible proof of concept for the drainage tile we added to divert water around the paddocks. Even though it has been surprisingly warmer than normal, there have still been moments of good ol’ December frozen mornings.

Recently, one of those frozen mornings resulted in a very vivid depiction of the water that flows from the drain tile. IMG_iP1105eThe tile drains out into the longer grass of the back pasture. The image of that frozen outflow represents water that won’t be flowing through the paddocks on its travels downhill from our property.

Success!

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Written by johnwhays

December 22, 2015 at 7:00 am

Twice Flat

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I fixed a flat tire on our two-wheeled wheelbarrow on Friday. What a surprise to find a large thorn had pierced the tire. Really? I somehow rolled that over a branch and a thorn cut right through the heavy rubber and punctured the inner tube? What are the odds of that? Come on! It’s a damn wheelbarrow for chrissakes!

Let it be known that I hate the process of getting a tire bead over a rim. I have wrestled with enough bicycle tires in my life to completely understand the process. Initially, there is a moment when it appears there is no possible way that round piece of stiff finite rubber is going to stretch far enough to make it over that larger rim. It happens to me every time. Even though I know better, there is a moment of, “this is never going to fit.”

Next comes the battle of pressing on the tire bead at the critical spot where it no longer wants to move over the rim. There are two of those spots; one to the left and one to the right. Since the tire is a circle, everything you gain at the spot on the right will be lost in equal amounts at the spot on the left, unless you find a way to prevent it.

I huff and puff, curse and struggle, trying this technique and that, wondering what I am doing wrong, and then suddenly there is some unlikely hint of progress. For no logical reason, I finally begin to gain ground. This is the ultimate moment of resolve. At this point it starts becoming increasingly easier to roll the rubber over the rim with each fraction of success. This is when the impossible task begins to appear feasible.

When it finally pops over, there is a sense of “that wasn’t so hard.” Why did I struggle so much at first? Unfortunately, I have never quite figured out why I have so much initial difficulty, nor what it is that finally brings me to the point of succeeding. I can never find a way to just cut all the agitation and get right to the part where it rolls over the rim.

Imagine my joy when I was using the wheelbarrow yesterday morning and discovered the tire was flat again. Aaaauugh! Did my patch fail?!

This is where I am my own worst enemy. My anguish wasn’t as much about my patch failing as it was about facing the tire/rim battle another time. I set my self up for failure with my mental energy focused on that likely failure. My wish came true.

The good news is that my patch didn’t fail. How likely is it that there was a second puncture in that tube? Every cyclist knows the pain of the twice-flat tire repair. If you don’t clean out the inside of the tire, imbedded debris can re-puncture a tube upon inflation. I figured the huge thorn I pulled out of that tire the first time was so obviously the source of my problem that I didn’t need to spend time looking for others. Apparently, I was wrong.

I didn’t find anything to explain the second puncture, but I did have so much difficulty getting the tire back on the rim, I needed to walk away from it and do something else for a while. When I came back to try again, I was mysteriously successful with a reasonable amount of effort.

That wasn’t so hard. However, I am writing this without having been out to check to see if that damn tire is still holding air this morning…

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2014 at 8:30 am

Cyndie’s Day

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When I saw my wife coming up the driveway in our truck late yesterday afternoon, I steadied myself for what I anticipated would be a days-worth of angst. Her text to me was typically understated: “It’s been a really crummy day.”

Both Cyndie and I have come to see that there are often specific lessons for us in the challenges that unexpectedly entangle and derail our daily affairs. Sometimes we don’t know the impact or lessons these challenges offer for the other people involved in the events, but we believe each individual has something equally specific available to them, whether they recognize it or not. If nothing else, like getting results from taking a placebo, looking at it that way helps us to embrace the angst of our challenges as having purpose.

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photo provided by Cyndie

When I came inside after clearing the drifted snow from our front steps and walkway, Cyndie was preparing comfort-food for dinner. I prepared myself to hear about her day. I was pleasantly surprised. On one of the most dangerous of cold days, her car suffered a flat tire –a shredded tire, really– miles from any commerce. It is the very reason travel is not recommended, and many schools around the state call off classes, in these weather conditions: you don’t want to get stuck while trying to travel to your destination. Yet, there she was, alone in the severe wind-chill with a tire that needed to be changed, and her car perched dangerously on the edge of traffic.

As I dove into the dinner she set before me, Cyndie began to describe the number of good things that seemed to come out of a situation that completely destroyed her plans for the day and will ultimately involve costly repairs. First, I heard about the number of people, citizens and law enforcement, who stopped to check on her welfare and offer help while she waited several hours for the tow truck to arrive. Then there was the tow truck driver who safely executed the near impossible task of changing that tire in the dangerously cold wind. Finally, her discovering the auto repair business I referred her to, that I had found in a hasty online search for something close to our home.

Courtesy Auto Repair is not only conveniently located, it sounds like it will be the perfect resource for us. The owner provided double the service, first guiding Cyndie through all the factors involved with her tire failure, (diagnosing brake issues that are likely contributing to the early failure of her tires –another tire was also splitting apart), then also helping get our truck fixed up, too.

Cyndie had first tried the truck in the morning before setting out in her car, but it failed to start. Later, when she got her car to the repair shop on a spare tire, he asked if she had other transportation. When he learned about the truck, he offered to have one of his employees give her a ride home, and then check the battery. They jump-started the truck and the driver followed Cyndie as she drove it back to the shop so they could give it a complete inspection.

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photo provided by Cyndie

After she parked it at the shop, it already needed to be jumped again. The battery was shot. After doing a multi-point inspection, the technician mentioned the windshield washer nozzle was frozen up. The owner insisted that the tech flush the lines and drain all the questionable washer solution out, refilling it with a fresh solution. This guy is thorough.

Cyndie was able to leave with the truck in good working condition and with parts on order for her car. If she just focused on how the flat tire in dangerous conditions had wrecked her plan for the day, it would be a lot worse than just “crummy.” As it is, there were enough good things happening that we are almost glad for the hassles she experienced yesterday. We are extremely pleased that for all the undesirable outcomes that could have resulted from the risks of the ailing brakes and failing tires, she was able to pull over with the relatively minor incident of one flat.

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2014 at 7:00 am