Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘learning the hard way

Simplest Solution

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I don’t know how many times I am going to face this lesson before I comprehend it well enough to no longer be fooled. It’s batteries. Apparently, I know just enough to fall prey to a key misperception. My understanding of electronics is deeper than many others, having attended years of technical school and working in high tech firms with engineers for most of my career, but batteries seem to be a repeating weak point for me.

The problem preventing the diesel tractor from starting which I had come to suspect was related to a missing safety interlock signal turned out to be the most obvious and likely cause of a bad battery.

Sure, the “fully charged” light came on when I connected a charger to the battery. Sure, the instruments on the dash lit up deceivingly bright when I turned the key.

It was all a facade. There was no “oomph” behind that initial twelve volts that allowed my ‘too smart for its own good’ brain to wander off after several much less likely possible component failures.

With essential assistance from Cyndie, who rose to the occasion to provide tenacious problem-solving brainpower and impressive muscle, we extracted the heavy battery from the very difficult to access front end of the tractor.

I’m particularly pleased with our simultaneous insight to use blocks of wood tucked under the unwieldy battery after lifting it just inches at a time in order to get it up where we could finally muscle it clear of the multiple obstructions.

After reversing that process to drop in the new battery, starting the tractor was easy. The afternoon project of chipping branches turned the area beside Cyndie’s new gardens into a lumberjack camp of cut branches, sawed logs, and flying woodchips.

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Turning logs into split firewood and branches into woodchips are two processes I find most rewarding for getting greater value out of the material left over after the initial project of needing to remove trees.

It isn’t necessarily a simple solution, but it is a wonderful achievement of making full use of our resources.

I can only hope that I will now find it easy to recognize future occasions of weak batteries being the simplest solution in my troubleshooting of equipment failing to start.

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Breaking Point

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How far can things stretch before they break? The one sure way to find out is when the “thing” in question actually breaks. I’m inclined toward not discovering this in most cases, and as a result, try not to stretch the limits of unknowns that could involve harm.

It’s weird to watch the number of people who are choosing to march together in protest over having businesses forced to shut down and people commanded to shelter in place. Have they honestly reached their breaking point? Something tells me that would be a poor use of the descriptor.

For the most part, I avoided breaking anything I didn’t intend to break yesterday while pretending to be a lumberjack, although I did suffer a significant contusion just above my right knee. Wood is really heavy. Really, really heavy. A tree that didn’t seem all that large tipped precisely in the direction I intended, but at the last moment when the upper branches reached the ground, it caused the trunk to swiftly roll back toward me and smack my leg.

I was able to cut the smaller trees straight through with a single swipe, such that I am right beside them as they respond. Sometimes they lay down on their own, other times the trunk shifts and lands upright on the ground with the high branches held up by surrounding limbs. The tree that got me was just a bit bigger, so I smartly cut a notch on the front side and made a slot on the backside for the hinge technique of felling trees.

There was one important next step I forgot where I’m to swiftly move away when the tree starts to tip.

I stretched the safety rules, but luckily this time, not to a breaking point.

Out of the many trees toppled yesterday, I only had one get hung up on a nearby three so solidly that we couldn’t pull it down. I cut the leaning trunk to separate the upper portion from the base but that didn’t do anything about the limb that was tightly nestled deep in the “Y” of the standing tree.

Using the skills I learned from my brother, Elliott, I tossed a weighted line into the branches in order to pull a rope through. Cyndie and I took turns trying to pull in every direction, but nothing was going to change that perfect catch-point of the two trees. I headed back to the shop for the pole-chainsaw.

It wasn’t long enough to reach the critical point from the ground, but I was able to trim and bring down the bulk of the tree.

I was reaching the breaking point of my tolerance for dealing with that blasted tangle of branches and called it a day.

There is a terrace wall construction project that is in need of attention.

Counting my blessings that sheltering at home for us does not mean staying inside an apartment or our house…

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