Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

2/24/07 Monday
Christmas Eve. Just another day to me. It’s a day of inconvenience because of the insanity of people’s last minute rushes and stores being closed early if they open at all. But I don’t plan on going anywhere so will avoid all that. Any more Christmas is for kids and mine are grown and far away.

Today is another day of trying to get things done. The latest project has been replacing the U-joints. That hasn’t been fun. The big C-clamp I bought at Harbor Freight didn’t budge it, instead it just twisted when I used a two foot lever to turn the screw tighter. Even heating the yoke with a torch didn’t work. I finally got the small sledge hammer I also bought at Harbor out. I know Danny said your not supposed to do this but my frustration was high and I really need to get this truck running. Besides I braced it all well so am confident it will be alright. Regardless the hammer did the trick. Hurray! I finally got them free.

Then it was to AutoZone to buy the replacement U-joints. They had two types. One was nine bucks and the other sixteen. The nine dollar set have a grease nipple to add grease later and the expensive set didn’t. Presuming they were better I bought the higher priced ones. This truck is a valuable work vehicle and I want it to run as good as possible.

Getting the new U-joints in wasn’t going well. I cleaned, greased, and even sanded the yokes to facilitate pressing them in. They wouldn’t even start. To make matters worse I dropped a bearing cup while struggling to get these installed. The worst enemy of a bearing is dirt, particularly West Texas sand that will grind metal to dust, and the cup was now full of it. Cherie heard me cussing and came out to see what was wrong. Upon hearing she let the dogs in and disappeared knowing this was a good time to leave me alone.

I spent the next hour cleaning each of the fifty or so needle bearings one at a time and carefully placing them in the cup, using grease to hold them in place. I thought of just returning the bearing and telling AutoZone I decided to go with the cheaper set, thus exchanging them and escaping this ordeal. But that would be wrong. The true test of honor and integrity comes when no one is looking or can know. I have no question that I could exchange this U-joint without a problem, but someone else would get the one I messed up so that would be wrong. The Bible’s says that if you know what is right to do and don’t do it, that is sin. That’s a good basic definition of right and wrong and conversely a definition of the principle of honor and integrity (the two go together in my mind) is to do what you know is right even when no one knows. It’s an internal thing that has nothing to do with impressing others. So I did the work.

With it all cleaned up I went back to the task of pressing this U-joint in. NO, It won’t go in no matter what I did. I twisted the C-clamp till it was worthless and still nothing happened. Even some judicious hammering wouldn’t get it even started. What in the world? I took the old U-joint and held it next to the new one. Damn, it’s the wrong size. I hope I didn’t screw up the drive shaft trying to get this in. The new one is only about a thirty second of an inch bigger, hardly noticeable even when held next to the old one. I called AutoZone and the guy knew right away there were different sizes. This time I took the old one with me to make sure. I decided to go with the cheaper ones as the ability to add grease later just seems better anyway. By the time I got home it was dark so that was it for working on this. This morning it was 29 degrees out so I will wait till it warms up before I go try this again. I sure hope I didn’t mess the drive shaft up trying to put the wrong parts in. If I did I’ll try to make AutoZone replace it but don’t think I’ll have much luck with that.

Cherie has gone out to brave the madness of Christmas Eve in the stores. She has a list of things we need and has been studying the ads to find the best deals. I figure she will be gone at least five hours. There is no way I can go or even want to. All that commotion would just trigger a slowdown anyway. We went to the brunch and worship service at First Baptist, Midland, yesterday. Even that was hard on me with all the people, lines, and unfamiliarity. The tables were filled up so they were bringing out chairs for folks to sit on as quick as they could. I think the size of the crowd caught them by surprise. We found so seats in the corner out of the way so that helped me stay fairly cognizant though I did slow down some. Actually quite a bit by the time it came time to go to the sanctuary for the worship service but the soothing of the songs helped a lot so I was back to a seven on the bob scale by the time it ended.

Cherie hasn’t been feeling well, fighting off some kind of nausea thing for a few days along with bad tooth pain. They could well be related. Fortunately she seems to be doing much better today. She was pretty rough at church so we went straight home. This morning I have one of the headaches. When we were visiting Don and Cindy? (I always have to check with Cherie to make sure I get her name right) she suggested using an ice pack on my head for them. The more I think about that I suspect it will make them worse. My reasoning is that aspirin seems to be the only effective thing for them and it thins the blood allowing it to flow better. Cold causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduces the flow. Based on that I had Cherie heat one of her packs that can be both frozen or heated to be placed on a body part. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference other than a lot of sweat on my forehead, but it didn’t make things worse.

That’s ok cause it’s too cold to be out working on the drive shaft so I’m laying here with the puppies who are quite pooped from our morning excursion. I went to see if any more rye had managed to come up, especially where I’ve been running the sprinkler. There were a couple of little sprouts showing so that’s good. I’ve been up since four anyway when I rebuilt the fire this morning so am already tired. I’ll post this and snooze for an hour when it should be warm enough to work outside.

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