Friday, November 9, 2007

One Year and still blogging...

Yikes! I've been at this blogging thing for a year. That's quite a run for a technophobe such as myself - to think, I don't even have a cell phone - not that I want one - if I had one, someone might call me.

Of course, I'm not really afraid of technology. Technology has been around since our ancestors discovered that a large stick can be used to persuade an even larger animal into choosing someone else to eat. I just maintain that technology is here for me to utilize, and not the other way around. Having a switched-on cell phone, BlackBerry, Ipod or whatever at my side would detract from my quiet time by making me available to my boss, wife and that man from the circus who won't take "no" for an answer. I need quiet time to philosophize, commune with God and write this blog. So, you won't be seeing me running around with one of those earbuds planted in my head.

Anyway, back to blogging. It seems like it was only yesterday - as the cliché goes - that I was barreling down the eastern seaboard with my cousin in his silver pick-up. Our destination: Allentown, PA. Our quarry: a low-mile, '80 four-door Jetta painted in the uber-rare shade of Inari Silver Metallic. I had discovered the car in a classifieds ad on the VWvortex and knew immediately that I wanted it - no, needed it - that I had to have it because it was calling to me like a little lost kitten might cry out in the cold night for its mother. Well, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I really did feel compelled to scoop this car up and save it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Volkswagen sub-culture, the web-based VWvortex forums are to V-dubbers what Haight-Ashbury was to the counter-culture: an open venue for the exchange of ideas, information, goods and good times. On the phone, the seller promised that I wouldn't be disappointed - as they always do. And, the car did look good in the photos posted to the ad, so, I didn't doubt him. This would later prove to be a mistake, but I'll get to that in minute.

And so, it was with great enthusiasm that I conned my cousin into coming along for the trip - I needed his pick-up - and we were soon on the road.

We surprised our city-dwelling friend by driving through the night to arrive at his doorstep by 8 in the morning. It was with bleary-eyed disbelief that he greeted us. We must have been like nothing he had ever seen. I was in my favorite red-and-black-checked plaid flannel replete with oil-stained Dickies and my cousin was wearing Carhart trousers, a grungy work shirt and a trucker-cap. We must have looked liked fugitives from the set of "Funnyfarm." Our VWvortex buddy had a surprise of his own. We soon discovered that this uber-rare Jetta was not as advertised and that it had a blown engine. Turns out that our buddy's sister - blame a girl, way to be a man - ran the oil pan into a curb during a snowstorm - typical southern folk, can't drive in a little snow. The net result was that the oil pump pick-up - which is a metal tube that resides in the oil pan - was torn loose preventing the oil pump from sucking up enough oil to maintain popper pressure which lead to rapid bearing wear and - voila - one spanked engine. Ach! Der motor ist kaputt.

Quick negotiations were conducted and resolved in our favor - he probably figured we had packed a scatter-gun in the truck. As we loaded the car on the trailer it occurred to me that I ought to put my journalism background to use and write a journal or something - after all, I'm still paying all those student loans. And so, that's how this blog was born.

Unfortunately, with all the other obligations that I have, the project has been displaced for nearly a year. I feel, however, that now is the time to begin in earnest. Otherwise, I may never get to it.

Below: The project begins. First, everything is labeled. Next, the oil is drained from the engine and the coolant is drained from the water-jacket. Then it's time for the tear down! Look at the parts starting to pile up on the work bench. I love this stuff.

Look how loose the timing belt is. My brother is removing it with his fingers while the tensioner is still tight. Someone drove around in this state for thousands of miles! Damn girl drivers - or so the previous owner might have us believe.

... and, as always, beware the watch-eye. Jack, my Australian Shepard, has been one of those other obligations. With his goofy smirk and mis-matched eyes he looks rather harmless, but in reality he's a handful.

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