Sunday, February 25, 2007

Amazing...Truly Amazing...

It was a long day of house-chores, blogging, pestering Alvis to clean her room and "after-school" book areas.

One of Lavie's co-workers ended up giving me a job and a half to complete.

Car Care Completed

She thought that she saw some fluid on the parking slot that Lavie had just earlier pulled out of and called me to check it out.

So Friday night when I got home I crawled around under Lavie's Altima and made sure everything was good. (It was.)

No leaky fluids anywhere...what her friend say may have been condensation runoff or there from another vehicle.

Lavie is really fortunate to have a friend like this one. She is a transplant from Pittsburgh and although they have other local friends, they have a great relationship. Not many people I know would take the time to call another friend's husband (after not getting Lavie) just to make sure things are ok and safe. Pretty kind, in my book. Anyway....

No fluid spots on our concrete. No drips or runs.

Although, I gotta hand it to Nissan. It's no small task trying to wedge oneself under for a good look at the undercarriage on an Altima. It's lowered pretty far, even for a standard suspension package (maybe five or six inches clearance). And the amount of plating and framework underneath would probably rival the heft of a Hummer and the aerodynamics of a NASCAR racer. I forgot just how tight and packed it looked under there. Wowzers.

But during the under-hood inspection I noticed that there was some "scub-corral" like growth around the positive terminal. Bright blue-green. Oh no.

So this afternoon I went down to the auto-parts store, got some terminal cleaner (works better than cola) and a new clamp assembly (just in case).

I've seen a few clamps get so corroded you can't get the bolt off, or maybe the metal gets so thin it fractures....so I wanted to be prepared.

Lavie's battery is still the original Nissan one. I was surprised to notice it had the "caps" on it. As a kid I remember Grandpa pulling the caps off the battery and getting this little eye-dropper looking thing with colored plastic balls in it. He would take a sample and see how they floated and then add water accordingly. Me, I'd just buy a new battery if it came to that.

Luckily, my fears were unfounded (darn those Nissan engineers).

I had gotten out my mechanic's toolbox (a gift from my dad about when I was getting out of college), a roll of paper towels, the can of acid neutralizer, a can of WD-40, a brass wire brush, my terminal brush, a bowl of water and Alvis was in tow.

I began with a heavy soaking with the acid neutralizing spray and many paper towels later I had the battery casing clean along with most of the acid formation--pretty as it was. I was surprised to find I could get both clamps off with minimal fuss, even with the buildup. I disassembled all the clamps (the positive terminal clamp was a six or seven piece affair) bushed them clean with some wire brushes. All the metal parts, including the bolts, threads and nuts were still in great condition under the buildup and gunk. That was really unexpected! I cleaned the terminals with the terminal brush (Alvis was fascinated by that). Sprayed the bolt threads with WD-40 and reassembled.

It started fast and strong. Awesome.

Job well done. Anybody have a vanship I can work on?

But is victory short-lived?

Alvis had got her report card and gotten all A's and one B. Not too shabby!

We decided to take her out to the mall pick up a manga for work well done.

I told Lavie that I still wasn't too pleased with the fit of my latest pairs of jeans. (Oh no!) And would probably be open to looking for a pair or two. Maybe. If she was up to it. Of course, going jean shopping is right around the very bottom of the list of things I would do only if my life depended on it.

It usually never turns out well.

Setting the Ground Rules

Lavie said she was, but expected a few rules to be followed.

  1. I had to keep a positive attitude. (check)
  2. I had to be open to her suggestions and feedback. (reasonable enough)
  3. I had to come all the way out of the dressing rooms and model the fit for her. (Umm. really?)
  4. I had to keep a positive attitude. (didn't she already say that?)

OK. I promised to behave.

So off we went.

We tried a few department stores, but I began getting dangerously close to breaking a few of her rules already.

In the end, I wasn't happy with any of the selections or the fit on my skinny-boy legs, nor was Lavie happy with the fit on my seat. We were both getting, well, bummed.

Alvis alone was happy, having found her copy of a new manga series Kitchen Princess. (I was secretly hoping for a fourth volume of Yotsuba& (still waiting for the Stateside release...) or volume two of Rizelmine (not out yet either)).

Finally in a fit of desperation, I suggested maybe we could try a nearby western-wear store. Surely they could have jeans that could fit a skinny-legged dude.

Did I just fall into the Rodeo?

We asked the tall sales kid, Cowboy Dan for help. He sized me up and marched us down to the end of the jean wall and began pulling jeans like a cowboy pulling lambs out of the herd.

Before I knew it he and Lavie had herded me down into a wood paneled changing stall fit for barn and were tossing the jeans over the top like hay bales into a barn.

I was stunned to find they fit. Really, really good. First time up. Wow.

Lavie made me come out and parade around in front of her, Alvis and Cowboy Dan.

And the Blue Ribbon goes to...

All the judges seem pleased with the fit.

We walked out of the western-wear store with five new pairs of damn-fine-fittin' jeans in several shades of indigo.

Lavie was happy and Alvis was amused. And I?

I guess this life-long Texan city-boy has to finally fess up and admit it; he has a cowboy's body and heart after all.

Who knew?

Now if I could just figure out if horses are as easy to work on as Nissan Altima's....

--Claus

1 comment:

Mike, Nicki, and Josh said...

Congrats on the car fix. Reading the tale left a 10-minute smile on my face. When we were preparing for our drive up to Nagano a few months back, I decided to prepurchase some snow chains for our car. Being raised in the South, I never needed snow chains but thought they might be helpful here in the mountains of Japan. I felt like the king of the world after installing them, especially since I had to buy them at a Japanese store and learn how to connect them using Japanese-only directions.

-Mike