I did finally solve a nagging problem with an accursed Ku-band uplink system, which could have been collateral damage caused by either A) a loaner encoder that suffered a power supply failure that made the case "hot" to ground by 120 VAC or so, ahead of the fuse or B) a fancy dual-source, automatic-switching power strip that decided to add series resistance in the neutral of one source -- and connect it to the neutral of the other input, while also showing signs of control-electronics-insanity. The problem (in a well over $100,000.00) piece of equipment was, however, not that. Nope; it was actually fine. But the replacement-loander encoder wasn't sending out any 10 MHz reference along with the modulated L-band, and that was driving the widget (an SSPB, an' don't we love our alphabet soup?) nutso. All I had to do was be reminded of that by a factory support engineer, and then dig through the menus to turn the reference output on, and voila, it worked.
Here's what didn't work: in cold weather, my car tires tend to leak. Every three days or so, left rear and right front have to be topped up. There's free air at work, in the equally-free dark and cold, but who's complaining? I started up my car at the end of my day, let it warm for a minute* and pulled over to the overhead door nearest the air. Left rear, from 20 (!!) to 30 psi, all okay. Right front, put the filler on it and it started hissing. So I reseated it. Still hissing. But there was a pressure reading, low, and I brought it up to 28, disconnected, still hissing. Oh, thinks I, the valve, she are stuck. Put the filler back on, blip it-- Hissing. Repeat -- and soon after taking the filler away, POP! The end of the stem flew off! I put my thumb over the open end on the wheel, 'cos I am clever like that, muttering, "Oh, no, no, no..." But it was Too Late. The stem had broken at the lowest thread and carried the valve with it. There was nothing to be done but let the air out and put the spare on.
The spare in a Hyundai Accent, at least of a certain vintage, looks like a joke and not a nice one. It's below tiny, an appetizer-sized tire on a monstrously distorted, undersized, deep-dish wheel. I prised it free from the ancient padding where it has been since the car was new, took a good look and called Tam for a ride home. But my car was still blocking an overhead door and I was going to have to put that wee little tire on it and move it to a real parking space. There was no other option. Cold, dark, and out of options.
The jack is twee, too, and I couldn't find the handle. Nor could I find the Company's nice floor jack, which I would've borrowed and never thought twice. So I borrowed a honkin' big Philips instead.
Oh, the temperature was in the vicinity of 4. F. And the asphalt was darned cold. I borrowed a scrap carpet square, broke the lug nuts free (this involved me doing an impromptu Tarantella on a cross wrench. Inelegant but it works), jacked the car up one half turn of fine metric threads at a time, got the wheel off, manhandled the spare into place, lowered the jack with the same endless repetition of half-turns, and watched the tiny spare compress, compress... There was a vertical inch and a half, easy, between the wheel and the parking lot when it took the weight from the dinky jack. And my phone was ringing.
Tam. Outside the fence in the visitor's lot (from which my location was quite effectively screened), wondering if I had been abducted by the NSA or what. I mumbled some kind of explanation, put the borrowed tools and kneeler back, and eased my car into a nearby space.
Oh, when I was putting the jack, trunk floor and so on back, guess what I found hooked to the underside of the trunk floor? Guess? ...Yeah, the jack handle. Well, how convenient.
I eventually let Tam in the gate, we moved the tire to her car along with my briefcase, etc., etc. and headed home. And that, dear friends, that is the "suck and fail" portion of the festivities.
The tire needs a new stem. It may need a new tire, too.
On the other hand, double gloves and a ushanka-style cap made a huge diffidence in comfort. So at least there's that. And I have certainly now broken in my new gloves.
* Look, unless you're leaping right onto the high-speed freeway or driving a very, very old car, that's all it takes. Really.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago