Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

dead vw

I’m running emacs from eve on my local machine through the magic of X, and it’s pretty weird. It’s also a little slow on opening new windows, text selection, and redrawing, so I need to take it easy.

I’ve spent the last few hours reading old mail and cutting out snippets and ideas that I can later use in the second book. It’s recycling, but it’s also stuff that hasn’t been published, and it’s mine, so what the hell? Whenever I’ve done this in the past, I’ve contorted the old stuff so much, that it’s barely distinguisable for the original, so I don’t think anyone will notice. In fact, Rumored to Exist already contains stuff pulled from dream journals and heavily modified. It’s weird to think that ideas from the book originated in dreams, but it happens. It’s even more weird that I read in an interview with Chick Corea that the theme from Eye of the Beholder came to him in a dream. I’ve listened to that album thousands of times, and that song is so haunting – you remember it out of nowhere weeks later.

[There was a long thing here about Chick Corea’s belief system, which I won’t even mention by name for fear of getting sued.]

06/27/98 18:10

My digestive system has gone south, so I’m wondering what to do about dinner tonight. I’m sure something will happen. I have enough money to go to Denny’s, but the food would kill me, and I need to ration my cash like Germans rationed gas during World War II. (That’s a completely arbitrary comment – I’m assuming they rationed gas, because we bombed the shit out of their oil refineries. I didn’t. Somebody that lived in the US did. They, not we. Nevermind.)

The VW is still dead. I bolted on the refurbished water pump and housing, hooked it all up, and… it didn’t start. The battery died from the 3 weeks or so of sitting around. I checked it for any visible problems, and saw that it was a 50 month warranty battery that was installed in April of 93. Do the math and you’ll see why I found that humorous/not very fucking funny. I got a jumpstart (the wonder of two cars) and cranked it over, and… it leaked like a sieve. New antifreeze, all over the place. It didn’t leak too fast at first, and I thought that maybe the engine would get hot and the parts would expand and sort of weld together, sort of like how the SR-71 leaks fuel all over the place while on the ground, but once it gets going mach 3, all of the titanium expands and it’s tighter than a drum.

So I got in the car, went for a spin, and within 2 minutes, realized just how stupid I can be at times. The engine temperature light swept from C to H like the second hand on a watch, and I pulled into the parking lot of a medical center. The thing was REALLY losing coolant, and I watched it drain onto the ground while the engine ticked away. I’ve been told that driving an overheated VW is one of the worst things you can do, because it has an aluminum head, and it’s very, very easy to fuck things up on a colossal scale. So I was smart enough to stop before the needle got buried in the red on the temp gauge. I let it cool down, found that I don’t know how to operate the heater in my car, and then I left (the VW heater controls have a bunch of international symbols – instead of saying “vent”, “heat”, etc. there is a triangle, a box, a grid, and some wavy lines. I don’t know what the hell this means. Also, the heater core might be dead – I’m not sure. I wanted to run the heater because it’s the best thing to do when the car overheats. It’s uncomfortable, but it works like a secondary radiator, and can sometimes save your ass. I had to do this daily in my diesel Rabbit.) I got maybe a half mile back, and the temp redlined, so I pulled into a hospital or a medical building of some sort, and waited a bit more. The engine cooled, so I put in the key, and… nothing. No battery. No cranking. Not even a pathetic “tic tic tic”.

I called Karena on my cell phone, and she showed up and jumpstarted the car. On the remaining mile of the trip, I stopped again briefly. It was cool because I stopped on a little cul-de-sac with a slight downhill grade, and when the engine cooled and we took off, I just pushed in the clutch, shifted to third, let gravity pull me to a gentle clip, and jockeyed the clutch a bit – pow, the engine started. No jumpstart needed.

Anyway, I got the car back, and it doesn’t seem to leak a whole lot when its at a standstill. I think that it’s the housing’s connection to the engine, and that it’s not sitting well. I asked around on usenet, and I think if I pull everything apart again, put a Pamela Anderson-sized amount of silicone sealer all over the part, and torque the shit out of everything, it will stop leaking. But that means draining and refilling the radiator again. As for the battery, I can pick out of those up maybe next weekend.

I’m tired, my stomach hurts, and I’m still dirty from all of this work. I think a nap is in order.