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Archive April 2009
Tuesday 28 April 2009
If you have a laptop computer, and it tends to get leg-burningly hot or keeps your hands so warm the tops of the keys start to melt, I recommend vacuuming the air inlets, which are probably on the base of the machine, while the machine is switched off.

I knew this laptop didn't get as hot as it was getting recently, when I first got it. It had reached the point where the fans were constantly on full and it was still getting hot while idle and in a well ventilated location on a smooth surface (so the air inlets weren't covered). Vacuuming it has returned it to its original fan-sometimes-switches-off and no-more-than-warm-to-the-touch state. [02:47] [0 comments]

Monday 20 April 2009
The series of unfortunate events didn't continue on the day of car-collection - I managed to drive out of Miami (which involved driving in Miami - I was glad of automatic gears for what is apparently stressful driving at the best of times) and for a couple of hours afterwards with no major incidents. We also went snorkelling since we were there again anyway, which was fairly nice despite the currents being a bit much (high tide on a choppy day). I was quickly reminded why you don't breathe all the way out while snorkelling (if water comes in at the wrong moment you can't blow it out), but apart from that it was all good.

The driving probably doesn't sound like a big deal at all to Americans, nor much to most people, but there are several reasons it was fairly major - ie. I'd previously driven for a grand total of about 3 minutes since my driving test, and none of my driving lessons covered driving on the wrong side of the road or any of the weird American driving rules. British drivers would, I suspect, all be horrified by four-way stop signs, crossroads at which people take it in turns to go based on who got there first. It just looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Also the traffic lights rules (which aren't even consistent between states) - a green light when you're turning left doesn't mean go here, it means "check for people coming from your right, then go if there aren't any". A red light when you're turning right also means go if there's nobody coming. [02:14] [4 comments]

Saturday 18 April 2009
Best day ever, or A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Jessica and I woke up early to go snorkeling off the Florida Keys. After an hour or so of driving, (1) the gear lever started refusing to go into random gears. No third gear for you! No third or fifth! Now you can have third and fifth but no second! Nor fourth! Hope you like having no first gear when you try to start again!

This had happened before, and eventually resolved itself just from being left alone, so we stopped for a while at the side of the road, then set off again, but it was no better. Then (2) the gear lever jammed in third and wouldn't come out at all. We coasted into the entrance of a gas station with some lucky timing of passing through a red light only for a right turn, which was I think a legal manouver at that particular junction.

After calling a towing company several times ((3) they went to the wrong place first, even given an exact address), a towtruck eventually arrived about two hours later. Snorkeling was thus cancelled.

We were towed to a car dealership that deals in the appropriate type of car, where there were a short series of fortunate events! The problem was 'just' a snapped cable and a worn cable, not a melted transmission, so it would cost 'only' $800 to repair. But wait, fortunate event 2, there is a sale on labour at the moment! So it is 'only' $85 an hour, making it $530 or so to repair.

But back to unfortunate events, (4) they don't have the parts so can't do it 'til the next day. We were intending to visit Jessica's niece in hospital nearby, and the dealership people said "oh, we'll have our driver take you." After about half an hour of trying to find the person who'd okayed that, it turned out that (5) the driver was out carting someone else around and after that would be having a lunch break. So Jessica called family who would be at the hospital to see if someone could pick us up. (While we waited we had a delightful car-dealership-courtyard-picnic.)

Someone could indeed pick us up, but! He didn't realise I was there too. Jessica got into the car, he didn't notice me despite us both having come from right in front of the vehicle, so he promptly (6) ran over my foot with the rear tyre of the SUV as I was about to get in.

Completing the series, (7) Jessica was unable to get anyone to cover for her at work, so a car was borrowed to return home, and another two hour drive each way must now be had to collect her car (and I'll have to drive one of the two cars back, which carries a not insignificant risk of added events what with having driven a grand total of about 3 minutes in the US and already screwing up the whole "driving on the wrong side" thing once. Though I believe it's obligatory to do that once, so at least I got it out of the way while I had a copilot.)

My foot's okay, thanks for asking. Barely even bruised. [06:29] [0 comments]