Sunday, April 25, 2004

I was pulling out of work Friday afternoon and my Bug jolted like I had dropped a wheel off. It sounded pretty bad, and my car was stuck for a moment. I got her moving, and parked her (rolling back into my parking spot very carefully). I hopped out assuming the worst and noticed nothing unusual. And so I slipped it into neutral and pushed it back and forth a little bit. Nothing. Odd.

I pulled out to the traffic light, sweat starting to form, and hit the brakes. KA-CHUNK! Oh, that's not good. It sounded like something was desperately wrong with my passengers side rear brakes. Later inspection would show that my brake bar (operating link) had snapped. This is a strange thick piece of metal that extends from one brake shoe to the other. It more or less holds the hand brake lever in place, and keeps the brake shoes pushed against the sides of the drum. It looked like when a piece broke off of the bar, it feel down into the drum and got wedged between my brake shoe. Ouch!

So all I need is a new brake bar, right? After a few calls to auto stores I could see I was fucked. They aren't really supposed to "go bad". Mine was broken because we had bent it taking it out, and I had to hammer it into shape to put it back in (which weakened it in that spot). I called Advanced Auto Pro and talked to this crazy old man that works weekends. This guy knows his stuff real well ... but what a strange bird. He said "I have one for old Chevy's, etc ... if you want to bring your old one in we can try to match it ... but you will probably have to grind it to make it fit". He was right.

I took my broken bar to the store and laid it over the generic replacement they offered. It was about 1 inch too long, which was fine. I would have to carve it up.

Working it with a hacksaw was cake. It was nowhere near as durable as the original bar that I took out. After some chiseling, grinding, sawing, etc. it was ready to go back in. No problem. The bar went back in, and all is dandy. A short test drive aruond the block, and no "KACHUNKS!" when I hit the brakes.

I was reading a magazine article on Google a week or two ago and they mentioned that Google was testing a new mail engine like Yahoo mail, only better. Being a big fan of whatever Google is working on, I just had to have an account. Unfortunately, Google was only BETA testing it, and they wouldn't give an account to just anybody. Today I opened up to put in a journal entry and there was a little link letting me know that I could sign up for GMail if I wanted.

GMail is slick. It's got a great search feature (no surprise there) and they give you a full gig of space for your mail. The idea is that you will never have to delete another e-mail again. You can keep them forever, and easily search your old archived mail if you want. It's impressive. It may just become my new primary mail account.

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