Category Archives: General

Stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else

Jason’s Alternator Story

My friend Jason Rule was in Edmonton for the Father’s Day weekend and had a funny trip back from Edmonton to Calgary. In his own words, here is what happened.

[Alternator photo by goodharbor. Used with permission.]

While driving in Edmonton, I noticed at one point my alternator light go on… It just happened for a second and I did not really think anything of it. Later as I was leaving the city, the light was about 50% on, so basically it’s putting out some power—the exact amount the car needs. By the Edmonton International Airport, the light was on and I was running on battery power (the battery power was making the spark for the engine).

I went into conservation mode and turned off all electrical systems but the radio.

Around Red Deer, the engine started skipping a beat and the radio died. There was not enough power to spark the plugs… I pulled over (leaving the engine running) and quickly wired up my second battery to the engine by the wires I had pre-installed years before. The car’s back to life!!! I turn off the radio and keep driving.

It starts raining… I try using the windshield wipers, but there is so little power, they take about 10 seconds to cycle. So, with no fan (defog) and no wipers… I continue.

I need to stop in Didsbury where Brooke’s dad lives. I needed to pick something up and get as much power as possible. About 10 km from Didsbury, the dash fails, no speedo, nothing… About 3 km from Didsbury, the car is skipping again. I am approaching a stop sign and go to apply the brake. The power going to the brake lights makes the engine quit. As I was still travelling fast, I pop the clutch and get the engine running again. I then stop the car with engine breaking and the ebrake. I just get to the house and park in front of her dad’s truck.

Without explaining what I was doing, I start his truck and start transferring as much power as possible via booster cables into the car battery. I also start charging the second battery via a charger…. How long to wait… it’s 8 p.m. and the sun is going down. By 9:45 p.m., it will be dark and I will need headlights and I will be screwed… But, I need as much power as possible.

I pull out almost all of the circuit breakers from the fuse box. At 8:15 p.m., I start driving, extra battery not connected, car battery driving the engine. There are no electrical systems at all…

I make it to just north of Airdrie. Engine, with no warning, fails… Poor steering and brakes (that was a surprise). I pull over and remove the primary battery and install the secondary battery. I tried to start the engine, but there is not enough power to turn the starter…. I get out of the car, push it backwards, down the little hill I was on… Pop the clutch and the engine is running… I’m off.

I make it to Deerfoot and McKnight. Engine again quits… I pull over and call Brooke. The Deerfoot Trail is nuts as cars are going by at nuts speeds. She comes quickly and now it’s about 9:30 p.m. I pull the extra battery from her truck and throw it into the car. The car starts and we start driving—Brooke following me and being my lights.

About five blocks from home, car again fails… We load the gear into the truck and leave the car there for the night… We come back the next morning with a charged battery and drive home.

Two points to this story:

  1. All that crap I carry in my car sometimes comes in very handy.
  2. MacGyver himself would have been proud!

— Jason

Announcing Gulistan Art

I’m both proud and pleased to announce the launch of my Tchou Tchou’s new website: Gulistan Art. It’s a brand new WordPress blog/website, where we’ve adapted the design from a third-party theme.

Getting to this stage has been quite the journey. We’ve gone through two domain names and one professional design, [Gulistan's signature] only to put this together ourselves. The focus has switched from being a professional site for her as an artist to a site that’s more personal. She’s excited about blogging, but scared to let others see her writing. I’ll have to continue to encourage her to just start writing. I mean, the point is self expression.

There are a few articles to read by others who have written about her as an artist, in both Chinese and English. We’re working on a few more to add soon. She has written a lot of poetry about her artwork, too. So as we get that translated, it will be added also.

There’s no artwork posted yet. Sorry. We actually broke the theme yesterday by posting a blog entry with a picture. So the theme I chose wasn’t well written in the html and css. I’ll have to tweak it to get it to work right. Anyway, a gallery is in the works, too. So just be patient. 🙂

The Mad Runner

Now that winter is upon us and the evenings are dark, I’ve started running. Okay, so I like running in the dark in the winter evenings. But I’m really trying to do something other than sit in front of a computer all day and all night. It feels good when I get out and run, and I’m hoping to make a routine out of it.

So, to hold myself publicly accountable, I’ve started a running log. It’s nothing fancy, and I probably won’t publish anything there to read. But it’s just a place to record my progress and let people check up on me if they care to. I’ll consider 3 times a week to be satisfactory, but 4 times a week would be better.

Why a Blogger blog? Well, there’s lots of running log software out there, plus a handful of websites for this sort of thing. But I wanted something web-based, plus it had to have RSS. Blogger fits this as good as any, and I don’t really need any fancy features tailored to running. Besides, what I’m doing is totally machine-readable, and someone else’s solution probably wouldn’t be. And it’s handy. I don’t have to log in to Blogger to post—I can post via email.

The Blog Post Has Landed

For the last week and a bit, my Tchou Tchou has been in her home town of Urumqi, in Western China. Her mom has been seriously ill and in the hospital, so my life and my mind have been quite preoccupied with that lately. I, myself, have been nursing a cold all week, so that, too, has caused me to slow down and reflect.

It’s my Tchou Tchou’s birthday today, so we’re having to celebrate apart. I’m happy that she can be with family and with her mom right now, but I wish it were under happier circumstances.

Now this blog post has been in danger of being thrown out many times. It could go in so many different directions, and I’m just not focused enough to bring it down for a safe landing. I just feel the need to write something. I have so many ideas sometimes, and these just evaporate if I don’t write down at least the topic. But I’ve neglected this blog for too long, only posting about technical goodness and nothing else. That’s a fault I will either correct soon, or continue to beat myself up over.

Well, it looks like this post has landed after all, for better or worse.

I want to…

Yesterday, I discovered a website entitled “I want to—A page of utilities that help you do stuff you want to”. It answers questions like, how do I:

  • Share my photographs with other people?
  • Send large files to friends?
  • Collaborate on / share documents via the web?
  • Set up bookmarks I can use anywhere?
  • Use a disposable email address?

And it points you to various online services that help you do the task. A very handy resource.