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Super-speed car oil change

The guy came to pick up Caoimhe at twenty past eleven on Tuesday morning. I was actually starting to worried that it might not be able to be done that day.
Now, remember, they are based somewhere to the south-west of Rennes, about 70km away. So he'll have an hour on the road taking my car there, and back.

I wanted to mow the grass, but I had a lot less petrol than I thought. Dammit. I did a cut of the driveway, and I think I might possibly have sussed how to get Marte started fairly quickly...

  • A full charged battery to get the engine turning as fast as possible (stronger spark)
  • The choke fully closed
  • The air filter removed
  • As the engine is turning, put a finger over the end of a drinking straw half-dipped into petrol, transfer that the choke and toss it right in
  • Pray, hope, blood sacrifices, etc.
I suppose it stands to reason that an engine that guzzles that much petrol will probably want to be flooded just to get itself running.
I'd been worried about flooding the engine. That's probably why it has been giving me such a hard time. Must remind myself, it's an American engine.


Speaking of chokes, once my car was on it's way, I decided to start to strip down the carb of the new strimmer. I wanted to know why it was a bit hard to start and died on me if I tried to use it with the choke off. It would only run properly with the choke on.

I didn't get very far before the problem became really obvious.

The strimmer's choke.
The strimmer's choke.

You can clearly see that the choke is raised up above the air intake (the 'off' position), with the choke level facing downwards. To the part of the carb body marked ON!
Well, that's that then. Some Chinese person with no idea what English words mean stuck the "OFF" and "ON" designations the wrong way around.
Phew! That was easy to deal with.

The throttle was interesting. It wasn't a flat butterfly valve like one might expect. It was, instead, a rotating tube with a hole cut through it. It's shown in the photo in the closed position. It's almost like a water valve in how it works.


Twenty past three, I heard somebody drive up. A parcel? I don't recall ordering anything. I'm waiting on my halogen cooker cookbook, but that's not going to be coming by parcel truck. And The Witcher calendar was ordered yesterday so wasn't going to arrive on Tuesday - not even Amazon is that good! ☺

Nope - it was my little car, all freshly oiled and, I presume, given a quick check over. They checked the lights and levels (said so on the bill), which I do weekly anyway. It came to €69,99. I wrote him a cheque for eighty as a little thank you for doing it so quickly (plus, it's a lot easier to write quatre-vingt) than the utter mouthful that 69,99 would be). He handed the cheque back and said I can't. If it doesn't exactly match the bill, it can't be paid into the bank.
Bloody beaurocrats.
I handed him the pen and had him write out the cheque. Turns out that I actually put the "pay to" in the wrong place, I did it the British way with the payee name at the top. In France, the amount comes first, with the payee underneath.

Whatever, I was impressed by the speed of doing it (including taking my car and bringing it back for free), and I did try to add a tip. Oh well.


As soon as he had driven away (poor bloke will have spent about four hours on the road - I can't see how they come out ahead in this arrangement), I tore up the road to the nearest little town to get ten litres of petrol. They didn't have SP98 (like 4-Star), but interestingly they seem to be one of the few places around that offer both SP95-E10 (like 3-Star with 10% bioethanol) and SP95 that appears to be straight petrol with no corn juice added. I got that.
SP, by the way, is "sans plomb". Not that one can buy leaded petrol these days...

Came back, filled the mower's tank, cut the grass until gone sunset (which is just after 7pm these days). Got it all done.


Not enough WTF in the world

The other day I heard a weird banging noise while at work. As the sky was ominous looking, I pleaded with whatever random sky fairy was around to please hold off on the thunderstorms for another hour. Then I'd be home. And, okay, the sky was a dark grey but it didn't look thundery, and nothing was forecast. I carried on vacuuming the staff break room.

The noise came again, and again. It was really weird. I began to wonder if there was something the maintenance guys were doing.

As I turned around at the end of the room, I saw somebody in the back corridor. He... looked kind of unhappy. He approached so I turned the vacuum cleaner off.
He wanted me to call the line manager for him. He held out his hand, bloodied and limp. Wait, what? He mumbled an explanation that I thought was he hurt his hand trying to open his locker.

I got my phone and looked up her number on the wall. Then I tried the production manager. Than I tried the other guy in the production office. Everybody must have been in a meeting or something.

I tried another woman that is often in the production office. Like, the fourth person I tried calling. She answered, so I told her who I was and what I thought had happened. He waved his arms and mumbled something. She, for her part, was shouting into the phone.

For Christ's sake, people. I'm a foreigner. It's a whole pile of concentration to understand what you're saying to me when you're speaking to me normally. With one person shouty-shouty on a low bandwidth link, and the other one mumbling like one of the undead... I told both to hold on. I switched to speakerphone, and let them talk directly to each other.

She ended with "I'll be there in thirty seconds, stay there".

Being the kind of person that I am, I can tell you it took fifty seven seconds. But it's the far side of the factory, she must have flat-out run it. The line manager turned up shortly after, I don't know if she was just not answering her phone, or if running-woman had somebody call and interrupt the meeting.

Turns out this guy was not being kept on. This happens from time to time. Everybody starts with a one (two?) week assessment. Some people bail after a day or two, while others stick it out but aren't considered a good fit for whatever reason.
Anyway, this guy was not being kept on, so he took out his anger on the wall.
By repeatedly punching it until he broke his hand.


I've never been angry enough that I've felt a desire to lash out at inanimate objects. But I can't help but feel that if I did punch a wall, the sudden sharp pain would be a pretty clear warning "don't keep on doing this".
To keep on doing it until mechanical malfunction of delicate body parts... seriously, WTactualF?

The guy's locker room is a sort of U shape, so I hid by the door for a few minutes. I didn't entirely trust a guy who had no self control when it came to punching walls to not consider his other hand (he's equipped with two) against their faces. Not that I'd be a hero or anything, but I figured three against one ought to be doable.

They were saying soothing things, talking about "trouve un solution" and the like, and he was crying and blubbering incoherently. I honestly understood maybe a dozen words that guy said the entire time, and not within enough proximity to get any understanding.
Anyway, it seemed clear that he wasn't going to lash out at them. Maybe the wall de-stressed him enough? And it was getting a bit awkward, so I quietly left.


"Trouve un solution" is a large part of the French mentality. If you take the phrase "trouve un solution" (find a solution) and put it with the phrase "en colère" (mighty miffed) you've pretty much got what makes a Frenchie tick. It's just sad that they can't trouve un solution for what they are en colère about, so they go out and protest whatever it is. A lot.
But, then, one could argue that while a lot of protests are ultimately useless, just as many actually do get stuff done. It's a strange form of "democracy", but if it sometimes works then why not? It's better than bleating uselessly.


No rest for the wicked

I'm working Saturday.

It was one of the women in plonge, her mother... the first thing she told me was that her mother had been hit by a car and was badly injured from it. Yesterday she said she was hit by a tractor.
I have a horrible feeling it might have been that article in Monday's paper where a car and a tractor were in a collision. The tractor was on its side and the car looked kind of mangled.
I can forgive the plonge woman muddling up what happened, she's seemed a bit shell-shocked these past few days.

I asked how things were this morning, and she put her arms on me and told me that there was no news. I said that maybe that's a good thing.
I didn't explain, but the way I see it, an old person that's badly injured isn't going to suddenly get up and dance around the room. The news, if it comes, is never going to be good. So no news is a good thing.

After doing the changing rooms and stuff, my normal morning routine, I went around to check the bottles of chemical disinfectant (it's my job to refill them). She tore past looking like the world had ended.
I asked the other woman, "is that what I think it is".
It was.

I finished seeing to the chemicals, and then went to see my boss. She was in a meeting with the site manager, so I banged loudly on the glass and walked right in. My boss did a doubletake, because being direct isn't really in my personality. And meetings are sacrosanct and aren't to be interrupted unless somebody had died. Yeah, about that...
The conversation was roughly:
Would you like me to start at 7am on Saturday?
To replace XXX.
Because her mother has just died.

(and another)
(and one more)
...yes...thank you...

And then I walked out, probably leaving both of them wondering what the hell just happened. ☺

I went to catch up with the other woman in plonge who should have been on break but was cleaning things before the next shift started (she's like me and works in the day, only two hours earlier). That's normally the other person's job, but, you know, circumstances.

I told her that I volunteered to come in Saturday as a replacement, and... she was all squee and how she's really looking forward to working with me. That was so sweet. It made my day week month.
(of course, since I'm an introvert, I'm now in a bit of a panic that I won't live up to expectations!)

I was planning on having a lie-in this weekend. But circumstances.


I stopped at the supermarket after work to get a condolence card. That was it's own kind of trauma. Obviously you can't get anything cheery when somebody dies. But at the same time I didn't want anything horribly cliché. So the first thing I saw was a monochrome card of a black rose. Oh FFS.
The next one I picked up was looking up a lane in what looked like the winter. In monochrome.
Then I saw what looked like cut flowers, long past the point of being dead, with the condolence message seeming as if it had been written in ashes on a marble floor (or maybe it was a headstone). Bloody hell, even my inner Goth was annoyed by that.
A black and white geometric design with just the text overlaid, in silver. It was a bit blah. I like this person, I don't want to give her a shit card.

Then I spotted something lurking behind one of those birthday cards with the numbers on little wheels so you can set whatever age you want.
It was a sunset. In front of that, amazingly lit, was a sprig of maple leaves in bright orange and red, the colours of Autumn. The tip of one of the leaves was dipped into water, and there were ripples coming from it. Full vibrant colours, it looked like the sort of photo I might have taken if I saw it for real. It was beautiful. It was perfect. I found my card.
I'll take it in tomorrow for the others to sign too.

So, yeah... anyway... no rest for the wicked, eh? I'd rather be lying in my bed until gone nine, but then I'm quite sure she'd rather have her mom to talk to.......



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David Pilling, 16th October 2021, 13:42
See if you can get some Redex (lead/replacement additive) for the mower. Seemingly the typical Brit phrase these days is "let's crack on", maybe you could translate.
Rick, 16th October 2021, 17:09
As it turns out, the mother hadn't died, but there was news. As I said, news at a time like that isn't good, and it wasn't. A serious turn for the worse, with a lot of "there's nothing more that can be done". 
(I just hope she's not suffering; somebody at work asked that, and the poor woman's eyes glazed over like she was about to faint, it's obviously going to be on her mind too). 
As it turns out, they needed an extra hand. My boss had a bunch of "other things" for me to do. Didn't do any of them. Did my round, did the disinfection this time, then was pretty much in plonge. As usual, nobody gives a crap about us, so loads of things turned up to be washed right at the end. Sorry, the machine is now off and being drained (that alone takes a quarter hour). 
I did get to watch my boss cleaning done stuff manually with the high pressure hose and no apron. She must have been soaked through by the end. Well, good on her, rather than being the sort of person that hides in an office until it's time to go home. Every bit of assistance is appreciated! 
I went shopping, defrosted the fridge (the ice box tends to ice up, and the coldness sensor is in there so if it's too icy it misreads and the fridge runs too warm), handwashed my work top (it's hanging out now). 
It's a nice sunny afternoon, so I'm sitting out in the reclining chair enjoying the sun and being bombarded by hundreds of ladybirds. Well, they're the cute beetles. I'd rather see one of them walking up my leg than some of the other insects. 
Rick, 16th October 2021, 17:11
"done stuff"? 
Some stuff! 
Bloody swipe-type thinking it knows what I mean. No, only I know what I mean, and most of the time even I'm not entirely sure... 😉

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