Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On the eve as we go forward on a broken, unlubricated Tundra

So simple, yet so difficult.

One of the unexpected difficulties of growing older is that your stuff grows older with you. And, beyond that, a lot of that stuff fails before you do. All the accoutrements of life you have come to depend on based on experience with them and with the failures of other similar products wear out right along with you: Machines they don't make parts for any more, cleaners that worked but have given way to new and improved cleaners that don't work as well and cost more.

For instance, on this past trip to the East Pole I managed to break a part of the snowmachine. 

Understand this is an almost 20-year-old Ski-Doo Tundra II and for those who don't know about it, the Tundra has long been the favored machine for people who live in the Alaska Bush. Relatively inexpensive when compared with other machines, light weight, and as reliable as that drum-beating bunny, they perform day after day, season after season, year after year. The manufacturer has tried to kill them off a couple of times and apparently finally succeeded. So anyway I broke a skeg: It's a rod that attaches to the underside of the ski and holds what's called a skin (a wider, smoother surface especially good in deep snow) in place.

Simple job, I took it all apart, retrieved two of the three pieces where it broke (the other one is lost in the snow somewhere near the East Pole) and trucked on over to the dealer to buy a new one. Only guess what. They are not made any more and they have been out of stock for years. It's a helpless feeling. I looked at the two pieces and wondered if I could get them welded or manufacture a new one. The parts woman suggested I try the dealer in Fairbanks.

Compeau's had some. The parts woman there told me when she learned the maker was going out of business she bought a couple dozen pairs because of all the Tundras in use out in the woods from Fairbanks. So now I have a very expensive pair of them headed this way in the mail.

Later in the day, it being sunny and warm I went to the auto parts store to buy some of the miracle gunks it takes to put machines away for the summer and clean up the Jeep after a long winter. Among them I wanted to replace my can of LPS2 which after many years had lubricated its last bit of metal on my gear. Uh oh. Nothing in the display. For those who don't know LPS2 is a spray preservative and lubricant, similar to WD-40 but unlike the 40 it lubricates. The woman there (notice the number of women in jobs that have always been the domain of men?) told me they don't make it any more, haven't for maybe five years. She too bought a bunch of it when she learned the product would be discontinued and sold them from a bin in the front of the store, a bin that had long since been emptied. Another item I had learned to appreciate but no longer available.

Now this was the culmination of a day of paradigm shifts into barely related areas. It all started in the couple of hours before I fell asleep the night before. Ever since a trauma in my life several years ago, I have had to leave the TV on to keep me from wrestling the demons of that trauma and others that prevent sleep. The last few shows I watch are usually sitcoms so I don't have night terrors from all the violence and mayhem of the drama shows. But last night for three shows in a row, they were so bad I actually shut them off before the end, one after another, tired of the shouting, inane situations and unrealistic reactions to stupid plot gimmicks. At the time I wondered if I might be growing old and grumpy and intolerant. I decided, no, these were bad shows. Two I will probably never watch again, the third I have liked over the years and maybe I'll give it another chance. I decided the problem is with the writers, and that problem I decided was a dilution of talent because of all the networks and all the shows, there just aren't enough good writers to go around. Back when there were three channels or even ten, creativity was more concentrated and the result was better written shows.

All of that disruption did not foster an easy sleep and I woke up two hours later having experienced another shift. Mind you this is about 3 a.m. and I never fell back to sleep until after 8. I tried everything, ate a big breakfast, did 20 minutes on the elliptical, looked for better-written sitcoms (fortunately a couple of Sports Night reruns) and finally in this yearning for some sanity ended up on You Tube listening to 50s and early 60s girl group love songs and living in some memories for a while.

It was in that foray the whole experience came full circle even though the closure came more toward the beginning than the end of the day's events. The danger of these musical forays is iTunes is just a click or two away and over the course of the morning I bought about a dozen songs. Among them was The Eve of Destruction. I didn't even listen to the whole song before I bought it. But later on a drive to town it came up on the new playlist and the words started to hit home. There's a song in the show All That Jazz  named Everything Old is New Again and if ever there was a song to prove that, it was Eve of Destruction. That song could have been written yesterday, the words spoke so closely to events in the news today. At least one song (I know there are a lot more) had survived and remained relevant almost 50 years later.

In a striking irony, it is the wars that take us to the eve of destruction that also necessitate the development of the technology to replace limbs and treat other wounds of the soldiers returning from the bloody battlefields of the world. In simpler terms, while old model snowmachines suffer for a lack of spare parts, spare parts for humans are more available than ever, and many of them have applications for the older models at least slowing the decline into obsolescence of each human body. Even with continuing development, it still might be a good idea to cosy up to the parts lady ahead of time.

Now, if only Ski Doo Tundras, LPS2, television sitcoms, and yes this old soul, could find a way to grow old together in some kind of harmony that maintained their usefulness, wouldn't that be something? It can't happen too soon.

Meanwhile, I suppose we can take comfort in the fact that developments in the past reached the eve, but they never went past it and let's hope this eve will serve as warning as well and we can find a way to keep from going over the brink.

A COMMENT FROM FACEBOOK: Janice Edwards Lovely meditation on life and change, Tim. Great post!

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve