A Good Start

This morning Ellie went thru her toy room and chose some of her toys and books she could give to the kids who didn’t have any.

She has been following the Tsunami story with us and is obviously wanting to help. A little bag of toys and a rug sits by the door waiting to go to some kids in need.

I’m pretty stoked. At 3 1/2 she has enough going on in her to make that kind of a decision.

Plan ‘A’

Ok, after much discussion and tooing and froing I was convinced by several reputable parties that I ought to at least have a go at a self fix on the crankshaft of the beast. One of those reputable parties was my wife who suggested $200.00 was a much better fix than $2000.00.

It is a bit of a gamble, but we have all agreed its worth a shot. So having pulled the necessary bits off its time to rebuild…

After phoning 15 different wreckers this morning I think I finally managed to pick up the last harmonic balancer in the universe. Of course it was located in Midland, an hour’s drive from where we live (then again most places are close to an hours drive from where we live!)

A bit of cleaning and fiddling and we were ready to fix that crank.

Did I mention that I have all the mechanical skills of a ‘betty crocker’? I was never that interested in mechanics, (a car was nothing but a means of transporting surfers and lugging surfboards) but with necessity being the mother of invention here I am trying to figure it out.

Crank1Here’s a pic of the crankshaft keyhole ready for work. (For some reason you need to enlarge these images to see them properly). Mark, my farmer mate from across the street reckons its not too bad… ‘You got off light Hamo!’

I’d hate to see ‘bad’! Adam, the bloke who lives opposite us reckons he did the same on his Commodore, fixed it with Devcon and all was well…

And here’s the crank with key in place and the magical ‘Devcon’ stuff applied to keyway.

I’ll probably let it dry overnight before a bit of filing and then re-assembling. Also, here’s a plug for the local Mobil Mechanic who let me borrow his 45ml socket to get the crank nut back on. Good blokes those fellas at Mobil Mindarie!

Crank2_1I have heard of people driving for ages on these fixes. Then again it might all go pear shaped in no time at all… We’ll see what happens…

I have managed to strike a lease deal with the Baptist churches for a new top the range cruiser that’ll see me tossing the car in 3 months anyway so hopefully all will be well between now and then…

Jury Out

Yesterday I stripped the bits of my car to get to the crankshaft pulley.

It is well and trulyu cactus with a large split thru it. The question though is whether the crankshaft is able to hold a new ‘key’ and work the pulley that I will get at the wreckers tomorrow.

So far I have one ‘yes’, one ‘no’ and one ‘try it and see’…

If it all goes to plan then I’ll be out of this mess for a couple of hundred $$$. If not then it’ll be the $1000.00 plan…

I’m praying pretty hard for the second hand pulley to fit. Mark, my neighbour who is a farmer and live across the street has offered to help me fit it an reckons all will be well.

Its been great to discover a whole bunch of people round here who are willing and able to help if I ask. One guy has offered to do an ‘all nighter’ pulling the motor out, if needed, but to be honest I don’t even want to do that!

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In An Instant

After 30 years of surfing I have learnt a healthy respect for the ocean.

Today Mark and I went fishing and when we left it was still and glassy, almost perfect conditions. We sat out on the third reef for almost an hour and then in an instant a northerly wind started to blow.

It stirred up the sea and within 20 seconds had strengthened to around 20 knots and the whole place was transformed into a wild ocean. We came in fairly quickly only to discover there was no wind on the land… Weird hey?!

One minute tranquil… the next wild.

Respect the ocean…

The Turning

I have just started reading Tim Winton’s latest book – The Turning. As soon as you enter its pages its like stepping into a west aussie coastal town with all the familiar faces and characters.

I love reading Winton because I feel like I know the people he writes about (I probably do!), the boys from the south west town in their ‘uniform of flannel shirt, black jeans and beanies’, the girl who is as ‘thick as a box of hammers’ (yes, it might be you!…) and so it goes on.

My all time favourite is Cloudstreet, followed by Dirt Music and then The Riders. I’m definitely a devoted fan and would read anything he wrote. Actually one of my favourite movies is ‘That Eye The Sky’, an adaption of Winton’s novel. Incredibly powerful!  I wish I could remember where I hired it from as I can’t find it again.

There is an earthiness, a dry humour and a depth of spirituality about Winton’s stuff that just keeps me reading.

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Reflections on a Holiday

Yesterday we returned from a week in Margaret river with my good mate Stuart Wesley and his family. I have known Stuart since high school so you could certainly call us old friends and in those 25 years we have become very good friends.

So… how was it?…

I guess that all depends on what you look at, or maybe what you choose to look at. It was a very mixed week and writing this is as much for me to make sense of it as for you to read it. Read on if you like, pass it over if you don’t like to hear people’s stories of disaster!

Let me begin by saying we had a great time as families holidaying together – fun, friendship, laughs, depth, all the stuff you’d hope for. We hit the beach, the cafes, went fishing, talked, relaxed… it was sensational!

other boleyn girl the movie But…

You knew there was a ‘but’ didn’t you?!

There were a series of events that put a dent in things and left us more than a few $$$ behind the eight ball.

The first happened on our second day when we were out fishing just south of the Busselton Jetty. I have been really happy with this boat and the motor has never let me down… until that day. With a southerly wind blowing and the anchor slipping we knew we were drifting towards the jetty, but there was heaps of time to kick it up and power off. Then Stu caught a fish, then the phone rang, then suddenly we were getting closer, then the motor wouldn’t start, wouldn’t even turn… quickly I turned to the auxiliary motor as we got within 10 metres or so. It had never let me down… until that day… It failed too and we drifted into the jetty, getting driven by the swells. The only hope was to somehow guide the boat between the pylons while the swells buffeted us (and while the 3 year old and 10 year old sat tight). We managed it with only minor damage to the boat and then discovered that in the panic I had been trying to start the auxiliary while it was in gear…

We got back to shore all safe. Now I’m sure it was Stu’s idea to do a beach launch… as I am very cautious these days…

We pulled into shore to what was loosely described by the Busso shire as a ‘boat ramp’. Basically its a sandy stretch of beach with a sign up that says ‘boat ramp’. Stu backed his Patrol up and we loaded her up onto the trailer. As we were doing this the Patrol was sinking into the sand somewhat, so when it came time to drag her out the beast was going nowhere… Only option = re-launch the boat and drive out.

So we pushed the boat off and I took off to the marina on the auxiliary motor leaving Stu to drive out. When I was about 200 meters down the beach I noticed his car was still there and wondered why… Turned out he was unable to drive out, was bogged up to the top the front tyre! A nearby tractor pulled him out just before water started splashing inside. He was more than a little worried…

We got home and were grateful for averting a series of potential disasters. On Monday I dropped the boat in to the friendly guys at the local marine shop to get it looked at. It seemed like nothing more than a fuse or something simple. So I thought… An ignition switch finished up costing $130 plus another $160 labour. Ouch… That hurt!

A few days later the brakes started to grind – metal on metal. Again I booked them in to get done – no big drama except that it was an unexpected hit and they tell me the brake rotors aren’t too flash either…

On the way home though things got serious… By Mandurah we were spewing out oil from the motor. We stopped but I couldn’t find the source, (because there was oil everywhere) so in an attempt to get home we refilled and pushed on. I was starting to feel pretty low… this was not a good way to finish up.

I have become increasingly aware that spiritual attack for me often takes the form of financial loss – when we get hit I get stressed / down etc. My stress meter was rising rapidly. I was praying we’d make it home.

With 80km to go as we charged up the freeway everything went pear shaped. There was a clunk, the charge light came on and the engine began to overheat. I could only drive 100 metres before having to pull over. I thought it was a fan belt and wasn’t worried because I carry a spare. However opening the bonnet was not a pretty sight. Inside I saw the camshaft pulley and harmonic balancer had completely popped out of the motor…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _   Insert your own expletive here. I know I did.

What are the chances of that?! (Pretty good apparently… When I spoke to a mechanic today he told me it happens all the time on 2F motors!) So there we are at 7.20pm – on the freeway – still 80 kms from home – a boat to tow – two kids – a dog – an amazingly understanding wife and a now pretty devastated me. Up to now I was still seeing the glass half full, but right now… well… I’m no mechanic but I can tell that when those sorts of things go wrong we are throwing lots of $$$ down the toilet.

To cut a long story short(er) Stuart came back and picked up Danelle and kids and dog and boat while I did a roadside RAC sign up (yup more $$$$) and waited an hour before getting towed home. Today the mechanic tells me the last one of these he did cost around a grand…

As I sat on the roadside waiting I was very concious of the whole spiritual dynamic that was going on. This was killing me. I hate wasting money. I hate being irresponsible with what I’ve been given. After the boat incident I had been seriously discussing with Danelle whether we could live lives of discipleship and own a 4WD and a boat just given the ongoing maintenance costs. Is it a lack of integrity to live like this?

I had been churning these issues around quite seriously… before the freeway blow up. I’m still asking those questions – what does it mean to live counter cultural lives of discipleship? Does it preclude owning a boat and 4WD? (I don’t think its that simple) How much can you justify spending on these things before you say ‘no more’?…

As I sat on the side of the road I began to reflect on what had happened. Basically we had lost a hell of a lot of money. No one was hurt, life was not ripped apart. We just have less $$$ now than a week ago. I needed that hour to regain perspective. I won’t say I came home without a care in the world, but from there things changed.

Willy the tow truck guy rolled up. It turned out he lives two streets from me in Brighton. He was stoked. ‘You’ve made my day. I needed a big job!’

‘Pleasure mate…’

Actually we had a great time on the way home. As he dropped the car off we looked over my boat and agreed to head out fishing some time soon. I invited him to our Christmas party tomorrow and it turned out he was already coming as another neighbour had asked him. We discussed life, work, God, fish and had a real good time.

download picnic free Today Mark from across the road told he’s got a month’s holiday and if I need a hand to fix the car he’ll help me. Mark is one those blokes who can fix anything so I’m thinking we might spend some time this week hanging out and fixing the motor. On my own I don’t think I’d bother, but it could be fun to do it with him.

As for the next two weeks of holiday…

Well, I’m debating whether to take it now or later. Its real hard to have a holiday round here, to be disciplined enough not to check email, to avoid the phone etc…

I finish today feeling a little stressed about it all. Not devastated, but neither am I ‘over it’. It has hit me quite hard – such is the nature of the spiritual battle we find ourselves in. This is a weak area for me, one I am increasingly concious of. I don’t often label things ‘spiritual’ – sometimes they are just ‘life’, things break, they need fixing yada yada yada. Ironically we have seen God give us heaps in this whole area too so I am confident that we will never be left stranded.

Anyway… how was it?

Good – real good! A few mishaps but nothing too serious 🙂 I think I believe that… I just need to make a few $$$ now to pretty up the bank account!

Holidays Tomorrow

Tomorrow we head off on holidays for 3 weeks. We will be in Margaret River for the next week, back in town for Christmas and then for the two weeks after that we’ll be making it up as we go.

I might be on here occasionally as this is a passtime I enjoy. Then again it might be silent for a long time too. I don’t believe this will change your life one iota!

download babylon 5 the river of souls movie I have just started watching Outback Jack… Yep… really need a holiday…

A Case For Capital Punishment (in primary schools)

I used to be able to
make a year 7 boy cry at 50 paces with a glare. I used to be able to approach
them and feel the ground move as they trembled” see the fear in their eyes” see
that fear forming a small puddle on the ground at their feet”

Those days have gone”
and the world is a worse place for it.

Now when it comes to
disciplining kids at school, teachers have virtually no power and students know
it. When a year 7 boy steps out of line I must call him over and speak to him
about his inappropriate behaviour. He will stroll slowly over and let me know
that he is being inconvenienced…

If I give him
a verbal reprimand he will stand and take it until he knows I am finished
and then in a totally unaffected way will ask ‘can I go now?…’ If he offends
again I will speak to him again and possibly give him a ‘yellow slip’ or the
equivalent piece of paper. He will shrug his shoulders and see it as a minor
drama in his day.

After three of these he
may be suspended – loose translation = he gets a couple of days of school.
Hmmm” I’m sure that bothers him.

It’s a sad old world
when the kids run the school, because discipline has died in the arse.

But I have a solution”
I say introduce capital punishment to primary schools and give each classroom
teacher the power to discipline at will. I believe this is the only foolproof
way of ensuring that behaviour improves and of arresting the decline in
standards we see around us.

I’d like to see the
face on the little darlings when you call them over for discipline and quietly
let them know that there are no first warnings now. It’s straight to the
electric chair, or a public be-heading for swearing. Maybe for ease of
management we could have a set of gallows installed on the oval next to the
cricket nets. Anyone deliberately hitting the ball out of the nets would be
disciplined quickly and easily.

While the chair would
be the primary mode of discipline (cheap, quick, failsafe) I would probably prefer
to use lethal injections on children I like, while saving firing squads, and
public stonings for some of the worst offenders.

I reckon it would clean
things up a bit.

I imagine a kid would
think twice before ignoring instructions or forgetting his sports uniform if he
knew his life depended on it, if he knew that he might not ever go out to play again. I think they’d learn quickly too. Make
an example of one or two of them and the rest would get the idea. And think
what it would do for high school teachers! These kids would never put a foot
wrong. By the end of year 7 they would be model students and high school
teaching would be a breeze.

I grant there might be
a little parental concern at first, but I’m sure once the parents realised that
it was actually in the best interests of the kids they would get behind any
school that implemented a zero tolerance capital punishment policy.

Just think” no more
rude kids, no more yellow slips, no more record keeping and paper work, just
straight to ‘sparky’ and seeyalater.

I reckon it could give
a whole new dimension to each school’s MSB (Managing Student Behaviour)
procedures. I think its long overdue reform. Don’t bring back the cane… just introduce the electric chair and watch things  change.