Archive for January, 2009

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Where I've Been – Grand Prix Hell

January 22, 2009

For the past several days, I’ve been working on my car.  For what should have been a 20-minute job turned into quite an ordeal, but I can now say that it seems to be working properly.

I have a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP  (yes, the engine is supercharged — that actually felt good to say when gas was under $2.00).

At some point, perhaps more than a year ago, the heating/air conditioning blower stopped blowing on the lowest setting, #1.  Over time, it gradually started losing higher settings, 2, 3, and finally 4.  At that point, heat or a/c would only work on the highest setting, 5.

There was only one thing more unbearable than heat or a/c set constantly on 5, and that is no heat or a/c at all.  On the coldest day of the year, when the temperature was -11 F, and you could see the vapor from your mouth crystallize and fall to the ground when you breathed, the number 5 setting died.

At that point I still had heat.  The blower motor was still blowing full-blast no matter what setting it was on.  When I was leaving work, heading to my car on Wednesday, I noticed a noise coming from the car.  I was standing outside of it, and the doors were still locked.  Upon opening it, I realized that the blower motor was still churning at full power.  Before I could get home, it shut itself off.  Apparently, however, that was just a temporary safety mechanism.

When I went to start the car the next day, the battery was dead.  Charging the battery again would only last until the blower motor zapped the juice again.  I knew I could not delay any longer.  I did not have $300+ dollars to shell out for repairs on my car, so I took matters into my own hands.

Apparently, Grand Prix owners have been plagued with the same failing part: a blower motor resistor that regulates the air output of the blower motor.  If part of it fails, you’ll lose functionality on some settings.  If and when it fails completely, it will never shut off until you pull the fuse, which is what I was forced to do.

It is not just 1997 Grand Prix’s affected by this problem.  Owners of models form every year even up to 2004 seem to have the same problems with this little resistor.  I knew it was a small part and knew that it was located inside of the car (not under the hood or underneath), but nothing could prepare me for the ordeal of trying to replace this part.

In my next post, I’ll detail what it took to obtain the part and finally get it installed into my car.

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When logic fails

January 2, 2009

My five-year-old daughter is brilliant.  It is, therefore, no surprise to me that she regularly uses logic to come to conclusions.  She is always trying to figure something out and goes through a very intense method of reasoning to finally find her answers.

What is also not surprising, however, is that her conclusions are often wrong when dealing with issues that only “grownups” would understand.  It got my thinking about why this is the case.

For some logic and reason are more important than anything.  Someone with sound logic skills can work out any problem and do so without the tainting of emotional interference.  The true logician is like the Vulcan race from Star Trek, unflinching in their reasoning.

How then can such people ever fail to understand something?  Why does understanding often elude someone steeped in logic?  The answer, which I determined through observation, rather than pure reasoning, is that a person of logic also needs wisdom.

Wisdom is nothing something obtained through first principles or through studying.  Wisdom comes only through life experience, empathy, emotional trials, and often divine guidance.  The child can become very advanced and logic but still does not possess the wisdom that comes naturally with age.  Thus, understanding is not guaranteed.

I am reminded of a story about Luqman (peace be upon him), one of the wisest men mentioned in the Qur’an.  He wanted to teach his son that he cannot please everyone all of the time, but rather than preaching to his son, he allowed him to experience it.

They were traveling with their donkey one day.  Luqman was walking in front of it, and his son was seated on top of it.  A group of passersby saw this and talked amongst themselves (but loud enough for Luqman and his son to hear) saying, “Look at this young selfish boy who lets his old father walk while he enjoys the ease of riding.”

Luqman’s son felt bad after hearing them say this and got down from the donkey, insisting that his father ride it instead.  His father mounted the donkey, and they continued on their way.  Later they came upon some more people, and one of the said, “What a cruel father he is who makes his son walk while he rides in luxury!”

Upon hearing this the two of them both got off of the donkey and walked behind it.  They then came upon another group of people and one said, “How foolish!  They have a perfectly good donkey, yet they walk behind it!  Why do you not ride it?”

Upon hearing this, Luqman’s son decided perhaps it would be best for both of them to ride.  So, they continued with both of them mounted on the donkey.  They eventually passed some more people, and one of the said, “How cruel this duo are, putting all of that load on a small, innocent donkey!”

Luqman and his son dismounted, and he said to his son, “You have heard and seen what the people said. It must have assured you, by now, that whatever you do or whichever way you move, one is not able to please the people of the world.”

He grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he to whom wisdom is granted receives indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but people of understanding.” (Qur’an 2:269)

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Lately, we've been waking up w…

January 1, 2009

Lately, we’ve been waking up with two extra little people in our little bed.

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Happy new year!

January 1, 2009

Happy new year!