Bandits, Idiots and Gadgets

Here is what has been happening (instead of regular posting, that is:

  1. War with the raccoon(s). We (and by “we” I mean “Spouse”) put bird feeders up, coons take them down. Amahl and his buddies are so emboldened by their recent successes, previously confined to the midnight hours, that they are sauntering in to the rear yard virtually in broad daylight for a snack. The Ministry of Defence is working on a suitable plan to assure Homeland Security. In the meantime, we have adjusted the Terror Indicator to Threat Level “Magenta”, indicating probable assault by terrorists or procyonidae.
  2. Work has been an absolute bee-yatch this week. I have discovered that I appear to be completely invisible insofar as one of my co-workers is concerned; a regular George Bailey in the spooky part of It’s a Wonderful Life. This guy apparently can’t see me and he doesn’t perceive anything I do – if he did, I’m sure he would have come to speak to me about the file on which I had written a HUGE note saying, “don’t do anything with this file without coming to speak to me first.” I’ll give you three guesses what happened. A large amount of time and energy has been expended attempting to fix the thing that my co-worker did – a thing he wouldn’t have done if he had simply come to talk to me first, as I had indicated. I do not have an unlimited quantity of either time or energy, so this makes me rather cross.
  3. I have been anxiously awaiting the replacement mower deck assembly for the People’s Lawn Tractor. It arrived on Thursday, but the Sears outlet in Paris is located in a hardware store that is only open until 5:30 in the evening. What with all the time and energy I’ve been expending (quite needlessly, thank you) as a result of the idiot who is the subject of paragraph 2, I was unable to get away from work early enough to pick the parts up before today. No matter, Saturdays would seem to be made for fiddling about with small engines and assorted machinery. Spouse and I drove in to Paris this morning and picked the deck (and a replacement battery) up. The package barely fit in the back of my car, a Ford Probe, but “barely” means “it fits.” Arriving home, Spouse and I had a quick lunch before I gathered together the necessary tools and set out to try to understand how to install a mower assembly on a lawn tractor. Tip to authors of instruction manuals: a direction such as “install clutch assembly” is really an un-instruction. It tells you what to do; it does not tell you how to do it – which is, after all, kind of the whole point. It only took me four attempts to attach the thing to the underside of the tractor. I should trust my instincts a little bit more where these things are concerned: reading the so-called directions, fitting the drive belts over the engine pulley was supposed to be the last step. I stared at it long and hard before making the first installation attempt; I was doubtful that the belt could be threaded around all of the pulleys with the deck mounted on the underside of the tractor, but I decided to rely on the manual. Big mistake – that bought me a removal, and installation attempt number two. That attempt was aborted when I became powerfully confused by the clutch assembly. I had to remove the deck again and fiddle around with the mechanisms for about an hour in an attempt to understand how the thing worked before I realized that there was already a clutch assembly installed on the deck, and that those were the parts that were so very much in the way of my various attempts to install the existing clutch assembly. It would appear that Sears has modified the design of the mower decks rather radically. Once I realized that the reason I couldn’t find a proper spot to install the clutch was because there was already one in place, I was able to move ahead. Installation attempt number three was successful, but upon standing back to admire my handiwork, I tripped over something called a “mandrell guard”, a piece that probably should have been mentioned in the installation directions, and mentioned early – because it has to be installed before the deck is attached to the underside of the tractor. Thus did I require another removal and installation attempt number four. Perhaps astonishingly, the assembly works, though it is not level from side to side. I tried to level it twice by following the “deck levelling” instructions in the manual; I was not able to observe any resulting difference whatsoever. Whatever. The Juniorvanian savannah is so deep, it needed to be attacked in stages in any event, so I decided to set out atop the tractor and begin a-mowin’. Our lawn now looks like it has the mange. Also, we shut the engine down for a moment after mowing about a third of the lawn; it refused to start again. Spouse and I decided to forget about it for the day, to go inside and make some dinner, and to watch Game One of the Stanley Cup Final.
  4. As I type this, it’s 8:14 p.m. Eastern Time, and forty seconds have been played in the first period. I am cheering for the Penguins, but I think the Red Wings are going to win the Cup in six. For the Penguins to have any chance, they need to get at Osgood early and often; they need to shake his confidence. At the other end, Fleury will have to prove that he belongs as a number one ‘tender at the NHL level. He will have to do so in difficult circumstances, as I expect he will spend about 40% of each game with Tomas Holstrom’s arse end about four inches from his face. The Pens need to play tough but stay out of the penalty box, the Detroit power play is going to kill them. Crosby and Malkin will have to make the most of their man-advangage chances.

I will post some photographs of the Tractor maintenance later.