Sunday, September 5, 2010

A blog entry about nothing.

This blog entry was initially going to be about my eventful but not really exciting week, but somehow it turned out to be an entry about my car that needed a jump.

Monday was the last day of my summer project. I spent the summer studying the birds on 3 different prairies. Each prairie manages their site differently in terms of prescribed burns. One site did not burn their prairie at all, but managed it by mowing every few years. Another site burned their prairie every 3 years and the Ecology Center, for simplicity's sake, burns every other year. My question for my study is whether or not the birds demonstrate a preference for the burn frequency. The methods I used to answer my question involved bird census and mist netting.

So Monday was the last day for mist netting at the Ecology Center. It threatened to rain but we managed to get 2 hours of net time in before the sky did open up and begin to pour. We were planning on going to lunch after we closed nets, but decided on brunch instead since the rain halted our activities. Of course it stopped raining by the time we closed the nets, but by then, the nets were soaked. A wet net tends to bunch in spots, making it easy for the birds to see and avoid.

After packing up we go to our cars and figure out carpooling and the like. I hop into my car and it wouldn't start. Dead as a doornail, would not start. But I did leave the hatchback open for over an hour this morning. There was some issue over whether or not anyone had jumper cables so I suggested we just go to brunch and I could call AA towing before we left the restaurant.

It turns out Stream Girl had jumper cables in her car at the Ecology Center. Thus began the jumper cable adventure. When we returned from brunch I opened the hood of my car while Stream Girl pulled her car up. The terminals on my battery were heavily corroded. After scraping off as much as I could with my key I turned to find Stream Girl reading the directions.

"I haven't done this very many times." I confessed.

"Neither have I." Stream Girl replied, "But the directions are simple enough."

Farm Girl was there for moral support and it turns out I leaned pretty heavily on her emotionally. In the past, I was the spectator and filled the role of support during a jumping event, but this time around I was the active participant and the thought of placing cables with a current running through it (from the other car) on to my end of the car scared the bejeesus out of me. What frightened me the most was placing the negative end of the cable on a metal object on my car. What if the directions were wrong and I got a nasty shock? Farm Girl offered to place the negative end of the cable on some random metal object, but I didn't want HER to get shocked. What kind of friend would I be if I allowed her to take a freak-of-nature shock that was meant for me?

"Where should I put this?" I asked Farm Girl, looking at all the machinery under the hood.

"How about there?" She asked, pointing to one area of the frame of my car.

I peered at it and shook my head. "It's awfully close to that skinny tube." I replied, pointing to what was probably the windshield wiper fluid tube. Maybe?

"Hmm. What about here?" She asked, pointed further up the frame.

The radiator hose closely paralleled the frame, but every where I looked, there was a tube or bolt or some plastic piece that was close to metal.

"Ok." I said, staring at the metal.

I looked at Farm Girl and Stream Girl and said, "I love you girls!" before placing the negative end of the cable on the metal.

The laughter that followed my overly dramatic statement took the edge off my jitters. Intellectually, I knew I wasn't going to get shocked, but what if by some weird chance I DID get shocked? Luckily nothing happened.

I went to start my car and again, nothing happened. Stream Girl commented the directions said that if the car receiving the jump did not start to give it 5 minutes before trying again. So we gave it 5 minutes.

Nothing happened.

Stream Girl suggested we wait another 5 minutes and try again. This time she revved her engine several times. Guess what happened?


Stream Girl suggested I get the car towed to Auto Zone and have the guys there test my battery. If it was really dead, I could buy one and have them install it. I agreed and said I'd call Danno first to see what he thought. Much to my surprise, he said he wanted to come out and try to jump it.

"But we just tried jumping it." I said, "It's as dead as a door nail."

"Just let me look at it." He replied.

I will admit I was a little offended. He didn't trust me to jump start my car? I did tell him there were 3 of us present to provide a form of checks and balances in case one of us misunderstood the directions.

'Fine' I thought sullenly, 'Come on out then. You'll see.'

He came out and looked at my battery terminals and really started cleaning them. He cleaned them until they shone. Hmm, what if he did get the car started? He did go through the same set up as we did in terms of hooking the cables to his car and then to mine although he picked a different spot for the negative cable.

I will confess I experienced a certain amount of satisfaction when the car wouldn't start but I refrained from saying "I told you so".

He tried a different spot on the car, but met with the same results. Nothing.

Then he did the unthinkable. He placed the negative cable on the battery. Great. Now someone was going to get hurt.

"You're not supposed to do that!" I gasped, "That's dangerous!"

"I know, but it may be the only way we get your car started." Danno replied.

The car almost started when I turned the ignition over. On the second try, the car finally started. I don't think I've ever seen a car so unwilling to start. Danno was afraid the alternator would be involved in the problem, but time and many miles driven this week proved it was just the battery.

That proved to be the highlight of my week and well, this blog entry too.

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