Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Travelog Day 5; Lateral Drift

Well, the part came and was installed by Bilbo Baggins.
The engine sounded fine with the cover off, but naturally as soon as I paid the bill and drove away with the cover in place, the knocking noise was still there.


I drove around town for a little while, listening to the noise and looking for a shady place to park. While I listened, I was asking the van to tell me what was wrong with it. My initial panicky thoughts of severe engine damage had run their course, so I took some time to really listen and think.

Whenever I attack a mechanical issue, I try to start by fixing the easiest, most obvious things first. I went through a mental checklist of my fuel system, and decided to replace my injectors.
Replacing them was something I'd wanted to do before I left on my journey, but I ran out of money and time.
The van has nearly 150K miles on it, so it is about time for new injectors anyway.

Fortunately, you can't throw a rock in this town without hitting an auto parts store or service center. I think there must be some kind of mechanical vortex here that causes vehicles to break down.
There seems to be a plethora of churches too, so I guess you can pray you won't be ripped off too badly while you wait for your car to get fixed.

I went to NAPA and ordered new injectors for $56.00 each. (Ford wanted $75 each)
At this point in my journey I had about $200.00 left, and that was to buy diesel.
Fortunately the Bank of Mom came to my rescue and bought me new injectors.

The parts would arrive in the morning, so I drove to a shady place across from the post office and snuggled the van up underneath the light shade of some tall spindly pines.
This was actually a really nice spot. The pines were on my passenger side, and there was a little gravel road running behind a warehouse beyond the pines.
It was really as private and shaded as I could ask for in this little desert town.

I settled down to continue reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and was amazed at how much more I was getting out of this book the second time around.

For those who haven't read it, it isn't so much about motorcycles, or maintenance, although those are in there.

It's more about a Journey to find Truth.
It's about questioning very fundamental assumptions about how we do things and why.

It questions the nature and foundations of rational thought itself.

It came to me that this situation I found myself in was a sort of lateral drift of my own, and probably a necessary and valuable experience.

The best way to explain about lateral drift is in Robert Pirsig's own words;

"In a laboratory situation, when your whole procedure goes haywire, when everything is wrong or indeterminate or is so screwed up by by unexpected results you can't make head or tail of anything, you start looking laterally. That's a word he later used to describe a growth of knowledge that doesn't move forward like an arrow in flight, but expands sideways, like an arrow enlarging in flight; or like the archer, discovering that although he has hit the bull's-eye and won the prize, his head is on the pillow and sun is coming in the window.
Lateral knowledge is knowledge that's from a wholly unexpected direction, from a direction that's not even understood as a direction until the knowledge forces itself upon one.
Lateral truths point to the falseness of axioms and postulates underlying one's existing system of getting to the truth."

So with thoughts such as these, I drifted.
I enjoyed this quiet time beneath the pines to read and think.
I was thankful for my life and experiences so far on this journey.

When I talked to my friends, they seemed shocked to hear I was so positive about being stranded in this desert town.
Life is 10% of what you experience, and 90% of your attitude towards it.

So I will enjoy this day of rest and reflection. Tomorrow will be lots of work, changing out the injectors.


  1. M,
    Great post... by the way, I responded to your shortwave tube radio request under that post.

    Today's post about being stranded reminds me of my situation, only I'm stranded for more than a day. I'm stranded in an office cubicle, just waiting for the socio-economic slide to affect me and my family enough so that I will be allowed to take the steps that I know in the end will be necessary.

    Sure, I have my garden planted (and am adding to it most days). Sure, I have some beans and bullets. But I am forced (by threat of divorce and thereby losing the needed ability to be near my son and deluded wife) to play the game until the bitter end. Or at least until the end gets close enough for the blind to see.

    The garden, I can see, is going to be my refuge. I haven't felt so good in months of years. My muscles are a bit stiff, and my hands got plenty dirty, by by God, it feels good to touch the soil and feel that I'm doing something with reality, and not just affecting bits and bytes on computer screens.

    I will soon start to fish in the river, and even do a bit of urban foraging for wild plants... just got my guide to edible plants of eastern and central North America.

    Peace be with you and good luck with your garden. Keep in touch through your blog... I will need the inspiration as I spend beautiful summer days inside this office. Unless, by some miracle, I get downsized and can collect unemployment to be outside in the garden and on the rivers.

  2. Sounds like you have the most important thing you can carry...a good and positive attitude!

    I think you are doing good, my friend! Hope the van problems work themselves out soon!

  3. Funny how those mechanics never seem to want to refund your money when they mis-diagnose something.... That's why I do my own wrenchin'......

  4. It sounds as if your injector pump timing is off. You should be able to here injector knock while at idle and almost pinpoint which one is bad.

    You should always go to a diesel specialist for any diesel problems, standard run of the mill ASE mechanics have very little knowledge of diesel sciences and mechanics.