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I Fixed It. . .It’s Still Broken

My son’s car is what you would call a junker. If you saw it trying to merge in front of you on the freeway, you’d give it plenty of room. Apparently in the past someone didn’t. Maybe plenty of someones.

I recently replaced the power steering pump. It took awhile. His car was out of commission for nearly a month. Finally I got it working. I’d never done a power steering pump before. I did his three times.

His car ran for about three weeks. Then, the fuel pump went out. I’ve been working on it for several weeks, finding time. Last week, I finally had some uninterrupted time to devote to it.

The fuel pump, not surprisingly, sits inside the fuel tank. The fuel tank is typically fifteen to twenty gallons. It’s a big steel tank that sits under your trunk. That puts it about 12 inches above the road. Nothing between the tank and the pavement.

The tank is held on your car by two steel straps. You can’t actually screw the tank to the car. It would be too dangerous.

It’s not complicated to change the fuel pump. You have to drain the tank, of course. Gasoline weighs about 8 lbs/gallon. A full tank can weigh between 120 and 160 lbs. That’s a lot of weight on those steel straps.

You have to disconnect the electrical wires and the fuel lines. I was replacing the fuel filter as well, so two more sets fuel lines. The fuel line connectors were pretty rusted. They actually push on and off with a simple tool. I spent a couple of hours wrestling with them.

After all that was done, it was time to remove the straps and lower the tank. I placed a floor jack and a couple of jack stands under the tank and went to remove the bolts that hold the straps in place. The straps that keep the 150 lbs fuel tank from dropping onto the road in a fiery explosion of fire and destruction.

The left one looked like this.

This is what the right side looked like.

That’s paracord. I wondered why someone would obscure the bolt with paracord and old wire ties. On closer inspection it was obvious that the paracord wasn’t obscuring the bolt. It had replaced the bolt.

My realitively simple fuel pump replacement had turned into a more complicated operation. I removed the one good bolt and cut off the paracord. The tank came out pretty easily.

Next, I turned my attention to the problem of the broken bolt. I started by shearing off the stub with a handheld grinder. A grinder throws out a tremendous amount of sparks. Normally operating a grinder that close to the fuel tank is a dangerous operation. But, considering my fuel tank was bone dry and sitting 20 feet away I felt pretty confident that we’d avoid an accident.

I tried drilling out the remains of the bolt. The end was welded into the frame, It became clear that even my titanium drill bits were not going to get much of a purchase on the hardened steel bolt. Finally, I picked a close spot and drilled a new hole. I couldn’t access it from the trunk, so it became a new pilot hole.

Replacing the pump is pretty simple. You just remove a locking ring, pull out the old pump and install the new one. The tank went back in pretty easily too. Reattach all the fuel lines, the new fuel filter, and the electrical connections.

A self-drilling screw took the place of the discarded paracord. It now looks like this.

I replaced the fuel pump relay and the 30 Amp fuse. I added a few gallons of gas and we were ready to test the new pump. My friend who gave me the car said the fuel pump was replaced recently. I told him whoever he paid to do the work cheated him. The pump I removed did look new, but the fuel filter certainly was not, and of course, no reputable mechanic would secure any part of a car with paracord, let alone a steel tank full of flamable fuel.

Incidentally, when we turned on the key to test the new fuel pump it immediately blew the fuse. My repair had not only not fixed the fuel pump issue, the problem may not have even been with the fuel pump at all.

In the coming days, I’ll check the oxygen sensor, and then the six individual fuel injectors. And if none of those are faulty I’ll trace the wires down and see if one has become worn and frayed.

But, I don’t view my time replacing the fuel pump as a failure. In fact, I’m glad I went through the process. The most important thing I did was screw a $0.59 piece of metal into a hole I drilled.

Yes, definitely a success.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved


I’ve Decided Where I Want To Die

I’d like to try skydiving before I die.

Just not right before I die.
-comedian Josh Gret

I’m not thinking of dying any time soon. As Mark Twain said,

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.
-Mark Twain

Not that anyone has reported my demise. Poor Mr Clemons obituary was printed in a paper.

But, I’ve given thought to where I want my final resting place to be. History is important to my family. I’ve always considered that I’m from Washington. I was born there. My mother and her ancestors were born there. My father and grandfather are buried there.

And yet, my father and grandfather were born in Great Falls, Montana. A distant grandfather was part of the Mormon migration. He was with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847 when the first group of Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley.

Tracing further back, my people are from Laurel County, Kentucky. Going back even further my ancestors fought at the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in the colony of Massachusetts.

Some ancestors were here as early as the mid-1600’s.

I recently did a DNA test. My ancestory is British Isles, Scotland, Ireland and England. With a little bit of German thrown in. So, even though my family has been in America since before it was the United States of America, I’m a descent of immigrants.

I realized that actually, “my people” are from no specific place. Like vagabonds through time and space. My connection to any location is what I choose to make of it.

I decided to be buried in here in Utah. I plan to live to be 113, so I figure I’m less than half way there.

I’ve lived in Utah for more than half of my adult life. I don’t actually know how long. My children have been born here. . .many of them at least. All my children live within driving distance. My grandchildren, five living and one deceased, are here in Utah.

I’m not sure at what point I became “from” Utah. Perhaps when my mother left Washington to retire to Arizona. Perhaps when my oldest grandson was buried in Santaquin, Utah. Perhaps it was none of these. Perhaps it was none of these, or all of these.

Even though, I won’t really care where I’m buried. You know, because I’ll be dead. Still, it’s comforting to know that on Memorial Day when my descendants gather to remember their ancestors, it will be in a place I’m from.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

No, I Don’t Want Your Expert Opinion

On it’s face, it wasn’t an offensive comment. In fact, everyone had a the best of intentions.

I’m part of a private Facebook group. Actually, several, but this one in particular is a group of people brought together by our connection to a popular comedian. The group is people that he’s met over the years and enjoys interacting with. So, we’re all strangers, and yet friends of friends.

The group, or forum has a single rule. It’s best described as “Don’t be a jerk.”

This group is, if not unique on the internet, at least not the norm. To help the group get to know each other, we have “theme days.” Monday is “Plug Yourself” day. Anyone that has anything exciting coming up, tells us about it. We share each others successes.

Tuesday is “Today I Learned.” We sometimes point out the trivial, or the inane. Other times, it’s something more interesting. On Fridays, of course, it’s talk of the coming weekend and plans.

But, it’s Wednesday that gets the most traffic. Wednesday is “Pet Peeve” day. They are pet peeves, or things that angered us, or upset us. Some are serious. Some are trivial. They are literally pet peeves.

And that’s the fun of it. In most situations you are discouraged from sharing your pet peeves. Many of them are “first world problems.”

One young man shared an experience from work. A coworker had spoken harshly to him. He let it get to him for a couple of days. It caused some issues with his boss.

This was exactly what Pet Peeve Wednesday was designed for. Several people chimed in with appropriate affirmations. One person offered advice on how to deal with the stress.

I try deep breathing. Work on minimizing the stress of it and let it go.

I fail to see how that is relevant to my situation.

I was just trying to help. And if you don’t see how it’s relevant, that’s cognitive dissonance.

It was a mild disagreement, but surprisingly even among strangers in our little group. And it got worse.

I talk about a problem and you throw it back as my problem and tell me to just practice deep breaths. If I told you my coworker had punched me in the face, would you offer the same advice?

I’m a trained psychologist. This is what I do. Now I understand why Republicans think Liberals are such snowflakes.

There was some harsher language included as well.

We called a brief huddle of the moderators in a private Messanger chat. A couple of us reached out to him and explained the problem. Publically we issued a warning.

I tried to think about why this issue had escalated. I finally figured it out and posted a comment, not directed at anyone in particular, but obviously aimed at the previous conversation.

Remember, that unless someone asks for help getting over their pet peeve, this thread is really about rants.

We are all an expert in something and sometimes the tendency is to jump in and solve a problem we are experienced with. However, sometimes people just want to rant.

That’s what this thread is for.

We’re all friends here.

I think the advice extends beyond that small internet group. We all want to feel validated. Many of us just want to help other people. And sometimes, we know exactly how to help them.

But, we need to understand that sometimes people just want to vent.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

If I Wanted To Ruin Your Life I’d Do A Lot More Than That

Novell held a big convention every year in Salt Lake City, called Brainshare. It was held in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. There was plenty of floor space.

Novell had the biggest booth, of course. Other vendors had various sized booths. From small 10×10 booths, to large 40×40 or even bigger. And my brother’s company GWAVA had the biggest of all. As Novell’s footprint diminished, GWAVA emerged as the proverbial “big fish in a small pond.”

It wasn’t my brother’s company any longer, actually. He had left the company some months before. At his level, (Senior marketing executive) you typically resign “to spend more time with your family” or some other excuse.

My brother had left GWAVA, but his wife, my sister-in-law still worked there. I was working for a large non-profit in Salt Lake City. I was a technology guy working a technology job. Brainshare was a convention for technology people and was all about technology jobs.

My point is that I was exactly the demographic that Brainshare catered to. And it has historically been my favorite convention. And it was in my home town, no need to travel. And a friend got me a free pass.

What could go wrong?

Yeah, I couldn’t really think of anything either. But, it didn’t take long for trouble to find me.

On the first day of the week long conference, I walked around the convention floor. I stopped in and visited with old friends who make products that worked with Novell. And finally, I wandered through the large GWAVA booth. I was really looking for my sister-in-law. We weren’t close, but she lived in california and I didn’t get to see or my brother as often as I would have liked.

She wasn’t at the booth that day. I talked to old friends. But, I kept myself to “safe” topics.

How’s your brother?

Oh, he’s good.

What’s he working on?

You know, he’s exploring his options and enjoying some downtime.

I knew every statement I made would be scrutinized and analyzed. These people who had worked with him would look for hidden hints and meanings in my most innocuous statements. I was determined not to reveal a thing. And I didn’t.

I chatted for a few minutes, said my goodbyes and wandered elsewhere to see new product demos.

The second day I made sure to stop by the GWAVA booth early so I had a chance to catch my sister-in-law before her meetings started. And that’s when I figured out that my relationship wasn’t what I thought it was.

Hey, it’s good to see you again.

Come with me!


I need to talk to you and not in my booth!

Okay. . .what’s up?

You are ruining my job! What were you thinking coming by here yesterday! You’re ruining everything! What were you doing?

Mostly I just came by to say hi to you. . .

Okay, fine! You’ve said hi. Now, I need you to stay out of my booth and away from GWAVA employees!

Sure. Can I get a hug?

I’m still not sure why I asked for the hug. I was still trying to figure out where the family and the business side connected.

I called and went over it with my brother.

She’s just really stressed about having a good show.

Yeah, I know. But, does she actually understand how much I could screw her life up if I actually wanted to?

No, she doesn’t. But, I do.

She and my brother eventually split up. Novell became Micro Focus and they eventually bought out GWAVA.

I never did try to screw up her life, but only because I didn’t really care about it after that.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

So How Was The Camping Trip?

I attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Saturday night. The new Eagle is a great kid. I’ve been one of his scout leaders. Many of current boys in our patrol were also at the Court of Honor. One of them asked about the campout on Friday. My “I’m going to the mountains” moment.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Why, was it cold?

No, it was cancelled!

It’s just a camping trip, right? In fact, it was a one night trip. And it was the hardest, most difficult hike we do every year. It’s 12 miles and about 4,000 feet in elevation change.

I hate hiking. Well, that’s not totally true. I enjoy many aspects of hiking; the fresh air, the beatiful scenery, the waterfalls. The part I have trouble with is the walking up and down the mountains.

I used to be good at it. I used to be able to run for miles without tiring. I never even thought about the issues with hiking up a mountain.

Those days are long past.

Now, I take ibuprofen before the hike. I take ibuprofen during the hike and I take ibuprofen after the hike. And even then, I’m a slow hiker. I hike slowly up the mountain and I hike even slower down the mountain. Actually, I stumble down the mountain, one painful hobbled step at a time.

Why then would I look forward to, even be disappointed to not be able to make such a climb?

Partly it’s that this is the third time we’ve tried to make this hike. First was in May. I cleared my schedule. But, none of the other leaders were available to go in May. I didn’t bother to pack.

The high mountain ridges and saddles are beautiful in May. Spring comes late to the meadows above 6000 feet. When we make the ascent on “Baldy,” at 8800 feet, there’s still snow on the North slopes. We typically glissade down the snow fields.

We rescheduled our trip for August. But, just as Spring comes late to the high meadows, fall comes early. The changing leaves start at the highest peaks and march down the slopes through the early summer and into fall.

The meadow is full of aspen. It’s not visible from the valley floor. We assumed it would be vibrate. It can be brutally hot in the valley in August. Hot and dry. Perfect fire conditions. August had a big one in the South part of the valley. In fact, there were two fires, the Bald Mountain fire and the Pole Creek fire. Together they burned over 100,000 acres. That makes a lot of smoke. Most of the time that smoke blows East. Occasionally, it blows North.

The day before our campout the winds shifted. Unlike smog, which limits itself to the valleys, smoke clings to the mountains and goes where the wind blows. There is no escaping the smoke by climbing above it.

A 12 mile hike is challenging enough, but trying to do that hike in the smoke is insane. And we couldn’t risk the boys. I had packed for this one.

My backpack sat in the garage fully packed.

We rescheduled for November. Winter also comes early. It snowed last week in the higher elevations. Mt Timpanogos has a wonderful blanket of snow. We are hoping it’s the beginning of a good snow year.

The sun warmed the high meadows and much of the snow at the lower elevations had melted. We assumed it would be cold, but the forecast was for clear skies.

Our number of boys able to commit to the campout had dwindled the later we got into the year. We had two boys able to attend on Friday. I repacked my gear, switching out the warm weather gear for colder weather. My pack weight increased as I added thicker sleeping pads, and a heavier coat.

I drove myself to the trailhead for our 4:00 departure. The weather was gorgeous. The sun was warm without being too hot. A gentle breeze stirred the yellowing leaves. I was officially off duty. I’d arranged someone to cover my phone in case of any outages. I was looking forward to 24 hours of diversion.

Unfortunately, I’d missed a text from an hour earlier. The hike was cancelled. The boys, and leaders couldn’t make it.

We’ve are planning to do the hike in May. I’m not sure if we have rescheduled or cancelled.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Misquoting Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essemtial facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

-Henry David Thoreau

When Thoreau “went to the woods,” he stayed for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days. He built his own cabin on land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was a place known as Walden Pond and is near Concord, Massachusetts.

I don’t intend to spend nearly that long. And I’m not going to the woods. And I won’t be building a cabin.

But. . .

Thoreau’s quote calls to me this week. So, I shall go to the mountains because I wish to avoid distractions, to carry with me the essentials of life, and see if I could not what it had to teach, and not when I die, discover I had not lived.

Well, I’ll be camping this weekend at 6,000 feet in the snow, so hopefully the death part will come later rather than sooner.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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