September 1st, 2002


Why do Lawn Mowers Hate Me?

My lawn mower appears to be pining for the fjords. There's no reason for this to be so. It's only two years old. A bit of history. I've never has good luck with lawn mowers, but I've always attributed this to the fact that I've always been stuck with ancient, second-hand pieces of crap. I got my current lawn mower brand new when I bought the house, and it's never given me a lick of trouble before today.

Today was the first time I've mowed the lawn in well over a month, due to the fact that until last week, it hadn't rained here since the middle of July. I did manage to water the lawn once, the day before the town declared a total ban on watering, but with the exception of a few very hardy weeds, nothing in my front or side yards has needed cutting since July. The back is a little better, because it gets some shade during the day, and the leach field is out there.

Anyway, the mower started right up, and I cut the front yard with no problems, because there was really nothing to cut, even though I had dropped the blade down an inch. Side yard was no problem either, except near the very back, where the grass was shaded, and pretty thick. The machine struggled with this, and the engine was knocking, which I don't recall ever hearing it do before. Just as I finished the side, and began to work on the back yard, the pinging got worse, so I started taking thinner passes, trying to ease the strain. Still got some pinging, but it seemed to be cutting okay. Suddenly, the engine back-fired then quit, and I couldn't restart it.

After several tries, I got out the tools, and pulled the spark plug out. I had only installed this plug in April, so it should still be good. It looked okay, but I sanded the contacts anyway, reinstalled it, and tried again. No joy. Took a ride to Wal-Mart, and got a new plug, some starter fluid, and some gas conditioner. My logic was that a new plug couldn't hurt, spraying starter fluid into the cylinder always got the old Toro working, and if there was water in the tank due to the long layoff, the conditioner would help.

So I took out the old plug, squirted some ether into the spark plug hole, and installed the new plug. Yanked on the rope, and the engine wheezed like an eighty year old asthmatic. Checked the air filter, which I'd also replaced last April, and it was full of grass and dirt. Blew all that out, and even tried starting the engine without the filter. Again, nothing. Reinstalled the filter. Went on-line and looked at a small engine trouble-shooting site. They said check the fuel, so I did. There was plenty of gas in the tank, and when you take out the spark plug right after trying to start the engine, you can smell gas on the plug, so the fuel system seems okay. Next they said check the air, but I had already cleaned the filter, and it didn't start without the filter, so that's okay. Most of the rest of the stuff they said to check involves taking the engine apart, so that's when I gave up. I'll try and snag the mower from work tomorrow to finish the job.

Was up in Somerville on Saturday, helping some of the other Buffistas help Emily move to her new apartment. The new digs are nice, and so was the company, so it was fun.

A Meme is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Memeing from Suela by way of Serenada

Last book you read:
Angry Lead Skies by Glen Cook was the last book I finished, and I skipped and skimmed through Bill James' New Historical Baseball Abstract. Currently reading Tom Clancy's latest, Red Rabbit, and last time I looked at LotR, Frodo and Sam were still following Gollum through the swamps towards Mordor.
Last movie you saw:
Watched a bit of Demolition Man on TBS.
Last movie you saw on the big screen:
Men in Black II at a drive-in outside of Perth, Ontario.
Last phone number you called:
Last show you watched on TV:
Angel, tonight.
Last song you heard:
Doreen, Old 97's.
Last thing you had to drink:
The last of the sparkling lemonade I brought back from Canada. Great stuff. Wish you could get it down here.
Last thing you ate:
Texas chili over angel hair pasta.
Last time you showered:
Last night.
Last time you cried:
When my dog died, er, sixteen years ago, as long as you don't count getting sniffly at the end of Field of Dreams.
Last time you smiled:
Today, while waving at my next-door neighbor's little girl.
Last time you laughed:
Last person you hugged:
Ellen, yesterday.
Last thing you said:
"Pretty good," to answer my next-door neighbor's, "How are you?"
Last person you talked to online:
I don't ICQ much any more. Depends upon whether you consider discussing something on WX conversations. In that case, probably Daniel, which is probably the first time we've ever discussed anything with each other. Nutty and I did some silly e-mails back and forth earlier in the week which were sort of conversational.
Last person you talked to on the phone:
Last thing you smelled: