First, let me talk about car batteries. One of the strange things about this pandemic time is that our four cars seem to be more like four horses that aren’t being ridden. They get either lazy, or poorly disciplined, and will surprise you by bad behavior just when you need them to be dependable. I suppose I drive my red Mazda more than any of the others, and since it is “Dad’s” car, it is always parked outside, rain, shine or snow. Since Adam found out he would be working from home until NEXT JUNE, he drives his blue car about once a week, mostly to just keep it in shape. Cheri’s white Mazda and Aaron’s silver Mazda – yes, we have three CX-5s – we could do a commercial about them – have not fared so well. I think the last time anyone filled up their car was perhaps a month ago. Most trips at all are less than ten miles round trip.
We have found with cars that are relatively new, that even when they are turned off, sitting in a dark garage, they still “run.” Apparently, the anti-theft switch is always on, and takes a little bit of juice from the battery. The remote start is a great tool, but it is always ready to go, and so it takes, maybe a little more juice from the battery. The clock, the radio and other items all seem to take their “little juice” from the battery, and if your longest drive in a week is about five miles or so, the alternator doesn’t have the time to “re-juice” the battery, even if it is a great battery, that should go forever.
At one time, I owned a little silver Mazda B2000 sundowner pickup. It was a weenie pickup, but it was good for hauling stuff. I bought it in 1985, and finally traded it in in 2000. It didn’t have much in terms of electrical modern stuff or anything. I remember, in about 1998, that I went out to start my pickup, and the battery was dead. Completely shot. I called our trusted car service guy to come and give me a battery jump, and while he was hooking up the cables, he asked, “So when did you last put a new battery in?” I thought for a few minutes, and then had to say, “You know – I think this battery is the original.” 13 years old, and this was the first time it hadn’t started. The car guy looked at me, and said, “I think you owe it a new battery – they are only supposed to last – in ideal conditions – about five years.” You learn things…
During our pandemic, as I mentioned, both the silver and the white Mazdas have… misbehaved. Everything is fine, until the time you absolutely have to be somewhere in just the amount of time you have allotted, and then the horse falls over and dies. That is, the batteries in both cars have decided that they are not going to be reliable. Dead as a doornail, they say, although I have no doornails, and am not really sure why they would be dead.
Anyway, the good news is we always have one other car available, that the person can take – which is usually mine, which means the mirrors and the seat, and the heater and the steering wheel positions all get messed up during the short drive by a member of the family. I remember my Dad, who was about 6’2” would always have special things to say after Mom, about 5’5” would get out of the car and not put the seat back… I know the feeling.
Well, setting all that aside, we still have the dead as a doornail batteries to contend with. I think it was years ago that Cheri’s dad gave me a used battery charger for some reason. It was a purely mechanical thing, with dials and switches that I never understood. When I needed to charge a battery in a car (not the little truck!), I would hook it up, all the while wondering if this would be the time when the car would explode and take out most of the garage… and me. It would charge for hours, and then when I guessed it had charged long enough I would carefully unhook it and put it back on the workbench until the next time. With the issues surrounding dead batteries lately, I decided to go all in and actually buy an electronic charger. I found and ordered a good one, and the most wonderful thing about it is that when the battery is fully charged, it simply shuts off. Who’d of thought of that little advantage?
So, it happens about every other week that a battery from one or the other car is dead. Realize – the white car is less than two years old, and the silver car’s battery is also less than two years old, so it’s a matter of “user error” and not the mechanics. I guess my job from now on will be to tell the drivers that they need to frequently take their ponies out for a ride about every third day, just to make them happy, and charge those stinking batteries…
Second, my life these past weeks has been used up in the hunt for some light bulbs. Not just any bulbs, mind you, but “specialty” bulbs. You will recall the accident when I sent our little Scandinavian light stand flying to the floor, which resulted in one of the ten bulbs being broken. No sweat, I thought – I had plenty of replacement bulbs in our tiny bulb drawer. Except I didn’t, having used up the last one last year. No sweat – I’ll just order another package from the tiny bulb store, and we would be back in business.
That is a workable plan in “normal world,” but apparently that’s not where we are finding ourselves lately. I’ve been given the chance to learn more about light bulbs than I ever wanted to. The bulb I am hunting for is not your run-of-the-mill bulb. It is tiny. Very much so. Bulbs are measured by base, voltage and wattage. This particular lamp has a doohickey that converts normal household current of 120 volts into a 12 volt battery current, so that the bulbs don’t spontaneously explode from the overage of electricity. So, 12v. Next, each bulb has a special sized base. Normal light bulbs have an E-27 base, or a “medium screw base,” as they like to be called. My “mini-candelabra base” is instead, an E-6 base, which appear to be one of the rare lightbulb sightings. So, E6. Further, most normal lightbulbs are 60W or 75W, or nowadays, with LED bulbs they are measured by lumens, not watts, so you can imagine how unique it is for my little bulb to produce. 0.9 watts of output. Blinding – not. However, when no other light is on, it only takes a little candle to chase away the darkness.
So my light bulb need, instead of a 120volt, E-27 base, 60 watt, is an E-6, 12v, .9w teardrop shaped candle bulb. When I looked at the package to find out the company I could order it from, I had my first concern. The .9w was written “,9w” which told me we were going to have to hunt for European bulbs somewhere. I began the search on the internet for my bulb replacement.
I believe it would be easier for me to locate weapons grade plutonium for sale than find these light bulbs. I have called and written across the US at dozens of Scandinavian stores, looking for replacements. I have checked the light bulb stores, the 1000 bulb websites, and all sorts of other novelty light bulb stores. Nope. No chance. I did uncover in one of my searches, the exact bulb I need! They are manufactured and sold by “Best Season/Star Trading” company. Unfortunately, the websites that sold them were in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and France. They were happy to ship bulbs to me, so long as I lived in Romania or Italy or Macedonia, but for some reason, they are unable to wrap up a few small packages of bulbs, and mail them at my expense to the US. I’m almost ready to get the State Department involved.
If I were being paid by the hour to hunt down these bulbs, they would have a street value in the hundreds of dollars. It’s just remarkable that not a single place in good ol’ America has a three-bulb package to sell me. I may have to fly to Austria, just to get some light bulbs…
So – sometimes things don’t work out the way, or with the ease you hoped they would. This has nothing to do with the pandemic, but it feels like it is. It’s easy to translate any frustration that arises lately into a “darn Co-Vid” feeling. Some might wish to use even stronger language than that…
Therefore, striving to live intentionally means that sometimes you have to cordon off parts of your life, and not allow one thing to affect every other thing you attempt to do. Sometimes car batteries die, and sometimes you can’t find what you are looking for in a store or website. Sometimes, however, you wake up and sleepily go out to the dining room table, and your beautiful wife smiles at you and asks you how you slept. I know which I intentionally want to focus on in my life! You should make that decision too, and find the way to live a joyful, and abundant life with what you have – even if the car won’t start…
Word for the day: cordon. Pronounced CORE-dun. Every single cop show or war movie will have somebody somewhere ordering that an area be “cordoned off” until something or someone or sometime occurs. Most of the time, we never see the word written out, and when we do, it may jar a similar word into the front of our brain. In that case, you would be right.
Cordon comes from the French cordon, which means – shock – “cord” or “ribbon.” The word turned from a noun to a verb when it became the practice of using either a line of police or a line of military troops to form as a barrier around a place or a crime scene – they became a living ribbon or cord, to make sure that no one without authorization would be allowed to cross the “cord.”
However, we also find “cordon” in other parts of French language. We may cook up some frozen, packaged “chicken cordon bleu” for supper, a delightful mix of chicken breast, ham and swiss cheese. That dish, however, is named after the famous French chef’s academy, known as “Le Cordon Bleu,” where the dish was invented. In this instance, the French words mean “blue ribbon,” or the highest award possible. The Cordon Bleu was first awarded as the highest knighthood, the Chevaliers du Saint-Espirit by the Bourbon Kings. A nobleman would wear a “cordon bleu” sash as a sign of distinction. Only later, when the cooking school was established in 1896, did it apply to chefs.
So, when you go to the state fair next time, and you walk through the pig barn, see who won the “cordon bleu,” which later may be what you eat…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.