A matter of degrees

Two matters, actually–and if you’re looking for thoughts on the ML[I]S or anything like that, you’ve come to the wrong place.

104? 40

Matter the first: I’d noticed a few news stories over the past week or so mentioning how difficult life in (Europe, Australia, wherever) when it was over 104 so often. And in my hindbrain, something started saying “104? Why 104? Why such a specific number?”

Then I read an interview with a Melbourne official talking about their various climate problems–flooding after a long run of 104-degree days. “104? Why 104?”

And then it hit me.

The Melbourne official didn’t say “104.” Neither did those non-US press reports when originally written.

9×5 + 32.

They were all saying “40 degrees.” Centigrade. Which is, aha, 104F.

And which is a perfectly good slightly vague version of “HOT,” although not, say, 50C (“TOO DAMN HOT FOR ANYBODY TO DEAL WITH“–or 122F, if you’d like).

Sometimes three or four degrees makes all the difference

Matter the second: Yesterday, our 7-year-old Honda Civic was due for the Dreaded Maintenance that comes at 7 years if mileage doesn’t get there first (and our car has less than 32,000 miles on it).

Namely, replacing the timing belt. And the water pump, ‘cuz it’ll probably go not too much later, and now that the engine’s half-disassembled… And the other drive belts, because they’ll age out soon also.

I won’t mention the overall price, which in our case also included new spark plugs and the usual 30,000-mile maintenance. (It was three digits, but high three digits. But at least it was three digits, not four…and in a relatively expensive market. Independent mechanic that only works on Hondas, Acuras and a couple of other Japanese makes.)

A sidebar that’s even less relevant than the main post: A local Honda dealership with extensive maintenance facilities had some online service coupons. Including a great one: They’ll give you the timing belt free when you replace the timing belt. So I looked at the detailed invoice for our maintenance. Out of, well, more than $700 and less than $1,000, the timing belt itself was a whopping $21. What a deal!


So anyhow: For most maintenance, I bring in the car, bring along some reading, and wait until it’s done–usually an hour or two. But that didn’t make sense for what’s a most-of-the-day service.

The shop provided transportation back to my house.

At 3 p.m., they called and said the car was (or soon would be) ready. My wife said I should call a cab, ‘cuz it was too hot to walk. I looked at the outdoor thermometer: 86F-87F. Said, ‘Nah.’ Put on sunscreen, filled my water bottle, and took off–I already knew it was 3.4 miles walking. Promised I’d take it easy. Took our emergency cell phone just in case.

A good walk, although unfortunately the path is one where there’s very little if any breeze–unlike our daily neighborhood 1.4-mile walk, which usually has somewhere between a strong breeze and VERY strong wind. I got there right around 4 p.m.–as promised, I wasn’t pushing it at all. (Yes, I did accompany my wife on the neighborhood walk later. This 3.4 miles wasn’t like a typical Wednesday hike: Maybe 50 feet total up & down, all sidewalks except for one block, 3.4 miles instead of 4 to 6 miles–and since it was sidewalks, I was wearing my usual “business” Rockports instead of my inexpensive hiking shoes, and the Rockports are much better walking shoes.)

Here’s the thing: Monday around 3 p.m. was also around 91-92 degrees (F, of course: short of the sun going nova, it’s not ever going to get up to 92C!).

Monday, I would have called a cab and paid the $12-$15 (most of the cabs here are Prii, or whatever the plural of Prius is).

Sometimes three or four (or five) degrees makes all the difference–in this case between “warm but walkable” and “too hot to voluntarily walk 3.4 miles.”

Deep significance of this post: I posted something this week.

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