Monday, June 05, 2006

Lucky or Good or…?

When we were working on the class room project we discovered that Mark Seeler has a number of sayings that he likes to use. Early in the project he had cut some door casings too short for the door he was working on. When he got down to the last door he was out of long pieces and he thought he would have to splice it together out of shorter pieces but it turned out the last door was enough shorter that the one he had cut too short was just right for it. He said “I’d rather be lucky than good anyday. Now when it comes to working on trim he is very good but that doesn’t take away from the pleasure we feel when something we did that seemed to be a mistake works out in the end.

In any case, I was reminded of this saying this morning. We are in Aurora Illinois “grandparent-sitting” with Tammye & the kids while Chris is away on a supervisory training course related to his new job as a Sergeant on the Aurora police force.

This morning while we were having coffee on the deck before Tammye left for work I said “So do you have any repairs or fix-up projects that I could do for you while I’m here?”. She said that their oven still wasn’t working. When we were here in February Chris said he thought it was the ignitor but he had gotten a new one and put it in and it still wasn’t working.

Now I am fairly good at troubleshooting and repairing appliances as long as it doesn’t get too deeply into the electronics. However; I don’t have much experience with gas appliances. So I started to look at it. Without getting into too much detail the first lucky move was that I decided to pull it out from the wall to see if I could see anything there. It turns out that these appliances are generally designed to be serviced from the front so I might not have done that if I was “good” with gas. The second piece of luck was that when I saw there wasn’t anything back there I decided we might as well clean the floor before putting it back. The third piece of luck was that while I was doing that I found this little small plastic handle that Linda looked at and saw writing that said ”Off when down”. The 4th piece of luck was that there was an envelop taped to the back that had a schematic showing how the oven igniter worked and showed a picture of an oven gas shutoff valve that had a small handle to turn it on and off.

I located this valve by removing the oven drawer and sure enough the handle was missing. It is a spring loaded valve so it had closed which explained why the oven wouldn't light. The tough part was that it in the back corner at the top. I could barely get my hands on it and I couldn’t see it and touch it at the same time.

If I had been “good” I probably would have disconnected the gas lines and removed the part but I really didn’t want to do that. So I came up with this scheme of using a loop of fishing line to pull the valve out so I return the handle to the slot in the valve. After about 5 tries, 15 minutes later I managed to drop the handle into place. The oven is now working fine and so I say along with Mark “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.”

We made good time on the trip yesterday despite a slow start --We left house shortly after one and pulled out of the US side of the bridge plaza onto I-75 an hour later(This is a distance of less than 5 miles we usually expect it to take 15 to 20 minutes. The US border checks had traffic backed up well over half way across the bridge although once we got there we were waved past with very little delay. We arrived here 8 hours after we got on I-75 which is about 30 minutes less than average so it worked out. Probably most of the time was gained because we didn’t stop to eat – we grabbed some wraps at Subway and took turns driving while the other ate. But the other thing was that the usual traffic jams along the south end of Lake Michigan and on the Tri-state didn’t materialize.

The expanded I-Pass lanes at the tool booths really seem to be helping on the Tri-state. Of course the incentive of charging twice as much for cash as that for those using the I-pass transponders has really increased the use of automated toll collection which means a much smaller number of vehicles that need to even slow down . For us out-of towner’s it has doubled our cost to use I-294 & I-88 but we have little choice unless we want to spend 3 hours in stop & go traffic .instead of 45 minutes on the toll road.

So were we lucky on the trip or not? I’m not so sure—in fact I wonder sometimes what luck really means – when things don’t work – even when there is a strong ”causal” relationships to our choices or our “clumsiness” we blame it on “bad” luck. When things go well we may either take credit because of our “brilliance” or we may say it was ”good luck” or we may credit it to God's looking out for us. What do others think – Do you feel lucky?

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

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