Wrench monkey rides again

A month or two back I had a small scrape-up backing out of my garage. We had been parking the wheelbarrow just inside the garage door on my side; no longer. Backing out one morning, in a hurry, I cut it too close. The inside front fender lip caught the stand of the wheelbarrow, and I heard a crunch. When I got out, I found the top of the bumper panel had popped loose. Looking closer, I found I had managed to pull the panel forward until it got pulled off its slide connector, so the panel was now flapping loose. And I couldn’t pull it by my own strength to put it back in place.

Cut to tonight. I found instructions for removing the bumper in my shop manual, and got to work:

  1. Remove four Torx screws in the front of each bumper that secure the internal mud shield in place.
  2. Remove the three screws from the bottom of the bumper.
  3. Remove the three bolts that secure the hood latch to the bumper; consider removing the whole latch but vote against it.
  4. Look at the instructions which say to remove the turn signal modules.
  5. Realize that you can’t remove the modules in the 2003 model without removing major components from the engine compartment.
  6. Ponder. Curse a bit. Listen to Jeff Buckley for inspiration. (“Nusrat: He’s my Elvis.”)
  7. Notice, then remove, another Torx screw on the top of the bumper panel, to the left of the hood latch. Note that there is now at least a centimeter more forward slack in the bumper than before.
  8. Desperately commence tugging the passenger side fender forward, grunting and swearing more, while applying pressure on the side to try to lock the slide into place.
  9. Drop jaw as the slide actually drops into place. Carefully slide the bumper panel back into place until it locks.
  10. Reverse steps 1-6, optionally omitting step 5. Drop a bolt while reversing Step 3, realize that it’s not going to drop out of the sealed bottom of the engine compartment, shine a flashlight into the compartment to make sure it’s not sitting in a fan belt or something, cross fingers and start engine to make sure it won’t rattle out and crunch something under motion, and close hood.
  11. Optional: Do victory dance. Not optional: Pants with the victory dance.

I used to futz around on my MG, and actually managed to replace a fuel pump without assistance once, but this is the first modern car repair I’ve done in several years. The fact that it doesn’t involve a critical system of the car is definitely beside the point.

Holiday songs: A Dave Brubeck Christmas

dave brubeck christmas

Continuing my review of my personal favorite holiday recordings, today’s disc is A Dave Brubeck Christmas. This latter-day collection of solo piano numbers has a parlor ambience to it, as though Dave were sitting at your grandmother’s old upright piano. Dave covers a set of mostly standards with a few of his own compositions in fine Brubeck style.

Now, when I say “Brubeck style,” don’t expect the thundering blocked chords and odd time signatures of Time Out. The approach here is much less fiery. At his liveliest on this recording, on “‘Homecoming” Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Dave calls to mind great stride pianists like Fats Waller, with a little Count Basie thrown in for good measure. Most of the other numbers are approached with melodic inventiveness but contemplative tempos. The end result is a hushed anticipation that recalls Brubeck Plays Brubeck, his groundbreaking 1956 solo album recorded at home late at night as he tried to keep from waking his infant children. The comparison is apt: Brubeck says he was trying to recapture some of his favorite holiday memories of playing with his family. The end result is more “drowse by the fire” than “jingle bell rock,” but having a little help to get out of the holiday bustle and into a meditative mood during the season never hurts. Recommended.

One note about the sound: this is a Telarc recording, and like all Telarc discs is recorded with a much quieter playback volume than typical rock or jazz albums. As a result the disc doesn’t really play well in a changer, shuffled among other recordings, unless you have your hand on the volume knob at all times. Better to go ahead and turn up the sound and listen to the album straight through.