tehnical limits of DIY
Wednesday, July 8 2020
Gretchen and Powerful drove off to Woodstock today, and in the early afternoon I thought I might run some errands myself. One of these was to hack down some aggressive plants (probably a tree of heaven) growing up through the floorboards of the porch of the brick mansion on Downs Street. So I loaded the dogs into the Prius, started it up, and went to throw it into reverse. But it refused, and I saw a message on the screen: check the hybrid system. Check the hybrid system? How does one do that? I could detail all the things I tried to do to revive the Prius, using all the information I could find online. This included total-car resets that achieved by disconnecting both the 12V DC battery and the higher-voltage hybrid battery and then waiting for ten minutes. But the car would only go into two gears: park and neutral. So I transferred the dogs and some tools from the Prius to the Subaru and tried starting that up, only to find it was even deader than the Prius. It hadn't been driven in over a month, so perhaps this was to be expected. At least with the Subaru, the problem was obvious: the 12v battery was dead. I have another 12v battery I can sometimes jump a car from, but it didn't have enough juice for even one start. So I had to give up on driving to town. It was a cloudy day and had even rained earlier, so I left the dogs in the car with the doors open. They stayed there for hours, hoping I'd eventually take them for a car ride.
After Gretchen came home, I was able to jumpstart the Subaru but not the Prius (one possible problem for the latter was that the 12v battery didn't have enough juice). This indicated that something possibly serious was wrong with the Prius, something like a bad inverter. There's one problem with Prius inverters that is supposedly covered by a 15 year warranty, which would still apply. In any case, I wouldn't be able to get the car to run; to get the Prius fixed, we'd have to have it towed somewhere. Maddening though it is, a Prius is of a level of complexity that, when something like this arises, I am forced to turn the problem over to professionals. I have an inherent mistrust of such people, particularly in a case where there is a great asymmetry in our respective level of knowledge. The people at the Toyota repair place could tell me anything about the Prius, and I'd have to believe them.
For dinner, we dined on the east deck on the vegan version of the meatballs made by Sharky's Meatballs in Woodstock. The meatballs came with a luminous red marinara sauce. I made my meatballs into a wrap using a flatbread, lettuce, that red sauce, and some vegan cheese. The vegan version were made mostly of chickpeas and were so mushy that they rapidly lost their shape at the core of a wrap. Two such wraps added up to more than the amount of food that I should've eaten.
After dinner, I drove the Nissan Leaf to Uptown to buy a battery terminal connector for the Subaru, as its negative connector had developed a crack. There were two or three staffers and only two customers in the Advance Auto Parts, and still I spent way too long waiting in line, repeatedly trying to maintain social distance while the same people kept walking past me. One of the customers coughed at one point in his mask; fortunately he was about 20 feet away at the time.
I then got a few groceries at the Hannaford, including mushrooms, diphenhydramine, a product to treat my never-before-treated toenail fungus, and a new kind of vegan icecream. While I was there, everyone was wearing masks except for a pair of 30-something white dudebros who appeared to be shopping together. I stayed as far away from them as possible. At this point in the pandemic, anyone not wearing a mask in public is advertising that they don't care about being infected or spreading infection. Fuck all those selfish assholes.
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