The $20 Toothpick

Observed in the Yogurt Pump, downtown Chapel Hill, a guy standing in line to buy frozen yogurt carefully working a $20 bill back and forth between his  front teeth.  This says so much. 
*Here’s a guy who believes in dental hygiene to the extent that he is willing to die from whatever bacteria are on that bill. 
*He’s not using a $1, or a $5, or a $10; he’s got so much money that only a $20 will do the job for him.  I’m thinking the recession has left Chapel Hill practically unscathed.
*U.S. currency has utilitarian value, perhaps even beyond what it can buy.  I saw an article in the paper today that fewer $1 dollar bills are being printed, because of the use of credit cards for practically everything.  But a dollar bill will always be good as a patch in a bicycle tire, a book mark, the means for playing liar’s poker, and apparently…a toothpick.

Boy, here’s a “before and after” series you just never want to see.

You’re probably thinking, idiot, he got the sequence wrong, but nooooo.  There is a specific pattern to torquing-down the head bolts, which is what I’m doing in the first picture.  You essentially move from the middle and work your way to the outside, and the service manual actually numbers each bolt, so that you do it right.  Well, in the first picture you’ll note that I have circled the head of one of the bolts; that’s no. 17 in the manual.  I was happily moving along with Gene’s torque wrench set at 40 foot pounds, The Princess snapping pictures as I proceeded from bolt to bolt.  At some point we had enough pictures, so she wasn’t there to see my crest fallen look as I finally got to that damn no. 17 bolt, put some real torque on it, and almost fell backward onto my butt as the bolt stripped the threads in the hole in the engine block.  Oh man…

So, the “after” photo shows me removing chunks of the head gasket from the fire deck.  In order to assure a good seal between the head and the block, Jim had suggested that I spray the gasket with a copper sealant that can withstand high temperatures.  Here’s a shot of me spraying the gasket just before torque-down.
 That stuff made a great seal, so great that I couldn’t get the head off the block without leaving hunks of gasket material stuck to it.  In the “after” picture, I’m using a single-edge razor blade to go over the whole surface of the fire deck.  Dr. F advises that I’m going to have to take the engine back to the machine shop and have them install a heli coil.  The shop will drill-out the head bolt hole to a slightly larger size and then insert the coil, which will serve as the new set of threads for the bolt.  So, with Gene off on vacation I’m in a holding pattern.  Gene, help!  Do you think you and I can lift this thing, and could we use your minivan to get it over to the shop?

Jeez, I went in for my annual physical on Tuesday.  I had some issues, but I always have issues.  My doctor gave me the medical once over (and the bend over!) and then sent me off for blood tests and said he’d let me know in about a week how everything looked.  Tuesday was also our anniversary, so we went out to dinner, returning home around 9:00 pm.  There was a voice mail message waiting, and it was the doc (not Dr. Fullofit), saying he’d already seen some of the results of my blood tests and he wanted to talk to me.  

Well, that did not sound good.  He never calls, and why was he calling in the evening, the same day of the tests.  The Princess and I right away and continuously through a fretful Tuesday night and  all day Wednesday worried ourselves sick.  I didn’t leave the house for most of the day and willing the phone to ring with some kind of news.  That went on until around 6:00 pm when he finally called.  Turns out he had noted that the tests showed a very high level of bilirubin, something which I’ve known about for years, but that he did not.  A high bilirubin level is generally and indicator of liver problems, but in a few people (like me) it’s just the normal state of things.  Whew, another bullet dodged!   And bring on the martini’s!  The Princess and I have been walking around for the last two days as if I’ve been given a new lease on life.  Of course, this will wear off, and quickly, if that damn Pony keeps grinding me down with all his problems.

A sign popped-up sometime in the last week in front of an old, broken-down house out in the boondocks not to far from here; I rode by it on my bike.  Crudely hand-painted in black on a white background, “You have to no me, before you can judge me.”  And I thought, wow, there’s a real unintended mixed message!  But the thought he or she was going for (I think) was a valid one, and one we should all take to heart.  And something I know for sure, is that The Princess No’s me better than anyone.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.


3 responses to “The $20 Toothpick

  1. I don’t even know where to begin. (1) How do you even roll a dollar bill in between your teeth, much less a 20? (2) that pony better turn into a mustang by the time your done with it! (3) so glad everything’s okay and that you can drink excessively if you so choose, and (4) I wonder if the sign write was trying to recreate the “No Peace, No Jesus/ Know Peace, Know Jesus” thing?? I’m probably giving him way too much credit : )

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