Thursday, 13 February 2020

Like Clockwork

Image result for images clockwork

Today is one that's been on the calendar for a long time. In truth, since calendars were made of course, but from my own personal calendar, since 2000.

One of the advantages of being born in a zero year (I was born in 1970) is that the maths for the milestone years are a bit easier.

As a result, in the year 2000, I turned 30 years old. While the rest of the world was exhaling from the fact that we achieved the year without the computers simultaneously exploding and taking the developed world with them, I woke that day 20 years ago to the idea that I was finally, officially, a bona fide adult.

I've written a couple of times on the topic, but I clearly remember that birthday. My mother was visiting me in my home (in those days) in San Jose, California. The day began with some showers, but the sun came out. We spent lunch at Valley Fair Mall (now "Westfield Shoppingtown") where we grabbed a quick meal and a tiffany lamp for the house. On the way home, we stopped at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden (which was one of my favourite spots in the city) before returning for dinner. Even at 30, it was a nice treat to have my mother prepare my favourite meal for a birthday.

I remember thinking that 30 was a milestone because I know longer thought of myself (or referred to my friends as) a "kid." All the trappings of adulthood of course existed already - real job, dog, house and mortgage. I had done my taxes already several times. I had a retirement fund. But now, there was no going back.

After all, 30 was the age when people in the 1970s cult film "Logan's Run" faced the final curtain.

But I also thought of the reality that at some point, I was actually going to be 40. And then 50. 40 came and went a decade ago.

50 arrived today.

Those who know me are already aware that my hobby is my 1952 MG. It's not "modern" in any way - 54 BHp engine, no power steering, no top. All its workings are mechanical.

I got the car for my 40th birthday, and from time to time, I am in the garage working on this or that 'thing' that decides in its uniquely British way that it just no longer wants to work properly.

The car was already 18 years old when I was born.

In the past decade, certain parts have just...worn out.

About 8 years ago, one of the carburettors developed a hairline crack, so it had to be replaced. It took a while, but I found a spare in Oxfordshire, England - ironically just a few miles from Abingdon, where the car was made. The factory was closed in 1980 or so, and now, a Starbuck's is where the cars used to roll off of the assembly line.

A carburettor is a device that used to exist in cars that more or less functions the way that your lungs do. Gasoline - the life's blood of an internal combustion engine - is mixed with air before being sucked into the ignition chamber, where the two are combined with a spark to drive the piston, and then, the car itself. If the carbs leak air, or are out of balance, your car will gasp in much the same way that you will if your lungs aren't working.

Two years ago, the starter's solenoid needed replacement. That was an easier "find" - an OEM still manufactures Lucas knock-offs online. A week later, the old one was out and the new, in. Back on the road.

In time, I've also replaced the dynamo, an oil line, and an odometer cable.

A 70 year old car has 70 year old parts that fail. But those parts can be replaced. So it will remain on the road as long as I have the interest in keeping it going (and the physical ability to do so). At some point, I hope that my son (now 14) will be interested in it, and I can give it to him. When he was six or so years old, he "helped" me replace the broken carb.

A human being is in one sense, a collection of parts. Some can be replaced easily, some not so easily. One of other off-time activities is running. 11 years ago, I wrote a brief blurb about it here.

In 1998, I was able to run 2000 km in a year. At the time, I could pretty easily keep a seven minute per mile pace. Pushing it was 40 minutes for a 10km (about 6.30 per mile).

At 40, I could keep a seven minute per mile pace, but it was not easy.

Age and wear and tear slow you down.

Last year (2019), I was able to log about 500 miles total And my goal is now eight minutes per mile. I get the occasional leg injury (pain in the heel of my foot, a strained gastrocnemius). These injuries take much longer to recover than they did. A tweak used to put me on the shelf for a week, maybe two. This past fall, leg tightness meant reduced activity for two months.

Unlike the car, I cannot go out and get a new lung, or replace a leg. Joints can be replaced with titanium, but they honestly aren't the same.

I used to laugh when my father would fall asleep in our green armchair in the living room after dinner. Last night, I was sitting on our sofa and briefly nodded off. Dad was 53 when he died, so he never was really an old man, even though I thought of him as one for most of our shared time.

Today, I'm fifty years old. And despite the fact that my own parts don't work as well as they used to, I am ok with it.