Sunday, August 9, 2009

Maui wow-y

We are parked on the street again in Sunnyvale, just a block from the Elks lodge there (map). We arrived Friday afternoon, and other than the lunch-time walking crowd from nearby offices Friday, it has been quiet and desolate here. Tomorrow will mark the end of the 72-hour allowed parking window.

Before we left the Fremont Elks lodge on Friday, we ran down to San Jose to pick up the trinary switch for the air conditioner, and I installed it as soon as we got home. The Schrader valve which isolates the switch was in good shape, and so I was able to make the change with no loss of refrigerant. The new switch works fine, and the air conditioner is running again, although subjectively we think it is not cooling as well -- it's possible we have a tad too much refrigerant now. Oddly, the new switch has less hysteresis than the old one, and so the condenser fan cycles on and off in fairly short bursts.

We were settled in here in plenty of time to make our niece's party, and I even had time to fix the last niggling problem with the car we are borrowing -- the left side-view mirror was nearly completely black. Mercedes, in its infinite wisdom, chose to make this mirror "self dimming," a feature which it implemented with a layer of LCD material. When being followed by bright headlights at night, the LCD would activate, darkening the mirror, and you would see the reflection in the glass on top of the LCD. Otherwise, the LCD would be clear, and you would see normal daytime images in the silvered back of the sandwich.

The failure mode of this sort of contraption involves the sandwich of glass separating a bit, the liquid moving around, and environmental heat turning it completely dark all the time. I was able to carefully separate the two layers of glass, and clean out the LCD fluid. I then glued the outer glass layer back on. The mirror now has some imperfections, and there are some "ghost" images, but at least it is usable both day and night. Our friend Eric, who lent us the car, has asked if I can next move into the house for a few months to fix more of his stuff...

Also on Friday I wandered down to the lodge to clear with them our plan for parking Louise there in the bus if I end up flying to Hawaii; they have space and were amenable. So it will be a ten-minute affair to move over there and get settled tomorrow morning if necessary. There are always plenty of people around at the lodge to keep an eye on things, including several folks staying in their RV area. Yesterday I got a few more projects done around the house, including getting my Red Cross files in order on my thumb drive. We then drove out to Half Moon Bay, where our good friend Robert was performing with his jazz quartet.

We had a nice dinner, accompanied by some great jazz, and got a chance to catch up a bit with Robert after his gig. Around quarter to ten or so, we were helping him get his keyboard loaded into his car, when we heard a mighty crash as some guy in an older Dodge van backed into someone in the parking lot, then tried to just drive away. Robert and I raced over and stopped him; after parking for a minute to hear us out, he tried to get in his van and drive away again. We called the sheriff, and the three of us ended up having to stick around for another forty minutes or so to give statements. We looked at the Camry he hit -- at least $500 worth of damage, making it an attempted felony hit-and-run ("20,002" in California cop-speak). As we were leaving, he was having trouble coming up with valid insurance, too, and the number of sheriff's cruisers had escalated to four, with the CHP on the way. We at least felt good about the Camry owner not having to come out to find his car mysteriously damaged.

Today's chore was running all the pets over to the vaccination clinic. If Louise ends up following me to Hawaii, we might have to kennel the three of them, and the kennel will not accept them without current vaccinations -- and they were all due.

At this writing, Felicia is stubbornly refusing to shear apart as hoped, and may make landfall as either a tropical storm or a tropical depression. The forecasters have also been steadily moving the track envelope northwards, and the chief threat has shifted from the big island north to Maui. At this track, anything is fair game -- Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, or even Oahu, although the storm should weaken quite a bit before it can get that far west. The long range track guidance has it continuing along the northwest Hawaiian island chain all the way to French Frigate Shoals.

If the shear environment does not tear the storm apart by first thing tomorrow morning, with a conclusive downgrade to depression or lower, then I have every reason to believe they will call me between 6 and 7 and have me head over to the airport. I will be packing my bag just as soon as I post this blog entry. If the current track holds, it looks like I will be heading to Maui. I'm not bringing the laptop, so keep an eye on my Twitter feed for updates.

Photo by Magalie L'Abbé

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sean. I readily admit that I had to do a quick online look up "hysteresis." Good one. I'm still betting that the wind shear is going to do Felicia in but I would also be packing my bags if in your situation. We'll look forward to your updates either way. --Donna


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