Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Case of the Capricious Cruise Control

I've been putting in very long hours since Monday before last, getting a spreadsheet ready for a meeting about Spiral Light Candle, my son-in-law's company. I'd been getting maybe five or six hours of sleep for ten days, then drove up to North Dakota for a meeting.

That was time well spent: I slept over at #2 daughter's and son-in-law's place, got some work done. And some 'just visiting,' too. I got back to Sauk Centre yesterday evening.

Today, the lack of sleep with a longish trip to top it off caught up with me. I may be getting a cold, and might not be feeling well - if I had enough energy to notice such things.

A few 'normal' days, with exercise and adequate sleep, should help. A lot. I'm looking forward to that.

Routine Checkup, Normally Non-Routine Blood Test

I had rescheduled a checkup earlier, to get more time for working on that spreadsheet. I figured that I'd have time Tuesday morning for the checkup, and be able to get off after eating lunch. I was right, but the checkup included a blood test: and that went as smoothly as such things normally do for me.

I'm a cooperative patient, clenching my fist and holding still on cue. It's my veins that won't play along. I don't think they actually dodge away from the needles: but the effect is similar. They collapse easily when pricked, too. Frustrating, for everyone involved.

But the second set of attempts was successful, and I was ready for a nice, normal drive up to North Dakota.

Not-Entirely-Uneventful Trip

The trip up to North Dakota should have been routine. I'm on the Interstates all the way from Sauk Centre to the Hillsboro, North Dakota, exit, and have been driving the route for decades.

Expired Credit Card

I got off a few minutes later that I'd expected to, but still had plenty of time to fill the van's tank before setting off. That's when I tried to use an expired credit card. Not intentionally. I'd just forgotten to swap out the old one in my wallet.

That's one thing about living in a small town, and having regular habits. Folks at the convenience store where I get gas know me, know where I live, and were comfortable with letting me drive off to get the right card. Quite aside from a reputation for trustworthiness, there's a practical factor: If I had decided to skip paying for the gas, what would I do after that? Those folks know me.

Like I've said before: I love it here.

So, after burning time with an eminently-avoidable return home, which included hearing my wife say "WHAT?!!" when I explained that I had used an expired card - a perfectly reasonable reaction on her part, under the circumstances - I finally paid for the gas and headed out for North Dakota.

Seemingly-Malevolent Hardware

By the time I reached Fargo, North Dakota, the van's cruise control had tried to kill me. Twice. Putting it less dramatically, I discovered that the cruise control gets stuck when more power is needed: like when climbing one of the steeper hills.

The first time was a surprise, when I noticed that the engine was still revved up and the speedometer was passing 80 miles an hour: but shutting the cruise control off restored normal operation. I used cruise control again: partly for convenience, partly to see if it malfunctioned again, under similar circumstances.

Which it did.

Using a defective cruise control wasn't as daft as it may seem. I'd been able to turn it off with no problem, and knew what to be aware of the second time. A worse-case scenario, where the cruise control wouldn't shut off, would have meant shutting off the engine entirely and coasting to a stop on the shoulder: annoying, frustrating, and requiring an explanation later, but very far from lethal.

Blood Test Results: It Could Be Worse

Late this afternoon, I heard from the clinic. The blood test results were back. My blood sugar levels are okay, but one of the prescriptions wasn't playing well with my kidneys: so I was told to stop taking that and come back in a month. Hey, at my age: it could be worse.

It's late: time to quit.

Good night, and may God bless

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