Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A-Minus: One Year

Well, this is it, I'm in the home stretch. My aliyah target date is June 1st, 2006. I realize that I may not be leaving on exactly that day, but I want to at least have my Professional Engineering License, to have my debts squared away, and to have all my possessions packed, shipped, sold, or burned by then. It feels good to be moving forward.

On the down side, my dear, precious 1992 Ford Tempo, which I've driven since I was in high school, is now in its death throes. The bearings on the AC compressor are failing, so the car makes these horrible banging and clicking sounds when I drive it. The repairs will cost significantly more than the value of the car. I've been riding my bike as much as possible, hoping beyond hope that I could stretch the car's life out for just one more year, but I don't think it's going to pull through.

Fortunately, a car was just donated to our Chabad, so the Rabbi said I can take it. The deal is that I pay for registration, the smog check, etc., and he'll let me use it for the year.

So my new car is a two-seater 1988 Honda CRX hatchback with 150,000 miles on it. I was ten years old when this baby was born. The hood ornament is missing, the front left end is slightly crunched from some sort of collision, the sunroof looks a bit leaky, the air conditioning and power steering are long gone, the upholstery is shredded, and the body has numerous metastasizing colonies of blood rust. That aside, the old girl really runs smoothly and handles like a missile. I have dubbed her the "Rust Rocket."

The main disadvantage is that it's a manual transmission, and I only know how to drive an automatic. Not to worry! My buddy Art from Chabad has been taking me on lessons after work and on weekends. So far I've managed to go from a standstill to a start without screeching a total of four times out of roughly two hundred attempts. Usually we practice until either we can smell the clutch burning or Art starts experiencing whiplash. I'm only hoping I can get the hang of it before my Tempo breathes its last.

At work, we've hired a new Mechanical Engineer whom I interviewed a few months ago, and I am now in charge of training him. Boy, talk about starting from scratch. This young whipper-snapper came out of school and knows a lot of theoretical engineering stuff, but he's really pretty much a baby when it comes to practical applications and construction. I was never like that, was I? Still, he asks lots of questions and clearly knows that he doesn't know anything, which is a very good sign.

Otherwise things are okay. Life can sometimes get lonely here in Walnut Creek, as there aren't any girls of my age and religious persuasion around. I also haven't been studying Hebrew as much as I should lately, as I have been feeling a bit burned out on it. Still, I've got some good friends to go riding and hiking with. I'm also keeping in shape, working hard, learning a lot, and counting down the days.

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