Tag: writing

P.S. I Love You

IMG_3871 - 2014-11-02 at 21-07-20Growing up moving from place to place, writing and receiving letters meant a lot to me. I never was very good at it, largely owing to my particular brand of lazy perfectionism, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t moved when I found a friend’s handwritten words, heavy with meaning and intimacy, in my mailbox. And because I craved that joy of connection to another human being, I would eagerly scribble my own words in response.

Then email came along. And instant messaging. And Facebook. And then cheap and ultimately free long-distance. And my life started to look decidedly more grown-up and I found I had all the meaning and intimacy I could handle. Plus, writing letters takes time and I can’t seem to find enough of that as it is, and there is shit that needs to get done. So I don’t write letters at all these days.

I miss it. For one, I am tired of finding absolutely nothing worthwhile in my mailbox. Amazon Prime is nice, but online shopping does absolutely nothing to fill my postal void. More than that though, I miss putting a pen to paper and writing words for another person. With a handful of sentences I can surgically expose my mind to single trusted recipient. I miss seeing my thoughts take shape at my own hands. I miss the sharing, the openness, the softly-spoken vulnerability of a hand-written letter.

This isn’t to say that I resent social media or email. I am no luddite, and I love how the internet has dismantled distance and time. But nothing is an everything-tool, and I am interested in exploring what the humble handwritten letter can do that the mighty internet can not.

On Documentation

I am fortunate to have a workshop attached to my garage. That being said, the space is more conducive to clutter than doing actual work, so this past week I’ve begun remodeling it. As such, building codes have been on my mind, and specifications in general.

Keeping things to spec goes a long way towards making my life easier. If my Vanagon breaks and is then repaired according to the principles in Sir Bentley, when it breaks in the future I won’t have to remember the oddities of the first repair to perform the second one. It’s all written down in the big green book, so if I really need to remind myself of what went on, I just turn to the appropriate chapter and refresh my memory.

If, on the other hand, a repair deviates from scripture, then there’s a good chance that future repairs will have to take into account the previous repair. And the more non-standard repairs I make, the further the van deviates from its original state, the more variables are introduced into the system. This is to say nothing of the outright modifications, and is why troubleshooting through the list can be frustratingly difficult at times. Ultimately, all repairs require peculiar knowledge of the particular vehicle which must be rediscovered or remembered.

I actually have a pretty good memory, but it’s reserved for far more important things like my phone number from 30 years ago or what “TARDIS” stands for. I can’t remember, for example, how I wired my headlight relays into the fuse box, so for efficiency’s sake, I write things down. Well, I try to, anyway. Writing things down can be such a pain.

I have often thought about creating a complete wiring schematic just for Olly.

Ideally, I would have an appendix to my Bentleys documenting my repairs and modifications. Something like an ship’s engineering log, complete with diagrams and pictures. Of course, this takes time, and I seem to have less time than memory.

Some list members give repair reports. I enjoy reading these out of voyeurism, and also because I gain insights into my own van. Online blogs are also good, because they often have photographs. The best part of both of these methods of public documentation is that they share the record with the community, helping us all keep all our peculiar vehicles running just a little longer.