Build Character

3 days into 2015, and I’ve had two interesting experiences.

Jumpstarting a car.

This actually happened on New Year’s Eve. Darren actually forgotten to turn off his hazard lights after parking. So while we were happily having Korean BBQ, his car was flashing away. The battery was flat when we returned. It was our first time trying to jump start a car, and it wasn’t really smooth.

Why would I want to succeed on their first try anyway? Making mistakes is the way to learn.

Let’s break down what we have done, and what we should have done.

What we have done:

  1. Assume that we didn’t have the jumpstart cable
  2. Call a number provided by a random helpful stranger to change the car’s batteries
  3. Realise that we have the jumpstart cable and start stopping cars
  4. Not researching properly how to jumpstart a car

What we should have done:

  1. Turn the inside of the car upside down to search for a jump start cable. It has to be somewhere, right?
  2. Call insurance and ask what to do in case of a totally busted battery
  3. In the meantime (there were four of us), one of us could Google ‘how to jumpstart a car’

It all went well in the end, thanks to a pickup truck that, very magnanimously, aided us for half an hour, trying to figure out what’s the problem.

So here’s the proper procedure:

  1. Park cars next to each other, bonnets side-by-side
  2. Cease both engines, and put gears to neutral
  3. Connect the red wire to the positive terminal of both batteries, order doesn’t matter
  4. Connect the black wire to the negative terminal of the working battery first, then connect it to the flat battery
    (It doesn’t really matter how you connect the wires, so long as you clip onto the metal contacts of the battery terminals)
  5. At this point, if your car’s security alarm system has been triggered, turn it off with your key. Chances are you triggered the car alarm when opening the door manually with a car key.
    We spent 10 minutes figuring out why the car starts horning and ringing every time we connect the terminals. It was so annoying that a person shouted from the tenth storey in frustration.
  6. Start the engine of the working car, and rev the engine.
    Here’s the part I’m not so sure of. Since the working car already has RPM when the engine starts, revving it seems to be redundant.
  7. Wait for a minute or two before trying to start the engine of the flat car.

Voila.

I think the major takeaway from this would be to know what you’re doing. Most of us didn’t know what we were doing and ended up looking stupid. At least this was a valuable learning experience for me. What a way to end 2014.

The next one, which just happened today.

Changing a lightbulb – well not really – a lamp.

How many person does it take to…

Alright I wouldn’t continue that joke. But my dad and I felt that the kitchen was too dark, and decided to install a new LED lamp for the kitchen. (It took the two of us)

The process of this wasn’t as easy as unscrewing and screwing. It involved saws, measuring, and figuring out how things work. In short it was an interesting DIY thing to do over the weekends.

The first challenge was the shape.

The previous light was circular, the new one we have is squarish, and bigger. Since our dropped ceiling is made of Gypsum Board, sawing through it was easy. We had to make sure we don’t saw into any electrical components or wires though.

Then we have the problem of circuits.

Similar to jumpstarting a car, live to live, neutral to neutral, earth to earth. But since we have looping, we have to twist a few of the wires together into a single splice.

The last problem was the design of the latch.

I should have taken a picture of the product.

We spent half an hour figuring out how does the latch on the side of the lights work. After slotting them into the sawed out space in the dropped ceiling, something has to hold it in place, or else you risk a lamp falling on your head.

We figured it out in the end, (trust my dad, he’s an engineer). The thought process was pretty interesting. It went along the lines of:

Right we gotta prevent it from falling out

But the latch has to stand up when we mount it, and latch on when we release it

Means there’s some spring action going on then

(pause… Magic engineering moment)

Here we go.

That’s really an over-simplified version of what we actually did. But I’m always amazed by my father’s problem solving abilities. Sometimes I ask why didn’t I inherit some of those?

Then I told myself, he probably didn’t inherit it from anyone either. It comes with experience and hard work.

It was rewarding in the end. The kitchen feels so much brighter now, and my mom was pretty satisfied with it. (YAY MORE HOMECOOKED FOOD! :D)

This may seem to be a really small, unimportant event. But I see it as a learning experience. No matter how small or trivial the knowledge I’ve gained today, it is still knowledge.


I feel that 2014 came to a great end, and 2015 started off really well. Experiences such as these builds character, and character is something that I’m still lacking.

Here’s to the many more experiences awaiting me in the year ahead. 

Cheers.

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