Shaq finds his free-throw touch and Heat find way to even finals ~ AP headline, June 16, 2006In dreams, I cut toward the basket, take a pass, gracefully rise up, and shoot with a flick of the wrist, the ball leaving my fingertips under perfect control, perfect touch - swish! Nothing but net!
In real life, I have no touch. Not for anything. Never have. As a kid, if my feet did not get tangled on the way to the hoop, the basketball inevitably thudded off the the backboard while everyone else snickered. Things have not gotten better. When I put a key in a lock and turn it, the key breaks. When I put a lug wrench on a lug nut, it doesn't budge. I destroy wiper blades trying to remove them from the arm. When I throw a baseball, I have no idea which direction it is going to end up going.I used to blame it on the fact that I missed most of kindergarten with a serious condition, Legg Perthes disease, and didn't learn how to run, throw, catch or color when most kids were acquiring those skills. I still can't color worth a damn, and I am a ways behind in all the other categories too! But then there is my mom. She used to try to open the hatchback on her car by pulling on the rear wiper. So just perhaps the apple did not fall far from the tree. I have scored very well on standardized tests, 99th percentile in everything except spatial relationships, where I am sub-20th percentile. So it is no surprise that things mechanical are baffling to me in the extreme. Lack of touch and being baffled by machines is not a good combination when things mechanical malfunction and must be dealt with.
Whatever the reason, it is a curse. But I am going to work on it. Shaq was famous for not having touch, a terrible free throw shooter. But he kept shooting free throws every night in practice until he made 15 in a row no matter how long it took. He overcame his natural lack of touch. So maybe, just maybe, touch can be learned.This past weekend, I got a chance to watch a guy with touch, and maybe learn a few things. The guy is Mike Gilmore, and although I have no idea if he can play basketball (I'll bet he can, actually), he definitely is not going to have problems with keys, locks or wiper blades. Mike was crew on Kipper Kite, a Beneteau First 42 sailboat that our daughter Lydia's father-in-law, Greg Hamilton, had chartered for a week of sailing in Canada. Lydia, husband Conor, and Mike had met us at Reid Harbor on Stuart Island in the San Juan Islands, where we spent the night.
The next morning, as we were on our way to Chuckanut Bay, the alarm went off on the Honda BF150 on our CD25 cruiser Daydream just outside of Reid Harbor . We checked all the usual things, finally cracked the Honda manual, and deduced that it must be the oil-water separator, which is under the cowling in an (apparently) totally inaccessible place. The manual was helpful only in isolating the most probable cause. The first direction for dealing with the oil-water separator was to "remove the retaining strap." I looked at it and knew there was no way on God's green earth that I was going to be able to do this. I did not even see how I was going to get my hands in there. Time to start the kicker! Since we were traveling with a sailboat, it was about the right speed anyway.
We stopped for lunch at Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island, and Mike was drafted to take a look. It was not apparent at all, even to Mike, how to accomplish the first direction to remove the retaining strap. The strap has no latch, buckle or fastener visible, As it turns out, it is actually quite easy, it just needs to be slid a certain direction off two prongs on the mounting bracket, but you cannot see that until you have done it once. It would have been easy enough for Honda to include one more sentence explaining how but they didn't. Anyway, Mike was able to get the oil-water separator out of the retaining strap without first removing the retaining strap, a nifty trick indeed. Then it was obvious how to remove the retaining strap.
Next it was necessary to remove two fuel lines held in place with wire clamps. These clamps have two little loops at the top, and it looks like some special tool is required to deal with them, which of course we did not have. Mike got the clamps off and removed the fuel lines.
Next it was necessary to remove three screws that hold the bowl of the oil-water separator to the top. This has to be done over water because the oil-water separator has wires on the bottom that are not long enough to let you bring it in over the motor well. Mike got them out without dropping them in the drink. We dumped the gas in the bowl, and there really was nothing to clean - it was clean as a whistle.
We put it back together in reverse order. Screw the bowl to the top, again without dropping the screws in the drink. Attach the fuel lines. Put the assembled oil-water separator back in the retaining strap. Finally, with our new knowledge of how to do it, slide the retaining strap back on the prongs of the mounting bracket. Started 'er up, problem solved!Now what did I learn from watching Mike?
First patience. He looked at it, studied it, prodded it, poked it, wriggled it, and stayed calm even when the retaining strap or clamps wouldn't budge. That is where I would have started throwing things overboard. Things I would probably miss later.
Second, perseverance. He was not going to let that damn oil-water separator beat him. He obviously believes that if man made it, he can fix it. I would hit the point of not being able to get the retaining strap off and quit. Take it to Westcoast Marine. Buy a new outboard. No way I am going to be able to deal with it. If man made it, I will break it.
Third, gentleness. He did not apply any force to anything. He moved it this way, that way, then the other way, until it yielded. Easy little moves. If it did not come out the way he was trying, he tried another way. This was especially true getting the oil-water separator out without first being able to remove the retaining strap, which made it really hard to get the body of the oil-water separator out from under the engine. Then again getting the two wire clamps off the fuel lines. He just moved them slowly, easily, until at last he was able to slide them back and pull the lines off the barbs. This is where I would have broken the body of the oil-water separator, the side of the cowling, or both, trying to yank it out. I don't know what I would have done trying to get the wire clips off the fuel lines, but it wouldn't have been pretty.
If that alarm goes off again on the BF150, I now think I can probably deal with it, having seen how Mike did it. Patience, perseverance and gentleness are part of the whole deal. It will take all the willpower I can muster. But hell, if Shaq can learn to shoot free throws, I ought to be able to learn a little touch. And I am going to keep working on the keys, lug nuts and wiper blades.