Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Internal Combustion Engine

***This is an old post I wrote for my previous Tumbl-blog. I really liked it and wanted to share it with you.***

One discussion I commonly like to have with my higher level students is “what is the most important invention of all time?”  We usually make a long list, and then narrow it down to the top 3.  Electricity is usually the top answer.
Inevitably, they ask my opinion on the matter.  Now, my personality forces me to think about this in an interesting way.  I can’t just think of individual inventions.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  I have to think of the foundations of the inventions that make my life easier, simpler and more convenient / fun.  
For example, I am thankful for electricity.  But the invention that is at the root of what we know as modern electric technology is (I think) the incandescent light bulb. I’m sure that people were passing currents through wires before that, but the light bulb changed everything.  
My top 3 answers are:
  1. The Incandescent Light Bulb
  2. The Telegraph
  3. The Internal Combustion Engine
These things changed everything.  Sure, I know that the steam engine was the predecessor to the I.C.E. However, using an accelerant to create small explosions, which moved pistons to power the motor - this was a game changer.  Just brilliant!
The car is a game changer.
Recently, an amazing man and his wife decided to give Ferial and I one of these game-changers.  
Anyway, because we’re in Korea, I had to sift through miles Kilometers of language barriers and bureaucracy, in order to actually get a license and then change the registration.  Won’t actually be finished with it all until Monday.  (You can actually pray that we don’t have to pay all kinds of crazy taxes in order to finalize the registration on Monday morning). 
I have not even had a car for 3 days and I can already see how it could change life-as-we-know-it, here in Korea.  
I drove to the dentist on Friday morning.  I drove!  Usually the trip takes 30 min on the bus, plus 10 min walking time, plus time spent waiting at the bus stop.  I had to leave my house an hour before my dentist appointment, in order to ensure I would get there on time.    
Driving, it took 10 minutes.  
Ten minutes, from parking lot to parking lot.  
Now, I’ve been in situations in Korea, where having a car is more of a burden than a blessing.  It can take much longer to get somewhere in a car, than in public transportation.  I know that.  However, at 10:00 am, driving from our town to a smaller, outlying district, having a car makes a huge difference.  I think it will make all the difference early Sunday morning on the way to church, too.  
Throughout all of this, I have been attempting to trust the Lord with this situation, keeping in mind that He gives and takes away as He sees fit. I wanted to have such an attitude that if the car was only mine for 10 days, then I would bless the Lord for 10 days with a car.  Until today, I really thought that might be the case.  The car had to pass a state inspection before the registration could be fully transferred to me.  The inspection included an emissions test.  This car failed an emissions test in a similar inspection last week.  I believe the mechanic paid off the inspector in order to pass it.  There was a misunderstanding, and since I’m not affiliated with the military, I need a different kind of inspection - a more stringent inspection, with higher standards for emissions than the cars belonging to Americans here have to meet.  
That being the case, I was fairly certain that the car wouldn’t pass.  
Let me tell you now, they didn’t even test the emissions.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know if the car is old enough to where it doesn’t have to undergo the test…or if I found favor with the friendly guy behind the front desk and he told them to let me skip that part…or if our merciful and powerful Father made seeing eyes blind and thinking minds temporarily retarded.  Any way you spin it, they didn’t check the smog levels on my car.  The little friendly man ran up to me, and tossed two bottles of windshield wiper fluid into my car, saying “my gift!”  
At this point, I was sure that the car hadn’t passed, since they’d skipped the smog check. Therefore, I didn’t understand why he was giving me fluids for a car that wouldn’t be on the road in a few days.  So, I asked him if it passes.  He patted me on the back, and said “pass? Yes! I am your friend!”
“Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy great help I’ve come; and I hope by Thy great pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”
These lyrics take on a new meaning, when you might actually crash your new car on the way home…

Update: We have been driving this hunk of a blessing for a little over 6 months now, and I still love it. It's a fabulous car, whose smell on a warm afternoon reminds me of my childhood. You can read about this Godsend from my wife's perspective, here.

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