The Week I Turned Into A Ford Mechanic

This Week:

  • Does my van really need a new $6,000 transmission?
  • What does it feel like to be curious about the world again?
  • Proving to myself that I know how to fix my mental health and motivation.

May 2023


Where In The World Was I?

  • Denver, CO

Morning Walks & Coffee Shops

Heh, see what I did there?

I’ve started doing some small walks around the block some of these mornings. It’s just been so beautiful, sunny, and warm that I can’t not.

I can’t say the morning sunlight has made a huge difference to energy/sleep, but I’m doing it anyway 🙂

  • Downpours/House of CoP (x2) – the one where I spent all morning adding the locked content feature & the one where I added a git repo for my website theme
  • Frank & Roze – the one where I actually did things on my todo list this time
  • 2914 Coffee – the one where I got a double-peek from the barista 😉
  • Brew Culture Coffee – the one where I did some good journaling but didn’t make any decisions…
  • Griffin Coffee – the one where the barista recognized me from 2 weeks ago and asked what I do on my laptop

Update On Solving My Money Problems

Quick update on the business bootstrapping progress:

  • Updated script to regenerate tweet formats and permutations of formats
  • Reanalyzed our data
  • Put together a list of 5 formats in a PDF!

Next steps

  • Add a couple more formats
  • Add some polish to the doc
  • Update the landing page(s) copy
  • Publish!

We’re getting there! I’m a lot more excited now with what we’ve created.

I’ve been more scattered the past ~2 weeks trying to get other things done outside of twitter+business+working out, so I feel like I’ve lost a bit of that early motivation I had 2 weeks ago where things were moving quickly every day.

But that said, I feel like some of that motivation has come back now that we actually do have something that could be published. We’re so close!

Does My Van Need A New Transmission?

I’m pretty much a mechanic now.

But first, I need to give some context…

Since about December 2022 (~5 months ago), every so often I’d be driving my van, park it, get out, and notice a faint burning smell and ~3 seconds of smoke coming from the front.

“That’s definitely not right” I thought… But I couldn’t pinpoint it.

When I took it to get an oil change, they said essentially, “we’re not really sure and can’t do much without an error code (check engine light).”

So, I continued to drive it and just keep an eye on things.

Then, back a month ago when I was in Utah and just about to make the drive back to Denver, I was checking my oil, tires, and fluids just before leaving when I noticed something…

One of the fluid container things (that’s pretty much all I knew about it at the time) was wayyyy below the “Min” level.

I thought, “okay THAT’s definitely too low” so I figured out which fluid that container thing was for (it was coolant), then stopped by Walmart to top it off before heading back east.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later (about a week ago) and I was still noticing this burning smell. It was frustrating though (as a process-oriented software engineer mind) because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to reproduce it, and without knowing how to reproduce it, no mechanic will know how to help.

I went to Google, I asked ChatGPT, I poked around.

Based on my research, it seemed like it could be an issue with the transmission or transmission fluid.

Which, of all the issues to have is probably one of the worst

Side note, I don’t even really know what a transmission is… Like, where is it? What’s the fluid for and where can I see it?

My subconscious had a field day with that information…

Oh yeah you’ve had this issue for 6 months and never fixed it so now your transmission is probably destroyed and you’re gonna need a new $6,000 transmission replacement and you’ll since you live in your van you won’t have a home anymore so THEN what are you gonna do? etc. etc.

I tried scheduling an appointment with a Ford dealer and almost every dealer said that they’re scheduling MONTHS out in advance… Luckily I found one to schedule 3 weeks out. Not ideal, but I had somewhat of a plan.

Okay so with all that context and uncertainty and anxiety…

One afternoon this week I was doing some Googling, reading some forums, then popped the hood and was looking around. ChatGPT told me that it could be various things, but one thing it could be is a leak of some sort on hot components, for e.g. a coolant leak.

I was poking around, following tubes around the engine bay and thinking “hmm well if it were a leak then I’d see some droplet spots or streaks”

and as I thought that I saw exactly that. I saw some shiny spots on this connection between 2 tubes. “Hmm interesting!” I thought.

I followed one tube winding back around and where did it lead?

The coolant reservoir!

Wait a second…

I just filled that up! Why is it so low again? (I felt like I was on That’s So Raven and had this flashback to Utah where I was like “hmm that’s weird why is my coolant so low?”)

“AHAH! Oh my gosh…”

It all clicked.

It was fun to poke around and follow things and put on my problem solving hat. I felt like a noobie, exploring and learning everything for the first time. But, it was even more fun to be able to actually resolve this issue and understand what’s causing it.

There’s something about resolving uncertainty that is such a beautiful feeling 🙂

What’s My Next Roadblock?

A peek into my journaling from this week (which also sets up the next section)

What is my next problem/roadblock/obstacle?

Something like,

  • How do I make reading and learning more attractive/fun than consuming youtube videos?
  • How do I document, write, and ideate more?

Is 2hrs of YouTube at lunch and in the evenings really the thing that’s holding me back? […]

What’s the highest ROI on my time right now? What’s the 80/20 of my time?

  • Twitter content and business offer validating

Everything I do should revolve around and support this.


I guess the question is, how big of a problem is:

  • 2 hours of YouTube entertainment per day
  • Not reading for 30+ minutes per day
  • Not meditating every day
  • Not actually learning what I’m reading about
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I think my point here is,

  • Reading: Swapping 1 hour of YouTube for 1 hour of reading, is it really gonna make that much of a difference to my life?
    • Wonder if this is coping because 1 hour of reading a day would mean I’m learning way more.
    • Maybe the issue here is that I’m not actually reading well, I’m not internalizing the ideas. But even still, reading but not internalizing is probably better than entertainment glued to my phone.
  • Meditation: I do think getting back to consistent meditation would be high ROI. This would help me mentally recharge and be fresh for the next morning. Lately I’ve been essentially trading these 15 minutes for YouTube.
  • Teaching: I do think teaching what I’m learning would be high ROI. Maybe not directly towards business, but it’d essentially be 2x boosting my learning ability because I’d be learning by teaching which is way more effective than essentially not doing anything right now.
    • I just had the thought like what if rather than daily videos, I did like once a week videos where I taught what I was learning, kind of like a class.
  • Writing/Blogging: I think writing/blogging more get into the teaching idea above, but I don’t think it’s high ROI. Writing more is nice, but if I want to teach, maybe I should just do video.


  • I think in the micro, like tomorrow, taking a break would be high ROI, it’s been quite a lot of focused mornings lately without breaks. And my afternoons I don’t think I’m recharging as well as I could be.

Which led me to…

The Recharge Day

I do value pushing and testing my limits, but I kept getting these mornings where my focus was scattered, I wasn’t actually doing what I had planned, and didn’t really feel like I was properly recharge in the afternoons.

So, I decided it was time to throw in a recharge day, i.e. a morning not behind the laptop.

I substituted my coffee shop time for a leg workout, then did some errands the rest of the day.

On my drive around, I passed by a Five Guys sign at like 10:30am (while fasted) and got an urge and vision of a hamburger, fries, and a shake. My mind didn’t give much resistance to it, except that it wasn’t lunch time yet and I was mid-errands (a small win).

Long story short, after my errands, I tried going to a different burger place that served veggie burgers (to not completely knock me out), but they were closed, so I ended up back at a Five Guys.

To my surprise, I was definitely full, but I wasn’t as lethargic as I envisioned. It might have been because it was essentially my first and only meal for the day.

And despite any feelings of tiredness, I ended up at Ralston-Central Park, took a walk, and ended the evening just sitting out in the park.

I sat there soaking in the evening sun, watching the kids run around and play on the jungle gym, inspecting the flowers on the trees, asking ChatGPT random question that came to mind, and just wandering around.

I love moments like those.

Totally present, looking around observing the world with curiosity, pondering questions, with nothing on my mind.

It felt good and reminded me of the many times I did this exact same thing last summer.

It’s nice to be back 🙂

An Unusually Great Day

Okay one more day…

Saturday felt almost unusually good.

I worked at Griffin Coffee in the morning, then went to Sloans Lake.

I only watched a little bit of YouTube during lunch, then went on a walk around the lake.

When I got back, I did a meditation outside on the grass (outside meditations >>>>> inside meditations)

Then got a workout in.

Side note…

Lately I’ve been really enjoying reading on the treadmill. I feel way more focused and attentive while reading.

It also reminds me of my struggles a year ago. I used to go to the gym in the morning and watch YouTube videos while on the elliptical for 20-30 min because it was literally the only way I could get myself out of my apartment, to the gym and actually move my body… I found a way to please my YouTube addiction while also please my future self.

Went to Confluence Park for dinner.

Watched some more YouTube but again not as much.

Took a stroll through the park, did another meditation on the grass, and did some reading.

I ended the night thinking damn, did I really do all that today?

I’ve been in a bit of a slump with prioritizing meditation and reading lately so this felt like a great change of pace.

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Selling The 4Runner Progress Update

  • Maintenance done!
  • Did some initial research into the selling process
  • Next step: getting it detailed and taking pictures
sheeeeeeesh that’s a good-lookin’ truck

I’ve been noticing quite a lot of procrastinating, anxiety around moving forward, uncertainty of what the process will be like.

I started realizing that this is gonna be a huge growth moment for me. That I’m going to look back on this and be grateful for my past self (me, right now) for pushing through the discomforts he was feeling, for pushing through the uncertainty of meeting with buyers and negotiating.

What’s Next?

Livin’ life, gettin’ sh*t done.


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