Spooky Month – ZooとThoughts

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Spooky Month

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Introduction

ZooとThoughts is created to motivate your learning of English. A language is not only vocabulary and grammar, it is also grown from culture. By learning about culture, the language becomes even less foreign because you are able to understand the nuances within the vocabulary and grammar. If you are in a conversation with someone and you are discussing a topic it is important to understand the words they are saying, the context in which they are saying them, and the culture that helped shape that opinion. That’s what this page is meant to do – help you understand on a deeper level.

Spooky Month

Hey guys! So I have a few things to tell you about today, so we’ll just jump right into it!

Maybe I’m a little bit of a superstitious person, but October really has been quite a scary month for me. First it was the deer with the car, and then two weeks ago another damned thing happened with the car. I’ll tell you about that now.

Do you know what an alternator is? It’s my perception that Americans know a lot about their cars and I want to know if that’s the same in Japan. Even in high school my physics teacher taught us about batteries, alternators, and how to change a tire. Thankfully I’ve never had to change a tire by myself, but now, I do know more about batteries and alternators.

In short this is what happened, earlier in the week the car had been giving a funny noise when it turned on and by wednesday night, the battery was almost dead, the car would barely crank. Our GPS system in the car has a way to look at the battery consumption and we could see that the battery was drained and not giving enough power to the car. We ended up taking the car to an autoparts store at 9PM at night. Are auto parts stores open taht late in Japan?

When we got to the store the employee verified the battery’s low power and was extremely puzzled since the batter was replaced less than a year and a half ago. Thankfully, we had a warranty and were able to get the battery for free, but then the employee just about gave me a heart attack when he said that the problem might be the alternator because when he hooked up a machine to the alternator it failed the test twice. So here’s where you get to learn something new!

The power in the battery is what turns the car on initially. But the alternator is what keeps the car running and it also charges the battery as you drive. The alternator of a car is a very key part of the engine. We just learned about power in physics, so I’ll also try to explain this in a physics way (nerd moment). Basically, an alternator converts mechanical energy (from the engine) into electrical energy (for the battery), it does this using alternating current or AC. AC is very common in the US, what about Japan? Do you use AC or DC (direct current)? And that current is made possible because of very strong magnets. In fact most electric power is generated from a wire moving through a magnetic field. Which means that the test that the alternator failed then was alternating the current back to the battery. It’s pretty amazing that something as simple as a magnet can do so much right?

It’s pretty amazing that something so simple would give me a heart attack, right?? Here’s the thing, when the deer hit the car, we had a $500 deductible on our insurance, which means that anything up to $500 we pay and anything over, the insurance pays. My little car was almost almost totaled (sank, done for, gone) and I had to pay $500 to repair it. Now the employee is telling me the night before a calculus test that the alternator might need to be replaced. For an alternator, the cheapest you can find would cost another $500. So yeah, that was enough to give my three hours of sleep, running on coffee, cramming for a calculus test self a heart attack.

So bring on the Halloween tonight! Because this month could not have gotten any scarier. In the end though, the battery simply had to reset itself and the alternator finally registered that it was working …

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Hello, I am Aims! I'm a native English speaker who is partnering with ZooToEigo in order to help you understand English. I look forward to us learning together. Please share ZooToEigo with your friends so we can grow our community!

One Response

  1. Bernard Leikind
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    Dear Aimee,
    Nearly all electrical energy around the world is produced and transmitted as alternating current, AC, power. In Japan, the utility companies produce that power with an electrical potential of 100 V. In the US, our utilities produce 120 V. Electrical potential describes the energy of the electrons in one wire relative to the other of the two wires. It is analogous to the water pressure in a water pipe. Electrical current, measured in Amperes, is analogous to the water current in a pipe, which would be measured in liters/minute or liters/second.
    Alternating current electricity shifts the direction of the current flow and which of the two wires is at a higher voltage back and forth at a frequency that is different from one nation to another. In Japan, the eastern part of the country has 50 Hz power, and the western half has 60 Hz power. Evidently, the Japanese purchased the first electrical generator for Tokyo from a company in Germany, and for Osaka from the US. The US has 60 Hz power. This number, 50 or 60 Hz, tells you how many times each second the voltage or current reverse direction.
    Usually electrical power travels from the generating station to your house as AC power because then the utility can adjust the voltage and current by passing it through a transformer. The utility can generate the energy at the most convenient voltage for the generator, transform it to a different voltage to transmit it many miles, and then transform it again to a voltage suitable for your house. There was no way to do that with DC power when commercial electricity was new.
    Any equipment that you have, that requires DC power, such as your computer or your car’s battery, must convert the AC power from your wall sockets or auto alternator (which is a special kind of generator) into DC power. That’s what is happening in the little boxes in your computer’s power cord.
    This is a nice blog, and your physics explanations are just fine.

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